Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Book Review of “divorce & remarriage” a permanence view”.



Right from the start, it was clear that this book, “divorce & remarriage” a permanence view” was NOT a true advocate for the permanence of marriage. However, despite this fact, many will not like this book because it is very accurate in concluding that all remarriages are adultery. The only problem (a very serious problem) is that all four authors, Daryl Wingerd, Jim Elliff, Jim Chrisman and Steve Burchett believe that God blesses many sinful second marriages. The problem is how these authors define the marriage covenant and how this relates to their positions as “ordained” ministers of God.   
In the Preface they write,


“Additionally, we do not believe that a person in a wrongfully second marriage is committing adultery through each intimate act with his or her spouse. Lastly, we believe and teach that marriages that began sinfully are true marriages, that they can be healthy and happy, and that they should be nourished and cherished in a manner that honors Christ”-page 7


If we look at this with just a rational understanding that good is not evil, and evil is not good, this statement is a fallacy. This is erroneous teaching and so simple to see the fallacy that a young child can discern the mistake. How can something be “wrongful” and “sinful” and be blessed by God at the same time? If this is the case, is a same-sex marriage blessed by God if it is “wrongful” and “sinful” at the same time? According to this statement, that would be the case. However, I can hear the author’s response to this already. Marriage is a one-flesh covenant between a man and a woman, not a woman and a woman or a man and a man. Yet, what is the difference between what God calls adultery and what God calls homosexuality if both are sins? Also, what is the difference between an “ordained” minister that approves same-sex marriage and one that does not? After all, are they not both ordained by God?

[D&R-cover_front.jpg]The gravest error in this book, and for many books that teach on the covenant of marriage, is that the misunderstanding that a marriage ceremony approved and officiated by an ordained minister is approved and overseen by God. This is the central issue of this book. The authors have come to the conclusion that marriage is God’s design which they can regulate. What this book shows me is that these men already performed and officiated “remarriages” that God specifically calls adultery. These clergy believe that God specifically ordained them to be the word of God. Yet, I know that many who remain in remarriages are also those who “tithe” to the churches. If there was a church wide statement that all remarriages must be dissolved because they are adulterous and unlawful, many a clergy would lose their salaries because they would lose their congregants.  

Part 1 of this book centers on specific verses that point to the permanence of marriage. Overall, these authors do a great job of providing sound biblical hermeneutic of the texts presented. They prove or at least make a very good point that marriage is a one-flesh covenant, permanent until death. They also make it clear that initiating a divorce is never lawful, and that remarrying after divorce is an act of adultery if a spouse is living.  The only discrepancy we should have with this teaching is their stance that remarriage is an “act” of adultery rather than a continuous state of adultery which require repentance. 

Part 2 deals with real questions and answers that derive from Part 1. This is where we should have specific questions that align with scripture. When I first read this book, I sent an email to Jim Elliff. Here is a few excerpts from the email:

"I just finished reading “divorce & remarriage a permanence view” and must say that this book is nearly perfect in what the Lord says in scripture on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. I say nearly perfect because there is one very important issue that does not line up with scripture when I got to chapter 16 (Questions About Remarriage After Divorce).  I understand your permanent view for marriage but when the Lord says in Matthew 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:11,12, Luke 16:18 is that anyone who divorces and marries someone while their spouse is living commits adultery. In other words, the divorced spouse commits adultery in the place of marriage. The Lord is saying that you cannot marry someone because it is adultery. The marriage is invalid in God’s eyes. How can a second marriage be valid if God calls this adultery?

 I like to put it like this. The spouse who believes he/she had the “right” to divorce believes he/she does not have the right to forgive a spouse he/she left behind. Your answer to question nine on page 107 is not the right answer because anyone who enters a “remarriage” should have the knowledge that what they did (remarry while a divorced spouse is living) was wrong and is adultery.   

 Q:I have already divorced and remarried but my former spouse is still alive, I now realize that I committed adultery when I remarried, but what should  do? –page 107  


 According to scripture, this second marriage is invalid for two reasons. First, the spouse asking the question (We will call him Bob) entered into an adulterous union and must repent of adultery.  Second, the woman he “remarried” (We will call her Sue) must have had foreknowledge that she was marrying a man who is still in a covenant. Therefore, she too is in adultery and must repent. Repentance is dissolving the “remarriage” because it dissolves the adultery. “Remarriage” is always a permanent adultery situation and Paul IS referring to this in Romans 7:2,3. Combine this with 1 Cor 7 and we see that just because we have Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 7:1-5 this would have no bearing on a current 1st century “remarried” couple remaining in adultery. If they read what Paul is saying, this would convict those who “remarried” to repent. 


 Another thing to consider is the spouse of the first marriage. (We will call her Mary) Mary was not a perfect wife by any means but she truly repented to Bob and sought to preserve the marriage. She even went as far as seeking church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17) against Bob and Sue, but Bob and Sue remained defiant and sought to “remarry”. Mary believes scripture tells her to remain single until Bob repents of adultery. However, according to your book and other similar books, Bob and Sue have entered into a valid marriage even though God calls this adultery. After five years, Bob comes to salvation in Christ and realizes that he sinned against God and Mary. According to this book, Bob must not divorce his current wife (Sue) because he would sin. Thus, Mary remains single believing God could help preserve the marriage by believing Bob would repent and reconcile their marriage by covenant. How is this making sense? It would seem by your view on “remarriage” that the spouse (Mary) who remained obedient to God has the only option to remain single while the adulterous couple need only repent and then remain in remarriage. 


 Very few people will admit that a “remarriage” after divorcing a living spouse is a “permanent” state of adultery. This is very dangerous only many levels. I see many “remarriages” who believe God blesses this union because they learned from their past mistakes. They validate their “remarriage” because their first spouse was abusive and make the claim that the abuser will never change. They say that they were “unequally yoked” and now God has blessed them with a “good” second marriage. This self-gratification is not a substitute for sound biblical doctrine. I guarantee you that those who made vows of marriage for a second or third time were convicted that what they were doing was wrong. They have no qualms validating a divorce that disrupts children’s lives, tears apart families and destroys relationships. However, as soon as you say anything about adulterous remarriages you have questions like: What should we do, break apart and return to our first spouses? What about the children we have from this second marriage? Do we have to return to singleness? Do we have to repent for our “remarriage” and reconcile the first marriage? 


 These questions were never considered when they sought a divorce. Instead of forgiving and repenting in marriage, it is more acceptable to validate a “remarriage” of a couple who demands you forgive them of their sin. The person who receives the most pain is the one who stands by the word of God and hopes for the restoration of a marriage.  If they read your book and realize there is no hope of that ever. These single divorced couples are often scoffed at and ridiculed for remaining obedient in singleness. Combine this with virtually no ministries for single divorced people and their only sound relationship is in Christ. This is the heart of the issue. We will not be in marriage to our spouses in His kingdom; we will be married to Him.”

This is the response these authors give to this question (I have already divorced and remarried but my former spouse is still alive, I now realize that I committed adultery when I remarried, but what should  do?) 

“You should view you current marriage as a merciful blessing from God and stay married.”

What vows does God recognize if these vows are hollow? This is where these men error simply because they believe that God recognizes vows into adultery. I am thoroughly convinced that the reason clergy will tell you that a “remarriage” is a valid marriage is to save their own hides. Jim Elliff responded to this email but did by no means challenge these words. Men like Elliff stand to lose many congregants if he boldly state that a remarriage is not marriage any more than a same-sex marriage is not a marriage. 

Another fallacy is believing that God blesses a second, third, and fourth marriage just because a man of the cloth says he does. I am convinced that nothing is most wicked than a man who calls Christ Lord and calls a remarriage a marriage. The subtle lies from the pulpit are the most destructive lies of all. The moment anyone preaches that remarriage after divorce of a living covenant spouse is acceptable is the moment a man calls evil good, and good evil. Elliff and men like him like to call people like me a Pharisee. Yet, it was the Pharisees who permitted both divorce and remarriage. The Lord Jesus Christ had the most condemning words for the Pharisees.  

In conclusion, this book is great for seeing the truth that marriage is a covenant and that divorce and remarriage are sinful. Yet, I TOTALLY reject this book on the premise that it believes that clergy like the authors of this book have the power to call a remarriage a marriage when it is not a marriage at all. As if a vow into adultery is really a vow at all...Remarriages are adultery and remain adultery until dissolved. In other words, the only valid divorce is divorcing from a remarriage that God has already called adultery. Jim Elliff was warned. I pray that he did not delete my email. I pray that he and the other authors would reconsider their stance before it is too late. God help these men if they do not repent. Unfortunately, this would require humility and contrite hearts, and most importantly, not to believe that the clergy system they adhere to and admonish is nothing more than composed of and controlled by hirelings…to quote Upton Sinclair. 

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

In Christ’s love,

Neil

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Backed Into a Corner Via Compromise…



“The separation of church and state means that we will render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and we will. But the preaching of the church of God does not belong to Caesar, and we will not hand it over to him. Not now. Not ever.” – Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention


These are noble statements. The church should abide by the governing laws until those governing laws supersede the word of God. Yes, we as believers are required to pay taxes and live under the authority of the governments which God put in place, yet, we must never believe that any government has authority over God. This excerpt is from Moore’s website, Moore to the Point, which is in response to the city of Houston seeking to undermine the US Constitution.
I would like to take Moore’s quote and put a spin on something that is very ironic and very applicable to the times. If you read Moore's other articles on the sanctity of marriage, you will understand where I am coming from... Moore, and many in the evangelical church believe that same-sex marriage is not a marriage because it does not coincide with the word of God. Moore will use scripture from God’s word to accurately show us that marriage is between one man and one woman. I would never disagree with this. Matthew and Mark give us clear verses from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9) Marriage is meant to be as it was from the beginning. (Genesis 2:24)

The problem I have with Moore’s statement is if we look back in history prior to the Council of Trent, marriage did not require that the services of a priest and two others be witnesses to the wedding ceremony. In other words, after this council, marriage was governed by the self-professing church. Without going into too much detail, this same professing church adopted the idea that they, and only they, had the power to officiate marriage. In other words, one needed the stamp of approval from an ordained priest to be recognized as married. These church leaders had the power and authority over marriage. 

Once this authority over marriage was established, these leaders declared that their words and voice on marriage was coming from God’s own word.  Enter the Protestant reformation which includes the majority of the doctrine in the evangelical church. Huffington Post columnist, Bethany Blankley, wrote an article entitled, How Protestantism Redefined Marriage. In this article she commented on the following…


“It wasn't until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century that the recording of marriages and establishing of rules for marriage became a function of the state. Martin Luther, the Catholic priest who initiated the Reformation in Germany said that marriage was a "worldly thing ... that belongs to the realm of government." A similar opinion was expressed by John Calvin, his Swiss counterpart. Calvin and his colleagues reformulated Christian marriage by enacting the Marriage Ordinance of Geneva, which imposed ‘The dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage’ as valid.” - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bethany-blankley/how-protestantism-redefined-marriage_b_1510654.html


If we read Moore’s opening quote, we need to question if marriage was compromised by a self-professing body of believers who broke away from an already corrupt Roman Catholic Church. Remember, Luther and others simply asked for reformation of the church, and not to break away altogether. What we have today, at least in the Western world, is a joint effort where marriage is very much a part of the church as it is a part of the government. The problem lies in the government taking marriage and redefining marriage against the will of the church. Moore's point is that this would be a breach of the United States Constitution.Then again, the church is so divided that some congregations not only recognize same-sex marriage, they encourage same-sex marriage. 

Moore and the rest of the conservatives are backed into a corner. If marriage definition wasn’t a problem, the conservative Christian has to defend the very doctrine of the Gospel against congregations who claim the name of Christ, while at the same time these congregations accept the lifestyle of the homosexual. Sin and grace get redefined along with the covenant of marriage. How did this come to be? 



We need look no further than the Reformation which started a downward spiral and all-out attack on the covenant of marriage. Same-sex marriage is not the beginning of marriage redefinition. Not by a long shot. What Moore and others will not touch or consider is that marriage was attacked with the idea by men like Luther that marriage is a “worldly thing.”  The redefinition of marriage started with the liberal stance on divorce and remarriage. 


Moore and the rest of the evangelical church adhere to “exception clauses” and Pauline privileges” that provide loopholes to what the Lord said that no man may put asunder. Read the Westminster Confession’s stance on divorce and marriage to see why these evangelicals adhere to this “governing body” instead of the word of God. Divorce and remarriage have done more to harm the covenant of marriage than these men will admit. It is due to the fact that they will not repent of ever believing that a marriage covenant can only end in death. Thus, they cling to the idea they can successfully defend marriage against an enemy that has already won the battle of scripture twisting on verses pertaining to divorce and remarriage.

They cannot win this battle unless they repent of their belief that divorce and remarriage is God’s idea. Thus, they would have to publically acknowledge that they ignorantly allowed the civil government control when and how a marriage can begin and end. Once a divorce is recognized by the civil government, the church agrees with the terms. Why? Because the church is in conjunction with when a marriage becomes official. These leaders of the church believed that God ordained their positions, thus whatever they say goes. What we need to understand is that pastoral “ordination” is anything but truth. 


Pastoral ordination is a pagan tradition of men. We need to look no further than God’s word to know that every blood bought believer is a child of the living God.  The Lord Jesus Christ has much to say to those who elevated themselves above others. These were the traits of the Pharisees. This started before the Constantine era and continued to grow after the emperor publically declared Christianity as the new religion of Rome. Protestantism retained these titles and vestments of “priests” and bishops” and “popes” but renamed them as “pastor”, reverends” and “ministers”. This brought on the idea that “universities” of learning would make men more educated and intelligent to become better leaders. Thus, Moore is a product of men who believe that their seminary training and scholasticism gives them the upper hand over the less informed and uneducated “laity”. What seminaries, universities, and titles do is eliminate the need or prompting of the Holy Spirit and quench this indwelling with human ideas and traditions.


These titles only issue in the damaging spirit of pride. It is the pride of this ordination that brought on the idea that the Levitical tithe be reinstated to provide these learned men with the means in which to bring us truth. Combine this with lavish buildings and lucrative retirement packages, and the modern church resembles a corporation more than it ever models the body of Christ. Today’s mega-churches and seminaries are the driving voice of the church. If your ministry is not grandiose, or you do not author a book, or you are not a president of a seminary, you are labeled a typical laity who is immature in Christ when you expose these truths. 

I could go on and on with this spirit of deception associated with this caste system, yet this would derive from the point that marriage is not the subject of men who believe their caste clergy/laity system can dictate and officiate who gets married. Moore will make it clear that men like him, an ordained representative of the body of Christ, are the only ones who can officiate the wedding vows. I would argue that I have just as much authority to witness the covenant marriage vows of one man and one woman. In fact, every believer has that authority if that authority aligns perfectly with God’s word.


We must be clear that since marriage is God’s plan, that marriage must be according to His plan. A marriage in the Lord is one man and one woman for life.(Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Cor 7:10,11,39; Eph 5:31) Thus, all divorces have no authority over a one-flesh marriage covenant. Moore and many evangelicals will tell you that a marriage can end through a "particular" reason to  divorce, yet these “exception clauses” and Pauline privileges” only became more and more attractive when the evangelical church caved into the pressure from secular vices of no-fault divorce and egalitarianism. These men of the cloth cowered in fear because if they did not succumb to the pressure of feminism and civil court laws, they would stand to lose many a parishioner. Losing people equals losing income.  


Enter same-sex marriage and its evil and wicked agenda. The destruction of marriage through divorce and remarriage created a perfect storm for the next phase to destroy the family unit, destroy gender roles, destroy the church, and destroy marriage once and for all. This is a diabolical plan of an enemy who attacked marriage from the very beginning. Surprisingly enough, the devil has full backing by those liberal and cultural sensitive seeker-friendly types (liberal clergy from the same clergy/laity system) who embraced egalitarianism and already ignore cohabitation fornication and remarriage adultery of heterosexual congregants.  Thus the only ones left are those ultra-conservative types who warned for years that a compromise of marriage through divorce and remarriage would come to this. 

Brothers and sisters, this is my plea. Now is the time to stand up for the permanence of marriage. Marriage is God’s idea for a man and woman from the beginning. The Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that man has no power over the covenants of God. Marriage is a covenant. Marriage represents the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Marriage represents Christ's love for His bride, the church. Now is the time to throw away pride of this clergy/laity caste system and dissolve these adulterous remarriages. Now is the time to call divorce what it is…treacherousness. The church must unite and become accountable to the one-flesh covenant of marriage by standing firm on definition, duration, and representation. There is still time.  

Eph 5:31,32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

In Christ’s love,
Neil