|winter :: 2009 |
MARRIAGE: GOD’S DEFINITION OR MAN’S?
by Barbara Collins
Since God first established the marriage boundaries in Genesis 2:24 where it is written, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” These same words were repeated in Ephesians 5:31 and added the following, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” In other words, the marriage relationship should reflect this same relationship of Christ and the church. Is the message that one may look in the Book at the heavenly Bridegroom and His bride and receive a model for every marriage on earth? Yes!
California voters were given an opportunity to affirm God’s Word which they did by establishing this amendment to their state Constitution, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This amendment passed by a 52-48 percent margin.
What caused the erosion of the marriage stand that caused this moral issue to pass by such a slim majority? Did some members of the body of Christ (the church) fail to even go to the polls to affirm this amendment? Yes, because, as George Barna reports for the past two presidential elections, only 65% of eligible evangelical voters registered. Should this figure drastically change in 2008, I will let you know. We know the vote’s outcome could not be bought, for the opposition raised several million more dollars. The mere mention of the “opposition” is not meant in a judgmental way, for I. Peter 4:17 reads, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God, and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” GWTW offers goodwill toward them, places them into God’s hands to deal with while we yearn for their ultimate spiritual blessing in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Have Christians been more enamored with the fact they are citizens of heaven and thereby excused themselves by denying their citizenship here on earth and allowing biblical authority to barely pass?
Have Christians become consumed with a pietistic attitude at the expense of being well-rounded members of this world and the community-at-large where they live?
Have Christians become so caught up in self-serving programs within the church that we have failed in outreach beyond the stained-glass windows and shunned evangelism?
Have Christians . . . (and you may add your own question here.) Why a mere “squeaking-by” majority instead of an overwhelming one?
Has our man-made unity come unglued as we quibble over anything that would display a unified, concerted voice while not sacrificing biblical principles? Has the movement toward a man-made organization squeezed the life of the Spirit out of some or our institutions, leaving only religion? Or, have we as the body of Christ gotten away from the center attraction of all we say and do—the Lord Jesus Christ?
Is biblical marriage such a loose-fitting and flabby institution to begin with that it needs protection by state Constitutional amendments, or has the church simply failed to embrace it? To the extent that it’s loose-fitting and flabby is only because we have made it so. God’s ideal of marriage must have the protection and preservation of a federal marriage amendment to keep supremacist judges from their futile attempts like in California to speak for the people when they don’t even represent the people.
However, when people abandon God’s definition of marriage, they begin to seek their own definition. Hooray for Florida and Arizona! However, when the shouting dies down, will we allow ourselves as a people to be drawn back to God and His Book? Or, will be drawn further toward the flamboyant aberrations of the lusts of the flesh? You decide.
A Call to Repentanceby Gay Anderson
King Solomon, gifted with wisdom, above all men, made a statement: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.” (Proverbs 29:2). We need not look far to agree with him, as we witness today’s bleak scenario in our land. From the bottom to the top we see corruption, greed, deceitfulness, godlessness. We hear the groans of the nation and there seems to be no way out of our dilemma. The enemy would have us believe there is no way out; this is true for the unbeliever, but the Chief Shepherd longs to lead this nation back to its foundations, because of those who are in covenant with Him.
As we reflected last month on our nation’s foundations being destroyed, we must ask ourselves what the solution might be. Fools make a mockery of sin and sin mocks the fools. (Proverbs 14:9) God’s mercy poured out upon us should lead us to repentance, but we continue on in a rebellious state refusing His Word and counsel.
John the Baptist coming forth out of the wilderness, cried, “REPENT – (think differently, change your minds, regretting your sins and changing your conduct), “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt.3:1-2)
Now this message of repentance
is not given to New Testament only for we see many instances in the
Ezra, the priest, under deep conviction and repentance said, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads and our guilt is mounted to the heavens.”
(Ezra 9:6) Reading on through chapter 10, a beautiful thing is seen as the Spirit moved through one man, humbled before the Lord; for while he prayed, confessed and wept, a great assembly of people wept bitterly and entered into covenant with the Lord. Oh! Lord, let this kind of conviction and repentance move in our land that righteous might reign!
Ezra calls a spade a spade in addressing the iniquities of Israel. Have we considered there is a marked difference between sin, transgressions and iniquities? The latter is a life-style of sin!
Isaiah’s conviction, confession, cleansing, consecration and commission came as he acknowledged he was undone! He found himself to be a man of unclean lips, living in the midst of a people with unclean lips. This is not necessarily a cursing man, but one whose confession is not unto the Lord, calling upon Him for salvation.
These are only a few examples of genuine repentance and the results it brings into an individual and a nation. Iniquity and guilt are taken away and forgiveness comes.
Dutch Sheets exhorted the body of Christ thusly: “We deserve His judgment for removing His influence and authority from our government, schools, homes and businesses; for the killing of 50 million babies; for leading the world in the consumption and exporting of pornography; for passing laws to reject His, etc. But mercy triumphs over judgment, and in His wrath He remembers mercy. Please pray for this grace to be released again”
The prophet Joel called for national repentance. (Joel 2:17-18) Let the priests and the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Have pity and spare your people, O Lord, and give not Your heritage to reproach, that the heathen nations should rule over them or use a byword against them. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is your God? Then was the Lord jealous for His land and had pity on His people.
In closing, one incident from the book of Acts, chapter 2:32-43. While Peter preached, they were cut to the heart, asking what they should do; this is repentance! That day when repentance came, about three thousand souls were added to the kingdom.
Genuine repentance brings change, because we have changed our minds and begun to agree with God! Today, we hear much about “change”, but only the Lord, by His Spirit, can bring changes bearing righteousness in the lives of individuals and governments. Genuine repentance brings a new lifestyle of obedience to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – even Jesus Christ! God’s Word says, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt trusting in horses and chariots.” In other words, the arm of the flesh produces nothing good and lasting. Without repentance we tie God’s hands to bless our land and restore it.
He promises the increase of His government and His peace of which there shall be no end. Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done. Amen. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Reprinted with permission from “Prism”
Like many an abused woman, the church is battered and bleeding from a wound that she fails to recognize. Many evangelicals cannot bear to acknowledge that spousal abuse is an enduring problem within our very walls. Both individually and as a faith community, we are ashamed and humiliated to admit the presence of such a problem. It is far easier to deny, to minimize, and to conceal.
Evangelicalism has been effective in proclaiming the redemptive and reconciling love of God to a world in desperate need. In the last half-century, it has gained in both numbers and influence throughout the globe. Believers can point to many accomplishments and ministries through which they have sought to bring glory to God and healing balm to those in need. We have recognized the need to be doers of the Word and not just hearers.
In at least one area, however, evangelicals have lagged far behind others involved in humanitarian endeavors. We have failed to address the issue of domestic abuse in any significant way. In actuality, our leaders have been caught in a dilemma that leaves them with such a high degree of discomfort that they cannot even acknowledge the problem.
Quite correctly, they maintain a high view of the Christian home and seek to build strong families. This is commendable, but it is important that a biblical perspective be offered. In the Bible, one of the features most strongly emphasized for godly homes is that of safety. Believers are promised that they may dwell in safety, lie down to sleep in safety and that their homes will be free of terror and violence. ”My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isaiah 32:18).
The theme is a recurrent one. Indeed, the prophet Isaiah maintains that peace in the home, safety, and righteousness is the inheritance of the believer (54:13- 17). Faithful teaching on the Christian family must include at least as much proclamation of these aspects as is accorded them in Scripture. (Full Article)
Catherine Kroeger is RANKED ADJUNCT ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AT GORDON CONWELL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY. She co-authored No Place for Abuse: Biblical & Practical Resources to Counteract Domestic Violence with Nancy Nason-Clark (Intervarsity Press, 2001) and edited, along with James R. Beck, Healing the Hurting: Giving Hope and Help to Abused Women (1998) and Women, Abuse, and the Bible: How Scripture Can Be Used to Hurt or to Heal (1996), both published by Baker Book House.