An Ordinary Day

“God, please give me an ordinary day.” Have you ever prayed that prayer? We go through ordinary day after ordinary day, and sometimes I think we expect more. We grow bored and we can’t find anything to do. Life is treating us fairly well, but something is missing. We want excitement or maybe even controversy–something to make us know we are alive and the world is still turning. We do not generally long for ordinary days.

But that is not always the case. Sometimes we get day after day of first one dilemma or catastrophe and then another. The car breaks down or we lock our keys in it while the lights are still on. The washing machine starts crawling into the living room or the roof leaks. Maybe a neighbor runs over our cat or we learn that out our son is leaving home–or coming back home (it’s all the same, depending on the circumstances).

Well, recently I have had a slew of extraordinary (or perhaps I should say out of the ordinary) days–days when I never know what is going to slap me in the face and I never know how to react to the slap. And, quite frankly, I am tired of those days. So this morning I asked God for an ordinary day.

To me “ordinary” means nobody calls me a hypocrite and nobody tells me I’m headed for hell. Nobody blames the demise of my marriage on my “weirdness” and nobody tells me I am handicapping my children. And one more thing: I can breathe through at least one nostril all day long and my lungs don’t hurt.

I don’t think all that is too much to hope for. I don’t want to be able to buy paper towels. I don’t even care if I can’t buy cocoa so I can make the candy I am craving. If I can find enough change to buy milk and I have some beans in the cabinet, I’m happy. I just want an ordinary day. Is that too much to ask?

I know many people suffer on a daily basis. Many people can’t even buy the milk I bought with my change today. And I will have money tomorrow–at least enough to buy cocoa. I may still be called a hypocrite, and my lungs may still hurt. But all in all I know I have it pretty good. I don’t mean to be complaining.

But we all wear down, little by little, when we hear discouraging comments and when we can’t seem to get a good word no matter where we turn. And we are not alone. Others out there are hurting too. We never know what people are going through, and it may be that one kind word from us will lift their spirits and help them make it through an extraordinary day.

Do we bring these days upon ourselves? Maybe, sometimes. Other times we don’t. And does it really matter? Whether we’re the victim of nature, the victim of another person, or the victim of our own actions, does it make any difference? We still need encouragement and love. We still need a kind word, a good deed, a hand to help.

“Let me be a little kinder;
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me;
Let me praise a little more.
Let me be when I am weary
Just a little bit more cheery,
Think a little more of others
And a little less of me.”
(Glen Campbell)

I am weary. But let me put myself aside and do what I am asking of others. Let me wish you an ordinary day. May you have milk and cocoa. May your breathing not be labored. May you receive a smile and not a frown when you walk out your door. And when you lie down to sleep tonight, may you thank God for an ordinary day.

Moonbeam
10.24.06

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Even Chocolate



What do you do when you lose your best friend,
When the one you turned to for solace and advice has turned away,
When even chocolate won’t keep the pain at bay,
When you gave all he would take and offered more than he deserved,
What do you do when you lose your best friend?

What do you do when you feel you can no longer call,
When his number is always busy or he’s nowhere to be found,
When you want to leave a message but no longer know what to say,
When even chocolate won’t keep the pain at bay,
What do you do when you feel you can no longer call?

What do you do when you find yourself all alone,
When you sit and wonder if he will ever come home,
When you realize too late that he never intended to stay,
When even chocolate won’t keep the pain at bay,
What do you do when you find yourself all alone?

Moonbeam


Thou Hast Had Five Husbands

John 4:18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

The above scripture is used as proof that people “live in adultery” while married to a second, third, or, as in the case of this Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well, sixth husband. The doctrine assumes that while the Law of Moses did not condemn this woman in her sixth marriage, nonetheless Jesus did.

However, those who promote this idea fail to notice that Jesus never told this woman anything she did not already know. When He asked her to call her husband she said, “I have no husband.” She was well aware that the man with whom she was living was not her husband.

When I first wrote about this woman’s prior knowledge of her lack of a husband, I received a private e-mail saying, in effect: “Maybe she didn’t want to go back home and get her husband so she just said she didn’t have one.” I can believe that about as easily as I can believe that Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water because Philip had dropped his pocket watch into the water and was fishing for it.

I cannot imagine how this Samaritan woman would have come to recognize her “adulterous marriage,” if indeed Jesus was considering it that. She certainly would have read Deuteronomy 24 and known about divorce. She should have rightly determined that if her husband(s) had divorced her then she was free to be married to another man.

Some argue that this woman, considering herself a daughter of Jacob, would have known that in the beginning God created man male and female and that we are not to put asunder what God joined together. Therefore, she would have accepted that, Deuteronomy 24 notwithstanding, not only was her sixth marriage adulterous but also her second through fifth marriages.

The problem with this thought is that even the disciples of Jesus were shocked at His teaching in Matthew 19. They had such a lack of understanding that they questioned Him about it again later. Not only that, but we today struggle with the issue of divorce and remarriage and have not been able to agree on the subject at any time in history.

Yet we are expected to believe that this Samaritan woman, who obviously spent her time doing something other than studying the scriptures, had a perfect understanding of the will of God on the subject of divorce–and even before Jesus spoke a word to her. She supposedly knew that in the beginning God did not speak of divorce at all and therefore she was living in adultery in her sixth marriage. We are told that since the provision for divorce in Deuteronomy 24 was given only for the hardness of hearts, it was not God’s true will for the Jews and this Samaritan woman knew it, even though Jesus’ disciples and the teachers of the Law did not.

Aside from the fact that we would have to believe this woman knew more than the teachers of the Law, we are presented with the dilemma of Jesus’ calling the first five men husbands. The only one He did not call a husband was the sixth. Therefore, we would have to believe that five husbands died, since they were all called husbands. Otherwise, Jesus would have said, “Thou hast had one husband and the last five were not thy husbands.” He acknowledged the first five husbands equally, giving no special distinction to the first, whom we might safely assume was a true husband. If indeed five husbands had died, then the woman would have been free to marry the sixth and Jesus would not have told her he was not her husband. So this cannot be the meaning of this scripture.

To sum up, we cannot in all good conscience believe that Jesus came preaching a new doctrine, different from the Law of Moses, and a Samaritan woman knew about it even before Jesus told her. She would have had to realize that under the Law her marriage was good but now (even before the cross) her marriage was suddenly no good because of Jesus’ new doctrine.

We also cannot believe that this woman thought the Law of Moses was not God’s will for Israel or for her. Of course, we all know that in the beginning God had no law at all regarding divorce. But to believe that this woman would look past Moses and back to the beginning is totally unreasonable. The Law of Moses was in effect in her lifetime and she knew it.

Finally, we definitely cannot believe that the woman was living in adultery but was not aware of it until Jesus told her and she was just too lazy, tired, or obstinate to go home to get her husband. (One man even suggested that maybe she said she did not have a husband because she was hoping to make Jesus her seventh.) If ever anyone was reaching down into a bag of tricks for an answer to a thorny problem, this is it.

We have to accept that Jesus simply called the first five men husbands because the woman was married to them and that He agreed with the woman that the sixth was not her husband because she was not married to him. That is the only logical and sensible explanation for this conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. After all, He did say as much, did He not? “… thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband….”

Moonbeam

2006

Matthew 19:9 versus 1 Corinthians 7

When we talk about divorce in a spiritual context the first place we usually turn is Matthew 19:9. That is fine as long as we keep looking at other scriptures on the subject; but, unfortunately we tend to stop there and do not go any further. Anything else the Bible has to say is pushed aside as we turn Matthew 19:9 inside, outside, and upside down.

I believe that anytime we cling to one verse and keep rallying around it, failing to deal with many other verses and principles found in the Bible, we are treading on dangerous ground. People do that with Ephesians 2:8. They say we are saved by grace through faith and that is the end of the story. And no matter how many verses or principles we show them they keep going back to Ephesians 2:8 and saying they know we are saved by grace through faith and not of works, so therefore baptism is not necessary for salvation.

I fear that this is what we do that with Matthew 19:9. Our minds are so clouded by that one verse that we cannot allow ourselves to entertain the idea that we might learn something from other verses that might help us better understand Matthew 19:9. Instead of learning from other verses, we try to warp the other verses and twist them around Matthew 19:9, even though, as I pointed out in my article “Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah,” we cannot agree on at least 21 issues regarding the verse. That verse might be, and is, interpreted many different ways by us. But I see no way to misinterpret Paul’s language in I Cor. 7.

I Cor. 7:2 …to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

Here we see that everybody has a right to a spouse. Everybody, no exceptions. This is a good place to start, as the principle is clear.

I Cor. 7: 7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. 8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. 9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

In these verses we read that not all people have the gift of celibacy. We understand what a gift is when we are referring to an ability to sing, play the piano, create beautiful quilts, or make compelling speeches. We recognize that these are gifts from God and we cannot pick and choose our talents. Sometimes we can foster a talent or attempt to perform, but without natural talent we will never be a Beethoven or a William Jennings Bryan. We need to learn to view the gift of celibacy in the same way. Some of us were not born with it and we will never develop it. If we do not have the gift, Paul says we may marry.

Later in I Cor. 7 we read: 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

In this verse God is letting us know that sometimes, maybe even through no fault of our own, we may be left without a spouse. When that happens we are not under bondage. Some say this does not give us a right to be married again, but I tend to think that not having that right would be bondage and certainly we could find no peace in the situation.

I Cor. 7:17 ¶But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

It is interesting to me that Paul uses circumcision to explain this verse. Circumcision is something that has been done and cannot be undone. We have a hard time comprehending the grace of God. We cannot cope with the idea that God can forgive us and set us free. We think we have to undo our sins. The blood of Christ simply does not seem enough. Maybe, we think, if we can go back and fix everything we have done, maybe, just maybe, we will slip into heaven by the skin of our teeth when God’s back is turned. It is somewhat arrogant to think that our restitution will make us better when God has already cleansed us with Christ’s blood, but still we keep trying to gain heaven through our own works. We are indeed created for good works, but all the good works in the world will not cleanse us of our past sins.

I Cor. 7: 20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

There it is again. Paul figures he should say it twice to get it through our thick skulls, I guess.

And yet again: 24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Ah, a man after my mother’s own heart. She always said that if she wanted me to understand anything she had to stand me up against the wall and tell me three times. Maybe I am not the only one who needs this.

In case we still cannot see what Paul is saying, he continues: I Cor. 7:27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. 28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned….

Yes, I know, we think Paul is wrapping this around Matthew 19:9—which, of course, we cannot agree on—and therefore “loosed” means “if you got a divorce for fornication.” However, Paul made no stipulations or exceptions here. Had he wanted to, this would have been his perfect opportunity, but he did not.

Aside from I Corinthians 7 we know that it is not good for man to be alone. It is not good, meaning it is bad. I know some say people squander their one right to a husband or wife, but sometimes it is not even the person’s fault. It is difficult for me to believe that my God could say, “Not everyone has the gift of celibacy, but if you marry and your wife runs off when you are twenty-one, you had better figure out fast how to get the gift somehow.”

Imagine a young man, twenty-one years old, whose wife leaves him with two little girls. One is six months old and the other is eighteen months old. His parents are dead and the parents of the girl are on drugs. We tell him that not only is he supposed to raise these little girls by himself but he is also supposed to do it without the comfort of a wife. No, I am not trying to play on your emotions. I am trying to get to your sense of reality. This boy is not going to do what we tell him to do. He is not because he cannot. And furthermore, God knows he cannot. Some of us may not know it, but God, in His Word, has let us know that He knows it.

Celibacy is a gift, and not everyone has it. If we could get that one concept through our heads maybe we could understand some other very important words of God.

Below is a list of a few divine principles that the traditional view on divorce and remarriage denies.

1. It denies the right of some to marry, which is a doctrine of devils. (More and more I am understanding why this is so. The devils must rejoice when we take away the rights of a person to marry, as they know they can go ahead and throw that person in their sack—no more hope for him.)

2. It denies the right to marry in order to avoid fornication, leaving most people with no means of avoiding fornication. (I have asked for another means but, unfortunately, nobody has offered me one.)

3. It denies Paul’s teaching that those who are loosed from a spouse may marry.

4. It denies the efficacy of the blood of Jesus because His blood will not cover the sin without penance on the part of the sinner. Even the person sinned against incurs punishment from God in that he too must do penance. So the blood of Christ is not enough for this sin.

5. It denies the words of both Jesus and Paul, who said some cannot remain celibate. (And, yes, this is what they both said. We can say, “No, Jesus was just saying they will not, not that they cannot.” But if that were so, He would not have mentioned eunuchs. He said some cannot–eunuchs can, of course. If He was saying we all could but some will not, why bring up eunuchs? What He is saying is that eunuchs can be celibate, not that they will. (Of course they will!) He is recognizing what Paul also recognizes–some cannot contain. They are not eunuchs–either by birth, wound, or choice they have the ability to make.)

6. It denies God’s statement that it is not good for man to be alone.

7. It denies that marriage is to be had in honor among all.

8. It elevates the law of sin and death (Law of Moses) over the gospel of grace (law of Christ) in that Moses freed the woman to marry again while Christ leaves her like a dog chained in the back yard with
no master to feed her and no hope of finding one. The Law also freed her from further abuse by the husband who divorced her in that he could not take her back, while the gospel supposedly gives her only one option–to return to the husband who caused her to be defiled, which is an abomination to God.

9. It denies that every man may have his own wife.

10. It denies that God forgives and forgets our sins and that a sin forgiven is remembered no more. (If God does not remember our sin, then how does He know to make us do penance by not marrying again?)

This is only a partial list. I have seen a list of maybe fifty Biblical principles that the traditional view on divorce and remarriage–which requires celibacy on the part of some–denies. We cannot accept a view taken from a misunderstanding of one verse and fail to listen to other scriptures that show that our interpretation of that one verse must be wrong. When we deny Biblical principles and plain scriptures so that we can teach a doctrine we have concocted from one verse, we need to reevaluate our understanding of that verse and take all the Bible says on the subject. Otherwise, we are like those who say we are saved by grace and ignore commands in the Bible as to how we are to live our lives. And we all know that is a dangerous way to interpret the Word of God.

Moonbeam

2006

The Law Shall Go Forth of Zion

Micah 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

When I was a young girl my Bible class teachers drilled into my head on a regular basis that the law of Christ was to go forth from Jerusalem. Our class turned in our Bibles to Acts 2 and read Peter’s sermon to the crowd that had gathered in Jerusalem for the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. “Who preached the first gospel sermon?” we were asked. And we responded with “Peter.” “And where did he preach it?” “Jerusalem.”

I did not understand the significance of that knowledge, although I thought later that we had been taught it so we would know that we could not be saved the same way the thief on the cross was saved. We could say to those who taught otherwise: “Oh no, the thief lived and died under the Law of Moses. The word of the Lord went forth from Jerusalem, and at that point everything changed.” And we did say that.

Somehow, though, it does not work quite the same way when it comes our own doctrines. We choose very little from the gospels that we want to apply to us, but we do take some (just not the thief on the cross!). We easily discard Jesus’ commands to those He healed to go show themselves to the priest, and we ignore His command to the rich young ruler to obey the Law of Moses. I think the only doctrines that we want to latch onto from the gospels are divorce and remarriage, Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, and church discipline.

I have not figured out how the church discipline applies to us, as Jesus plainly says: “Let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican.” Nobody ever told me that I am to treat a heathen or a publican any special way, and I am positive that applied to those to whom Jesus was speaking. As for Nicodemus, Jesus chided him after discussing the new birth with him by saying, “Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?” (John 3:10).

It took much study but I finally came to realize that we have condemned others for reaching back under the Law to the thief for their own redemption while we have reached back even further for ours. Yes, with our mouths we have always proclaimed that the doctrine for the church began with the sermon preached by Peter in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, but some of our beliefs tell a different story. When I got to thinking about all this, a light bulb suddenly came on in my head and I was stunned when I realized how ignorant I had been. We cannot go back to the thief on the cross and we cannot go back to the Sermon on the Mount. The word of the Lord (the new law that was prophesied) went forth from Jerusalem!

My reason for talking about this is to discuss the subject of divorce and remarriage. We have traditionally believed that Jesus taught new doctrine regarding this topic in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19. We have preached that this was His new law and, for all intents and purposes, the final word on the subject. However, if His word was prophesied to go forth from Jerusalem, then how can this be? If a child had been born, even of a virgin, in the city of Nazareth, would we accept him as the Messiah? No, of course not, because the Messiah was to be born in the city of Bethlehem. For the same reason, we cannot accept that a doctrine that supposedly began in Galilee is the beginning of the word of the Lord for the church.

The Jews came to Jesus asking Him a question about the Law. They were not interested in any new doctrine He might have the apostles teach three years later to those who would be Christians. They did not consider Him to have any authority to contradict the Law of Moses. And indeed He could not have done that for in Matthew 5, just before His first discourse on divorce, He stated: 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus stated very emphatically that anyone who broke the least commandment would be called least in the kingdom, for not one jot or tittle would pass from the Law until all was fulfilled. Yet we teach that just thirteen verses later He was contradicting the Law and pushing a radically different divorce doctrine on these same people. It makes me wonder how these people might have responded had they viewed this as new doctrine the way we have done. I am guessing that, to say the least, they would have been shocked and would have reminded Him of His previous words.

These Jews were living under the Law and they were interested only in the Law. They saw Jesus as a teacher of the Law but certainly not as the coming Messiah. They would not have allowed Him to break the Law and still continued to listen to Him. They would have viewed Him as a rebel and a heretic. In the discourse on divorce in Matthew 19 Jesus’ listeners asked a question regarding the Law. Either Jesus refused to answer their question and instead taught His new doctrine (which could not have applied to them at that time), or He did answer their question, in which case He was discussing the Law of Moses and not a new and contradictory law. Some of these people probably did not survive until the cross. They may have died under the Law of Moses. And whether they lived or died, at that point in time they wanted to know about their own law. Furthermore, Jesus told them that what He was saying applied right then and there. He did not say, “When my new law comes….”

It is obvious in Matthew 5 that Jesus was speaking of the Law when He talked about bringing gifts to the altar. On what day of the week are we as Christians supposed to do that? It is equally as obvious that Jesus was not quoting the Law and then changing it when He said they had heard that they were to hate their enemies. Nowhere in the Law were they told to hate their enemies. In fact, they were told to love their enemies. Proverbs 25:21: “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink.” Jesus did not even use the language He would have used had He been quoting from the Law. He used expressions like: “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time.” Some were saying these things and Jesus was simply correcting the understanding of the principles taught in the Law of Moses. If Jesus was quoting the Law, why did He not say, “Moses said, but I say…”?

It is impossible to believe in all good conscience that Jesus came changing the Law of Moses regarding divorce and remarriage. He condemned doing such a thing, the Jews would not have allowed it, His own language confirms that He was not doing it, and His law had been prophesied to go forth from Jerusalem. It is one thing for Jesus as well as John to come baptizing and telling people to repent, but it is quite another for Jesus to come contradicting and changing the Law of Moses. He could not and would not. His law went forth out of Zion and His word from Jerusalem.

Moonbeam

2006

It Is Not Good for Man to Be Alone

In a discussion of celibacy I think we often forget two important issues. One is that a sexual relationship is a need, not a want. The other is that a sexual relationship is legitimate in the eyes of God.

We have few real needs, and we are so used to thinking of some wants (a bathroom inside our house, for instance) as needs that it is easy to become confused. Jesus said having food and raiment we should be content, but we know that we need more than that. We need a roof over our heads or we will die in some climates. Some of us need medicine or we will die–either immediately or before our time. While I do not think we will die from a lack of sex, we may, however, be dysfunctional.

We need to be able to prosper physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Being deprived of a need in one of these areas will cause major problems for us. Studies have shown that babies die if they are not touched. Older people that are not touched die in some ways too. They have deviate behavior if they are not given what they need in every realm. Celibacy is not simply abstaining from sex; it is “life without marriage” by definition. And being married is not just about sex. That is only a part of it, as we should not separate love and sex. They go together and what we are really seeking when we marry is to have a companion, a person with whom to share life’s joys and sorrows, a mate to be sure, but mainly someone who can keep us from being alone. We want to be whole. And we need that. It is not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). When he is lonely he often seeks oneness in unauthorized and sometimes bizarre ways.

I may provoke an argument about whether or not sex is a need, but I do not think anyone will argue that God has not provided a legitimate means to fulfill the desire for sex with which He has gifted us. To avoid fornication every man is to have his own wife. But who is “every man”? Every man who has not sinned once? Do we truly think God placed this strong desire in us and then, when we sin just once, He said, “Oops, you sinned. No more soup for you! Sorry ’bout that–guess the way of the transgressor is hard, huh?” (If you do not get the soup reference you have not watched enough “Seinfeld.”)

If a man fails to work and provide for himself one time, is he never allowed to have another job? To avoid fornication a man is to have his own wife (I Cor. 7:2). To avoid starvation a man is to have his own job (II Thess. 3:10). Both of these are legitimate and good. Both are necessary for a fruitful life. To tell a man who has sinned sexually that he can no longer have a wife to fulfill his need for sex is parallel to telling a man who got lazy once and would not work that now he no longer has a right to work to fulfill his need for food. In some backward countries they cut off a man’s hand when he steals. That might make it harder for him to steal, but it also keeps him from working to provide what he was stealing. And he continues to need food so now it is even harder for him to keep from stealing. The same applies with regard to sex. If we cut off a man’s God-given means of fulfilling his sex drive, what can he do but seek sex in unlawful ways? The only way he can be happy then is to castrate himself and take away his need. Who would recommend or advocate such a procedure? Nobody would, and yet for all intents and purposes we have already attempted to castrate him if we demand celibacy of him.

We cannot take away God’s means to avoid sin. We say a man can go back to his wife if he needs a woman. But not every man can do that. If his wife has divorced him and married someone else, how does he fulfill his needs? What is the answer we give him? The way of the transgressor is hard? We pretend this forced celibacy is not penance or a punishment, but what else can it be? The divorced fornicator’s wife is free; therefore, the marriage is over. When Jesus spoke with a woman taken in the very act of adultery He showed compassion and did not condemn her but simply told her to go and sin no more. We, on the other hand, are more like the disciples of Jesus and would prefer to cry, “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?”

We pick a man who has proven his weakness in this area and we tell him that, since he was not able to control his urges completely while married, now he is going to have to control them for the rest of his life with no legitimate outlet. I once asked on a Bible discussion list for anyone without sexual sin to speak up and tell us about it. Nobody spoke up and claimed to be free of sexual sin. If we who have spouses or have a hope of obtaining a spouse cannot testify that we have been perfect in this one area, then how can we expect someone who obviously has an inclination to sexual sin to go the rest of his life without a spouse and without sin?

I know the answer I will hear. I will hear that, yes, we all sin–and not just in this area but in many areas of our lives–but that means we just have to repent and try to do better. The problem with that reasoning is that this man we are condemning to celibacy has no outlet for a legitimate need. He is compelled to continue to sin. He has no other option. We can debate for years about whether Jesus and Paul said some cannot be eunuchs or remain celibate, but we all know in our own hearts that it is not a possibility for some people.

Yes, we commit other sins. But they are sins in and of themselves and God gave no lawful way to perform them—nor should He have. Corrupt communication is a sin, but we are allowed to talk. Stealing money to provide for our needs is a sin, but we are allowed to have money. Driving without a license is a sin but we are allowed to drive. And sex outside of marriage is a sin, but, thank God, we are allowed to be married. Corrupt communication is of the devil. Stealing is of the devil. Breaking civil laws is of the devil. Sex is of God. And God has provided a way to have it in a good and wholesome manner.

It is God who gave us our sex drive. It is God who provided a means to fulfill that drive. When we sin He does not take away the drive nor does He take away the means to fulfill the drive. God will not tempt us above what we are able to bear but with every temptation will provide a way of escape. We should be very careful that we not be found taking away a man’s right to God’s means of avoiding sin. We do not want to be found destroying God’s way of escape. “It is not good that the man should be alone.” That is from God. I am thinking we should not be caught messing with it.

Moonbeam

2006

Is Celibacy Demanded of the Divorced?


Sin has consequences. If I shoot somebody I am probably going to jail. If I get in Hi Ho Silver (my little silver Kia Rio) and go flying down the streets of town, I am probably going to wreck, and I might even die. The first of these consequences is a penalty that the government will demand of me, and the second is a consequence that the laws of nature will exact.

Sin does indeed have consequences. However, consequences and penalties that are put on us by the government or the laws of nature are not penalties commanded by God.

We all sin. If God exacted penalties in this lifetime for our sins it seems that when we kicked someone God would shrivel up our leg. The law might force our legs to take us out to do some community service and that would be a punishment from the government, but it would not be a penalty from God.

When we steal we might go to prison, but God does not take away everything we have because we stole. When we eat too much we get fat and have medical problems, but God does not take away all our food. We do not go blind when we look at pornography, our nose does not grow when we tell a lie, and I do not believe that when we sin sexually God condemns us to a life of celibacy.

If indeed celibacy is a penalty for sin, then as far as I know it is the only penalty God has imposed on any sin. You would think that if God did that sort of thing, then someone who murdered would suddenly up and die.

God does not work that way. The wages of sin is death–eternal death. That is sin that is not forgiven. Sin that is forgiven is covered by the blood of Christ, and the gift of God is eternal life–we get no punishment at all.

We are forgetting that this supposed penalty from God–not a natural consequence but a punishment from God–is being put on innocent people as well as guilty ones. Little children are having their homes broken up because their mother was thrown out by an evil man and then a good man (their father) took her in and married her and took care of her. God is supposedly punishing these people when they have nothing but honest hearts and love for one another.

People tend to equate having to live celibate with having to live with a sick spouse who cannot perform sexually. But it is one thing to stay with a sick spouse and care for him and quite another to be twenty-one years old and be told by the elders of the church that you can never have a companion again–not just for physical reasons but for emotional support and financial security.

I have a friend to whom this happened. Can you imagine that? Being twenty-one years old and condemned to a life with no hope of companionship ever?  Who could bear it? The person with a sick spouse still has a spouse, and the love they share comforts them. But when people are left all alone in the world, with no love of any sort, it is much harder to cope.

Besides all that, both Jesus and Paul said some people do not have the gift of celibacy (Mt. 19:10-12; I Cor. 7:9). Those who have it probably do not understand why everybody cannot be like them, but I am sure Jesus and Paul understood the human race enough to know what they were talking about.

If it is true that in the early church some had rightful marriages under the Law of Moses but their marriages were suddenly considered adultery under the law of Christ, then I wonder why Josephus said nothing about the outrageous upheaval when countless men in the first century had to divorce their second and third wives.

If the mass divorce of the first century happened, why do we have no record whatsoever of it? Was this law grandfathered in? Were those that came out of Judaism allowed to keep whatever wife or wives they had but after all of these men died God expected everybody to know better? Did the couples stay together but move into separate bedrooms and therefore Josephus knew nothing about it? If it had happened, would somebody not have recorded it? I do not think it happened. I do not think it happened because Paul, speaking of marriage, said:

I Cor. 7:17  But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.

20  Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

24  Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

It does not get much plainer than that.

Moonbeam

2006