Saturday, January 21, 2017

Focus On Christ, Not The Family: My Thoughts on Yvette Maher's FOTF Testimony am blessed to have the privilege to listen to radio at work. It just so happens that the only stations with decent reception are the Contempory Christian Music stations. I can praise and worship the Lord at work. I sing along with some of the more worshipful songs for I am not ashamed of the Gospel. The station I listen to also has half hour teaching segments during the afternoon by some of the most influential speakers in the Evangelical world. There is also a half hour of Focus on the Family (FOTF) at 1 pm. 

It is during these segments where I often blurt out an “amen” when the truth is taught. It is also during these times when I sadly shake my head in disbelief at how these ministries can understand and preach the Gospel, but fail miserably at exegeting (Exegete is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text) scripture on specific topics.

 One specific topic they seem to never apply to the Gospel is one-flesh covenant marriage. They are all in acceptance that marriage is a covenant and that every troubled marriage should reconcile with the power of the Holy Spirit, yet they believe the tenets of the Westminster Confession of Faith on marriage, divorce, and remarriage which provide certain instances an “innocent” spouse has the option to divorce and then marry another. 

I will direct you to my other posts on the Westminster Confession of Faith deconstruction of marriage here and the two verses which are taken out of context to allow the innocent spouse the divorce and remarry here. My main point concerning divorce and remarriage is that both are contrary to the Gospel, and that scripture is “set up” in way that marriage is a one-flesh bond which requires one or both spouses to repent, forgive, and reconcile “within” the covenant of marriage less they both (innocent and guilty) seek to remain unmarried until either or both die. 

There are many documented cases where a guilty spouse has done horrible sins within the marriage covenant which would have permitted the “innocent” spouse to divorce and remarry per the reasons laid down by the false exegete of the Westminster Confession of Faith. (Luke 16:18 makes no reference to "innocent" or "guilt') Yet, the “innocent” spouse remained true to the covenant, remained in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ praying for the salvation of the prodigal spouse which resulted in repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. This “standing” for marriage is a representation of Christ’s love for us while we were yet sinners. This spouse loved the prodigal spouse when he or she never deserved to be loved. 

This stander was willing to obey the Lord and trust the Lord that He would bring such prodigal to repentance. This stand is contrary to divorcing this wayward spouse with the intent to remarry another. This is akin to believing that this prodigal is beyond the hope of Christ with no chance to repent. We would call this condition-“hardheartedness” and that the innocent spouse would rather deny the vows he or she made to a spouse in order to appease their own desires.

If this “hardheartedness” is a problem for the “innocent” spouse today, there is zero accountability for the “guilty” spouse and often these unrepentant sinners go on living without shame; ever having to answer to his or her sins. Yes, they WILL answer in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ (AND THAT IS WHY I WRITE THESE POSTS SO AS TO BRING THOSE TO REPENTANCE), but this lack of accountability has all but twisted the definition of marriage in to something other than what it was in the beginning. (Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9) 

This lack of accountability is larger due to the false tenets of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Evangelicals who not only “remarry” unrepentant sinners and solemnize sinful unions, many are unrepentant “remarried” sinners themselves.  The innocent spouse is no longer the exclusive permission to divorce and remarry, as we see that Evangelicals have ignored unilateral divorce laws to the point that many use these laws to justify their own divorce and remarriage. 

The point is that the tenets of the Westminster Confession of Faith and how these tenets exegete scripture is confusing and often cause others to sin. Divorce and remarriage has not only destroyed husbands and wives, it has destroyed children, families, and societies. It has redefined marriage to the point that many do not get married anymore since it is widely acceptable to cohabitation and have children through fornication. 

The case in point is the recent program I listened to on Focus on the Family. This ministry claims to know the Lord Jesus Christ, yet they cannot seem to correlate the Gospel with the permanence of marriage since they believe that a divorce (a hard-hearted choice) is acceptable in some cases. The problem lies in their understanding the purpose of marriage as a reflection of the Gospel and that the covenant vow can only be broken by death. They often show how hypocritical their position is by many of the testimonies they broadcast. 

I have decided to take the time to point out this hypocrisy (again) and how it has damaged the lives of individuals when this damage could have been all together avoided. It broke my heart to listen to this testimony. Yet, even though we see ignorance and utter disrespect for marriage and the power of the Gospel, we see that the Lord is patient in these lives. And like all of us, the Lord is not done until His work is complete in us at the day of His glory. I must also mention that the intent of this blog is for others to see the richness of the Gospel in one-flesh covenant marriage, and that those who believe otherwise would be led to repentance. 

The three-day story is Basking in God’s Mercies by Yvette Maher starts here. I encourage you to listen or read the manuscript with a non-bias view of the Gospel and the idea that marriage is a one-flesh covenant. I pray the Holy Spirit would give you discernment and understanding for the truth of marriage and how this is a representation of Christ’s love for His bride. If you really understand the saving power and love of the Gospel, you will see many things that will not only break your heart, they will leave you asking why have we let marriage become what it is today. I hope that you will see that Yvette and her family could have seen the power of the Gospel and love of Christ long ago if the correct view of marriage was preached in the pulpits across this wicked and adulterous nation. 

Please listen to the testimony first and then read my responses to this conversation between Jim Daly and Yvette Maher.

I will start with presuppositions. The presupposition for Yvette, her family, her church and FOTF is that marriage is a covenant, until a divorce and remarriage ends the covenant. There are several positions on marriage, divorceand remarriage among Christianity which I have covered here, and the presupposition is that FOTF expects us to have is the Divorce and Remarriage in the Case of Adultery and Desertion” position. This broadcast expects listeners and readers to have a presupposition that a divorce and remarriage can end a marriage without any hope for restoration. Yvette’s dad had a thought long embedded in his heart that he could divorce his wife and everyone was expected to believe him...and they sadly did...

Jim Daly…”Tell us about your mom and dad and that's where things begin to break down and it's such a story, because this is what Focus on the Family wants to do each and every day, is to help repair marriages that are broken and your folks had a broken marriage.”

FOTF will tell you they want to help broken marriages. Unfortunately, they have a false view of marriage, and what they end up doing is causing more harm than good. I have written several posts on FOTF and you can find them here starting with More Harm Than Good Part 1. This presupposition that a divorce is ONLY applicable to “innocent” spouses is really perverted in this testimony. 

Yvette Maher: Nothing was signaling that we were headed for a train wreck, but in fact, we were, because my dad came home and announced to my mom and to me that he had met another woman. And that started everything right there, that day. That is the demarcation line of our family and not only just me. My mom and dad, my sisters, our cousins, my grandparents, our extended community fell apart at that moment.

Individual sin destroys lives. Not just individuals…many individuals. Adultery is no exception. All sins are bad, but some sins have greater consequences. Adultery is a sin that has extreme consequences, and often has the greatest regrets once one repents of an adultery. In this case, this adultery shattered an entire family and a community. Even though adultery is a horrible sin, there are ways to bring about repentance. As you continue to listen to or read this testimony, you will find zero accountability in this case of adultery…to the point that it was accepted. 

What is interesting and wonderful is that Yvette’s mother found hope in Christ. I do not believe Yvette goes into detail in her mother’s prayer life, but there is a hint that she was standing for her marriage vow and that she wanted her husband to come home. It is just a hint, and never will I will I jump to conclusions that this was the truth...

Yvette: “…my mom went so far into her Bible and prayer and church and new church friends coming over and being in her midst all the time, I saw her crying every day during this nervous breakdown and praying and asking God to bring Dad back and He didn't.”

This willingness for God to save her marriage is a noble prayer, yet we must first understand that God is more concerned about saving souls, and if Yvette’s mom was not praying for her husband to come to know Christ, then she is not standing for a covenant vow, she is standing for her own desires. I would hope that people who have a hard time understanding the truth of marriage permanence would see that standing for a covenant vow is witnessing to the love of Christ. We stand and honor the vow because we love as Christ loved us; while we too were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Also, Yvette seemed to be hopeful to the idea that her dad would come home based on the prayers of her mother. God did not bring back her dad becasue of the presuppositions set in place. God is patient, but He also makes it very clear in His word that marriage definition today is as it was in the beginning. (Gen 2:24; Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9) Thus, no one will say they were ignorant of this truth. 

Yvette: And frankly, I just saw that (her mom’s prayer life) as weak and I was so irritated. And I saw my dad now on this new path of sadly, rebellion, but yet he looked strong to me. And I followed in Dad's footsteps. And frankly, can I say it, all hell broke loose.

Many see standing as a “weak” endeavor, and believe that divorce and remarriage is the best option. 

 2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. 

We are constantly reminded to forsake ourselves and not rely on our own strength. Humility and a contrite heart God will not despise. The truth is that many who have divorced and remarried become very critical to the stander. They look at it as a weakness. They are also convicted since the "divorce and remarried" did not stand for their own covenant marriage. Anger against standers is common from the "divorce and remarried" because once there is an understanding that marriage is until death, they believe it should only apply to the “current” remarriage and not the "covenant" marriage.

Yvette saw strength and rebellion through the eyes of the world. Had she known the truth of marriage permanence and had her Pastor preached this truth, both she and her family would have known immediately that her dad was in sin and needed to repent of this sin less he perishes. In fact, it would be less likely for her dad to enter an adulterous situation with another woman if he knew that this would bring immediate retribution. Also, “the other woman” would have thought twice to have an affair with a married man if she knew the shame of adultery.

It also must be mentioned that the church is responsible for the correct definition of marriage. Had this family understood the truth of the Gospel, they would understand the truth of marriage. It is the responsibility of every Christian to share and be a witness to the Gospel. Thus, it makes complete sense that any married Christian would, or should, defend the truth of marriage as one man and one woman for life. Yvette and her family were cultural Christians who had their faith on rocky places as in the Parable of the Sower. (Mt 13)

 Jim: … Tell us about that next step, because I think it's critical. You're 15. You're trusting in what you believed was right and was right. It was good and you did have a happy family and things were normal. And then this devastation, your dad having an affair, falling in love with another woman, comes home, announces it.

I wish Jim would have asked Yvette if there was a response from her church. I wish Jim would have a disclaimer in place that what Yvette’s dad did was sinful and ignorant of the truth of marriage and that had her and her family known the truth of marriage they would have corrected the situation with church discipline (Mt 18:15-17) to the point that Yvette’s dad would have repented or was excommunicated. 

If that church discipline was to the point that Yvette’s dad was unwilling to repent, both he and his mistress would be excommunicated as unrepentant adulterers. Thus, both this man and woman would have zero chance to believe they could enact a unilateral divorce through civil laws to marry each other. In fact, they both know that a divorce, civil or otherwise, never releases him from the covenant marriage to his wife. Yvette’s mother would also understand that his adultery is not an unforgivable sin should he repent. 

The consequences of this discipline are very hard to imagine to some, but this what the Lord intends for marriage. His disciples understood this, (Mt 19:10) and so should we. Yes, this man committed an awful sin, and should he repent, it will take time for all to heal. I would never minimize the consequences and pain of sin. But we must never say that this kind of sin is unworthy of the cross of Christ. If that is the case, NONE of us deserve God’s love, mercy and grace of the Gospel. 

Even Jim Daly seems to understand this foundation of truth concerning the love of God, yet he is NOT willing to believe this also applies to spouses WITHIN covenant marriage.

 Jim's just a powerful reminder that nobody is beyond God's reach. Nobody is so low that God does not love you.

If no one is beyond God's love, would God require believers to love others as He loved us? What about Yvette's mom? Is she in error to remain in covenant vow to love her husband even while he is in his sin? Does the tenets of the Westminster Confession of Faith and how they exegete scripture concerning divorce and remarriage reflect the love Jim is talking about? Is marriage a profound mystery of an example of Christ's love for His church? And can we love like God in marriage despite the actions of a prodigal spouse becasue we have "put on Christ"?

Yvette testimony continues to show where a false view of marriage leads to. It resulted in sin after sin for Yvette and pain and misery for those around her. Yet God was patient with her, and is still patient with her. What we must see in this testimony as an example of the patience and love of the Lord. This includes what she may still believes about marriage today.  

Another great tragedy is the life of her dad, it grieves my heart to see the decisions he made in believing that he could divorce his covenant wife. He had two “remarriages”, murdered a man who was exactly like him, and then attempted to kill his girlfriend, and then kill himself. He is now in prison, and rightly so, for the crimes he committed. Often the greatest crimes we commit are self-inflicted. Yet, he is still offered the hope of Christ...despite all of his awful choices. Praise the Lord!

What is even more of a tragedy is that FOTF, Yvette, her family, her church community, and her dad believed that he could divorce his wife as a “guilty” party and then marry another woman. This story is a great reminder of the elephant in the pews of nearly every Evangelical, Pentecostal, Reformed, and Baptist denomination. The lies of divorce and remarriage!

I had real questions when I listened to this story. Who solemnized this man’s remarriage vows? Was it another denomination that was “ignorant” of his adulterous affair? Does civil laws of the land, such as unilateral no-fault divorce have precedence over the word of God? If he was “guilty” of unrepentant adultery, what would repentance of unrepentant adultery look like? Is his “remarriage” lawful to the tenets of the Westminster of Faith, and if it isn’t, why would Jim Daly not comment on this?

 I am reminded of John the Baptist and what he would consider as “repentance” for Herod’s unlawful marriage to Herodias?  If John were alive today, what would he have to say to ministries such as FOTF? What about you, what does repentance look like for unlawful marriage of Yvette’s dad? 

As mentioned earlier, we do not know the complete prayer life of Yvette’s mom. We know that Yvette was initially turned off by her devotion to the Lord. I would like to think that Yvette’s mom was a stander and continues to stand for her covenant marriage. But if she was standing for her marriage, why wasn’t this mentioned AND praised? Maybe Yvette goes to greater detail in her book, but I hope to contact Yvette and ask her specific questions about her mom’s faith as I do not want to jump to conclusions that FOTF deliberately avoided any idea that Yvette’s mom was standing for her covenant marriage. If this was the case, it would certainly be telling of FOTF ‘s marriage position, and even Yvette's testimony.

In conclusion, we must never fail to see the sovereignty of God. Just as God is merciful and full of grace in the wonderful testimony of a prodigal Yvette Maher, we also see that He is full of truth. What we see in this testimony is the love and patience of God in knowing that none of us is too far gone to be reconciled to God. In the Gospel we have grace, mercy, reconciliation and restoration when we come before the cross of Christ and admit our sins and repent of our sins. We also have eternal life because we are resurrected from death to life because the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected on the third day. He is the perfect atonement for our sins!

We must also see that God is patient and not done with any of us this side of glory. This mostly surely includes me! He is faithful to complete the work in us that He started. We must conform to His likeness and put on Christ so that we grow to love others as He has loved us. I would hope and pray that the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to the love of Christ in this testimony, and you would see the truth that many of us have yet to embrace the love of Christ in how we view marriage. 

Perhaps one day FOTF would revisit Yvette Maher and update this testimony in full repentance of what they once believed about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Until that day happens, I will continue to lift these ministries and persons up in prayer that they would come to repentance and boldly speak and become a witness of marriage as one man and one woman for this truth is a wonderful reflection of the Gospel. Please join me in praying as a stander for marriage permanence to love these ministries even when they are in sin…just as Christ loved us.

Romans 5:1-11 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.
In Christ's love,



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