Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Episode 88: Biblical Divorce and Remarriage

I’m sorry to go a tad off topic, but I’ve “heard” you make the comment similar to:
“In my opinion, the situation isn't really any of your business.”
Writing about an issue is just not as easy as speaking in person, so I’m trying very hard not to write anything that could be taken as bombastic. In a nutshell, you don’t feel this comment demonstrates a negligence of the body of believers? I completely understand a desire to stay away from a nanny state (and, as we all know, you never badger anyone to Godly deeds, then they are not of the heart), but we are to encourage one another, to go to your brother, to restore one caught in a trespass with a spirit of gentleness. I take the bible as promoting proactive ministry rather than reactive or a ministry of ignoring.
I know in our westernized societies we have this great tendency to favor individualism* above all other things (often at the expense of our own spiritual health), so I guess to me it seems that is precisely what that comment exhibits. Maybe I’m off base or completely misunderstanding you.
* - and, in the church, anonymity as that better breeds the ability to hide ones sin.

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The way that I’ve seen it treated is that the church treats it in a church discipline manner. Approach (as indicated by the bible) the offending spouse. If they refuse, then they are being recalcitrant. An unrepentant Christian is not truly one of God’s (doesn’t actually exist, actually). Thus, Paul’s words would be applicable (if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave, let them). The key that you state is that the injured spouse follows a biblical course of trying to reconcile (as opposed to encouragement to go, etc.).

But others may see that differently.

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I missed a crucial word. It should have been I’ve heard you make similar comments before. Sorry for the lack of clarity (I know I was using a line from your comment.).

I suppose my question is do you think that such a lack of accountability is biblical (or even warranted)?

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Thanks for the response. Contrary, perhaps, to what you might expect, I have no whispers of thinking I can change your mind. As you have read here, I may be used as a tool for God’s purpose in that, but I, alone, by what I say, cannot change your heart. You are right, though, in that many of the folks around me who read this blog are beneficiaries of mutual accountability. We do see the rich reward from the “wounds” of a friend (Prov 27).

Those might be things that point in our direction, but I don’t see that they would ever convince.

Thanks again for the answer, I appreciate it!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Abortion and the Sexual Revolution


Even from your secular position, I think that abortion merely fuels the fire of the sexual liberation. If there was actually an acceptance of responsibility and consequences, I imagine we would likely see a drop in that sexual liberality.

From a Christian perspective, I would also say that overwhelmingly Christians (even if taken at the face value of someone claiming the name while living a life devoid of evidence) at most see destroying a fetus as only in dire circumstances as opposed to the at-will option championed now.

I agree with Clay that the transforming of lives by the power of God is the only way. But we work and finish the race. We don’t throw up our hands and say, “wow, this is tough, oh, well, just go with the flow.” Taking that attitude (as many in the church have) and we find ourselves in the mish-mash of Corinth.

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(In a huge paraphrase) You state that conservative Christians still sin. I’m sorry, but Paul beat you to that argument.

Regardless of what happens, we are called to a standard of righteousness that is unmovable. We strive to affirm what God affirms and decry what God has decried. We do not call evil good or dark light.

And, to answer the other question by Larry, no, we don’t vie for a theocratic state. But we should uphold what God upholds in any way we possibly can. With abortion, we uphold the dignity of human life, the highest of God’s creation, in His own image. That is why it is so important to those who are of Christ.

I read this earlier this morning and thought of the discussion going on here (and the other ice cream one and tree thing as well). Hebrews 4:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

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Actually, Kelly, you are saying exactly what Paul says. We are not perfected in the flesh. Far from it. Even Paul had his "thorns". We are all fallen. Because we sin simply means that we sin, not that God’s word isn’t true. We are measured by God, not in relation to one another (which should strike deep reverential fear in each and every one of us).

I was listening to Begg today. He spoke of expectations. The struggle for a Christian is just what you highlight, Kelly. We cannot expect those outside of Christ to live a life as though they are in Christ. For instance, I think you have a couple of letters wrong. It’s not that abortion is necessary, but it is necessarily a result of the sexually immoral. Destroying a human life is (as unpopular as this will be), at its heart, self serving. It’s not necessary, it’s necessarily a product of turning away from God. For some, it’s a rebellious action. For others it’s a life of rebellion. So, as Christians, we strive to uphold God’s word. Sometimes we have the ability to politically affect this. But as some have rightly pointed out here, we don’t trust in horses and chariots. We should strive to preach the message of Christ crucified above all other things to help liberate those who are in a life of theft. To free those in sexual sin of the chains of their own sinful choices. To bring the forgiveness bought on Calvary to those who daily deny God’s grace. In response to much of what you (and ep) have said, I, for one, am severely deficient in that I don’t weep enough for those who are perishing. I am too often happy to be where I am and never give it a thought. I appreciate the stoke.

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Unbelievable Providence

Ep: I don’t share your atheistic view. Just as the Lord tells us that the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous, God’s providence is represented in a tree spearing a young woman who lives and a wheelchair cutting a young man who died*. You know, our pastor asked a question one day. “Why do good things happen to bad people?’ A: “There are no good people.” Our finite brains like to try to place ourselves in judgment of God (how could a God be so loving….etc.). I was brought to Christ in painful circumstances. I place myself in judgment of God to have said “wow, that was random” or shaking my fist at God and saying that I was a good person and this shouldn’t be happening. I suppose it makes me sound weak and pitiful, but, honestly, that’s what I am. That’s the reflection of the power that each and everyone of us has. And, for me (and for the vast majority), it took a moment of pain (or moments) to realize how helpless and in need of something larger than this bag of bones I am. And, while I’ll assume you disagree, it’s depressing to think of a world as total random with no purpose and no being. That God is as helpless as I am at doing anything or that there are these surprises that God “wakes up” and says “whoa, didn’t see that one coming. I better do something.” I suppose a total divergence of world views there.

* – a local man got cut on a wheel chair which imparted a flesh eating virus and was dead within a few days.

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I think I disagree with you (sort of). I may be taking this in a completely wrong manner, so sorry if I misunderstood. I would say that if you hold to the sovereignty of God, you hold that His hand was in the 30 minute response time that saved the life of Pastor Tom Nelson and also the lack of response time for my aunt who died of the same ailment (heart attack, home alone). What we do, however, is to have a tendency to focus on the here and now. When we survive (or have someone survive), we're here to say "how great is the sovereignty of God". My aunt wasn't around afterward to say "God has called me home, how great is the sovereignty of God, I no longer suffer in that bag of bones!" I think you are spot in that this (and something like my aunt's death) should serve as a reminder of a life dedicated to God (see Piper's messages around his dad's death....and another recent post that caused much consternation....).

As a person who holds to the sovereignty of God (Psalm 139, Prov 16, Isa 37, Psalm 65, Matthew 10, Col 1, etc.), a God who isn't all knowing or without plan is scary (to note, I'm sure the feeling the other direction might be mutual). If there is not plan by God, then He is a reactionary God, who essentially lives by the seat of His pants. He doesn't know the end from the beginning, thus, where is all of this really going? I also hold that we don't get to question God (as Christ said to Peter, what is that to you?). So we mourn, we may rhetorically ask "why", but when it comes to God's motives, we are not to question. Doubts, fears, yes. But His plan is perfect. His will is perfect. His reasons are unflinchingly for good. I suppose mostly, knowing something in advance doesn't imply enjoyment in the individual pieces of the plan. God knows when the wicked prosper, the righteous suffer and when seemingly nothing happens in our lives as we go to work, play with the kids, eat dinner and go to bed, then wake up and do exactly the same thing again.

Ferg: Good to hear from you again. I'm glad your visit didn't cause you to stop talking to us :-).

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You were spot on about how I read your comment. Excellent clarification. I agree and well said. I love the picture you paint of putting real people in the place of my pictures of Job or David, etc. Lewis mentions the mental picture that we often have of "togas and sandals and armour and bare legs". These were real men and women, fearing just as we do.

I am moved by God’s hand protecting this lady, stopping the branch and letting it rest on her [jugular].

Very well said! And I always crack up at the string literal post stuck between aging and child marriage.


I, too, understand the struggle you mention. I wouldn’t say anything different from those a few months ago when this came ‘round back then, so I suppose we disagree at that point (as a reasoning for going against sovereignty....if I understand you correctly, that is). Good to hear from you again.

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For me, sovereignty does not negate the responsibility. You can do all of the things you state. If you did, I could, with all confirmation, state that it was in God’s plan. Any millisecond after right now (in the future), though, is entirely in God’s hand. So to flatly answer you question, no, you cannot avoid the “bullet (or branch) with your name on it”, but neither should you live your life pretending you know which branch is the one for you or pretending there isn’t a branch with your name on it. It’s the consequences of your decision (ordained and fully known from the beginning).

Take a personal example. God called me through a very painful divorce. I learned through that pain. I could have sulked and wallowed in the "why God?" questions (I was blessed to not fall into that trap). But a greater good came out of what, individually, was evil. We sometimes get a glimpse of the sure outworking of God’s plan. It’s beautiful. The danger comes when we demand the view of the outworking of that plan as a right.

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Yes, without question for me. He used evil to work for good.

Actually, that’s something that strikes me when I think about it. One of the questions could be why I wasn’t angry about “having” to go through that. Or why, if God hates divorce, did He allow it. The answer is that I don’t know. But one thing I do know. I am glad that God is so longsuffering in patience that I, even I, now call His name.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

No Right To Homeschool

This story has me really torn in a way. Ep and BRM are right, that this was born out of a custodial duty dispute (I think fathers too often get a very short end of the court system there, hence the "torn" part), but that is not the reasoning for the decision rendered by the judge. This isn’t a mediation case. The judge alluded that harm was being done in the home due to the child being unlikely to "seriously consider adopting any other religious point of view.". A couple of paper quotes:

The court found Amanda to be "generally likable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level." Nonetheless, reasoned the court, "it would be remarkable if a ten-year-old child who spends her school time with her mother and the vast majority of her other time with her mother would seriously consider adopting any other religious point of view."

The judge ignored New Hampshire state law, which requires evidence of harm to a child before removing her from the home-school situation, and interposed an arbitrary basis for removal — that the child "appeared to reflect the mother's rigidity on questions of faith," and "would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior."

This isn't a decision based in "the father has rights, too" (which, btw is what gives me such great pause when initially reading about this). That would be understood. This is a decision based on a tenet of the judge feeling that the 10-year old needed to be forcibly exposed to other points of view.

Also, as an aside, I understand it to be the court (not chosen by the mother) who appointed the overseer in the home after the father failed in '06 to force the girl into public school.

BTW, a funny line from WSJ: In a state whose motto is "Live Free or Die," this is an extraordinary line of reasoning.

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