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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

There has been response to my post a few days ago regarding Jesus' teaching on marriage.

I am coming from a place that it has taken me awhile to get. I was long a greasy grace proponent (It doesn't REALLY matter what you do, 'cos Jesus will forgive you.) While at first blush this appears credible (1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.") it ignores the difference between "sins" and "sin". (It also ignores the previous verse 1 John 1:6, "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:".)

The thing that motivates me now is Jesus' own words: "If you love me, you'll keep My commandments.". Not 'salvation by works', as the gainsayer might intone whilst waggling an admonitory digit, but my response to the love and grace He proffers.

The standard evangelical answer to the idea of marrying an illegitimately divorced person is 'Well, Jesus will forgive me!", as though you had "hooked' one of Aunt Polly's doughnuts. That relationship yields a lifetime of sin, whether the relationship itself is the transgression, or the (mere) individual instances of sexual union constitute the individual sins; you live in a continual state of rebellion against God and His righteous commands. It is not a matter of "Oopsie...I made a mistake...." (Another peeve: calling willful transgression a "mistake".), rather, it is entering into a lifetime relationship of trangression.

If this sounds harsh and [Neal Boortz voice] "leg-al-IS-tic", well, sorry. Jesus set the rules and his disciples clearly understood the ramifications by their response: “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.”

On a positive note, Jesus entire ministry was spent teaching how to live in a Covenant Kingdom fashion, and thus the majority of His teaching is applicable to having a strong, joyous, loving marriage with a person whom you may legitimately marry. The fact is, there are some people it is OK to marry, and some it is not. Scripturally speaking, you may not be eligible to marry, if you have divorced illegitimately. It is up to you to determine this through the counsel of God's Word.

Our generation feels a sense of entitlement as far as pleasure is concerned. "I deserve to feel good!" However, He Who made the rules is entitled to be obeyed. If He set the rules for marriage, covenant, and who may-or-may-not, then we should take care in the decisions we make as far as who our marriage partner is. American society, churchy or not, may not care, but our Father does, and be sure that He Who made us, loves us, and so wants to spend eternity with us that He sent His Son to die to make it so does not do so by mere whim or fiat; He constrains us for our good.

Always for OUR good.

That Marriage is also a material picture of the relationship of Christ and His church should give ample reason for marriage to be under the gun, culturally speaking. I bet YOU weren't taught that aspect before you got married! If the Enemy can sully marriage, and pervert the intent of covenant, then there is yet another inroad made against a Christendom in decline.

Don't take my word for it. Check the Word out for yourself.

Then DO it.


Billiam said...

Thanks! You still haven't answered my last question. How've you been?

Pretty Lady said...

Now, Aardvark. It is my view that you may perhaps be looking at this from a too-rigid angle.

You see, the problem with 'it doesn't matter what you do, cos you will be forgiven' reasoning is that it is legalistic. It is, essentially, a Loophole. It is not Truthful, it is not Salutary, it is not Disciplined. It parrots the Word of God as an excuse, without deep understanding of the substance of that Word.

I suspect that we are of one mind upon this issue.

Furthermore, we are of one mind on the 'obedience to the Law is a response to the love and grace of God' issue. When a person truly understands the meaning of forgiveness, the desire to aggrandize onself by beating upon one's brother simply melts away. And in my view, the Law is merely a set of instructions which delineate the parameters of what 'refraining from beating upon one's brother' entails.

Where we part ways is in our view of what 'adherence to the spirit of the Law' entails. You propound a draconian and legalistic interpretation of such.

I am uncomfortable with this notion. To me, there is a great difference between a person who honestly considers the mistakes made in the past, owns up to them, and sincerely works at undoing them, and a lackadaisical 'oh, God will forgive me' sinner. Such a person may well be an 'illegitimately divorced' person; he or she may yet make a more earnest, dedicated and holy spouse than a rigid virgin who has never sinned out of mere fear, lack of imagination or lack of opportunity.

It is also important to remember that Biblical Law was inscribed during a milennium when the average human lifespan was a good deal shorter than it is now, and when the production of six or eight healthy offspring per family was essential to the survival of the tribe. One must not eschew the notion of pragmatism as an element in the Law of God, and adjust one's expectations of self accordingly. Sixty years of solitude as punishment for an honest mistake at eighteen seems excessive even for God.

The Aardvark said...

PL, that is precisely where I was before as well.
What has changed is the realization that if Jesus is the Son of God- clearly and important personage- the logos made flesh, then He was entirely capable of saying precisely what He meant.

What was the context? The "wise" religious leaders inquired if it was OK to divorce your wife "for any reason". (This was BAD NEWS for the woman, who was essentially ushered out into the street with no parachute, as it were.)
Jesus said that Moses allowed the bill of divorcement to be given "because of the hardness of their hearts", but that God's plan from the beginning was different:

4"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'[a] 5and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'[b]? 6So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

7"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

10The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." Matthew 19 4-10 NIV

It is interesting to note that in this enlightened 21st century, Jesus' pronouncements are far more woman-friendly than the no-fault culture of today is.

Now, what I think you are actually meaning by "sixty years of solitude" is sixty years without sex. There IS a difference. It is entirely possible to have lovely friends and relationships while remaining unmarried. As to sexual release, I am told that There Are Ways.

You gotta understand something, my sweet (and I mean that...I treasure you more than you know- and not in a creepy way!). I have not come to this lightly, nor willingly. I'm a laissez-faire kind of guy, and playing Jeremiah ain't my style. I am just having to take hard looks at what I've taken for granted or assumed for a long time. One of those things is the a priori assumption that what American Christendom practices is According to Hoyle. The very basis of coming to Jesus in the Evangelical mode (ask Jeeeeee-zus to come into your heart) .....does not even exist in the New Testament. Acts 2 sheds light on the "Keys to the Kingdom" (v.38 being the kicker). So I am forced to re-examine what I have known and believed, in light of the teaching of Jesus. Interpreting my life and belief by that, rather than interpreting the Gospel by my opinions, practices and druthers.

Besides, It is up to you and everyone else to stand before God on your own, being satisfied that what you do and believe is in alignment with His words and intent. I could be channeling L. Frank Baum for all anyone knows (except that I rarely write about Flying Monkeys.) You, Billiam, Vox, or Billy Graham each stand before God yourselves, accountable for your lives. I'm still on the journey, too, and still acquiring knoledge of the Truth. You are part of that, as well as anyone else who crosses my meandering.

Bottom line: I judge no-one. It's not my job. This blog is a sounding-board, where I speak Truth as I understand it, and a high percentage of bafflegab, as well. I take comfort in the promise that Paul passes on:

15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Phil 3:15-16

Pretty Lady said...

Well, gracious. I must capitulate entirely! ;-)

The Aardvark said...

Awwww....you didn't mess with my Flying Monkeys.

I are sad.