Monthly Archives: July 2016

More on the De Facto Question

In the previous post (was short—not the whole counsel of God) several people responded by email as well as here on the blog. How differently sincere and godly respondents can look at a post!

Some were very positive. Some did not actually read the article carefully. Some read with the aim to dismiss what is written or to critique and they miss what is actually being said. Others were disappointed that no conclusion was clear— whether “it” is right or wrong. Bless ‘em all!

We like to have difficult questions settled cleanly and simply. Then we can be quick to judge people and make decisions affecting people’s lives, tell others how to behave. But we end up excluding some behaviours and winking at others. Instead of showing patience and compassion, we exclude people.

We were addressing the situation of an already established, committed and caring ‘marriage’, one that has been recognised by the state and in law for many decades and by perhaps 75% of Australian society.

Should we not follow Jesus in the way he acted? He did nothing except what the Father told him. So must we cultivate that in our own lives rather than live just by precepts, dogma. It is important that we begin to move in the Holy Spirit in how we respond to people.  This will become critical in this culture of increasing ‘new morality’, political correctness and intolerant, mischievous opposition to anything Christian in politics, society and media.

There are some things that we can be clear about and these were pointed out in my post, things we hold true as Jesus did. I suppose I could have added how fornicators will come under the judgment of God. But that’s not the sort of issue that was being addressed.  Certainly young people need to be warned that cohabitation is not the answer to their search for true oneness, wholeness or identity.

There is a need to be holy, to please the Lord. But how is that achieved? It is the gift of God, lest any of us should boast. Grace. A free gift, the Holy Spirit. Not law. That needs another short post or two, perhaps twenty!

Holiness will not be achieved by observance of Law, any set of laws. Not by the rules and norms of average, lifeless, pew-bound Christianity, nor by rules we make up to protect our group, large or small or to give some false security or human authority. Imposition, judgmentalism and dogmatism.

For those of us who have escaped from the box (buildings, priestcraft, professional staff, staged-managed meetings, finances, etc) we are thrown back on the Holy Spirit to lead us and show us how to love, to embrace the newbees and to bring prophetic understanding and the Father’s mind, His ways.

In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4), He graciously exposed her history of 5 husbands and the current live-in guy. Yes, in that society there was a difference between marriage and cohabitation, which based on the evidence available, actually had very little in common with the scenario we were addressing.

Jesus did not behave as the scribes and Pharisees—and many fundamentalist or ‘bible-believing’ leaders—would do with condemnation and judgment. That word of knowledge from God brought her salvation, an unexpected extended stay for Jesus and co in Sycar and amazing blessing. Jesus is the standard.

Don’t you love how Paul talks about prophecy in action: if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;  the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Corinthians 14)

We must expect such take place in our midst as we mix with unbelievers or ungifted ones. May that be our desire and experience as we deal with the many difficult situations which will arise and grow more frequent in coming days. The Holy Spirit is able to expose people’s hearts when they try to justify their actions, as they will. We all tend to.

We are promised magnanimous gifts and graces. Why are we not experiencing them? Why present to people worldly principles, white-washed with a veneer of religiosity? Let us move in the blessings of the new covenant in grace and glory and not with some mental checklist of dos and donts.

After decades of marriage, I believe it’s best for couples to express before witnesses a covenant relationship and be recognised by wider society even though I would struggle to produce texts to clearly support that.

Jesus is everything. Listen to God speak! He is there and He is not silent

Defacto Couples & Fellowship

Recently the question arose how to deal with people who want to join in Christian fellowship but who are living in a long term or lifelong, committed defacto relationship. Some important questions are raised . . . .

When such couples seek to join us, what action do we take – welcome them or kinda dissuade them?

Or do we welcome them and then preach rules for them to observe? Hope not.

Do we demand they live by our interpretation of biblical law? Aaagh.

OR, do we believe that the Lord of the gathering is well able to show us who truly seek Him, who are led by the Spirit, and what is His will in each particular case? I think so.

So just how different is marriage from defacto?

And what is meant by “being married”?

Many couples we see from the scriptures were seen as husband and wife —Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rachel, Jacob and Rachel, Moses, David, and so on—though neither a wedding ceremony nor a certificate from the state are mentioned.  We read of gifts from the bridegroom to the virgin’s father but no wedding! Yet it is evident that these were married in God’s sight.

It’s fascinating that before the 10th Century AD, marriages of Christian believers were celebrated by families and the community and not in an institutional religious setting. However marriage was frequently seen by the community to be related to God, a serious undertaking and as a lifelong committed relationship.

What Jesus wants for couples as we read in the gospels  (Matthew 19:16-30), Mark 10:2-8, Luke 18:15-17). . . .

leave your father and mother

be joined to your spouse—one flesh means one mind, heart and soul as well as body

don’t let anyone put asunder what God has joined (permanent relationship

and love one another “as I have loved you!”

Of course, this last command of Jesus must apply in every relationship. To love the other means death to the self-life and sacrifice for the sake of the other. Your spouse is your neighbour! Right?

So don’t you agree that before anyone—and not only those in a defacto relationship—joins with a fellowship which stands for discipleship and reaching others for Christ, they need to see what the group is all about and what it is NOT. This might mean a process of meeting with them, reasoning from Jesus’ words, standing firm in faith and truth but also being welcoming and not imposing law.  Grace and love trumps law.

They may need to be challenged about repentance from dead works and sin and be baptised and affirm Jesus as their Lord. Then it’s a process of teaching and discipleship which will hopefully lead to right thinking and understanding what Jesus wants from us all.

If a proper foundation is laid the incomers will then be open to the correction of the Holy Spirit. But they may decide not be open and withdraw from us. Fair enough.

John 17 “they they may all be one, as we are one” (cf Jn 14) demands we all participate in the closest oneness and communion with one another and with the Father and His Son.  Right?

Gal 5:24 “The fruit of the Spirit . . . . .” applies to us all for sure! This is a call for us all to “Live in the spirit”!

These matters should be brought before any who wish to be part of a life-giving, Spirit-inspired group of people.