Friday, October 30, 2015

Blended Family Couples Are Not Covenant Family Couples

This post is written to bring discernment for the the truth about a second part of a Focus on the Family (FOTF) Broadcast featuring Ron Deal, author and speaker for FamilyLife Blended. The first blog post on part 1 is here. The Misplace Humility With Blended Families

This second part of this "Improving Your Marriage As a Blended Family Couple" program starts out with a quick snippet of the day’s program. Ron Deal explains how a step-mom, who is normally not a mean person, describes her inability to control her becoming a “wicked step-mom” because of her frustrations in dealing with her husband’s ex-wife. Ron Deal explains that this woman’s normal behavior in context is to “bring that out in her” so that she does not act out in frustration. Based on what God ‘s word has to say on divorce and remarriage, I would compare the advice in this broadcast to adding poison to a cup of water and then putting a “potable water” label on the cup. Then you drink the water believing that the label has power over the poison. This is how Focus on the Family and Ron Deal expect you to view blended families.

The word of God says that this woman that Ron Deal talked to, she is in adultery with this man because this man’s “ex-wife” is in reality, his “covenant” wife. (Mt 5:32,19:9; Mk 10:11,12; Lk 16:18) This is important to note, especially since Ron Deal will try to convince us to listen to what he has to say about “committed love” and remaining in what God calls adultery, by correlating this to how it should be in a “first’ marriage. Ron wants us to label a “remarriage” as a marriage, and remain in humility so that the remarriage will be committed, not ending in “another” divorce.

The truth is this… problems in most blended families are not a result of lack of humility, the problem is denying truth which prevents one from remaining obedient to God’s word. Humility to remain in adultery remarriage proves not only to be counterproductive, illogical, and sinful, it is an assault on the very definition of marriage, and a perversion of the Gospel. Blended family couples are not covenant family couples.

The context of this post will focus on the “foundation” of what FOTF and Ron Deal believe about “marriage”. Jim Daly will highlight his “thoughts” in the introduction, and Ron Deal will conclude the broadcast with his definition of “committed love”. The entire middle of these two comments  permeates with the human philosophy totally devoid of scripture. Please listen to the whole broadcast and consider what I write in this post concerning what I believe to be unbiblical advice, human philosophy, and damnable heresy.

In the introduction to this broadcast, Jim Daly tells us that there are “unique” challenges for step-couples and step-families. Daly continues to say that step-families aren’t like other families and that there are lots of reasons for that. Then he asks the question from an audience’s perspective as to why FOTF is not talking about “first-time marriage” and “traditional marriages” instead of the subject of step-family marriages? Then he says these very important words that set the foundation for what FOTF believes, and how what they believe stands contrary to the word of God.

“The reality is, in our culture this happens (divorce and remarriage); it happens for biblical reasons, it happens for unbiblical reasons, and I’ll acknowledge that…but we’ve got to pick up the pieces with these families in their present situation. And we want to strengthen where they are at so they don’t go through another divorce. I’ll tell you what my passion is; too much divorce in the Christian church,… we have got to stop finding that easier way out. I know some of you are saying, you haven’t lived where I’m living…I get that, but we’ve got to do everything we can do to seek the fruit of the spirit as Ron Deal or guest talked about last time, to pursue humility in our relationships…and to be bold and blunt, we don’t do that well today. We are such an entitled culture, we’ve got to find a better way to deal with relationships…I’m saying that as much to me and Jean as I am saying to everybody else…This is imperative that we work on our relationships so that they are an example of Christ in us.”- Jim Daly Focus on the Family President 10/29/15

This opening statement breeds a certain amount of controversy and considerable confusion, and this starts in the first sentence…

“The reality is, in our culture this happens (divorce and remarriage); it happens for biblical reasons, it happens for unbiblical reasons, and I’ll acknowledge that…but we’ve got to pick up the pieces with these families in their present situation."-Jim Daly

When Jim makes the statement about “our culture”, whose culture is he refereeing to? Is he talking about a nation that has thumbed its nose at God’s definition of marriage? Is he referring to the culture of a nation that has become so sexually immoral that certain “Christian churches” glorify the idea of same-sex marriages and ignore cohabitation among heterosexual couples? Is he referring to a culture that has embraced the loopholes to divorce and remarry by way of Reformers who penned documents of tradition (Westminster Confession of Faith) to replace God’s word? The same Word that defines marriage as a one-flesh covenant between one man and one woman for life? No excuses, no exceptions! 

Or, is Jim talking about certain Christians in “our culture” who point to what the early church practiced and believed on what God’s word says about marriage being as a one-flesh covenant between one man and one woman that can only end in death? If Christians are set-apart from culture, how does divorce and remarriage fit into an evangelical church that looks no different than unbelievers who divorce and remarry? That fact alone should point to the absurdity of believing the body of Christ would bow to the idea that a divorce paper can end what God hath joined together. 

Jim makes a very bewildering attempt to differentiate between the idea that there are “biblical” and “unbiblical” cases for divorce and remarriage. I understand his point from already knowing his false teaching in defining marriage; except in this broadcast, Jim does not specify on what separates the “biblical” case from the “unbiblical” case, let alone tell the listener if there are consequences of either. If I was a first time listener, I would have to assume that even if there are “biblical” and “unbiblical” reasons, neither of these cases will affect my eternal destination if I divorced for “unbiblical” reasons. I would only know that Jim Daly, FTOF, and Ron Deal would love to help me “pick up the pieces of my present situation.”

Let us say that a person was in an “unbiblical marriage” and he or she listened to this broadcast. We would have to assume that even though a marriage is “unbiblical”, it is a lawful marriage non-the-less and that FOTF and Ron Deal would want you to “remain” in this marriage so that you will not go through another divorce.
They would tell you that divorce is acceptable for repeated unrepentant adultery and abandonment. My response to FOTF's biblical “rules” are here , here and here.

But let us give FOTF the benefit of the doubt and just say that the divorce and remarriage does NOT fit into either one of FOTF categories of “adultery” or “abandonment”. This particular divorce and remarriage is “unbiblical”. So what is the solution to this? Does FOTF tell you that an “unbiblical” remarriage is not a marriage in the Lord (1 Cor 7:39)? Even if we were to use Matthew’s account (Written specifically to the Jewish Christians who understand the concept of fornication during the year of betrothal marriage of which there is an exception clause-Matthew 5:32 and19:9), we see that a remarriage after a divorce is adultery.
Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

It is adultery to “remarry” after a divorce. If this is the case, why does Jim Daly refuse to acknowledge this sin of adultery for those in “unbiblical” marriages? Both Jim Daly and Ron Deal would have us believe that a “remarriage” after divorce is “biblical”, and that they both provide “biblical” advice to remain in an “unbiblical marriage” that God calls adultery. They believe that the advice they have to offer would keep the couples in these unbiblical adulterous remarriages from getting another divorce. 

Should not Jim Daly, FOTF, and Ron Deal be pointing to the idea that the Lord Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death if we repent of our sins, and that divorcing from an “unbiblical adulterous remarriage” is the most obvious choice in this situation? If a person remains in sin and does not repent, he or she will go to Hell. One could conclude that Jim Daly and Ron Deal are avoiding the truth in these situations, and would much rather send an “unbiblical married couple” to “The National Institute of Marriage weekend” or Ron Deal’s “Blended Family Summit”. Is this far better than telling them that adulterers do not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)

Near the end the broadcast, Jim Daly asks Ron to define a term from his book "The Smart Step-family Marriage" for couples of step-families, “committed love”…Ron quotes: 

“It’s that covenant attitude that says we’re in this thing for life. For couples in step-families, that means declaring to everyone around you, we’re in this thing for life. I mean, in the beginning, now this is really important for couples of step-families to hear me say this, alright?... In the beginning, your children are not nearly invested in the success of your marriage as you are, now that’s very different than a first marriage. I na first marriage, biological, traditional families, everybody’s invested in the success of mom and dad’s marriage, if they’re not happy, we’re not happy. If they’re separated, we want them back together again….So you as a couple you have to be committed to a long term relationship even when others around you are not…including your kids. That can feel strange sometimes, you feel like you’re betraying your kids, …it’s like I’m doing something that is putting them at a hard place in their life…well, yes there are adjustments, and sometimes they are not really excited about your marriage,…” Ron Deal, FOTF 10/29/15

Ron Deal wants a rebellious, vow breaking, adulterous couple to teach their children that good is evil, and evil is good. This couple did not have a "covenant attitude" to remain in a covenant marriage, but by-golly, speak evil against their "remarriage" after hardheartedly divorcing a spouse that they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that will never repent of what they did to them...It would seem that Ron Deal teaches that humility to remain in selfishness of second, third and fourth vows is much easier than humility to remain in the first one. 

Also, Ron wants us to believe that teaching children that staying in a committed “remarriage” is equally important as staying in a committed first covenant marriage.  Ron Deal and so many others want you to believe that a child should accept a divorce from a covenant marriage of their biological parents, and that a divorce from an adulterous remarriage would be terrible.
Two divorces make a right in this case, becasue divorcing from adultery is eternally more secure than remaining in adultery.
Here is some scripture for Ron Deal, since he uses zero scripture to back his idea that a one-flesh covenant can end by the actions of godless parents who care more about “self” and seeking humility in a remarriage, rather than obeying God’s "commands" to display humility in a covenant marriage. (1 Cor 7:10,11) Teaching children that is is "ok" to remain in adultery is not a good idea.

Luke 17:1Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.

Remember where Jim Daly tells us his passion…”Too much divorce in the church”.
Here is my passion. Too much false teaching by these popular ministries is keeping couples in the bondage of sin. The Lord rebuke Jim Daly and Ron Deal.
 If Jim Daly and Ron Deal want to seriously help people for all eternity, they need to repent and tell people the truth. What does this look like for Jim Daly, Focus on the Family, and Ron Deal? It is the same thing I wrote to FOTF founder, James Dobson…
1. Jim Daly and Ron Deal, as well as Focus on the Family must personally admit that they have misled singles, families, and marriages by incorrectly teaching sound doctrine on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. They must seek forgiveness in the Lord, and then seek forgiveness to all the ministries, pastors, and people they mislead.
2. Jim Daly and Ron Deal as well as Focus on the Family must restructure the ministry…teaching that a one-flesh covenant marriage is never dissoluble by divorce and that all remarriages are adultery is a great start. This would involve dissolving all remarriages. Unfortunately, many remarriages have children born in this adultery. This dissolution of remarriage is not a condemnation to these children, but an act of repentance against the sin of adultery so that the blood of Christ will cover all involved. These children will grow up knowing that the blood of Christ covers them and that their parents obeyed God by dissolving an adulterous union thus coming to, and living in salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. These parents are just as responsible to raise the children, yet this will not be through bitterness of divorce, but through obedience and faith in God to do the right thing. Compare this to a hardhearted person who divorces, thus separating the family by divorce. Any divorce recovery ministry will tell you of horror stories of how parents put the children in the middle of their ugly separation battles. Which divorce honors God?  Divorce from marriage, or divorce from adultery remarriage? Not to mention that in one generation, marriage would be restored as it was meant to be.
3. Jim Daly and Ron Deal, as well as Focus on the Family will be able to continue this new ministry like never before. The focus will be on family and marriage without the need to talk about divorce. There will be a greater emphasis on church discipline and consequences for those who remain hardhearted. There will also be a need for singles ministries for a spouse who has a prodigal spouse. This single ministry would focus on the single spouse remaining in Christ while making the prodigal fully accountable for their actions. This preparation would prepare the loving spouse and church family to greet the prodigal when they come home. These ministries will have a greater impact on a world in desperate need to see the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ lived out through one-flesh covenant marriage.
There is restoration and hope available for these men and these ministries. There will be consequences of nearly a 500 years of false teaching, but the power of the Gospel can, and will restore the repentant. It is my prayer, and should be the prayer of every believer that the body of Christ would stand strong to defend marriage as one man and one woman for life. Unfortunately, the greatest obstacle to defending marriage is not the unbeliever, it is ministries such as FOTF and FamilyLife.

Please join me in praying for Jim Daly, Ron Deal, and the ministries that are tied to marriage. God loves them, and so must we. If want to be a witness to the world that divorces and remarries, we must be pro-permanence of marriage so that the world can really see...Christ in us! Please pray that they would repent, and when they do, forgive them, just as Christ forgave us.

Luke 17:1-3 Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.3Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.In Christ's love,



Unilateral Divorce Is Unconstitutional said...

True to form FOTF is conflating the man-made vehicle of civil divorce with the true sin that forfeits our inheritance in the kingdom of God: unforgiveness and lack of reconciliation with our one-flesh that leads to the state of serial polygamy:

"..but we’ve got to pick up the pieces with these families in their present situation. And we want to strengthen where they are at so they don’t go through another divorce. I’ll tell you what my passion is; too much divorce in the Christian church,… we have got to stop finding that easier way out."

If Daly's "passion" truly is too much divorce in the church, why aren't they doing more to repeal and reform unilateral divorce? And if Daly's passion truly is the kingdom of God, why are they counseling and coaching people as if this life is all there is?

Neil Novotnak said...

Great questions. When was the last time you heard a guest on FOTF talk about the evil of unilateral divorce? Did you ever hear about the spouse who remained in the vow of covenant marriage after he or she was handed a unilateral divorce paper saying that the marriage is over? It is really not very difficult to see through the fog of worldly wisdom these ministries offer. Thank you again for the insight.

In Christ's love,