Sunday, February 21, 2016

Properly Understanding Marriage

If marriage is properly defined, marriage is properly defended, and God is properly glorified.

I truly believe that it is fairly simple to discern a person’s worldview by what they believe about the Lord Jesus Christ. (When I say worldview, it includes what a person thinks about eternity.) It is also fairly simple to discern the worldview of a person based on what he or she believes about marriage. I would generally conclude that what we believe about marriage helps us to understand many other spiritual things of God. This spiritual discernment as it pertains to understanding marriage can often boil down into what we believe about other “aspects” of Christianity. The question is this...Is what we think and understand about marriage vitally important to understanding the Gospel?

Another example is what many Christians believe about the age of the earth. There are “young earth” and “old earth” believers. To some Christians, the age of the earth is a lesser essential of the faith and what we believe about the age of the earth should not divide the body of believers. I, and others would argue that the age of the earth is a very important essential because the foundation of the age of the earth is a stepping stone for what one believes about other essentials, including the definition of marriage.  Of course we could say that marriage is a lesser essential so what does it matter....  
Many believe that the moment you redefine marriage is the moment you exclude, or deviate passages of scripture. If this is true, could deviating from scripture to explain the age of the earth have anything to do with tampering with essential doctrine of the Christian faith? If you believe in an older earth model via evolution, could this change the way you think about other passages of scripture? I certainly believe that scripture points to the young earth model and that scripture accurately places the age of the earth at less than 10,000 years old simply based on the age of Adam. (Gen 5:5)

In a recent Answers in Genesis article, Influential Pastors and Theologians on the Days of Creation and the Age of the Earth,  author Simon Turpin makes the point that there needs to be an understanding of scripture by properly handling scripture in the context it was written. This is typically understood as “biblical hermeneutics”. There is a significant difference in believing Gen 1:1-3 with a young earth view or an old earth view. The point that Simon makes is that the wrong view of scripture can reflect in what you believe about other matters. Also, if we take something that is not biblical to determine what the Bible says, we have undermined our position.

"Even though all five of these men believe in the principle of Sola Scriptura, when it comes to Genesis 1–3 they have undermined their own position by allowing “science” to dictate what the Word of God means."

The five men Simon refers to are all “influential” theologians/pastors with doctorate degrees. If these men are in error in understanding the age of the earth based on believing science, could this reflect on what they believe about other essentials? I would say, yes. In fact, I read this article questioning the understanding of what qualifies a man or women as a “Theologian” or “Pastor”.

If these men believe that their titles are essential in understanding the “things of God”, could that exclude the idea that the Holy Spirit is not sufficient in helping ANY believer understand the things of God? Perhaps a better question is in order, “Is it necessary to understand the things of God without a degree or formal training?” If you answer yes, then why is there a distinction between the professional "clergy" and the "layperson"? 

The first thing that came to my mind when reading the title of this AIG article was this overall acceptance of the clergy/laity caste system and how this division of the body relates to everything…not just the age of the earth or the definition of marriage…The foundation of this article is that these "Influential Pastors and Theologians" have clout in what they say based on who they are, or who they believe they are based on what they were taught through education. Simon Turpin would have us believe that his biblical hermeneutics of scripture as it pertains to Eph 4:11 would include us believing that today's influential Pastors and Theologians are what scripture was talking about concerning "teachers" "and pastors".

Turpin writes:

"Scripture informs us that God gave pastors and teachers to the church for the equipping of the saints and the building up of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–12). These influential leaders care for God’s people by instructing, exhorting, comforting and leading them in the application of the truths of God’s Word."

This article fails to discern the root of the issue on why "Influential Pastors" got to be "influential" in the first place. Understanding what these men believe about the age of the earth pales on what they believe about themselves. The assumption is that the body of Christ today is a caste system that includes two distinct classes of Christians. The one class is the “clergy” which includes those men or women who believe that they are set apart through scholasticism or ordination (Influential Pastors and Theologians), and the other class is the uneducated and spiritually immature Christian. However, the Bible calls ALL believers "priests" (1 Peter 2:9) and not just certain individuals based on what they know or what someone taught them.

This clergy class is typically defined by the term “sacerdotalism”.  This is defined as a belief that priests and pastors are mediators between God and man.  It is believed that these men and woman have direct access to the Lord based on who they are. It places the justification of what Christ did in the laps of certain men and women who believe that the pastoral ministry sets therm apart from other believers. But we know that justification comes from the Lord Jesus Christ, and not men.

 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
We also know that EVERY believer enters the priesthood, but the Lord makes it clear that spiritual order comes through gender. (1 Timothy 2:11-3:13)  The typical Protestant pastor will argue that sacerdotalism is a “Catholic thing”, until you ask them about the significance of “ordination” and what separates an “ordained” Christian from an “unordained” Christian. Pastors like to point to one verse in all of scripture to validate their profession. (Eph 4:11)) The word "pastor" means shepherd, and this is a one gift of several to a multiple of believers in the body of Christ.

The professionally “ordained” woman who argues that there is a priesthood of all believers which justifies her "pastoral ministry" was probably deceived by a man who believes that his “ordination” separates him from the laity. In other words, when someone says that woman Pastors(capital "P") are not in the bible, I will say that "men" Pastors are not in the bible either. This profession was adopted by Constantine to to make appointed men priests, and the reformers kept the sacerdotalism of the priesthood and changed the name to "Pastor". (Note: Lower case and upper case letters are significant whenever you refer to priest or pastors...) 

Scripture points to elder-ship of “men” who were set apart because of their spiritual maturity and not based on institutionalized scholasticism or how many languages they could speak. This "apostolic secession" was not intended to mirror the Roman Catholic Church, but was intended to make elders of younger men in the body of Christ…not through institutions, but through the power of the Holy Spirit through a community of believers. Older elders passed on their elder-ship to younger men through years of living in a community of believers.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the body of Christ. The moment you, or I believe that priests, popes, pastors, and clergy mediate between God and men is the day you have started to deviate from the truth of God's word. The elders and deacons of the first century church were older men who led by example, and not by lording over the flock(1 Peter 5:3) Today's clergy/laity system would be totally foreign in the first century church. There is no shortage of sacerdotalism among clergy today.

Since the clergy/laity system takes the headship away from the Lord Jesus Christ and places it on the Senior Pastor. This creates passivity among those labeled “laity”, and quenches the power of the Holy Spirit. This system takes away the requirements of husbands, NOT Pastors, to be the spiritual leaders of their homes. Instead of the church becoming a community of believers, this system creates division.

Sacerdoatalism has influenced the thousands of books asking questions on why the church is so divided on issues like the age of the earth and the definition of marriage. I believe sacerdotalism is one of the greatest heresies of all time and has done more to undermine the power of the Holy Spirit more than we care to know. There is an epidemic of passive pew sitters that worship "Pastors".

I would have to agree with Karl Barth, who quoted:

"The term ‘laity’ is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from the Christian conversation."

If I have a worldview based on believing that the sacerdotalism is a foundation of the church, that scholasticism and knowledge of men supersedes the power of the Holy Spirit, could this change what I think about the age of the earth?  What about what I believe about  traditions? What about marriage? 

The AIG article makes a great point that if we trust “Influential Pastors and Theologians” who undermine their position by allowing science to dictate what the word of God says about the age of the earth, what does that say about their vocations influencing everything about God when their vocations are not even biblical? I would say that a professional hireling Pastor is very dependent upon their salaries, and some will, or will not tell you that they have compromised the word of God during some point in their tenure on the fear of losing their job.

One of these “Influential Pastors” in this article is JohnPiper of Desiring God fame. I have already reviewed his book on marriage, "This Momentary Marriage-A Parable of Permanence", and found that his acceptance of sacerdotalism permeates the entire book; especially as it pertains to divorce and remarriage.

Piper writes the book believing that the clergy/laity caste system is the body of Christ. He believes that his position, title, vocation, or whatever you want to call it, qualifies him to administer the vows of marriage. In this instance, Piper and all Pastors have stood in place as a mediator over the Lord Jesus Christ on the covenant of marriage. My previous post asks the question on who is officiator of Marriage, God or man?

The Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear in two of the Gospels that God defines marriage as it was form the beginning:

Matthew 19:And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mark 10:But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

If we read these scriptures as "post-resurrection believers", it should be very easy for a child to understand that the law of marriage TODAY is the same as it was in the BEGINNING. Divorce is no longer applicable to marriage because scripture points to marriage as one man and one woman for life. The Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that IF divorce is your option (proving your heart is HARD), then remaining unmarried or reconciling the marriage is the ONLY option He gives you. 

Do we need a caste system based on traditions of men and the tenets of this caste system (aka the Westminster Confession of Faith) to tell us the definition of marriage?

Marriage is not man’s idea; marriage is God’s command from the beginning. Shortly after the Protestant Reformation, the clergy/laity caste system has handed marriage definition into the hands of secular societies who’s only intent is to destroy the body of Christ. When the “Influential Pastors and Theologians” of this system seek to cry foul when the cultures of today re-define marriage, they only have to look into the mirror to see where this all started.

Unless there is complete repentance of sanctified adultery through administering “remarriage” licenses of divorced covenant marriages by the "Influential Pastoral Ministry", the redefinition of marriage will not stop until biblical marriage is totally destroyed. 

In conclusion, I believe it is eternally essential to compare the early church to what everyone assumes is the representation of the church to be today. Taking away the headship of Christ is not a good idea. The clergy/laity cannot help but to take away the headship of Christ. If your mediator to God is your "Senior Pastor", then you may not have biblical worldview. If you are a Senior Pastor, I urge you to prayfully consider your profession through the power of the Holy Spirit and the word of God, and seek the truth about this caste system. Ask yourself if this “pastoral calling” is really glorifying to the Lord, or is this really a hindrance to the body of Christ?.

A biblical worldview takes into consideration that the Lord Jesus Christ will return to make things as they should be. The church does not replace Christ, the church points others to Christ. We are to make disciples by remaining under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is to be a representation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit gifts accordingly, and supplies each man and woman with a clear understanding of positional order in the family and the church. We are to preach the Gospel in and out of season, and be salt and light in a dark world. The greatest witness of the Gospel is the lives changed by the Gospel.

I have stressed time after time that marriage definition is also a very essential part of understanding the Gospel, and what we think about marriage is what we think about the Gospel. Marriage by definition is one of the greatest examples of Christ’s love for His church. The greatest marriage of all is when we accept the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and truly believe that He is our bridegroom for all eternity. If marriage is properly defined, marriage is properly defended, and God is properly glorified.

In Christ’s love,


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