Tag Archives: marriage

Do Wedding Ceremonies and Religious Beliefs Matter to God?

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-Marriage in ChurchQ: I never came across anything in the Bible that says to be married in a church by a pastor. I was wondering are you able to marry spiritually in God’s eyes?

The human condition is such that we need to make a commitment before man as well as before God. Now so many people think that marriage is just a feeling of love, but love has never been exclusively a feeling. The bedrock of love is commitment. Feelings ebb and flow, but a commitment never dies. If a commitment is the foundation of your love relationship, then that commitment should be made formally and publicly in the eyes of God but with a commitment to cherish, to honor and to take care of that loved one until “death do us part.”

Q: My fiancé is a Jehovah’s Witness and I’m a Christian. What does the Bible say about mixing religions?

“Do not be unequally yoked” (2 Cor. 6:14, ESV). This is unequivocal, clear, and direct.

A Jehovah’s Witness has a completely different Jesus. The Jesus of Christianity is the one who spoke and the universe leaped into existence. The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the archangel Michael, who was during his earthly sojourn merely human, and after his death recreated as an immaterial spirit creature. The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is neither the Jesus of the Bible nor is their plan of salvation a biblical plan of salvation—it’s about what you do as opposed to what Jesus Christ has done for you. Jesus Christ, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, is not even the creator of all things. He was created by God and became a junior partner in the creation of all other things. Neither is the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible nor their authority equivalent to the Christian Bible. The New World Translation is a perverted translation of the Bible. Christianity and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are two religious systems. One based in history and evidence and the other cultic that can never be harmonized.

I can tell you right now that if you go down that road (entering into marriage with an unbeliever) you are bringing yourself a life of sorrow.

—Hank Hanegraaff

The world does want to undermine your morals.

This nonsense that the secular world doesn’t care what you believe, “you do what is right for you”, but don’t tell us if we’re doing somthing obviously wrong , particularly in terms of messing up their lives. Let me put it this way P.T. Barnum was right the world is talking total nonsense, the world is very much determined to undermine everyone and really wants everyone to be a rutting animal. Hey, I have my own issues, I don’t need some of the real characters that have somehow made it almost obligatory that people should be having sex and despite their rhetoric, seems as people should be as young as possible, to have sex. Yea, look it up, there are attempts right now to lower the age of consent in some states to as low as twelve years old.
We have Tim Tebow and Olivia Culpo. Ms Culpo decided that Mr Tebow wasn’t getting her into bed and broke up with him. Apparently this isn’t the first time that she’s broken up with a man who would not have pre-marital sex on the basis of moral and religious scruples. Good for both of those very manly men. I wouldn’t mind in the least if my son were Tim Tebow, someone want to give me grief because my football star is still a virgin? Well let’s just say I don’t think it would be a wise move on their part, I will happily let them know what I think of their morals, “men” who are just out to use women. Of course the idea also occurs to me why more women’s rights types would be like that, but frankly I really don’t think they’re that concerned with the welfare of women in general. “You do what you want”, they say, “but, if you get in trouble, don’t come running to me.” Single parent women led households are almost all under the poverty level. God set it up for a man and woman to committ to each other, over and above their children to marry and support each other. When they do, poverty is far less likely, children are raised in an environment where they are supported, protected and cared for and they do have a chance to live a Tim Tebow life. Doing it the worlds way, usually just creates hate, bitterness, “my baby’s mommy, my baby’s daddy”. Money, time, blah, blah, all this hate and bitterness because two people couldn’t wake up to the fact that they were not capable of taking care of themselves no less a child. They love the drama but “eh”, to the responsibility. and believe me I’ve been dragged into enough to know.
Then there’s Sheldon Cooper. I sure don’t agree with the character a lot, but I gave him credit, again based on principles, (although I’m not sure where they were based), but nonetheless, despite intense pressure, also finally gave in. (I think that’s after ten seasons of the Big Bang Theory?) Yea, the main-stream media had to make sure that their character was dragged down into the moral abyss.
My other example is even more obvious. These middle-aged frat boys on WEEI radio in Boston, the morning drive time pontificaters, were absolutely excoriating a woman Olympic athlete who was a virgin at thirty years old. It is apparently the only problem they had with this woman, who they otherwise commended for being a tremendous athlete, obviously an Olympian, but were highly indignant that an unmarried, attractive, 30 year old woman should have the colossal temerity to not have sex before she was married.
So any delusion that you had that the schools, the government, media, video games aren’t trying to undermine you, your spouse, your children, grandchildren, I strongly suggest you get over your delusion or your so open-minded high-mindedness. The world is positively indignant when someone says that sex is only in terms of marrying a man and a woman. Sure, people won’t like it, because they will feel the sin on them. That’s not your problem, that’s their’s. Luther once said to preachers: “Preach until they hate their sin or they hate you.” Yea, that’s really the way it is. If they hate you, they hate you, it’s not your problem it’s theirs. But we can’t continue to go along with this naive idea that the world is not trying to undermine us. It is turning too many people into just callous, indifferent, stumps, they just don’t care. They want you you in the same moral sewer and to endorse their sin and if you don’t it’s because you’re mean and bigoted. And frankly the resulting social problem is supposed to be handled by the church. This goofy idea that’s evolved that it’s all about the relationship? I’m not saying break relationships, but I am saying the most important relationship any of us has is with Jesus. If someone asks you to compromise your relationship with Jesus in order to condone their unacceptable sexual relationship, it’s time to let that person know in no uncertain terms where you stand. If they cannot accept it they will dump you and you should let them go.

One Flesh, One Body in Jesus Mark 10: 2-16 First St Johns October 4, 2015

[for the audio version of this sermon click on the above link]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know they are of one flesh with their spouse and of One Body with Christ said … AMEN!

The world does continue to push on the Body of Christ. That is the way it has been and will continue to be. I’ve said this before, but there were more Christian martyrs in the twentieth century than in the previous 1900 years of the Christian church, combined. The twenty-first century, is beginning to seem like it will exceed the previous one.

We remember brothers and sisters in Jesus who were singled out in the shootings at Umpqua Community College. Another incident that hits close to home for us.

Since I saw the readings for this Sunday and especially since Thursday when reports of the tragic events in Umpqua came out, I have really felt led to remember that yes, Jesus was certainly quoting God in Genesis that a man and woman become one flesh when they are married within the church. We who are in Jesus are part of the Body of Christ, This is not “one-flesh”, but it certainly does say to us that when those who are in Christ, are part of the Body of Christ as those who died in Umpqua are, that we feel something of what they were subjected to. I wish I could really convey what this means, and this is more than empathy. We’re all human, we all have some empathetic understanding of what it means to be killed or to die. But for us who are part of the Body of Christ this treatment that we are seeing of Christians has to transcend just this feeling of just human empathy. When we become aware of those who are part of the Body of Christ who die because of their witness to Christ, there must be an emotion that runs through the entire Body, exceeding empathy that understands the communion we have with those who have died witnessing to Jesus. When we take communion, the true Body and Blood of Christ, we are making a statement that we are very much a part of the Body of Jesus. The Body of Jesus is His church. You can’t be in communion with Jesus unless you are in communion with His Body and His Body is His Church, us, all brothers and sisters in Jesus. I am not making some call to action either. I’m not trying to sensationalize this like some others are. I’m certainly not endorsing Ron Ramsey’s call for Christians to get gun permits. The church has gone through periods like this before. The Acts church was sorely persecuted, starting with Stephen who was taken out and stoned when he stood before the Sanhedrin and proclaimed that Jesus is Messiah, God the Son. The church is going through persecution. Our society today has turned against Christ, Jesus told us that there would be those in the world who would murder Christians thinking they are serving God. Clearly we are seeing a realization of that prophesy. Our society is straight out teaching that the church is somehow evil, the enemy. I’m not saying that anyone, who is credible, is saying that Christians should be killed, but it is clear that in the United States the church of Jesus, the Body of Christ is being portrayed as somehow evil and the enemy. I really have pondered over what I am trying to convey in this sermon. Really wrestled with trying not stir people into a frenzy, create fear and feelings of chaos. That is not how we are supposed to feel as Christians. We are told not to be fearful, we are told that God is in control. God is in control and we should have no doubt that all we see around us is under His control. Christians have suffered martyrdom all through history. We have to come to grips with that realization, that just because we here in this part of the world, are so incredibly privileged, that we are not immune to what is going on around us. That we do need to have a revitalized realization that we are part of the Body of Christ, and that those in this country, in Umpqua, Charleston SC, Columbine Colorado, even right next door in Bart Township, and certainly those Christians in Iraq, China, Africa, India, Syria, are suffering for the cause of Christ. It will probably sound outright bizarre that we trust that this is all to the glory of Jesus. I really don’t want to think that way. But it is hard for me to dismiss. Too often we have seen an amazing growth of the Church because of those who suffered martyrdom. Many who might not come to know eternal salvation in Christ, have been saved because of the sacrifice of others.

The church in eastern Europe suffered severe persecution up until the fall of communism. Now we see a remarkable revitalization of the church in Russia and eastern Europe. Hundreds of Muslims are becoming Christians in what was the communist part of Germany twenty years ago. The church in China is still being actively persecuted and yet there are estimates that there will be more Christians in China than any other country in the world in the next twenty years. Tertullian, a father of the church, said that “The more you mow us down, the more numerous we grow”, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church”. Tertullian was a Roman who died in 225 AD, he saw some of the most vicious persecutions of Christians in history. These persecutions started under the Roman Emperor Nero in 64 AD and lasted until 313 AD when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the empire. In all these persecutions from Rome up to the present day in China and eastern Europe, Christians have never responded with violence. Jesus was completely innocent and holy and He suffered a violent death, even praying that God the Father would forgive those who persecuted Him because they did not know what they’re doing. Today, there are those being indoctrinated in our society to hate Christians. We cannot respond in hate. Jesus showed love and forgiveness even while He was undergoing the agony of the cross. For us to respond in hate and violence would be sin, and would be an unfaithful witness to the church, the Body of Christ. We are about forgiveness, we are about life. We must respond in true love and forgiveness in order to faithfully witness to Jesus. He died in order that our sins would be forgiven and that we would be saved who are lost in our sin. Certainly we have seen that martyrs all through history up until right now have died so that, as Tertullian said, their blood would be the seed that others might be a part of the church of Christ, to be a part of the Body of Christ, to be saved because others have died. Jesus modeled true courage for all who are in Him. We must show that courage now. We must be in prayer for those who hate us because of our faithfulness to Jesus and His church. Many continue to be led away from true life in Jesus and even if we suffer it must be so that others will come to know Christ and be saved to life, life more abundant in Jesus, eternal life in the resurrection. One of the things that our different prayer groups here have committed to, is to keep a list of those they know who have not been saved in Jesus. I ask all of you here today to put together a list of those who you know who are not saved in Christ. Some of those might be people who you consider to be hostile to you personally. All the more reason why they should be included. Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount: “ESV Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” It will not be easy, but certainly Jesus did not take the easy way out for us.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom

One flesh

My sermon for the past Sunday was on “One Flesh”, it refers to the Genesis 2:24 and Mark 8 passages. Clearly these passages speak to the physical marriage of man and woman, but we seem to not remember that as Christians we are the part of the Body of Christ, that His Church is the Body of Christ, which we, who are saved in Jesus, are part of. As discussed in Revelation 21, 22, the Church is the Bride of Christ. Now I’m not trying to get cute or all weird, but it does seem to follow that because of that, because we take the true Body and Blood of Jesus, that we all become one flesh. Yes, the Bible passages are to be understood as a man and a woman becoming one flesh. They should both readily understand that and that Jesus’ command that “…What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:6) An aside, I have to tell you for those who are involved in facilitating divorce; judges, clerks, lawyers, I truly feel at least a concern. I do not know how people can participate in something that Jesus clearly condemns.

I was also reading Henry and Richard Blackaby’s devotional (Experiencing God Day by Day p 277) which starts “Christians do not live in isolation”. No we certainly don’t, and yet too many who call themselves “Christian” will simply not understand the idea of the Body of Jesus, Bride of Jesus, one flesh etc. We are too much about what are we getting out of this and not at all about what is the Body of Jesus about. I get it, most of us have difficult lives, pressing concerns and different demands that we do need to confront immediately. Certainly the media is beating us into submission, compassion fatigue and when things happen, over and over, in the Body of Christ, we just have to withdraw or be overwhelmed. Yea, I get it. However, we are, nonetheless, part of the Body of Christ. One flesh? Not now, but ultimately, in the resurrection, in the same sense of a married man and woman? Yes. But just because we are not in the same sense as Genesis and Mark describe, does that make it any less genuine? And now, in the shadow of the murders at Umpqua Community College, Charleston SC, Columbine, Lancaster, Pa, just for the United States and the horrific murders in Iraq, Syria, China, Africa on and on shouldn’t that be a signal pain in the Body of Christ, and if we are part of that Body shouldn’t we at least wince?

Maybe there is a fatigue going on, but if the persecutions of Christians throughout history that resulted in resolve and strength to the Body, shouldn’t that be apparent now? If so, how does that look? If your reaction is “wow that’s too bad” or “see that’s why we need gun control” or “every Christian should carry a gun” as the Lt Governor of Tennessee suggested, shouldn’t that suggest to the individual that maybe they’re not in communion with the Body of Christ as they should be?

The Blackabys write: “We depend on one another, and this influences everything we do. Jesus said that even when we pray, we are to begin by saying ‘our Father’ (Matt 6:9). We must do everything with our fellow Christians in mind. (1 Cor 14:12)” Yes, He is our Father. OK, that means children? Yes, it does. Is this another mystery of being in Christ along with the Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, Resurrection? Yea, apparently. Does it mean that just because the concept seems obscure, it’s not valid? No, I don’t think so. The Blackabys suggest: “Ask God to place a burden on your heart for fellow believers.” I do think it’s necessary. Can you ignore such profound pain in your body and not feel it, dismiss it? I’m not sure what the “cure” is. Certainly we are always called to pray. We should remember Tertullian’s words, a Roman, in the middle of the persecutions of the early Christian. He said “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Certainly those who are martyred receive great reward, but for us still in our earthly life, to simply dismiss the suffering and murder of Christian brothers and sisters is not acceptable. As with everything in our Christian life we are always in prayer. We also are to be guided by the Holy Spirit, where is He moving us to confront or to help those in persecution? What are the opportunities He is presenting us and our local church with in order to witness to Jesus to a world that is lost and filled with death. A world that hates God and His people and believes that it is somehow serving a greater God by killing Christians. “”If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) Jesus’ words, we certainly trust His Words and this is face to face reality for many. The answers aren’t easy we are to trust in God. Paul certainly appealed to civil law for protection against the mob and unfair judgment. I’m not saying to roll over and play dead, but certainly we remember those Christian Martyrs  who gave up everything they had and witnesses to Christ and sacrificed their life. That is a witness to the world that the Holy Spirit uses to change lives and bring them to salvation in Jesus. Stay in prayer, pray for those who hate and abuse you, and know what the Holy Spirit is putting on your heart and act accordingly.

God defined Marriage National Association of Evangelicals

marriage2

God Defined Marriage

God designed marriage for humanity. As first described in Genesis and later affirmed by Jesus, marriage is a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. This lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship brings children into the world and thus sustains the stewardship of the earth. Biblical marriage —­­ marked by faithfulness, sacrificial love and joy — displays the relationship between God and his people.[1]

While commentators, politicians and judges may revise their understanding of marriage in response to shifting societal trends, followers of Jesus should embrace his clear vision of marriage found in Matthew 19:4-6:

“Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Nothing in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changes the truth about marriage. What has changed is the legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth.

In its role as a moral teacher, the law now misleads Americans about the true nature of marriage. Evangelicals and other followers of the Bible have a heightened opportunity to demonstrate the attractiveness of loving Christian marriages and families. Evangelicals should renew their commitment to the sacrificial love and covenantal faithfulness to which Jesus calls all husbands and wives.

As witnesses to the truth, evangelicals should be gracious and compassionate to those who do not share their views on marriage. Those who continue to embrace biblical teaching on marriage will increasingly appeal to the First Amendment protection not just for abstract belief, but for the practice of their faith. The National Association of Evangelicals calls on Congress to enact laws, on the president to implement policies, and on the courts to render judgments that uphold the freedom and human rights of all Americans.

[1] Theology of Sex (Washington, DC: National Association of Evangelicals, 2012), 10.

Download a PDF version of this statement.

This isn’t the first time people of God have had to stand against the evil, corruption of a decadent world

Right on the heels of the vote in Ireland to permit homosexual marriage, I’m reading this devotional in Henry and Richard Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” p 166: “No matter how ungodly the environment you may be in, God will always find you and walk with you. Noah lived in perhaps the most wicked age in history. No one worshipped God.”

Point taken, the Bible tells us of many ages full of human wickedness. Why would we expect ours to be any different? [it is kind of interesting this comes just before the rendering of the U.S. Supreme Court decision] it’s not just homosexuality either. Men and women think that it’s almost a “pro forma” to live together before marriage. Sorry, that’s not acceptable either. We have a society that is no longer concerned about being God honoring and is solely concerned about pleasing and honoring self, and then we wonder why we are surrounded by all sorts of debasement. if there is any sense of propriety, dignity, character, nobility, it has become so distorted in contemporary use as to usually become meaningless or irrelevant.

We have those in society who make ridiculous demands “I expect $15 an hour to work at McDonalds” and then still don’t do their work with any level of competence or cooperation. Women today are more debased and sexualized then ever. The PC crowd, who couldn’t care less about the treatment of women call that sexual expression and then wonder why woman are treated with more disrespect now then ever.

I understand there have been many times in human history where there has been such gross ignorance and debasement it seems, based on history, that eventually builds and there is a vicious backlash against the attempts to drag our society and children into even cruder and coarser practices.

As Christians we have stood over the course of history for human dignity, while the secular continues to degrade every possible segment of the world. Eventually the abusers are shoved out, either by a culture that finally realizes it is being abused and taken advantage of, or certainly the resurrection when God establishes the world the way it was meant to be.

We want a world for us and our children that honors the sacrifices made for us, that we observe on this Memorial Day, for example.  We want what is fine, noble,courageous, dignified, precious. We do want those who are continuing to undermine and corrupt to stop polluting the world. By the same token we don’t want to see people debased, destroyed or abused. Now more than ever we need to pray for all, to witness to all those the Holy Spirit puts in front of us.  The church does have some responsibility in all this too.  The church has been far too passive, far to willing to stick it’s head in the sand and ignore what is going on. We do need to speak out in support of what God wants, but we also need to be constant and faithful in the Christian’s most powerful weapon prayer, and all the spiritual disciplines.

There have been worse times, the church of this time needs to step up and show real integrity and also genuine willingness to live according to God’s will and to witness that to the world. No we will ever  live without sin, but we need to live with Christian integrity and faith in God’s leading.

Sure, how about a Big Bang wedding???

As I’ve pointed out before, Lutherans treat a wedding as a matter of worship.

First yea, it really gets under my skin having five comedians (the Big Bang Wedding between Howard and Bernadette) claiming that they’re “ordained” ministers. The state designates those who can marry, such as county clerks, judges etc, they’re certainly not “ordained”, the state sets the requirements. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it’s not enough to be ordained, you have to be the pastor of an active church.

Yes, people can be designated by the state to perform a one-time marriage ceremony and I think there are states that can license you to regularly perform weddings. That does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that you’re “ordained”. The United States military requires chaplains to have a Masters of Divinity Degree, that chaplains are properly examined and ordained by a recognized religious organization and also requires further training. I would say that this is the best description of being “ordained”, you sure as heck don’t do it on line for one wedding ceremony.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, what I’m really twisted about is the trivial, sentimental, “it’s all about me” wedding ceremony. As I said, Lutherans hold weddings to be a worship service. It is a serious, albeit joyous, occasion, and needs to be treated seriously. Why on earth would you want to start something as serious and sacred as marriage with something as trivial as what was on television?

We don’t treat marriage very seriously, it’s a convenience, it’s social convention, it’s a reason to have fun time. But it’s really not a commitment. Sorry ladies, but for too many of you it’s just a time where you’re the center of attention, and the fun and the party is all about you. Afterwards, well… I’ve had my own experiences. I try and I am going to be redoubling that effort, to insist that anyone I marry has a significant amount of counseling. I went to some time and expense to get trained in a comprehensive program to let people analyse a lot of their interpersonal relationships and to deal with them as we do counseling. I want them to start out in their marriage with as much as possible on the table between the two. I don’t want to hear 2, 3, 5 however many years down the road: “well we just couldn’t work it out…” I want it to get worked out before the marriage. My goal is to marry a man and a woman who go into marriage with their eyes wide open and to have that marriage last a life time. I’m going to do all that I can to make sure it doesn’t end in divorce.

ESV Mark 10:8 and they shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” … 11 And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her,”
Divorce is not acceptable to God. Yes it happens and He certainly provides in the cases when an unbelieving spouse wants a divorce or simply walks away. And divorce is not the unforgivable sin. But as a Christian pastor who only wants to marry two people who are in Christ, who are married in Christian worship, who take solemn vows before God to stay married “…so long as you both shall live?” You just made a solemn vow, for those who want to get married, you should seriously consider what you are doing when you are taking that vow before God.

Save all the sentimental, dancing around, food, decorations, trivial stuff etc for the reception. I promise I will, probably, show up. But I won’t stay long so you can do some of the crazy stuff. But in that sanctuary, before that altar and a minister of the Gospel, your family and friends, it is serious business. It is done in formal dress, in a formal environment, before God in order to emphasize the solemnity of the occasion. We all need to treat it that way and understand what we say and do. I’m sure the Big Bang stuff is all cute and fun, but marriage, from the start, should be about that relationship that Jesus lives before us. Jesus’ example is about His being the bridegroom and the church being the bride. He has sacrificed all for His bride and protected and served her, how could the bride, the church, not do as much as it can. We take that relationship of Christ and His Church as our example as husband and wife and live that in the strength and faith that the Holy Spirit gives us to live as one-flesh.

I know someone’s going to fuss, “oh it’s just television”, yea but. This is what people take seriously the absolute trivializing of marriage, and be honest, that’s where too many people are today. So let’s knock off the stupid stuff about being a “Reverend”, it’s a lot of hard work, time and education. Believe me. As much as you trivialize the Ministry of Christ’s Church and the institution of marriage, what really should we take seriously anymore?