Unapologetic Argument

Recently a man I deeply respect and have come to love from afar off said the following:

Apologetics is the seasoning, the Gospel is the main course. You do not want too much of the seasoning or it will make the main course insipid.
Apologetics does not dominate our message; it under-girds our message. Argument doesn’t save people, but it certainly clears the obstacles so they can take a direct look at the Cross.
Support the argument justifiably, but recognize it is Jesus Christ who you need to lift up, and it is the Holy Spirit who brings about change within the human heart. An argument may remove doubt, but only the Holy Spirit can convict of truth.

I can certainly see his point but contrast this with the statements by a nationally syndicated television interviewer speaking to a popular professional basketball coach:

I grew up in a Pentecostal [experience] and . . . they can be rather dogmatic.

You started [there] but have found your own . . . path of faith.

Sunday last, in the throes of a digression on the false juxtaposition of love vs. punishment and wrath, a local minister wrestled with the nature of truth and justice. He seemed to view love as incapable Continue reading “Unapologetic Argument”

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Trying new software for musings. Musings go back to a day before I had discovered the dreaded blog, and I never had the will to automate the process of updating. I edited each musing as a separate file and then cut and pasted the content of the formatted text into a web editor. This produced adequate results and I was satisfied. Recently I’ve been exposed to several blogs and have found the packaged blog software to be impressive, so I’m hanging up the ol html editor and moving up to a wysiwyg plugin on a SQL driven blog portal. I think I’m going to like it here. Lord willing and the rapture delays, I’ll be adding new musings this year. Lord bless you all.


Apocalypse Now

One of the most hotly debated topics of Christian faith is the interpretation of apocalyptic prophecies, in particular the Revelation of John. Ironically, those groups who are most inclined to denigrate the prophecy are quickest to refer to John as The Revelator. The confusion abounds and the ignorant revel in expounding wild or pagan interpretations or denying the authenticity and authority of the prophecy.

Whatever your personal views and perspectives on apocalypse, there are certain points that are undeniably clear: A peace maker called Anti-Messiah or Anti Christ, A unified totalitarian world government and commercial system, and the persecution of Bible believers Christian and Jew alike at the hands of the new world order.

Anti Christ and his mark are nearly inseparable and the source of the most confusion for readers and interpreters. What we know is that he will be a peacemaker, a diplomat and leader who forges alliances between disparate groups who have warred for generations. Rather than a figure of Godly authority and the establishment of a harmonious future, this peacemaker, by the venality of compromise, will spread ungodliness and a pure satanic Dominion.

Associated with this figure, is an even more cloudy foretelling, the Mark of the Beast and

it’s attendant context. People love to focus on the riddle, “Let him who considers himself wise consider … the number of his name is 600, three twenties and six.” Today you commonly see those who have voluntarily allied themselves with Satan, or those who foolishly consider the Bible and it’s faiths to be superstition, tattooing themselves with 666. Many municipalities have ordinances making it illegal to use 666 as an address, while others ignore it or even as in 666 West 57’th street, NY, NY allow a business to acquire it and use it for commercial purposes. That particular business made great sums of money from music that was dedicated as hymns and odes to Satan and his messengers. Again this was from a crass mercantilism that denied the reality of Satan while using his name and message to sell merchandise.

On the other side of the same coin you have “prophecy hounds” who capitalize on John’s revelation with books designed to titillate or frighten readers with the coming Dominion of Stan followed wrath of God and destruction of the world. Comic books and novels present a heterodox interpretation complete with second chances, thrilling escapes and easy martyrdom.

In this cloud of pagan confusion, atheistic folly and greed, the real message of the prophecy has been lost. Let me just admonish you, if you get “left behind” by all means avoid the mark, don’t confess the world religion, and try to face the torture with the dignity necessary to die in a state of grace. But don’t count on that being possible. If you are left behind, it’s because you weren’t in a right relationship with God and the Ruach Elohim, the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn in that time. You’ll be doing it under your own steam. Don’t count on being able to endure. Don’t allow yourself to be left behind. Live like it’s happening tomorrow and get your life right with God. Now!

That said I’d like to clear some of the confusion. When the various perspectives and interpretations are cleared aside and the distinctives of given denominations and faiths are factored out, we are left with three main elements regarding the Mark of the Beast. One it is the number of his name. Two it is the means by which commerce can occur on a global basis. Three accepting the Mark and the global economy that it opens up will insure that you cannot be rescued or allied with the Messiah –Anointed Rescuer of God– and you will spend eternity live, conscious and imprisoned in a prison constructed for the celestial beings known colloquially as Satan and his Angels. This is the “second death.”

Knowing these three essentials the specifics that are touted by various teachers are irrelevant. We know it’s the number of “his” name, so it is incumbent on us to thwart and oppose all efforts at any consolidated identification system which uses numbers rather than an individual’s name and person. The more fragmented and disorganized the ID systems in place the less like that we were warned of. Figuratively throw some shoes in the works, it is your Christian duty and for our Jewish cousins yours as well. When has a global conqueror, even a “benign” one using commerce and diplomacy, ever missed his chance at killing the Chosen of God? Lawsuits, protest, fasting and prayer – these are your duty soldier. Do them.

Secondly, the globalization of the economy is a thing of evil. Resist. Without a global economy, the antichrist cannot consolidate his power and authority. Armies will never conquer the globe, but currency and trade will. Protectionism; balkinization; diverse, independent economies are the absolute necessity — not only to enforce democratic ideals but to delay the advent of Antichrist. The longer he can be delayed the more souls can be reached and the longer before the totalitarian nightmare republic he will establish.

Lastly resist trends toward globalization, and the elimination of physical, and diverse currencies because without the unified (most likely electronic) currency of the global economy he cannot begin to consolidate power. Do not accept any system that links all your accounts to a single ID, do not accept any system that allows the use of electronic ID in place of your physical, original signature. Do not accept the elimination of physical currency or the use of biometrics and smart chips to make transactions.

Let the Holy Spirit lead you and do not give in to pressure to be apolitical. The word of God tells us that we wrestle, not against “flesh and blood” but against “nations and spirits”. Get up! Stand up and fight for your Christ! This is the religious duty you were sealed for when you were converted.

Heavenly Hydroponics

One of the most prevalent and toxic counterfeit doctrines to plague the Christian Church in the modern era, is the impulse to use theurgy to apply the promises and prophetic names of God to manipulate and coerce him. The inclination and practice are so thoroughly ingrained into God’s people that they are difficult to distinguish from the normative practice and dogmas of the core, apostolic Gospel. Those who recognize the practice will generally note it in the Word Faith movement’s attempts to use the promises of the Old Covenant to grow rich and self satisfied. That is of course a serious breach and one that needs to be addressed. If for no other reason than to point out the fact that if you claim the blessings you are bound by the commandments and liable for the curses. Claim the Abrahamic blessing of wealth and you incur the responsibility for obedience and sacrifice, and the curse of rejection, blindness and separation for failure.

However that is not the focus of this letter and though it is related, it tends to eclipse an equally serious breach. The New Covenant contains many promises for intimacy with God, blessings in life and most of all assurance of God’s competency to save your soul and protect it from the attack and thievery of Satan. These promises are affirmative and reliable just as certain as death. The error comes when people, lacking the baptism of the Holy Spirit and bound by the carnality of the new-born, milk-fed Christian begin to teach.

No matter how thick and defensive we may be, it is impossible to teach the scriptures for any length of time before one notes that a teacher is to be held to a higher standard than the members of the congregation. When the teacher is confronted with this reality he is forced to seek the means to meet that standard or make excuse for why he is exempted. Inevitably this leads to misusing the passages regarding the blessed assurance to give license to live a life of rebellion and disobedience.

This heresy, variously called Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints and Once in Grace Always in Grace ultimately takes the form of tacitly using the promises of security to coerce God into modifying his New Covenant to allow sin to go unrepentant in the life of the Believer, or to suggest that the capacity TO sin is sign that one was never genuinely saved. The one is theurgically coercing God to change his mind, despite his clear assertion,

“I change not.” The other is judgmental to the point of condemning the walk and the accomplishments of one of God’s servants. What’s worse if someone falls away, and is told they never were saved in the first place, it will be nearly impossible for them to trust God. How can they trust if they find that the new relationship is not significantly different on God’s part from the one they had with him before they fell away.

Now the first thing a good Arminian brother will point out is the Book of Hebrews, where we are told that if one falls away they CAN’T come back:

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,
and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt.
Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over.
Even though we speak in this way, beloved, we are confident of better things in your case, things that belong to salvation.
For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.
Heb 6:4- 10

The thing to note is that immediately after saying that it is impossible for the believer who falls away to be restored he mentions ground drinking water and thorns, a type of weed that looks like wheat but invades wheat fields and poisons the soil, killing the wheat grass. This immediately recalls the parable of the sower in Luke:

Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture.
Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.” As he said this, he called out, “Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”
Luke 8:6-8

Now Jesus parable can be obscure, although I maintain this one isn’t. So let’s look to the words of Jesus our Lord himself, for an interpretation:

The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe only for a while and in a time of testing fall away.
As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.
But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. Luke 8:13-15

What we see is that the seed was good, we know from verse 13 that these are not those who “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts.” Instead, these are three classes of people who take the word to heart and Believe. We know this because those who in verse 15 are seen as the good and fruitful soil are juxtaposed to the verse 13 faithless in EXACTLY the same way. But while that obviates their status as believers, equivalent to the faithful in every respect except for endurance, it doesn’t answer the Arminian objection to their opportunity to repent.

Let me say that I firmly agree with the Arminian position, if a believer is thorny or stony and the faith dies within them they are damned. They cannot be resaved because Christ came ONCE for all not one every communion or once every time you pray a prayer of sorrow and regret.

However, we also cannot discount the references to God’s perseverance in pursuing the black sheep, or the clear reference to his competence to retain the believer. We cannot be “snatched from the hand of God.” How do these passages reconcile short of disputing Jesus as saying the fallen were never saved?

James holds a clue that harmonizes with Jesus reference to the Good soil. Jesus says the good soil are those who hold the word tightly “in an honest and good heart.” It’s clear that Jesus is suggesting that the drought and the thorny tears have an effect even on the good soil. Even they have trouble. The sense in the passage is that the status of good soil versus, stony or thorny ground is assigned in the final analysis rather than initial planting. “Those who endure to the end” are the good soil, the saints, the redeemed and the predestined; not the other way round.

The Clue in James I referred to is found in the last nine verses of the Epistle.

Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, that you may not fall under condemnation.
Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise.
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

Eli’jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.

Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.
My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back,
let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. Jam 5:-20

Repeatedly the scripture speaks of those who are happy as being those who have taken God as their lord and whom God has adopted as his chosen children. “Happy is the man whose God is the Lord.” But here the happy man is the one who is steadfast like Job. Job was made sick and suffered at the hands of his wife, God’s indulgence with Satan, and his so called friends. All four friends of Job spoken evil in the name of helping him and made his suffering greater by attempting to make him believe it was deserved.

Elijah on the other hand was a man prone to cowardice, a sin punishable by death in the old covenant, depression, shallow faith, rage and pride. Yet when Elijah spoke the rain stopped at his command and fire poured out of heaven. Job in his righteousness had torments in his life and Elijah who was inconstant was one of the greatest men of God and was assumed into heaven without death.

In context of reminding us of these great men of God, James tells us that someone may wander from the truth but a fellow believer may well “bring him back.” James ends with a bold statement, whoever “brings back a sinner” who is one of the brethren, “will save his soul from death.” The death of the soul is always a reference to eternal damnation. How can one be “brought back” if they have fallen away and are beyond repentance. The answer is they haven’t YET completely fallen away. Paul talks about Christian life as climbing and the “back-sliding” that can occur. Believers may slide back into a life of sin and doubt yet not have fallen to point that the word has perished from their hearts. People in this state are damned if they die in that condition. We know that because as James says, a fellow believer has not covered their “multitude of sins.”

So in the final analysis even if you have fallen into doubt and fear and are hiding in a cave waiting for the prophets of Ba’al to kill you yet repented when God brought conviction you have not fallen away. Rebuilding right relationship with God is harder the second or third or fifth time. But the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a spirit filled life will lead you to intimacy with the Spirit of the Living God.

Ultimately you will be judged in to be among the fruitful who have lived a holy life despite the ravages of Satan.

On the other hand if you rebel and run and deny Christ’s sovereignty, dying with sin left unrepentant and relationships unreconciled, you stand a very good chance of being among those who avow that they were filled with the spirit, healed, prophesied and lead people to Christ, yet are told by the Lord to depart into Eternal Separation. If you are currently living in a lifestyle that you know is sinful and unrepentant, even if you are among the celebrated of your Church congregation, you may well be damned. If you find you are in that state, I welcome you to reach out in genuine Godly sorrow, ask God to forgive you and to lead you in a direction that opposes the trend your life has taken. HE will be faithful and just to not only forgive you but give you the opportunity to repair relationships with believers and make restitution to those whom you have victimized. In this way you will be restored to the faith and once again begin working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

A Needful Correction

It’s ironic the subtlety and grace with which I’ve been admonished for some errors in my last musing. I say ironic, because in at least three cases those who have been so gentle are the same individuals who have spit bile and vitriol over God-given and textually sound musings in the past. The recent comments have been no less public but a good deal less ugly and the difference is noted and appreciated.

That said, let me confess to having poorly edited the prior musing and as a result an internal contradiction crep into the text. This was partly due to a problem with the spell checker and file converters in my word processor, and partly due to my inattention to detail. Because of this a block of text that should have been there wasn’t and a word or two was substituted (e.g. eventually typoed as venually? got corrected to venially) much to my chagrin.

The upshot was that the text could be read as if I were stating that only a believer who had received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost was capable of falling from grace, and that any backslidding or slippage after Baptism resulted in immediate fall from grace. This was not the intent of the text and not what God told me to write.

The text now reads as it should have, but all these months later, it is a bit more long winded in the reading. Pardon my slip.

A Tussle for Orthodoxy

I have been anonymously contributing citations to support some passages in the Wikipedia article on Pentecost or as they insist on calling it Pentecostalism. Wiki has a standard that requires citations for many things that are simple fact. Ironically one of the critical comments that is often used by editors is {{fact}} which goes to show that wiki insists on opinion not fact. And I’ve often observed that if they could get away with it they’d try to force you to prove blue is blue.

All facetiousness aside, the problem is a serious one. More authority is given to an uninitiated even unsaved “scholar” than those who are eye witness to events and movements. I understand the interest in objectivity, but if primary sources are rejected out of hand, valuable data are never presented for analysis and a horribly skewed perspective is presented. This has been illustrated most clearly by a dialog that I’ve been having with another editor who self identifies as “a pentecostal believer”.

Several years ago when we came to this article it was a morass of cheap attacks and misinformation supported by the worst sort of yellow journalism coming from the BBC, CBC and NatGeo among others. The picture it painted with unsubstantiated claims was that all Pentecostals and Charismatics were essentially identical and practiced snake charming and drinking rat poison as sacraments. I spent a bit of time anonymously patching this, but I didn’t get to finish before other issues drew me away.

In the interim this editor came to the article and began a total rewrite and he has done a good job on the whole.

Our points of contention arose over his classification of movements. Now I grew up in the Assemblies of God and my family for generations have been clerics in first the Wesleyan Holiness movement and later the Assemblies of God. I not only have primary sources close at hand, I have the memories of what I was taught in Sunday School and the pulpit, as well as an Assemblies of God university.

Much to my surprise I found that the other editor, who I’ll call Bill just to make things simpler, had claimed that the Church of God in Christ (CGOC) and the Assemblies of God (AG) were part of disparate movements. The claim was that the CGOC was Wesleyan Holiness but that the AG were part of a movement called “Higher Life” (HL). Now I had never heard of this Higher Life movement. Odd that I was a member of a movement that I’d never heard of. Knowing, as I did that the AG was founded by white CGOC members who separated over the issue of racial segregation laws, I was surprised that those men had somehow magically become something else between receiving their ordination in the CGOC and the first General Council of the AG.

Looking into it further I found that the official Assemblies of God history agreed with me (of course facts don’t change because a new theory is put forward by a historian or sociologist) and I fixed the text. This lead to a revision war with Bill that ended with a compromise. We agreed that we’d say that the AG started as Wesleyan Holiness but drifted till it became Higher Life.

Since I’d agreed to this I realized I better go check on the movement. What I found was that the HL was a movement in Britain that differed from Holiness in the understanding of Sanctification. HL taught the same Wesleyan doctrine of a Second moment called Sanctification. The only difference I could find was that it arose from the Wesleyan Holiness movement, as a book and a movement begun by William Boardman in Britain and arising from the American expression of the Wesleyan Holiness movement.

Ironically the only source I could find about HL was on wikipedia and we must remember that the AG was founded in the US, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Many delegates were from as far away as Egypt, but it was an American birth. To claim that it was founded in the US from a movement founded in Britain, based on a movement in the US, but based on the Wesleyan Holiness Movement which originated in Britain. . . You can see how silly it gets. So my initial assertion stands, the AG was birthed in the heart of the Wesleyan Holiness movement.

Now why worry. The issue came up because Bill was struggling with the issues regarding Sanctification. Now I remember the old timers testifying how blessed they were because God’s grace made them, “Saved, Sanctified, and Filled with the Holy Ghost.” It was formulaic and we all knew this was the same as Wesley’s First, Second and Third “moments” of grace. And we knew that the first moment was sufficient to save. The second blessing or second moment was requisite to the third and the third was requisite to the infinite growth available to the believer.

Our view of sanctification like Wesley, follows the Pauline model of initial legislative act followed by pruning and improvement. Most agree Paul was pretty thoroughly removed from the opportunity of sin and was sound enough by his own standards to rebuke not only the bishops and elders under his direct tutelage (Turkey and Anatolia) but others of the twelve (e.g. Peter) on issues of both faith and baptism. Paul never the less felt compelled to confess fault and sin, where most of us would have seen perfection. This wasn’t depression, it was the fact that God takes us beyond simple sanctification into greater perfection as we allow him. “Be perfect as I am perfect,” is the command of our God.

On the other hand

However, like Wesley, Arminius and Paul before that, we Pentecostals have always taught and believed that it was possible to backslide and that the unregenerate, or those who backslide after receiving the Baptism, must surely be cut off. We see in Jesus own words that many who had the supernatural gifts of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit will be cut off and Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” How is this possible, except by eventuality of disfellowship.

There are a couple of fallacies in this argument. First is the idea that it is Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Wesley’s Fire Baptism, that is the gift of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Heb 6:4-6 (kjv). The second is the ease with which damning disfellowship can occur. A close examination of the passage in Hebrews shows that it contains a Hebraic parallelism. In Hebrew poetry there is the concept of repeating yourself one or more ways in order to add nuance or imagery to the subject. What we have in this passage is:

who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come”. This is not a laundry list of criteria, but repeating the same concept four ways because of the abject horror the author feels that anyone could be so foolish. Enlightenment, the heavenly gift, the presence of the spirit, the power of the world to come – these are all references to the coming of the Paraclete and the salvation he brings. Rather than the gift of Pentecost received by the 120, this is the pentecostal gift of salvation received by the crowd who heard Peter’s sermon and believed.

In other words, falling from grace is not reserved for those fortunate enough to receive the fire baptism as a requisite to ministry. Instead, it is an opportunity available to any believer who is rebellious or careless enough to choose that path.

However, in verse 6 we see it is “If they shall fall away,” that this horror will befall them. If is a contingency, not a certainty. Salvation comes only once, “for it is impossible. . .to crucify Christ afresh”. But it is not easily lost even through disfellowship. In 1 Corinthians 5:5 (kjv) we are instructed to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved” in Jesus’ own good time.

Why disfellowship? God is omniscient and holy. This holiness is so profound that in biblical times, the officiant would wear bells as he entered the holy of hollies to bring the blood of sacrifice. If the bells stopped they knew the presence of God had killed the priest and he would be dragged from the holiest place by a rope tied to his ankle. To claim that those who face the judgment seat of God could manage to lie, even to save themselves, is a logical absurdity. Holy God cannot abide lying or any form of wickedness and more importantly it can’t abide in his presence. Thus the claims of these erstwhile miracle workers must be true, yet they are damned along with Satan and his angels.

How can such a one have been saved, yet lose salvation. We know that “nothing can snatch [us]” from God’s hand. We cannot be taken, but as beings of free moral agency and the image of our creator, we can choose to rebel. The loss of salvation due to unrepentant, habitual sin leads eventually to a state where God must remove his grace. We see this in the passage where the rebel is compared to a Dog returning to eat it’s own vomit, but we also see it in the parable of the sower.

Much time has been given to the seed that falls on good ground, as well as that which falls among the thorns or on the path. The commentaries bulge with explanations but any honest analysis shows us that Jesus meant the seed to be the word of God, and the soil to be the lives of men. That naturally makes the stalks that sprout, the new life of salvation. But notice tends to pass over the seed that falls on shallow soil. Like the good soil and the path, the shallow soil is unencumbered by poisonous weeds or thorns. Like the good soil the seed finds fertile ground to sprout and begin to grow. But the hard stoney heart of such soil causes the tender shout of salvation to die and dry up. In the end, even the seed is gone and what soil there was has been corrupted by the dead roots of the faded wheat.

This fall from grace, illustrated in the dead straw that can only be cleared by burning, is permanent and irremediable, as it would require that we “crucify Christ afresh.” This is an impossibility and as a result those souls that reach this unlikely state are never able to be renewed. One might believe this is harsh, but it is not. God grants those who are saved a supernatural power as a free gift associated with grace, “the power to become the sons of God.”

Associated with the sanctification is the power to resist temptation, to avoid occasion to sin and to repent of those sins. Repentance requires that one entirely stop engaging in the given sin, and that one make restitution to one’s victim(s), and finally that one dedicate one’s life to preventing such sins from being repeated by others. Again, God grants the power, he only demands willingness to obey.

But some sins are just too precious to us. For instance, a Christian believer might have been tempted so badly that he or she marries another believer who committed the sin of divorcing his or her spouse. So we have a case where a Believer has married a believer who has a believing former spouse. This is an abomination before God. Jesus said that the couple are living in open and unrepentant adultery. The only option for them is to divorce. Though God doesn’t view the legal agreement as a marriage in the first place and as such there’s nothing to divorce. The only option for this couple is to dissolve the fraudulent marriage and reconcile with the previously married partner, if the former spouse is willing and able, and on the former spouses’ terms.  If the former spouse is not amenable then enforced celibacy by the (now twice) divorced spouse is the only path. God in the person of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19 is the Judge.

This follows the pattern I mentioned because the couple have victimized the former spouse by committing adultery, which the Bible views as a form of robbery. Your body, regardless of your gender, is the chattel property of your spouse and you do NOT have the choice. You can come to an agreement to remain celibate for a time, or make accounting for the incapacity of one spouse, but you cannot refuse your spouse otherwise. It is rebellion and theft.

Now I know there are practicalities of mood and arousal etcetera, and I’m not suggesting you ignore those, only that you have to make a good faith effort to accommodate your spouse, every time. That’s love. Love does not promote it’s own mood, by refusing or forcing. But legalistically it is sin to refuse. And the fact of guilt will damage your soul just as the fact of adulterous guilt or murderous guilt will. So mature Christians will voluntarily accommodate their spouses’ need for sex out of Love. Period.

Some have suggested that you can never reach a point of losing your salvation. That it’s a “finished work” and therefore you can never escape God.

This is a doctrine of Demons. It is intended to allow the unrepentant to as Paul put it, “leaven the whole lump” meaning the whole church. It sounds loving, and kind. But the Devil used to be an Angel, he knows how to fake grace and love in a religious context. The Devil has been in the business of religion for an awfully long time. By encouraging the sinful to feel like they are okay just as long as they pray a little rote prayer of repentance, or confess to a priest, eventually, he encourages the unrepentant to get closer and closer to the edge every time they slip

The eventual outcome is a damned soul who looks good, and speaks well, and may have supernatural gifts of the Spirit, but who is a fraud.  As a fraud, he’ll have replaced the fruit of the spirit with the sorcerous tripe found in psychology text books and magazines.  He’ll label self sacrifice as codependency, Chrstian love as enabling, patience as ambivalence, etc.  But worst of all, he’ll replace faith with belief in a kind of magical emmination, instead of simple trust in the character and compassion of the divine spirit we serve.

Or, conversely, he may claim there is no answer to prayer and God does move miraculously.  HIs brand of Christianity denies the power of Godliness.

Why do they have gifts? Because, “the gifts and callings of the Lord are without repentance.” God never takes the gifts away, and even uses the gifted but lost to reach others who are lost and redeem the presence of the gift. It is possible to find a gifted Evangelist who heals the sick, preaches the gospel and leads many to Christ – who is himself lost because he blasphemed the spirit by calling another man of God a demoniac. Such a man becomes delusional. As the Bible puts it, “that they believe a lie.” And his conscience becomes seared to the point he never struggles to improve his walk or cares about his pet sin. Even Satan stops tempting him very hard because he’s “in the bag” like a game bird.

And he’ll start teaching sin and false grace. Grace that is not a precious commodity to be cherished and protected through obedience, but Grace that is a faded tattoo that can never truly be lost.

This counterfeit grace is a stain and it marks the fraud, the servant of antiChrist, like a beacon. Bear in mind this is not a burden placed on the lost and unregenerate. This is a responsibility given to those whom God has supernaturally gifted to be able.

How does this relate to Bill? Well Bill’s sources were a pair of authors I am personally acquainted with, although I haven’t had contact with one in 14 years and the other in 11 years. These men, like myself, grew up in the Assemblies of God and were educated in the same institutions I was. But, unlike myself never achieved that third moment of grace, the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, prior to becoming influential authors. As such, they were on the outside looking in so to speak. Lacking the perspective to understand the experience they accepted a Charismatic Doctrine that substituted emotional response in place of supernatural experience and gifts.

I have debated this issue with the both of them, though they are likely to have forgotten me among the hundreds of authentic Pentecostals who tried to teach them. So, like the expert skydiver who has never jumped, they teach what they do not know. They are part of a movement that has attempted to eradicate the Pentecostal message from Pentecostal churches and replace it with a Charismatic (second wave) theology which is reformation Evangelical rather than orthodox Arminian (not to be confused with the Armenian Orthodox Church).

This insurgency is designed, like those we’ve faced in every generation going back to Paul, to divert the church from the simple gospel of Christ into pagan philosophies, psychological sorceries and compromised witness without the power of the Holy Spirit working visibly in the gifts of the prophets.

Remember “the gift of the prophet is subject to the PROPHET”! Gifts are given to individuals, as a reward for their obedience and faith, for the benefit of the church. Prophets, which we seem more comfortable calling preachers, have been the target of every great move to destroy or distort the church. Eliminate the prophets and you eliminate the gifts, as he has done every time in the past. When you eliminate the office of prophet, established in the scriptures, cited in the Didache, and made manifest in the Pentecostal movements through the ages. God removes his spirit and his blessing from the church and the land. God is not obliged to gift where we decide, because people have established protocol demanding God gift their elected leaders. God will move and gift where HE sees fit. As he always has done.

God bless you as you seek his face,


In His Wings

It saddens me how often these musings are inspired by misinformation and ignorance in the pulpit or the tele-evangelists studio. Godly men in the role of teacher and preacher are held to a higher standard in both knowledge and practice of the word. Evangelism is properly the work of reaching the lost on a wholesale scale. When an evangelist uses his venue to teach or a pastor or teacher moves his sermons and lessons to the mass media, it is a frightening thing. He assumes great responsibility for the lives and spiritual welfare of mass humanity whom he has never met nor been inspired to teach.

Such a mass market approach is the proper purview of the prophet whom we are more comfortable calling preacher. Preaching is the activity of conveying God’s inspired word to believers who are strayed from the faith or entertaining heterodoxy, or who are backslidden and in rebellion. We are so much more comfortable with the term preacher because we in the west associate prophet with canonicity, and rightly recognize that false prophecy is a matter of life and death. By calling prophets, preachers, we seem to think we not only reduce the import and urgency of their appeal, we insulate the speaker from the liability toward God that he incurs when he compromises with the powers that be or presents a sermon based on bad scholarship or deceit.

Sadly this semantic manipulation does not dissuade God or eliminate the very serious responsibility the failed or false prophet has to the hearer and to God.

Recently I heard a recording of a man who has spent at least the last 30 years teaching and preaching to the people of North America. This man has a sweet disposition and has helped a large body of believers to fall in love with the scripture and to discover the Biblical patriarchs and matriarchs as real people instead of shallow characters from obscure parables. I’m not sure how old the recording is but I believe it to be at least 15 years old (dating from his tenure as a pastor). In this lesson, he attempted to interpret the passage in James where the sibling of our Lord Jesus told us to “call upon on the elders of the church … and [their] prayer … shall heal the sick.”

It should be noted that this man is a fairly good student of the scripture, but he has embraced the heterodoxy neo-Irvingite theology that we in America call Evangelical. However he could properly be call a charismatic because, like his Irvingite fathers, he grudgingly accepts the gifts of the spirit including supernatural tongues and prophecy as occasionally present in today’s church. He would argue against their proper role as a normative component of spirit filled living.

That is an important observation, in that it skews his cosmology and his doctrine to the point that it is a primary cause of the eisegesiswhich he exercised in this lesson. His dogma informs his study and overrides doctrine therefore reinforcing his chosen dogma. This is the worst pitfall of the student theologian and should have been eliminated from this man’s habits long ago. He took a single word from the passage, the one translated anoint, and attempted to redefine it as medical treatment.

Basing his argument on extra-biblical sources he established the word’s common usage to refer to a specific medical treatment common in Hellenistic Greece, and extrapolated it to mean medical treatment in general. He then ignored the proper syntax of the passage and argued that it should have read approximately like, “and they shall administer medical treatment”. This is a surprising abuse of scripture given the source, a man who has a history of scrupulous adherence to context and canonical criticism. He compounded his error by smugly announcing, “now you’ve never heard a pastor say that before!” To be fair, this was after he had explained that he felt unfairly exploited if a person came for prayer when they haven’t first gone for medical treatment.

One is tempted to coin the term reverse reactionism, to refer to the activity of liberal theologians who, upon discovering that a preacher of prophet is making headway in bringing about revival and repentance, attack in order to defend the entrenched liberal theology. This preacher would be just such a reverse-reactionary, attempting to prevent God’s people from turning away from reliance on modern medicine and philosophies.

Before he was done he had recklessly announced that 1) he had no power, and 2) that he had members of his congregation who needed psychiatric drugs and he would not pray for healing of their minds, and 3) that you should have faith in your doctor. Every successive statement was more heterodox and rebellious than the last. I must admit I was offended and appalled. I can only hope he’ll repent and destroy the copies of this sermon.

His faithlessness was tantamount to an argument that the God who made the mind was not capable of healing it. He was also arguing that there is no power in the godly obedience, that the prayer of faith will not save the sick, and that God does not bring the spirit of a sound mind. Essentially he was replacing God with men in the most vomitous piece of carnality and humanism I have seen in a pulpit.

Let’s look at the passage. It is patently clear that the passage says, “and they [the elders of the church] shall anoint” the petitioner. Now it may be true that the term translated anoint is the Hellenistic equivalent of “slap some oil on ya,” but that doesn’t obviate the translation as anoint. What it does is highlight the crude, folksy patois used by the author of James. It’s common usage outside of the present context does not obviate the context, and the speaker is just wrong due to bad scholarship.

The present context is calling upon the Elders of the Church. If that Elder has no special power he isn’t a legitimate Elder. The office of Elder conveys the power to speak with authority on matters of faith and practice and this passage clearly indicates it conveys a deepened responsibility for the welfare of younger members. This is the result of longer service and the deepened relationship and trust in God’s character that comes from long, authentic service (as opposed to inauthentic service which is a waste of time and does produce a powerless and ineffectual leader).

Regardless of any other consideration, the abuse of scripture evidenced in this passage is not only troubling it discredits the entirety of the resulting sermon and indicates a need for repentance on the part of this teacher. As a personal aside I want to make the following appeal to the teacher mentioned above:

You are a man of God, and I have followed your ministry with appreciation for many years. But, you know more than most that the appeal of compromise is an unrelenting temptation for the compassionate teacher. A desire to see our student flourish and succeed can cause the best of us to falter in holding the line of Biblical theology and holiness. But if we do not hold our students accountable, just as they hold us accountable, God will hold us accountable for their blood. If you feel powerless, then I’d invite you to seek the gift of healing and the deeper infilling and communion of the Holy Spirit that accompanies Glossalalia (as opposed to the supernatural gift Xenoglossa).

God is gracious, please hear my appeal. And for the sake of those whom you lead, don’t dismiss this appeal with a smirk and a chuckle as you are wont to do. Please brother, show the godly remorse and repentance that you so appreciate in David. I know you have a heart that seeks to know God’s heart.

Your brother,


With This Vow I thee Wed

I realize I’ve spent a lot of time on what Christian marriage and sexual morality is not. In the interest of balance I will make a point of expressing the positive definition of marriage and Christian sexuality. This is a much more difficult task since essentially the position of the Bible is “anything not prohibited is implicitly encouraged and in some cases commanded.”

The best place to start is with the traditional Christian marriage vows. Bear in mind that marriage is validated by scripture in such a way that all marriages between a man and a woman regardless of the religion or lack there of involved in the ceremony, including common law marriages are given equal weight by the scripture. Even the lack of ceremony is no bar to marriage. Simply purporting to be married before witnesses and the community at large constitutes a valid marriage by Biblical standards as long as 1) the parties to the marriage genuinely intend to be married, and 2) the parties to the marriage are legitimately marriageable by Biblical standard. That said, marriage is hard enough to live up to without complicating things with unclear expectations and a lack of initiation.

In order to aid in commitment among other reasons the church has traditional religious ceremonies that provide a point of initiation. This clearly defined point of demarcation and public oath of marriage helps to reinforce the serious nature of marriage for the sincere believer. It provides a context for a crisis event that reinforces the objective reality of being married.

What I’ve done following is take traditional vows which are derived as an expression of Biblical standards for living married as a Christian couple and look at the legal and spiritual implications of the oaths we call vows. They are in fact Vows before god and man, but constitute a verbal contract in the form of oaths publicly sworn.

The particular formula I chose to analyze was as follows:

First the husband

I N.N. take you N.N. to be my holy wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till in death we do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and in this intent I pledge my oath to you.

Then the wife

I N. take you to be my holy wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish and to obey, forsaking all other lovers, till we do part in death, according to God’s holy ordinance; and in this intent I pledge my oath to you.

Breaking it down the husband’s vows read something like this.

The Husband’s Vow

I N.N. take you N.N. to be my holy wedded wife,

Holy wedded wife indicates both that the act of marriage is a religious rather than civil observance and that the office of wife is a religious office to which a woman is ordained.

to have and to hold,

In old English have is a term that is richer in meaning than the way it is used in modern parlance. To have is not to merely possess in the simple sense of custody, but to thoroughly control all aspects and features which can be possessed and to have the right of determination and consumption of all features and produce. To have a wife is to possess her sexually, to command her respect for your position if not your person, and to determine the course of her life.

Holding is also very different from when the vows were first composed. A holder is one who has taken a property which belongs to another and is empowered as steward. But more than than holding includes developing natural resources, grooming and developing. In the sense it was intended, to hold a wife is to take possession of her with the intention of grooming her into a finer person and to hold the title to her as a grant of authority from her true owners, namely she herself and God almighty.

Legally this entails the agreement to guide, instruct, and discipline the wife in every aspect of person and personality, taking personal responsibility for her wellbeing and provision. It also entails the grant of power of attorney and medical power of attorney simultaneously and anatomical gifting in toto of a mans person and living tissues, in the interest of meeting the needs of his wife.

from this day forward,

Obviously demonstrates that the title of husband is being conferred effective immediately.

for better or worse,

This is the most misunderstood part. In this context it surely means that the title remains effective even when the husband is ineffective and fails to succeed in his appointed task. This includes criminal conviction, incarceration or legal obligation of the wife, or any other failure. The vow is inviolate.

for richer or poorer,

Whether the marriage leads to, or through times of wealth or poverty, the marriage itself is inviolate. Poverty is no grounds for divorce and a man who leaves his wife because of poverty violates his oath of office and breaks a vow to God. Scripture clearly indicates that breaking a vow instigates a curse from God himself.

in sickness and in health,

Again sickness of your spouse is no nullification of obligation and no divorce on grounds of mental or physical illness is valid.

to love and to cherish,

This is fascinating in many ways. Love is ill defined in any language and for any culture. 1 Corinthians 4 defines it as patient, kind, generous, modest, proprietary, unselfish, even tempered, trusting, compassionate, committed to truth, accepting, accepting, hopeful, durable and permanently reliable. Even still this is just a pale inadequate definition.

To cherish is to place not only affection but inherent value in the object of that affection. To cherish a woman is to see her as an object of fine value and yet to hold tender affection for her as a person.

Combined these to elements of the vow rob the draconian teeth from what has come before. They provide the checks and balances to the great power which a woman confirms in her husband by taking this vow. This juxtaposition of guiding authority and doting lover provides a synthesis that truly meets the needs of a woman and leads her to health and stability that she craves.

till in death we do part,

The vow is both the confirmation of an ordinance and holy order of the church, but also a contract or covenant between the spouses. As such each spouse is party to that contract. The grants of authority and personal power given to the Husband are stringent and the degree of submission and surrender of self determination give the wife the right to expect some guarantee that the value of her service and labor will not be rendered for its numismatic value and then discarded to the exclusive benefit of the husband. In this interest the duration of the agreement is until one or both parties to he agreement are deceased. If any term is violated, except sexual activity with any person other than the husband’s own wife, the power to discipline the husband is sufficient to cover the breach and retain the contract intact. In the case of infidelity by the husband, it is recommended that discipline be the only measure taken to adjust the quid pro quo nature of the contract, however dissolution is a much discouraged option.

according to God’s holy ordinance; and in this intent I pledge my oath to you.

This term establishes the bible both old and new testament as the legal and religious context for interpretation of the vow and resolution of disputes.

The Wife’s Vow

I N. take you to be my holy wedded husband,

The word husband is the English term that really means executive gardener or breeder, steward and landscape architect. The formula again indicates this is a holy order and office confirmed in the wedding ceremony.

to have and to hold,

Again we have the old usage of the word have indicating possession, control and consumption. However having just expressed the intention of setting that possession as a husband overseeing herself the effect of having is somewhat modified. The best analogy is the horse groom and rider. Horses are powerful and deadly beasts, yet with proper treatment and respect they offer loyal and reliable service. A justifiable respect for the danger combined with gentle guidance leads to a mutually satisfying relationship. The horse carries the rider and bears burdens for the rider in exchange for care, and respect. To have a husband is to embrace him sexually, to command her respect for your position if not your person, and to gently guide him in the direction that will meet you own needs while allowing him to have his way and expend his energies in meeting those needs as well as his own with varied cadence and ever changing intensity.

Again title is held at the sufferance of the true owners meaning God and the husband himself.

Legally this entails the agreement to be guided, instructed, and disciplined by the husband in every aspect of person and personality. It also entails the grant of power of attorney and medical power of attorney simultaneously and anatomical gifting in toto of a woman’s person and living tissues, in the interest of meeting her husband’s needs and desires.

from this day forward,

This is a reciprocal announcement that the agreement carries forward immediately from the moment it is made.

for better or worse,

Again no change in fortunes, legal status or degree of success or failure is sufficient to terminate the agreement.

for richer or poorer,

Financial status cannot affect the agreement.

in sickness and in health,

Mental, or physical health and wholeness in no way affect the durability of the agreement.

to love, cherish and to obey,

Love is a balance to the intent to guide. By making himself responsible and emotionally vulnerable a man is in real danger of damage from his wife. Genuine love will temper her response limiting her from emotional abuse and mental cruelty, or infidelity which can crush the psyche and soul of a man.

forsaking all other lovers,

Obviously this set exclusive monogamy as a term of the agreement. The penalty of failure to meet this condition is flexible and at the discretion of the husband. Valid penalties being disciplinary action or in extreme conditions termination of the agreement.

till we do part in death,

The demands of vowing to take such a high degree of responsibility for another person, combined with the emotional vulnerability and drain of vowing to cherish and love, makes the marriage a great commitment for a man. No man can lightly provide these things and having invested so great an amount of himself he is entitled to a guarantee that this investment will not be torn away, rendered for its numismatic value and then discarded. In this interest the Vow is for the duration that both parties to the agreement live. This vow is a verbal contract and the term of duration is until one or both parties is diseased. If any term except exclusivity (forsaking all other lovers) is violated the power to discipline the wife is sufficient to cover the breach and retain the contract intact. In the case of breach it is recommended that discipline be the only measure taken to adjust the quid pro quo nature of the contract, however dissolution is a much discouraged option.

according to God’s holy ordinance; and in this intent I pledge my oath to you.

This term establishes the bible both old and new testament as the legal and religious context for interpretation of the vow and resolution of disputes.

The vows themselves are both contract and covenant, and like the covenant between God and man they express a contractual obligation. But they also define a healthy and rewarding relationship that brings joy and reward to both parties. It is my prayerful hope that this discussion helps you to grow in your faith and in right relationship with your own spouse or prospective spouse.

in his service


A Marriage Most Convenient

Recently I heard a sermon from a popular televangelist. Now, this man is a part of the growing Epicurean movement in the former Calvinist and Evangelical churches in America. Neo-Epicureanism has found a way to create a fascinating dynamic tension between Stoicism and a sort of “Enlightened” Hedonism (ref. Enlightened Self Interest in any encyclopedia). They blend the sharply defined dualism of the stoics and Gnostics with a licentiousness that changes disobedience of Christ, from a damnable failure, into a mere character flaw that can be overlooked in anyone. Overlooked, so long as they are popular with the people of a given congregation. This is similar to the pride the Corinthian Church took in their perversion of grace and forgiveness. A grace that allowed a man to live in an incestuous relationship with his mother, without censure from the congregation.

This strange belief system lead the speaker to do something that I would respect a great deal if it were coming from someone with a sound doctrinal approach to interpreting scripture. As I have pointed out numerous times, some of the most politically and socially narrow belief systems come from the most liberal of interpretive forestructure. In other words, a liberal doctrine like that of the reformation theologians leads, inexorably, to a legalistic dogma like that of the puritans. And incidentally to a complete failure of the popular piety to reflect that rigid dogma.

The beauty of this particular sermon was that it violated some of the legalism of the speaker’s own tradition, by delving into the topic of human sexuality from the pulpit, in a marginally graphic way. By using popular slang as a system of euphemism, he was able to do this without causing his audience to rout. And, he made some very astute points with regard to the Biblical view on sexuality.

Now, most liberal theologies, like the puritanical theologies of the reformation or the ascetic Gnosticism of the Roman Catholic Church, lead one to censure human sexuality and censor any reference to or education in the proper view and habits of the Biblical Christian. Dictates are made, but they are inevitably a list of “don’ts” and these “don’ts” are made up of the worst and ugliest behaviors, in the view of the theologians of the given church body. Lists of “do’s” are given no attention and are viewed with the same prurient attitude that a preadolescent takes toward the subject (lot’s of giggles and blushes, or angry censure and accusation).

This televangelist avoided that prurient behavior by rediscovering that the “Sex is a beautiful gift from God” doctrine naturally requires a more exhaustive exploration of scripture than is found in the church today. Sex has been left to philosophers, educators and medical personnel to explain and teach, when it is the natural topic of scripture. Scripture spends more time speaking about sexuality in both prophetic dictates and in narrative accounts than most any other topic. If reading the bible doesn’t lead to discussions of sexuality, then you aren’t reading honestly and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, do we want psychologists and educators teaching our children how to engage in sex, when all those kids have heard is a list of “don’ts” that are supposedly going to send them to hell?

This minister, was rightly lead to broach the subject and he did a credible job of euphemistically walking tiptoe around the sensibilities of some people, while essentially instilling the basic principal that sex within marriage is not a thing God grudgingly allows so the species can be perpetuated. Instead, he pointed out that God ordained sex as component of the first commandment of all time, preceding, “Don’t eat from the tree of Knowledge.” This command precedes the fall of Man, the flood, The Passover, the Law and the Resurrection — and yet it has been reiterated and expounded on after each of these events. God wants you to be sexually active and married. Heterosexual activity glorifies and pleases God. In point of fact, it is an act of worship and obedience, and Christ himself warned us that those who censure marriage and marital sexuality are false prophets.

As the speaker developed this idea, he happened onto the fact that the Law of Grace often shows intensification of the requirements made on a Christian. Where before the fall there was one standard, we see greater expectations and higher standards instituted at the fall, the flood, the death of Sodom and Gomorrah, the reception of the Mosaic Law (Torah/Pentateuch), and the coming of Christ; a natural progression, (Heilsgeschichte or history of salvation) in direct proportion to the increased grace meted out with each revelation of God.

So, where grace doth abound, expectations of a righteous and holy God do more greatly abound. This is pointed out by Jesus in different ways, but two that stand out are the attack on Jesus preachments against divorce and lust by Pharisees. In the divorce passages, he says before you were allowed to do thus and so, for the reason of your own weakness, but now “I bring you a better way.” This minister pointed out that there is a parallel in the discussion of lust, where Jesus says you have been taught thus and so “but I say if a man commits lust in his heart he is guilty of adultery already.”

There are similar treatments of moral imperative salted throughout Jesus’ ministry. These two, however, can leave a student theologian grasping for some means to reconcile the passages and reassure himself that Jesus hasn’t contradicted himself. Let me assure you he has not.

The apparent contradiction resides in the fact that Jesus said divorce was not allowable for a Christian, except in the case where the believer’s spouse has committed adultery. Given that lust is unavoidable for the teenaged, and usually the twenty something male, this would seem to indicate that every marriage is invalidated a priori (before the fact of wedding). What’s more, although I cannot speak to the mind of young women, I suspect that the fascination with muscular athletes and large appendages is far from platonic, or even innocent.

These factors would seem to obviate and invalidate the preachments on divorce by our Lord. Worse yet, the narrative of Jesus encounters with the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery, seem to broach an even more direct contradiction given the common interpretation of these events and the strategic amnesia toward certain statements made to these women by Jesus.

Much ado is made of Jesus’ challenge that “he who is without sin” should cast the first stone, and yet he, Jesus cast none. I wonder sometimes how the scene would have played out if the accusers had acknowledged Jesus’ sinlessness and demanded that he indeed begin the stoning. The passage might have taken on a very different dimension, and I would like to have heard Jesus’ answer to them. But, cowardice and unbelief won the day and, when Jesus looked up, he lacked the testimony of even two witnesses. Therefore, he sent her on her way in accordance with the Law of Moses. “For, by the mouth of two or three witnesses let a thing be established.” He did give her an inflexible admonition that is conveniently forgotten by most citations of this passage.

If this were a genuine contradiction and Jesus were preaching in favor of adulterers, the whole of the new testament would collapse as just so much historical text. In the minds of some people this is what happens. Let’s examine that premise however. What did Jesus mean when he said that the lustful person has committed adultery. Is lust, in fact, a sin limited to married men? No, we hinted earlier that there is reason to believe that women are capable of lust. On top of that, common sense and recent legal cases tell us that people lust more often before marriage than after, with the celibate suffering most of all.

If you read closely you begin to notice that the term used is adultery not just sexual immorality and not fornication. So an unmarried woman who is celibate unmarried and virginal, but who dreams of a man with gentle hands stroking her bare flesh in an intimate way can’t be married because she is guilty of adultery. Does this reading make sense? Not even a little.

There is a scriptural dichotomy dividing sins of the flesh from sins of the heart. We see this in the old testament where unbelief in God, Lust, desire for what doesn’t belong to you, even lack of sufficient affection for God are sins which bring judgment and damnation. They do not however incur civil or punitive penalties, to be applied by other people or by the state. They are terribly serious sins committed against God alone.

God is depicted in midrash and therefore in the New testament as a bridegroom to the corporate body of believers. This is a metaphysical or spiritual principle that is seeded throughout Jesus’ ministry. So in this sense, any sin against God is by definition a form of adultery. This idea is developed in Jeremiah 3, where God depicts the northern Kingdom of Israel as one of two wives, Judea being the other. He makes a great deal of the fact that he “divorced” himself from the northern tribes because of their sin and unbelief. Then in a twist, he divorces himself from Judah and remarries Israel because the Levites, Jews (Judah and Benjamin), and Simeonites, are going through the motions of serving him but are corrupt and sinful despite their profession of faith.* This initiated the Jilted husband motif that is a factor in the prophets and proverbs and Jesus uses it liberally in his sermons.

For this reason Marriage is sacrosanct to the believer. It is an earthly type in the midrashic sense for the relationship between God and the congregation of his believers. But similarly, in the New Testament there are ways in which we can violate this get or covenant of marriage in a way that tempts God to divorce us. This is the adultery that Jesus is referring and it is a heart condition. When you lust, or even covet your neighbors new car, you have committed adultery in your heart. Even if you have never married, it is adultery against God, the father and lord of all creation. It is adultery against Jesus as Christians are the bride of Christ .

However, since it is an activity of the heart, and not a sin of the flesh, it is not a sin against one’s present or future spouse. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a sin against God is lesser than a sin against your spouse. When God divorces people or nations, lives are lost and souls are damned to eternal exile from God’s presence (fate far worse than death). But what it does clearly show is that, your spouse is not entitled to divorce you because you have lusted after another.

In fact, Jesus clearly indicated that when a person divorces an adulterous spouse, the faithful spouse has shown an unforgiving and hard heart in defiance of Jesus’ commands. The faithful but unforgiving spouse has made it through the eye of a technicality, but is not in right relationship with God. They have succumbed to legalism and selfishness. They get their freedom from the adulterer, but loose the opportunity to bring that spouse home to Christ and have a long way to go in repairing their relationship with Jesus.

Is there a point where divorce becomes necessary? There are some simple guidelines to follow in these cases:

  1. When the threat to your children, or your life due to sexually transmitted diseases, or the hardening of your hearts due to the loss of intimacy threatens bodily harm — you have to weigh the consequences of your actions and prayerfully seek God’s guidance. He won’t be happy with divorce (Mal 2:15-17;Jer 3:1), but being certain to get permission first will go a long way in preserving your relationship with him. Bear in mind that remarriage to a third party is only possible for a spouse who has not committed adultery prior to divorce.
  2. Be sure that you have not retaliated against your spouse by engaging in adultery as well. If you are both guilty, neither has the moral high ground and neither has the authority to seek divorce. In that case, divorce itself is adultery and you both will suffer. In fact, when you are the victim of an adulterous spouse, do not seek companionship from anyone who is a potential sexual partner. You will inevitably find yourself embroiled in one form of adultery or another. You will not be able to get good guidance from God because you will be distracted by ungodly impulses.
  3. If both spouses are Christians, you really only have the option of mutually agreed upon separation. And it must be mutual agreement. Divorce is really not an option. If a new believer has a spouse who is not a believer at the time of the divorce, and has never professed Christ, the non-believer is free to divorce the believer and in this limited case the Apostle Paul has granted, by the authority of the spirit an a priori (before the fact) annulment with the words “it is as if your were never married.”

Ultimately, the reason the question of divorce comes up so often is the rebellious nature of western society. Divorce cannot subside from the words of God’s prophets because God’s people have become so corrupt and self-righteous they challenge the Corinthians of the first century. Where in Corinth they were proud to be so forgiving and loving that they allowed a man to attend services, knowing that he was sleeping with a woman who was his mother or stepmother — today, homosexuals and pimps are welcomed and the unbiblical proverb is cited that church is where sinners belong. This is the same licentiousness that Paul took 3 chapters in 1 Corinthians (ch.s 4-6) to challenge.

The most disheartening thing is the fact that the corruption has grown to such proportion that it is commonplace to find ministers of the gospel who are themselves living in a parody of marriage with a spouse who was formerly married and has divorced without benefit of the biblical standards on divorce. In other cases homosexuals, gluttons and the patrons of whores are standing in pulpits on a Sunday morning, officiating at communion, while preaching that men who have succumbed to reviewing pornographic images are guilty of adultery and therefore subject to divorce.

Talk about Pharisaic hypocrisy. These Corinthian Family Values are strangling the life from the church and destroying the testimony of its people. It’s time for the people of God to discover how to make their yeahs be yeahs and nays be nays, such that “I do” at the altar is genuinely binding even during the worst of times, just as the oath of marriage says. Life long marriage even when you decide at some point you may have chosen the wrong spouse, needs to be the rule not the exception. And that “wrong” spouse should never be made to know that they were wrong. The believer has access to a supernatural font of love and compassion. If Jesus can die on a cross for you, you can make a loving home with your spouse. If you can’t and you abandon your spouse, you become responsible to God for their sex life (Matt 5:22), however sinful it may become. Imagine living out a life walking in the spirit and, when you face God, losing out because you were so hard-hearted you divorced your husband for reason that he snored or wasn’t hardworking enough to suit you.

When you break a vow, even a marriage vow, you are under condemnation, and Calvinist Dualism heresy aside, God will hold you accountable both in this life and in the next — even if you are a believer, and even if you can legitimately stand and say, “Lord didn’t I preach in your name, didn’t I heal the sick, didn’t I cast out demons.” Of such Jesus spoke in the “Parable of the Sower”. They are the shallow ground. In fact, they do convert to Christ, but in the end they fall away and are damned. Repent. As we all must. Your immortal soul is at stake.

God bless you as you seek him in spirit and in truth.

With love,


* There is a third clause in that passage where Jeremiah reports God’s intention to merge the pagan Israelis, Righteous Gentiles and Judah and corporately refer to all of them as Jews.