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
You always have a fresh – and refreshing- way of looking at things my friend!
That’s a very good question.
We do know that Cornelius was a righteous man esteemed by the Jews so I guess the fact he was chosen was because his house was in order. We also don’t know that he did n’t!
However, I get the message behind your question.
Be blessed and keep challenging us – iron sharpens iron.
Thank you very much. You are most gracious.
Hi Heavensent130750, In Acts 10.v2-4 give an indication of why Cornelius and his household were chosen. His marital status doesn’t seem to be a factor.
A marriage affair in the NT was certainly a cause for celebration wasn’t it. How wonderful of God to ordain it in the first place. The defining acts of marriage seem to be around leaving and cleaving. Leaving is a very public act, a declaration before witnesses that we are leaving our parents umbrella. Cleaving was then setting up a new umbrella with another, an umbrella that would last a lifetime (one would hope). It seems that few people achieve this properly.
It’s also important not to forget that Jesus (and his Disciples that followed) highlight sin in a persons life; the woman who washed his feet with her tears was told ‘her many sins are forgiven.’ As disciples, are we not to do the same? How can people come to repentance without first recognising sin. We are certainly to love everyone – in fact, in my experience of sharing the Gospel with others that simple fact can be the difference between seeing fruit or not. But, part of that sharing also means explaining our sinful position before God, which in itself can be an act of love from us if we do it sensitively.
Thanks Michael for your comments. Thanks especially for your insight “defining acts of marriage seem to be around leaving and cleaving. Leaving is a very public act”. So true. That never occurred to me.
I see that Jesus’ sensitive and gentle exposure of sin in the non-religious (unchurched?) folk around Him such as this woman, the Samaritan lady, the nailed transgressor beside Him, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes arose out of His compassion and grace which they instinctively understood and received. Suddenly they saw what the true God was like. This was in stark contrast to the way Jesus exposed the hypocrisy and ‘righteousness’ of the scribes and Pharisees, like many churchified leaders today soldered on to their dogmas and priestliness. Yes, there will be a place to explain how sin enslaves and leads to death so that the people with whom we are representing Jesus, will experience “metanoia” (the original word)—change their mind and heart completely (‘repent’ sounds very religious to many). Perhaps the best place to spell that out is when they want to be immersed into Jesus.
I meant to say “immersed into Jesus and His death for us”.
Dear Ian I have a comment to add here. If we are to define “marriage” by the definition used of the day it is interesting to observe that the vast majority of couples whether in long term or short term defacto relationships will refer to their “other half” as their “partner” , “girlfriend/ boyfriend”, “fiancée” but not their husband or wife. They understand that they are not married by society’s standards and don’t pretend that they are. Just sayin’….
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Thanks Jenny for your interesting insight. Now often we have to make sure what sense ‘partner’ is meant by someone— a business partner? a tennis partner? a dance partner? Etc, etc. Or are we all supposed to assume they are cohabitating? Sex partner? I will be sticking to the very original: “In the beginning . . . . man shall leave his wife . . .” Actually, there is no mention of “husband” in Genesis before Gen 16:23 though “wife” is mentioned 24 times previously!
Brilliant exposition. We as His body are called to LOVE with the love that Father has for us, and He reserves the right to judge, for He judges righteously. Rex
Thanks Masters Family! You are far too kind to me. And yes, the creator of all surely reserves the right to judge and he is the only one who judges rightly.
Here is a question…..When does being the salt and the light become legalism and works?
Perhaps, when we forsake the mercy and love that lies at the root of grace!
Perhaps also when we judge from the Old instead of the New Covenant.
Like you, I have been married a long while [ to the same woman, ha! ha!]
As mentioned before, we need to get back to the purposes as outlined in the book of Common Prayer [old edition].
I have been led to judge things in this manner….”What leads to LIFE? The only LIFE that being a “doing” disciple brings.
So in this matter, we do not have to depart from God’s Word. We need first to seek what The Holy Spirit wants us to do and say, and most importantly, HOW? This is what leadership is all about, coming alongside people and working with The Holy Spirit to a deeper place in Him and forsaking the world. I personally would not baptise, marry or accept into leadership people living in a de-facto, homosexual or other sinful relationship. But friendship to the individual opens the door for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and repentance.
In summary – let’s look at each and every situation and bring people into a closer walk with The Lord, for which He shed His blood.
Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate your trouble. A question for you: When the Holy Spirit fell on all the people in the house of Cornelius recorded in Acts 10, did Peter have any opportunity to check on the marital status of the blessed individuals before baptizing them? Amazing grace! Amazing Jesus! Knowing him brings transformation.