Category Archives: Connection of Unilateral Divorce to SSM

Heads Up, Alabama – Here Comes a Liberal, Anti-Family Trojan Horse!

Wedding Cake Pulverized
by Standerinfamilycourt

On January 17, 2018, Texas MassResistance (an offshoot of a Massachusetts-based pro-family organization that does aggressive battle with the comprehensive LGBT political agenda)  posted an article to their Facebook page from AL.com,

Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Eliminate Marriage Licenses

with the following Facebook comments:

“It’s sad to see a state opt out of licensing marriage, but the truth is real marriage as a legal construct essentially ceased to exist with the legalization of gay marriage. It’s like removing the legal distinction between real money and play money. Real money means nothing once play money becomes legal tender– and everyone is made poorer– even counterfeiters– same story on gay marriage.

“Gays kid themselves if they think they their marriages are of the same substance as marriage prior to gay marriage. Put a drop of fine wine from a wine bottle into a bottle of sewer water and you still have a bottle of wine and a bottle of sewer water, but put a drop of sewer water into a bottle of fine wine and you have two bottles of sewer water. Things of higher value are diminished or destroyed altogether when mixed with things of lower value. Alabama’s move to eliminate marriage licenses recognizes that reality– MR-T”

With a few days’ delay, we noticed a re-post of this on the Facebook wall by a friend of our blog page who lives in Texas, and we commented to MassResistance on their page as follows:

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:
There are two conscionable alternatives to dealing with civil law that no longer coincides with God’s law in any respect:

(1) pastors opt out of participating in the civil system as an agent for the state (example: the 2014 First Things Marriage Pledge)
(2) what Alabama is seeking to do

“Although some 800+ pastors from a wide variety of denominations had signed the Marriage Pledge by two months after Obergefell, nearly 3 years later, few have had the moral courage to make good on it. We have a pretty good idea why not — wrong motives, and the sudden delayed realization of what that might do to the ability of heterosexuals to do what God forbids and get a state “dissolution” decree.
So, that leaves Option 2.

“We humbly remind that God’s definition of marriage (Matt.19:4-6) has TWO non-negotiable elements, not just one – as the tone of this post strongly implies. Those elements are: (1) complementarity, and (2) indissolubility.   Hence, the adulteration of that wine bottle started to take place 48 years ago, not in 2015, two generations later.
Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto God the things that are God’s”. He told us that Holy Matrimony does not happen except by God’s hand.  It’s therefore quite suspect that the Reformation humanists, Martin Luther in particular, saw fit to hand over to the state that which belonged to God in the first place. Count on God not to allow this issue to dissipate until His full definition of marriage is honored, and pastors from coast to coast repent of whining about sodomy-as-“marriage” while carefully preserving consecutive polygamy-as-holy-matrimony.

“It will be interesting to see, if this progresses to become law, how they continue to issue ‘dissolutions’. It’s probably pretty simple to substitute their affidavits for marriage certificates when it comes to finding another unilateral home invasion warrant, but how will they handle the gory details?  Option 1 would have denied them the piece of paper usable as such a “warrant” in a substantial number of cases.”

MassResistance gave a very gracious response to our comment, which we will leave the readers to reference on their own.

Of course, Alabama is the infamous state of dethroned State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who was removed from the bench in 2016 on ethics charges because he issued an administrative order to lower court judges stating, “until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect….”   citing the fundamental right of these judges to conscience protections and free religious exercise in declining to issue civil marriage licenses to homosexuals.   (Presumably, these same judges had no serious compunctions or religious conscience issues with issuing civil marriage licenses to would-be legalized adulterers in the years since 1975 enactment of Alabama’s unilateral divorce laws.   Moore is himself “married” to a civilly-“divorced” woman.)    Apparently, for all the smoke-blowing that ensued to remove Moore, his successor on the bench has not reversed the 2016 administrative order after almost two years, the lingering effect being as stated in the AL.com article:

“Under current law, Alabama probate judges are not required to issue marriage licenses and some, at least initially, declined to issue licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court ruling.

“Albritton’s bill would take away any discretion by probate judges. The only requirement to make a marriage official would be to submit the documents to the probate judge.”

Take away the discretion of judges….does this sound familiar?   It should indeed!    This is exactly how brutal totalitarianism came to be injected into “family court” processes and procedures to implement unilateral divorce, without raising a whimper of public protest even though the 1st and 14th amendment protections were being stripped from millions of Americans in the process.    Legislating immorality has always been a stealth process — and in the past five decades, it has come to work flawlessly…intractably.

The gay “marriages” taking place in Alabama in this long interim have  only been enabled where LGBT-sympathetic judges are willing to issue the civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples.    Several counties are reportedly not issuing them at all.

SB13’s sponsor, Greg Albritton appears to be a liberal Republican, according to a 2016 voting scorecard published by the American Conservative Union, where he scored 58%,  the lowest of all of his GOP peers, and equaling the score of the highest scoring Democrat in the Alabama Senate.    His bill passed a fast-tracked and astounding floor vote of 19-1 in mid-January, and the ACLU published their analysis stating that they do not consider it a threat to liberal interests, so they are not taking a position on it.    This is a strong, red flag that the measure is not expected to be supportive of biblical, traditional families, since it is not drawing ACLU opposition.  The full text of SB13 (about 9 pages) can be read here.

At first blush, it should seem like a dream-come-true that the state might be giving back to God the authority over the holy ordinance that He never delegated to fallible, carnal men in civil government….

“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no [human] separate”…..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 19:6, 8

However, there is an ominous poison-pill:   it will no longer be necessary to have vows or a public ceremony should these bills become law.

Jesus pointed back to the first wedding in the Garden for the essentials of God-joined holy matrimony….

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, and the two shall become one flesh’?

 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place.  The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

– Matthew 19:4-5;  Genesis 2:21-24

Elements present in the Garden wedding between Adam and Eve:   eligible partners without prior, estranged spouses still living, consent, vows, witnesses (Jesus and the serpent),  and God’s supernatural, instantaneous act of (Greek : sunexuezen) joining.

Elements absent in the Garden wedding civil paper and a human officiant.

We all know that the unholy 16th century transaction between church and state authority was a foul fruit of the humanistic Reformers, principally, of Martin Luther who sought access to that which God expressly forbid through Jesus Christ, namely, divorce via a man-made declaration of “dissolution”, rather than the physical death of a spouse.    What appears on the surface to be a “taking back” of authority from civil government is actually a mirage in the case of these bills.    The texts of these bills SB13 and (pending) HB162 both explicitly provide that there will be no change to the statute with regard to divorce or child “welfare” provisions.     Unless there is civil paper of some sort, no unilateral divorces nor totalitarian interference with parental rights would be possible.   Hence, a more controlled piece of paper on the front-end, is being swapped for a piece of civil paper with far fewer controls, but effecting all the same state intrusion into the sanctity of the home. The uber-liberal take on this makes for some interesting reading, as well.

In the absence of a requirement for a witnessed ceremony, documentation of consent, and vows,  the effect is that common law marriages are being given the same legal status as holy matrimony unions.    In other words, a second category of legalized, adulterous unions is being created that essentially legalizes fornication as well as adultery.     Absorbed into the longstanding moral vacuum of the contemporary church, the effect on marital stability will be devastating to family structure over time, in the same way that rampant “remarriage” has been.      To be sure, pastors will still require the traditional ceremony for the weddings they do, and will continue their evil practice of performing the same over the already married-for-life.    But equally sure is the fact that in addition to the legalized adulterers whom they now welcome into their congregations (no questions asked), they will be welcoming a new group of folks likewise not married in God’s eyes – those who have made no vows before Him.   As an added bonus, pastors will be relieved of the offense to conscience from signing civil marriage licenses that reflect an immoral civil standard.

STATUS , at this writing
Alabama Overview

The enacted result, should it come to pass:

Win for the judges who no longer have a conscience conflict with their jobs (but still should, if they call themselves Christ-followers).
–  Win for the pastors whose threat of being sued by LGBT activists is significantly reduced, with the added bonus of avoiding any “heat” from their congregations for implementing something so controversial and “judgmental” as the Marriage Pledge.
Win for the abusive Catholic dioceses that nationally grant 90% of marriage annulment petitions, the vast bulk of which claim “defective” original consent.
Win for the heinous state bar association who have always looted the system since the enactment of unilateral divorce, and have purchased increasing political power with the confiscated proceeds, but who will now up their ante from the resulting increase in social and moral chaos.
–  Win for the homosexuals who seek to adopt, traffic in, and corrupt children, while gaining government and employer benefits.
–  Win for the LGBT activists (such as Tamra Metz and Masha Gessen) who openly admit the movement’s ultimate objective to destroy the institution of holy matrimony and traditional families.
–  Win for the shallow veneer of preserving religious liberty (until we stop and consider the denied religious liberty of the non-offending, non-filing spouse whose 1st amendment rights have traditionally been ignored by the system.)

Win-win for everybody, right?    Not exactly…major loss for covenant spouses, their children and grandchildren, and for God-defined holy matrimony, as well as for the already downward-spiraling sexual morality within the church.   A church full of papered-over adulterers, including behind the pulpit, is hardly ready to resume any authority over marriage the state gives back at this time.

WeRegret

Once again, the biblical covenant family is being thrown under the bus with the blind approval of all of all the above “winning” parties, and will now actually be in worse shape than their counterparts in neighboring states (until the easy-peasy-sleazy virus spreads to those states as well).    From the 1970’s until now, marriage seems to be becoming the ever more ridiculous, rambling  “house that Jack built”.

While MassResistance’s comments show they are less than enthused with this legal innovation,  where is the voice of the churches, or of Alabama’s family policy council?     To their credit, the Alabama Policy Institute has been at least tracking and timely-reporting on the bills during January (albeit, with exceptional brevity for such an impactful change – scroll all the way to the bottom of link)….but they do not appear to be taking a position, nor publicly recognizing the serious back-door dismantling threat to the institution of marriage itself.   Would that API would have at least reported who the one dissenting Senator was, and why Sen. Phillip Williams [R], who holds an 88% lifetime score with the American Conservative Union,  dissented.     Unfortunately, neither does the press do this.   It is clear that this legislation is all about facilitating sodomous “marriages” and protecting judges, and not about what’s best for the integrity of families or (ultimately) society.

Quoting Masha Gessen (2012):

“It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. … (F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there – because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

“The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out 30 years ago….”

As is fairly typical for state FPC’s and changes to marriage laws (other than those ushering in gay “marriage”), no blogs or articles have been devoted to this topic since the September, 2017 introduction of the Senate bill.   General press coverage, on the other hand, has been favorable both on the Right and Left, with no significant criticisms and only vaguely- expressed concerns (“waving the white flag on marriage”, etc.), despite the radical social impact which legally and morally equating common law and God-joined marriages will undoubtedly bring, absent any coinciding reform of unilateral divorce laws.

The better solution?   Continue to regulate marriages per existing law, while pastors with the requisite moral authority, discipleship and courage opt-out of acting as an agent for states whose marriage contract does not reflect the vows being exchanged in the sanctuary.    Take the heat for the sake of the kingdom of God, pastors and judges!

The best solution?    Remove “irreconcilable differences” (and its equivalents) as a “ground” for divorce if there is no mutual petition for marriage dissolution, and divide assets and child welfare based on proven marital fault, thereby drying up both the demand for “marriage” between homosexuals, and the perverse, lucrative financial incentives that drive the legal machine.     (We have asked MassResistance -Texas whether they plan to support the re-election of Rep. Matt Krause, and support 2019 continued repeal efforts in Texas, but they declined to respond to this question.)

Prayer warriors, we have our work cut out for us.   Please start by praying that HB162 fails in the Alabama House of Representatives.   In the ten days leading up to Valentine’s Day,  look for a series of daily posts to Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional reflecting concrete ways the church can rapidly improve her witness to the world concerning rebuilding  a “culture of marriage”.   We believe these steps would prepare the church morally for the responsibility of taking marriage back from the state and reversing the 500 year old  Lutheran curse.

The infamous Trojan Horse allowed the Greeks to get in and out of the city with their treasure.    After they were out, the whole city burned to the ground.

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.
– Proverbs 14:34

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prager U, Laurie Higgins, Guy Benson…and Our Response

GBenson_Prager_Foxby Standerinfamilycourt

Laurie Higgins, Cultural Affairs Writer for the Illinois Family Institute, wrote in a blog on January 25:

“Prager University (PragerU) was started in 2009 by Dennis Prager as a way to circumvent the left-leaning educational universe and bring conservative ideas to the public in general but especially to young people. This week, PragerU released a deeply disappointing video featuring Guy Benson, political editor for Townhall Magazine and frequent contributor on Fox News Channel.

“Guy Benson is immensely gifted. He is a bright, thoughtful, articulate young man with a quick mind and a gracious, winsome manner. He is also telegenic, which makes him a perfect spokesperson in a culture mediated by visual media. But those very gifts and his appeal to young people will enable him to have a corrosive affect on some conservative values.

“Book-ending his five-minute PragerU video, Benson says, ‘I’m a Christian; a patriotic American, and a free market, shrink-the-government conservative who also happens to be gay.’

“The phrase ‘happens to be gay’ is an attempt to diminish the significance of his choice to affirm homosexuality as central to his identity. Please note, I did not say Benson chooses to experience same-sex attraction. Rather, he has freely chosen to place his unchosen homoerotic feelings at the center of his identity, and that is not something that just ‘happens.’  Nor is it something trivial.

“Benson goes on to say that ‘Far too often people are sorted by their gender, or their skin color, or their sexual orientation, or any other immutable characteristic that has nothing to do with ideas or values.

 

FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC:  After picking one’s self up off the floor at the startling realization that THE Dennis Prager had actually allowed this young man to (insupportably) claim on one of Prager U’s videos that homosexuality was an immutable characteristic, “standerinfamilycourt” participated in a dialogue on Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon’s page, where it was brought to light by one of the commenters that Mr. Prager, himself a conservative, unregenerated Jew, has a lesbian niece.    We find many who have close relatives who are homosexuals seem have considerable trouble not departing from biblical, and sometimes common-sense, views on the topic.

(Note:  according to Wikipedia, Dennis Prager is a serial polygamist with 3 wives, to-date.    Hence, his life shows that the only part of God’s Matt. 19:4-6 definition of marriage he endorses would be the complementarian element, if that.)  

Mrs. Higgins continues….

“This short sentence [bolded above] contains a number of troubling propositions.

“Like ‘progressives,’ Benson suggests that ‘gender’—and by ‘gender,’
I assume he means biological sex—and skin color are analogous to ‘sexual orientation.’  First, ‘sexual orientation’ is a Leftist rhetorical construction intended to communicate the false idea that heterosexuality and homosexuality are flipsides of the sexuality coin and morally equivalent.   In contrast, others argue that homosexuality represents a disordering of the sexual impulse.

“Second, homosexuality per se has no points of correspondence to sex or skin color. Biological sex and skin color are genetically determined and carry no behavioral implications, thereby rendering moral disapproval of them irrational.

“In contrast, homosexuality is constituted by subjective feelings, whose cause or causes are unknown, and volitional activity for which moral assessment is both rational and legitimate—no matter what the cause or causes for the feelings.

“Third, what does Benson mean when he refers to homosexuality as an “immutable characteristic”? Is he referring to the powerful, persistent, and seemingly intractable nature of his desires? If so, in his view is it morally acceptable to act on all powerful, persistent, seemingly intractable feelings? If he doesn’t believe the powerful, persistent nature of feelings confers automatic moral legitimacy on actions impelled by such feelings, how does he determine which ought not be acted on?

“And how does he respond to the brilliant Rosaria Butterfield, a former feminist English professor and lesbian who has written eloquently about her spiritual conversion and rejection of a lesbian identity?”

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:  Amen, Laurie Higgins!   Homosexuality is a chosen behavior, every bit as much as heterosexuals choosing to ignore the crystal-clear word of God against coveting and retaining the God-joined, man-separated spouse of another living person is a chosen behavior.    But it’s true that if you dare speak out about either immorality, the latter being by far more pervasive,  you have, in effect, been deemed to have “attacked” that person.   Both can be, and in fact, must be forsaken to gain or recover any inheritance in the kingdom of God.    Forty years ago, the claim started to be that marriages Jesus repeatedly called adulterous { Matt. 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b ] were morally equivalent to the holy matrimony of our youth, if the proper paperwork was obtained from the civil state.
(Both Laurie Higgins and Rosaria Butterfield are in God-joined, original covenant marriages, but we daresay many friends, relatives and donors are not in original covenant marriages.   It’s really no different than with Prager’s lesbian niece when it comes to adopting a mindset that is contrary to plain scripture instruction.)

Continuing….

“Fourth and most intellectually dishonest, Benson makes the remarkable claim that the affirmation of a homosexual identity ‘ has nothing to do with ideas or values.’   Does Benson really believe that his (or anyone else’s) homosexual attraction has anything to do with his ideas about and support for the legal recognition of same-sex unions as marriages?

“And does he really believe that his homosexual attraction has nothing to do with his hermeneutics (i.e., methods of biblical interpretation)?  Benson claims he is a Christian and that his Christian identity sits at the tiptop of his list of personal identifiers.   For him to identify as a homosexuality-affirming Christian, Benson must have first embraced a very late 20th Century revisionist hermeneutic that rejects the plain reading of Scripture and 2,000 years of church history, and which emerged not from newly discovered documents but from the mid-20th Century sexual revolution.”

As usual, Laurie Higgins has the cultural idiocy nailed, when it comes to homosexual immorality and its effect on our culture.    That said, she is characteristically myopic when, in her ten years as the Cultural Writer for a major state’s very effective Christian family policy organization, she still fails to note where all of this is actually coming from.     In this  last paragraph above, she has surely crossed over into the myopic plane of vision.     Faulty hermeneutics and the Sexual Revolution had everything in the world to do with why 40% to 60% of our fellow pew-sitters (heterosexuals) are adulterously “married” to another living person’s God-joined spouse.   Mr. Benson could very well be a child of that national abomination.    From here, Laurie Higgins also joins the January 22 conversation that occurred on Dr. Gagnon’s Facebook wall:

“Arguably the preeminent theologian writing on the Bible and homosexuality, Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, writes this in response to Benson’s PragerU video:

“Marriage is the single most significant structure in society. Radically redefining it at its very foundation so as to make gender differentiation irrelevant is a decisively non-conservative political stance, not to mention an unfaithful anti-Christian position that tacitly rejects the God of Abraham and Moses as well as the lordship of Jesus Christ. There can be no negotiation on this point without upending the rug on which the conservative table is set. It takes more courage to hold the line here than on any other position. Conservatives should be known for courage, not cowardice; clarity, not confusion….”

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:   Everything stated above by Dr. G about homosexual practice can equally be said of the practice of “marrying” a divorced person.   For that matter, all that Laurie Higgins states immediately above (our bolding) can be said for the behavior of the evangelical community in embracing remarriage adultery over the past 50 years.    The professor recognizes the widespread adoption of consecutive polygamy inside and outside the church, and has debated the likes of Dr. David Instone-Brewer on the topic.     He is not a myopic man, but a clear-sighted one who struggles for a way to avert the mass-exit repentance of people from admittedly-adulterous unions.     In this, he rationalizes that only the prohibition of homosexuality (but not marital indissolubility) is “foundational” to God’s design for sexual ethics.   He further argues that there is adultery, and there is a “lesser class” of adultery for remarriage while estranged from a God-joined spouse.    He is unable to support this with scripture, and sometimes says he “could be wrong.”      We would say to our friend, Dr. Gagnon that it takes twenty times the courage to hold the line on the indissolubility of holy matrimony than it does to hold the line on the immorality of homosexuality.     We would agree with him that disciples of Jesus Christ should be known more for courage than cowardice, and known more for clarity than confusion.    Were it only so!

Laurie Higgins concludes:

“The talented Guy Benson and others like him pose a threat to conservatism and Christianity. Widespread cultural approval of the homosexuality-affirming ideology threatens the foundation of any society. And if the church affirms heresy, we put at risk the eternal lives of people like Guy Benson.

“Since Dennis Prager is committed to the free exchange of ideas, perhaps he’ll invite someone to appear on another video to debate the ideas expressed by Guy Benson, whose embrace of a “gay”  identity suggests that homosexuality—not Christianity—sits at the tiptop of his identity list.”

…. To which we respond that Guy Benson is not a disease but merely a symptom of a much more widespread disease that has already undermined both conservatism and Christianity, and formed an ideology of its own some 500 years ago, adopted in this country about 50 years ago.     Indeed, the fact that economic conservatism has proven increasingly elusive in the U.S. over these past 50 years can be accounted for by the studies on the high transferred social costs of institutionalized adultery, amounting to at least $112 billion dollars a year when last measured in 2008.     There is no such thing as economic or fiscal conservatism without social and moral conservatism, and President Trump’s recent tax cuts are more likely to swell the deficit than “lift all boats”, if history is any indication.     One cannot “shrink the government” while indulging a morality,  heterosexual or homosexual, that is offensive to God and toxic to families, as the bible defines families.

How well we already know what happens when the church affirms heresy — we have put at risk the eternals lives of millions, not just people like Guy Benson.    We submit that heterosexual autonomy – not Christianity – sits at the tiptop of most evangelicals’ identity lists, and that’s why we have the droning thunder of pastoral knees knocking these past few decades, as false converts call the shots at their churches.

“Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation  giving no cause for offense [against God] in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited,  but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,  in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,  in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,  in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left…”    –  2 Corinthians 6:3-7

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

Put Your Wedding Ring Back On and Get a Job, Greg Locke!

GLocke_PutUrWeddingRingBackOn
by Standerinfamilycourt

 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)
GLockeOW 1.17.18

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.

SAnderson_reLocke

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 upbringingdivorce 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:

GLockeAMadison video

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 a reviler?  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):

  1. 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)
  2. 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)
  3. 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)
  4. 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 STATE before 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)
  5. 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 angry with 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.
    640px-Origen
    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.    See How 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.

(Tennessee Code – Volume 6A, Title 36, Sections 36-4-101 and 36-4-103)

No-Fault:
(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”.    

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

 

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

by Standerinfamilycourt

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

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

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

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

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

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

Currently on the board of CBMW:

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



 EXAMPLE LETTER TO CMBW :

Dr. Denny Burk & Directors


CBMW Executive Office
2825 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40280

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

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

 

 

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

FrMartinDrGby Standerinfamilycourt

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

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

CMS_Shannonby Standerinfamilycourt

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

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

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

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

–  1 Cor. 12: 8 -10

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

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

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

A few nuggets from various chapters in the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

www.standerinfamilycourt. com

 

 

Dear Moody Radio Share 2017

by Standerinfamiycourt

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

——————————————–

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

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

Dear Moody Radio Management,

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

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

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

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

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

RATorrey2

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

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

Blended

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

Respectfully, There’s Still Time to REPENT !

[“standerinfamilycourt”]

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

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

NatMarriageWkby Standerinfamilycourt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ignatius-antioch

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

He could not be more wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 Therefore,

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

And,

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

 


www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

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

FoundersBaptby Standerinfamilycourt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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