Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Email sent...

 Part of my ministry for the permanence of marriage involves sending emails to various pastors and ministries to remind them that marriage is God’s design. Most of these ministries have an international influence through the various resources such as daily radio programs, dynamic websites, and books. Most of these ministries have a prominent pastor who is internationally known. What is common with all of these ministries is that they all have the same view on marriage, divorce, remarriage (MDR). 

I refer to this view as the “Popular view”. The Popular View says that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and woman. The view also believes that even through the most difficult sins, all spouses of difficult marriages should seek reconciliation to remain in marriage and that divorce should be the last resort. However (this is a very BIG “HOWEVER”), all these ministries believe that scripture says that there are “two” instances (sexual sin and desertion by an unbeliever- some have more than these two instances) where divorce AND remarriage is acceptable for the “innocent” spouse. These ministries also believe and teach that God is sovereign and that a regenerated believer should be the example of Christ in his or her circle of influence-including within the confines of a covenant marriage.

What must be mentioned is that it is nearly impossible to contact the prominent figure of these ministries. These ministries rely on extensive staff to provide information for those who seek to contact the ministry with any questions. In some cases, an associate minister will respond if the question is directed to a prominent pastor. This was the case when I recently sent an MDR question to Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Texas. 

Still other prominent churches will send links to the extensive resources they have in their vast databases. This was the case when I sent an email to John MacArthur, Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles, California. John MacArthur is also an author and an internationally syndicated radio host for “Grace to You”. He is also president to two seminaries in California. When I sent my email to John MacArthur, I figured that I would receive information from one of his staff. I was hoping to correspond with someone who would directly answer the questions I posed in my email.  Instead I received several links that provide similar results, but not results that answered the specific questions that I would have liked for them to answer.  

One question that few with the “popular view” can answer is the question I directed to John MacArthur. This question comes with a presupposition from the popular view that an innocent spouse of “adultery” has the option to forgive and reconcile a repentant spouse OR he or she has the option to divorce if the “guilty” spouse does not show fruits of repentance. However, what is the option for the “guilty” spouse who does not repent, and the innocent spouse refuses to divorce because he or she seeks to remain obedient to what Paul says to the “married” of the Corinth church? (1 Cor 7:10,11)   
The question posed is this… What words of comfort can your ministry give to a faithful spouse who remains in a marriage covenant after a minister who adheres to your council remarried his or her adulterous spouse?” 

Here is the scenario behind the question… A single man (we will call him Joe) and a single woman (we will call here Mary) make covenant marriage vows to each other before God and men. After five years, Joe meets a woman (we will call her Jane) at his place of employment. He begins an emotional and then physical affair with this woman. Both Joe and Jane are aware that Joe is married to Mary. Unbeknownst to Mary, Joe is planning to divorce Mary and remarry Jane. Eventually, Mary finds about the affair and asks Joe to repent in order to reconcile the marriage. She even enacts church discipline so that every word is established. Joe refuses council and even goes as far to say that God has blessed him with Jane.  

Since marriage is as much a part of the civil laws of the land as it is a covenant before God, Joe is able to file a no-fault non-contested divorce from his marriage with Mary. Mary does not have money to fight for the marriage in court, and thus after a 30 day waiting period, the non-contested divorce ends the “civil” aspects of the marriage.  Mary makes it clear to both Bob and Jane that a divorce does not end a one-flesh marriage covenant before the Lord. She says that she will remain in singleness as the Lord commands her. (1 Cor 7:10,11)

Joe moves to another state with Jane, and they both seek to marry each other in a new church they selected after searching on the internet. This pastor adheres to teaching by well-known and prominent teachers like John MacArthur, James Dobson, and David Instone-Brewer. This pastor follows and contributes to family ministries like Focus on the Family. The pastor asks why Joe divorced his wife, Mary. Joe tells the pastor that he and Mary married young and that he did not know what he was doing at the time. He also makes it appear that there was never a hope of reconciling his marriage to Mary. This pastor that marries them believes that God is full of grace and that if they both “repent” of their sins, he will marry them. The pastor only demands that both attend pre-marriage classes and become members of the church before he marries them to each other. However, the pastor is unaware that Mary remains in singleness, waiting on the Lord for repentance and reconciliation of a marriage vow she honors before the Lord. 

Also, is it possible that Joe and Jane could lie about the specifics of the divorce? If they did, how would any other ministry know? A divorce tells a story, it either tells us that at least one spouse would not repent of a sin, or that at least one spouse could not forgive a sin. That is why the Lord calls those who divorce as hardhearted. Is divorce a representation of the Gospel or is the representation of the Gospel more in line with the actions of Mary. And most importantly, does a “civil” divorce end a marriage covenant if one spouse remains in the covenant? Regardless, in just a few months after a “civil” divorce of Mary, Joe and Jane become husband and wife in a church. Is this “remarriage” a marriage?

The “customer service” person did not answer the specific question but did offer me several links to answer the question. For curiosity sake, I clicked the first link and read the “Divorce and Remarriage” page on “Grace To You”. It took me just the first paragraph to see the glaring errors in this teaching. 

 “Divorce in the Scripture is permitted only because of man’s sin. Since divorce is only a concession to man’s sin and is not part of God’s original plan for marriage, all believers should hate divorce as God does and pursue it only when there is no other recourse.”

{The following is an excerpt from my response to this statement and helps to answer the question men like John MacArthur cannot answer. What words of comfort can your ministry give to a faithful spouse who remains in a marriage covenant after a minister who adheres to your council remarried his or her adulterous spouse?” }

This is faulty and erroneous teaching right from the start. Divorce was permitted under the law by Moses, but the Lord Jesus Christ points to God’s original plan for marriage of which we as believers are to abide in today. “Have you not read?”...(Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9) Thus all believers will hate divorce as God does and will never pursue it as a means in which to end a marriage covenant. Simply because God says that a divorce decree does not end a covenant marriage. A sufficiency in Christ is all that any believer needs in this life and the life to come. Marriage is a gift of God’s grace. (Gen 2:18)

The presupposition is that scripture points to singleness “if” divorce is the option because a divorce decree does not end the marriage covenant. (1 Cor 7:10,11) A person who divorces or believes a divorce ends the covenant makes the Lord Jesus Christ into a liar. Thus, this person proves that they are not only unregenerate in Christ, they also believe forgiveness and/or repentance is not required of a believer. They also must exclude God as the officiator and co-representative of the marriage covenant. …”for what God hath joined.”
The presupposition of this article is that there are two options God gives for the “innocent” party. Yet, Christ clearly states in Luke 16:18 that if anyone marries her who was put away commits adultery. In Luke’s account, there is no reference to whether the woman put away was “innocent” or “guilty” of either of these offenses. 

Also, the Greek word “porneia” (except for “porneia”) has another definition which is fornication defined as pre-marital sexual intercourse prior to a consummated marriage. This is applicable in both Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 which refer to the fornication in a betrothed marriage (similar to our understanding of engagement the exception was that a man and woman were husband and wife in betrothal and thus it required a divorce to end in the case of fornication). Matthew’s Gospel was primarily directed to the Jewish Christian who understood the meaning of “porneia” as sexual intercourse before or during the betrothal period of one year. The example we have is also in Matthew’s Gospel in the parents of Jesus (Matthew 1:18-19) Joseph was Mary’s “espoused” husband.

If the Lord would have wanted to use a broad definition of “porneia” it would not make sense since this broad definition would also include adultery. Why then did not the Lord simply say “except for adultery” unless “fornication” referred to a specific case of betrothal marriage? Also, fornication and adultery are used in other scripture which corroborate with the fact they were different sins. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

Matthew 5:32 says that anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery against her. Also, if a man divorces his consummated wife, he causes her to commit adultery. One cannot commit adultery after divorce, UNLESS the divorce does not end the marriage. This is the case. A divorce does not end a marriage otherwise if it did, it would not cause either spouse to commit adultery should they remarry. 

Instead of looking at clear scripture from both Mark (10:2-12),Luke (16:18) and 1 Cor (7:10,11) the professing evangelical church relies solely on Matthew’s account in order to create loopholes through a specific exception clause. They stretch and twist scripture and the definitions of certain words to provide people the freedom to divorce and remarry. Yet, these exceptions and privileges clearly contradict other scripture on the subject.

The marriage covenant can only end in death and to teach otherwise not only contradicts the word of God, it is a direct assault on the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot deny the fact of reconciled marriages that seemed all but lost, where one spouse remained in covenant and prayed for a prodigal to come home. To deny restored marriages even through marriages that had both adultery and abandonment would to deny the very existence of God. You cannot deny the fact that there are men and woman right now who stand in a covenant they made before God. They remain in covenant regardless of the false teaching that has permeated the church. These men and woman stand on God’s word because they know that God stands with them in this covenant.

These men and women watch helplessly as the spouse they vowed to in covenant marriage is lead to believe that a civil divorce decree can end a one-flesh marriage covenant. Then they watch as this spouse runs to another state with his or her new lover and stands before clergy who offer vows of “second” marriage. Does God really recognize hollow vows of an unrepentant sinner who lives in adultery? Do you?

These men and woman remain in covenant even when they admitted of their own sin against a spouse, repented of that sin, and sought forgiveness with a broken and contrite heart….yet, forgiveness need not apply as the “exception clause” is the best and only option for a spouse who does not have to forgive, or simply does not want to forgive. Imagine if Christ neglected to forgive our sins if we repented with a broken and contrite heart…would any of us have any hope?

When the exception clause and Pauline privilege get used and abused outside of the intention and context in which they were intended, the options are endless. The abuse of these scriptures is the same false teaching that has opened the doors to the devastating effects of egalitarianism and same-sex marriage. In fact, it is nearly impossible to tell if the “remarried” couple in your church was even divorced according to either the “exception clause” or “desertion of an unbeliever”. What if neither was the case? Is the “remarriage” a marriage, or is it exactly what the Lord said it was, adultery. In fact, EVERY remarriage is adultery and remains adultery until divorced. Thus, divorce is ONLY applicable to unlawful adulterous remarriages.

Luke 16:18 is cut and dry. I understand many do not like this, it is because they most likely married according to their flesh then it ever had to do with glorifying God. Marriage is one man and one woman for life. No excuses, no exceptions. It would benefit the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to be accountable for the definition of marriage and the restoration of broken marriages through prayer, singleness, and church discipline. Today is the day to stand for the permanence of marriage

Will John MacArthur ever read my email? Who can say if it would matter if he did? What matters is that I sent the email because I firmly believe that the permanence of marriage is rooted in the word of God. I will continue to ask the questions that the “popular view “cannot answer. I will continue to send the emails, write the blog, and speak the truth for the permanence of marriage. So help me God.  
 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder…
In Christ’s love,


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