The False Witness Of Marriage

Marriage Medieval Germany

There are many ways of spreading the word of God today. If you’re a preacher and connected to the internet, then the pulpit may actually be a tiny part of your evangelistic crusade. The drawback, though, is that many lost people who read or hear what you say do not know anything about Jesus or the Bible, or even your church. You can’t see their reactions to your words. Even worse, you can’t answer all of their questions. Here’s a question I would like you to think about: Would you tell a lost soul on the street about Jesus’ death on the cross, but leave out his resurrection and the promise of eternal life if we believe in him? I don’t think so. That would be only half the story, wouldn’t it? However, you do the same thing when you pontificate about the glories of marriage and babies and leave out the alternative of celibacy for the kingdom of heaven. As a matter of fact, marriage is an institution of the Old Testament, not the New Testament. The old covenant between God and the nation of Israel was described as a marriage all the way back in Jeremiah 3:14-15:

“14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

As we know, God ultimately divorced the physical kingdom of Israel. So earthly marriage today can only point to the Old Testament and concerns of the world. It is not symbolic of the marriage between Christ and the church, but between God and Israel. However, in the New Testament and under the New Covenant, God is calling out from the world a spiritual kingdom of Israel. This body of believers is what we know today as the church. The new marriage relationship between God and his church is eternal. There will be no divorce. It cannot, however, be represented by the temporary nature of an earthly marriage. The new marriage relationship between Christ and the church can only be represented by those called to celibate life and the concerns of the Lord. Spouses have to go through each other to get to heaven. People with the gift of celibacy have a direct link. So in a very real way, marriage points to the past while celibacy points to the future. Spiritual circumcision replaced physical circumcision. Instead of making babies, celibates make spiritual children.

So pastors, I encourage you to feed the church with knowledge and understanding, balancing the temporary Old Testament nature of marriage with the eternal New Testament nature of celibacy. Dig yourselves out of the idol worship of marriage and children and into the promise of everlasting life that God promised us in the New Testament. Put down the baby diapers long enough to realize the needs of all of your fellow man. And above all, realize that God did not ordain the nuclear family as the foundational institution of human society. Matthew 16:18 makes it pretty clear that, if anything is the foundational institution of human society, it is the church: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

So remember that when you proselytize marriage to the masses, especially on the internet, and omit the option of celibacy, you are preaching a false gospel. As a matter of fact, your Bible doesn’t even get to the gospels. It ends with the Old Testament and divorce. The past must be balanced with the future.

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Celibacy – Time Out Of Season

bagrati

The ruins of the Bagrati Cathedral, pre-restoration, painted by Aleksandr Fyodorovich Peters

Those of us who grew up in church know that marriage is supposed to be a sacred covenant between a man and woman. Married people’s identities are wrapped up in commitment. They’re committed to each other, to their children, to their family, to their school, to their church, etc. And of course today with the same sex marriage controversy, the family values flag is held up higher and higher to represent the highest form of Christian values. But where do singles get their identity? What commitments have they made? What affirms their adulthood? What responsibilities have they been given? After college and beyond, I’m afraid singles get their identify from the same place married people do – from the county clerk’s office in the local courthouse. Indeed, the absence of a marriage license is what defines a single in today’s church culture. It’s the epitome of political correctness. However, people called to celibacy are the epitome of political incorrectness. They cannot be defined by something they do not have. They have been given a special charisma, a spiritual gift that is just as important as all the others in the workings of the Holy Spirit. Instead of being contained in seasons, it survives through eternity. And the gift of celibacy usually comes with other special abilities. It’s not just an empty vacuum floating around spreading sprinkles of love and contentment. Even though I’m not a Catholic priest and haven’t taken vows, my consecrated celibacy is just as much a commitment to Christ as a couple’s commitment to each other in marriage.

Consecrated virginity is the oldest recognized form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church. It’s much older than their religious orders. It was discontinued in the Middle Ages because of the rise of monastic communities. But it was revived again in the 1950s with Vatican II. I find it ironic that women who are members of the Catholic Church’s Order of Consecrated Virgins today do not live in a cloistered community, but out in the real world. They do not wear habits or veils and do not refer to themselves as sisters. So if Martin Luther were alive today, what would he be protesting against? He wouldn’t find them in a monastery. He couldn’t find them in churches. He couldn’t identify them on the streets. And if the Catholic Church believes all their priests have the gift of celibacy and are not forcing it on anybody else, what are Protestants protesting today? The idea of not marrying and having sex? That seems weird. If they are protesting extended adolescence and delayed marriage, then their theology is not grounded in the Bible. Martin Luther eventually left the monastery and got married. But one man cannot undo what God ordained. Does that sound like marriage language? It’s supposed to. What was a spiritual gift 2000 years ago is just as much a spiritual gift today. Unless a church has identified members with the supernatural gift of celibacy, they need to leave open its door every time they discuss the vague issue of “singleness,” especially if they refer to 1 Corinthians 7; even more so if they might have a member who is discerning a call to celibacy. I’m not aware of a church that has done this. Maybe it’s time they should. I dare think what would happen if churches expended as much energy on building up lifestyles that are biblical as they do on battling lifestyles that are evil. What would happen if they found out there were singles who lived holy lives outside traditional seasons of singleness of marriage? Who are doing what Martin Luther could not do? It would probably blow their minds. Look at it this way: I don’t argue with my spouse all the time.

My friend Justin Campbell, who blogs at More Than Don’t Have Sex, recently wrote a post about how celibacy is not a season. I completely agree. We should not use the word single as a catch-all for everyone who is not married. And this should be especially true for churches. Yes, single requires no thought. Don’t have a marriage license? That’s simple. You’re single. Single is easy. Comfortable. It’s politically correct, right? Everybody wants to be married, don’t they? The answer to that is no. That’s what makes sex the idol it is today. Our society makes room for nothing else but marriage. Young people who have the potential to live fulfilling lives of celibacy get no encouragement or counseling and end up drawn into the homosexual lifestyle. I’ve seen this firsthand. Yes, you can point to Paul in the Bible and go back to the Old Testament and read about Jeremiah. But their witness has all but disappeared from the face of the earth. The younger generation today have to see it to believe it. What they get in the church instead is another seminar on marriage and another sermon on the glories of children, with maybe a story about Lottie Moon thrown in every few years.

So churches, the fact that you don’t know who we are and don’t have a tidy label for us is not our fault. It’s yours. You have spent years decrying the evils of celibacy and linking it to homosexuality. You have spent years telling guys to man-up and telling girls to stay pure and procreate. In doing so, you threw all celibates under the bus, including Christ himself. You are the ones who need to grow up. You need to get your language together and be consistent. I’m as much a “single” as a husband is just a guy who is having state sanctioned sex. That’s right. Since my identity is just a pitiful old man who hasn’t found the right woman to turn him on, I consider marriage licenses no more sacred than a fishing license. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Justin Campbell who accurately points out:

“Paul essentially says that there are those who should get married and those who shouldn’t. He says some have one gift and others another gift. But the gift he is talking about is not the gift of singleness, he is talking about the gift of celibacy.”

Yes indeed, there are single people waiting on a mate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In time though, that waiting could term into long term celibacy. It’s an important thing to discern, but I don’t think there are any age deadlines. And married people are not going to be able to help with that. What is critical is leading a chaste life. That way, you’re prepared if you say yes to marriage or yes to celibacy. It’s really a requirement for both lifestyles. I’ll never forget the day I met an elderly man in the grocery store. He was in a wheelchair and I was trying to help him get a carton of milk. He asked me where I went to church and if I was married. When I told him I thought the Lord had called me to single life, he said: “Really? Well, I am too. Yes I divorced my third wife last year I’ve been as content as all get out.”

I think the main thing people miss about 1 Corinthians 7 is that Paul is not describing a person’s present circumstances or pondering the merits of married life vs. single life. He isn’t hanging “singles” signs on Sunday School doors. He is describing the reality of the only two lifestyle choices God gives to every Christian – marriage and celibacy. Given by him and freely accepted by us. Marriage can’t be urged by parents at an early age because they’re afraid their children are going to fornicate. Marrying a particular person can’t be seen as a last resort because there are no other prospects. Marriage can’t be assumed the norm by youth pastors when they could have a student with the disposition to celibacy. Likewise, celibacy can’t be forced on priests who do not have that gift. I have several Catholic friends who have accepted the call to celibacy. I support them. Most everything I have read on the subject has been written by Catholic writers. The Protestants remain mute on the subject, like they have for the last 500 years.

I find it ironic that Protestants have forgotten that their entire identity is wrapped up in protesting celibacy. The only celibacy Christians of the 16th century knew anything about was institutionalized in the Catholic Church and expressed through vows taken by priests, monks, nuns, and other religious. Protestants today don’t even know what they are protesting about. They can’t fathom a commitment to something so radical as never marrying. It’s even more ironic that Martin Luther himself, the leader of the Protestant reformation, was a monk at one time and acknowledged those with the celibate gift:

“The third category consists of those spiritually rich and exalted persons, bridled by the grace of God, who . . . voluntarily remain celibate . . . Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God. No one should venture on such a life unless he be especially called by God, like Jeremiah [16:2], or unless he finds God’s grace to be so powerful within him that the divine injunction, “Be fruitful and multiply,” has no place in him. (p. 21)”

Celibacy is a long term committment, not a season of short-term singleness. Those who have said no to marriage and have consecrated their lives to the service of Christ are committed for life. Even though we may never see it reflected in church ministry groups, there is more difference between the lives of married people and consecrated celibates than between male and female human beings. My unique committment to Christ is not just for a season. Are people committed to each other in marriage for a season? More importantly, is the only meaning marriage has in the 21st century derived from the county courthouse or does it have any more sacred meaning? If its meaning goes beyond a state-sanctioned marriage license, does the meaning of singleness go beyond the absence of such a license? Does it go beyond “extended adolescence?” Does it go beyond seasons of waiting? If sex can be consecrated to God in marriage, can chastity be consecrated to God in celibacy? I think it can. And I hope this encourages others who feel they have no identity in the church. Even though our biblical identities may have been lost with time, out witnesses continues to endure.

http://justinmcampbell.net/2015/03/24/celibacy-is-not-a-season/#comments

https://books.google.com/books?id=1bLvAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA227&lpg=PA227&dq=%22consider+early+marriage%22+%22denny+burk%22&source=bl&ots=6ReNLIpE2W&sig=ZwBrqATTjs2rnjnBfq_6DY4Sgog&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eF4ZVdXZFsilNun4gegP&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22consider%20early%20marriage%22%20%22denny%20burk%22&f=false

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/08/23/why-arent-emerging-adults-emerging-as-adults/

http://consecratedvirgins.org/prepare-FAQ

Southern Baptists Adopt Nazi Breeding Methods

Abraham_and_the_Three_Angels

“Abraham And The Three Angels” by Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (1689)

The Bible has a lot to say about self control. All the way from the prophets in the Old Testament to the disciples in the New Testament, you can read about Godly men who chose to follow God rather than their lusts.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

There are many people today who reject God’s teaching on self-control and celebrate their newfound freedom in today’s sexually liberated world. One such group is the Southern Baptist, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Of course, that should come as no surprise as the Baptists are not known for self-control or wisdom. Consider what their Public Policy President, Andrew Walker, recently said in response to the statistical rise in age of first marriages:

“Frankly, it is indeed our personal opinion that marrying earlier staves off the hormonal rush that comes with sexual temptation . . . It is impractical and unhelpful to advise and encourage young men and women who reach sexual maturity at the age of 12 or 13 to wait 15 years before marriage and still remain pure.”

You know what? For the Baptists, the entire Bible is impractical. Self control is not possible in a world of deep perversion. Sexual maturity? Let me see if I can find that in my Bible. Nope. Andrew, do you have chapter and verse? Unfortunately, this is another classic example of how they make up the Bible as they go along. Whatever feels good, is the most comfortable, and makes them look good in the eyes of the public is their Bible of the moment. Your little Suzie in the 6th grade has got a crush on a boy in the 7th grade? No worry. Just hire her a pimp for the night and get all those hormone rushes out of her system. You can’t make her feel . . . uncomfortable by not acting on her sexual urges. That would be so cruel. She shouldn’t have to wait on anything. She deserves everything now! You know, it might be best if you got her two pimps to stave off her hormones a little longer. Dress her up right and she may have a full time job.

And consider their recent statement in the Baptist Press:

“A Southern Baptist pastor (Jon Akin) and an expert on moral policy issues made national headlines recently by suggesting that parents who encourage their adult children to delay marriage for educational and financial reasons unwittingly send a message that it’s OK for them to engage in premarital sex.”

Unwittingly? I wonder how that might go down? “Ok son, I know you really like that blonde you’re seeing. I think she’s pretty cute too. I know you had your heart set on getting an architecture degree and building houses. But if you feel you can’t wait to have sex with her, you’re mom and I will help pay for the wedding tomorrow. You shouldn’t have to wait. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. We want you to be a family man. We’ll help you with the baby if that comes along. And you can always get a job down at Joe’s Bar and Grill.” I had to reread this expert’s opinion again because it’s almost a direct copy of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. This is what Hitler had to say on the subject of marriage and reproduction:

“We will treat these social diseases like syphilis by eliminating the cause that propagates the problem which is prostitution and promiscuity and the present government’s discouragement of early marriage. Often the youth cannot marry early because they do not have the money to pay for a home and family and higher education. Germany needs scientists and engineers. The NSDAP democratic government will make the money available and provide leadership to overcome these problems.”

Oh yes, the Obama administration is making even more money available. Now, every little precious child is entitled to a free two-year college degree. But guess who foots the bill? That’s right, taxpayers. Wouldn’t Hitler be so proud of the Baptists and Jon Akin? Here we have the largest Protestant denomination in the country endorsing Hitler’s breeding control methods – asserting that pedophilia is better than fornication, that chastity before marriage is not possible because of hormones, that self control is an antiquated idea, and that character proven by time doesn’t matter anymore. They apparently did not look at the statistics that show the rate of divorce has been dropping as the age of first marriage increases. That’s not new. Teen marriages have always been associated with a higher divorce rate. Are they really worried about promiscuity? I think not. Like Hitler worried about the declining number of German scientists, the Baptists are worried about declining church membership and offering in the plates. In 2014, the SBC membership declined for the 7th year in a row. I guess it’s time for panic mode. Maybe they ought to buy stock in Pampers and Gerber’s baby food. Got to get that production line going.

I thought it was odd that Walker included an ubiquitous sentence about singleness being a “gift that God gives to some people (1 Corinthians 7) and one only has the gift of singleness if they can live a celibate life with self-control.” Now, if someone has the gift of singleness, wouldn’t that require that they live beyond 20 years of age without sex? 30 years of age? For the rest of their lives without sex? The big fat elephant in the room is this: How do you know who those “some people” are? Do the Baptist’s actually think everyone in their “singles” groups on Sunday mornings are living celibate lives under control? If they do, they’re living in fairyland. Or maybe he meant that “celibacy is a gift” instead of singleness. Someone should probably buy them a new dictionary. “Only has the gift of singleness?” I guess he’s alluding to Matthew 19 when Christ made the comment “only to whom it is given” when talking about eunuchs. There are several problems with using these verses as a marriage mandate: First, it would be equally correct to say that one only has the gift of marriage if he cannot control himself. So some people have the gift of celibacy and everybody else is called to marriage. That’s a brilliant deduction. I’m sure it took a lot of Ph.D.s to figure that out. Second, how can anyone know how many “only” is? Only is a term that denotes exclusivity – not numbers. The days are bright and blue only when the sun is shining. Wow, that is really deep.

I agree though that those called to celibacy are a small number. But how can anybody in the SBC know those numbers or make such generalizations about them? To my knowledge, they’ve never taken a survey on that. But they have done a lot of surveys to see how many of their members accept homosexuality. They’ve even called on all of their congregants to “love their gay and lesbian neighbors.” I find it rather telling that they’ve never called on anyone to love their neighbors who are called to lives of celibacy. No, that would be too . . . Catholic. Who does the SBC even have that’s even qualified to talk about celibacy at all? Nobody. They’re all married men. So what they say on this matter is as definitive as 50 shades of gray. “If they can live a celibate life?” Who is they? Poor Baptists. They can identify homosexuals, same sex partners, divorcees, transgenders, pedophiles, pornography addicts, people who don’t put money in the offering plates, etc. But they just can’t bring themselves to identify those pesky people who live “celibate lives under control.” No, that would shine just a little bit too much light on “pathetic marriage cultures within the church,” as the SBC ethics chief Russell Moore puts it. I’m sure this would be a shock to any of them, but I too take celibacy just as seriously as anybody does marriage, in a way that prompts the culture around me to ask why. As of today, nobody has asked me why. Interesting.

It’s interesting to see how the socialist mindset has spread from our government to the religious institutions. For anyone who knows history, the mere mention of church-sanctioned arranged marriages should be a social red flag. The world has already seen that socialism does not work and we don’t need a repeat of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. And I really don’t think God’s word should change based on surveys or hormonal rushes.

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/30/southern-baptists-change-tone-substance-homosexuality-commentary/

http://www.bpnews.net/43185/when-should-southern-baptists-get-married-thats-for-southern-baptists-to-decide

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/southern-baptist-convention-membership-decline_n_5411695.html

http://townhall.com/news/religion/2014/08/18/when-should-southern-baptists-get-married-thats-for-southern-baptists-to-decide-n1880219

http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/06/26/how-should-same-sex-marriage-change-the-churchs-witness/

Virginity – Beyond The Mechanics

"The Revelations of Eve and Adam" by Kevin L. Miller (2004)

“The Revelations of Eve and Adam” by Kevin L. Miller (2004)

I think everyone who follows my blog would agree that we live in a world today where right has become wrong and wrong has become right. Nowhere is that more evident than in human sexuality. Homosexuality is glorified while virginity is vilified. Unnatural abominations are cheered while natural processes in God’s creation are ridiculed. Why is it that even Christian people can accept their bodies as part of creation, but see sex as something so dirty it’s unspeakable? It may be because we don’t understand how sex, and thus virginity, fit in with the bigger picture of creation. Why is waiting until marriage so important? Why is sex before marriage, biblically known as fornication, so detrimental to our development as mature adults?

First, we need to understand the mechanics of virginity. I know, that may sound like a contradiction in terms. But we’ve come so far from God’s original design that we need to step back to square one. One of the main things that is tripping us up is our language. Take for instance the word “waiting” itself. Does that sound like a positive term? It doesn’t to me. Did Adam and Eve feel a sense of waiting for each other in the Garden of Eden? I don’t think so. Did Eve wait until her princess started a pursuit before she gave him her cell phone number? No. Did Adam consider his age and how much longer he could hold out for sex before he asked her to marry him? No. Did he consult statistical charts to tell him what age he needed to get married? No. Did they set a date for a wedding and commit to wait until that time? No. When you strip off 21st century eros-driven culture and consider man as a part of God’s creation and “a little lower than angels,” our vocabulary in the area of human sexuality begins to sound like babble. Adam and Eve were married the moment they had sex. They did not go to the courthouse to sign a license and did not call a preacher to officiate a wedding. They did not have premarital sex. When they had sex, they were married. Isn’t that simple to understand? Have you ever wondered why there is only one brief mention of a marriage in the Bible recorded in John 2, where Jesus attended the marriage at Cana and turned the water into wine? It’s probably because the idea of a state sanctioned wedding and marriage with all the formalities was a foreign concept to them. Their understanding of a covenant marriage between a man and woman was a million miles from our understanding of secular marriage and a legal contract between two people in a “committed relationship.”

Back then it was pretty simple: After getting to know each other, a couple agreed to accept one another for life, announced it to their village, had sex the same day, and were joined (married) as one flesh for life. No formalities. No legal bureaucracy. No courthouse. No church building. No preacher. No candles. No vows. No rice. No honeymoon. As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church did not recognize marriage as a sacrament until 1215. It took them over a thousand years after the birth of Christ to formally declare its spiritual significance. That may have been because its significance was obvious. Protestants never even defined marriage and simply adopted it as a means to divorce. They left its control up to states, with preachers becoming “civil servants” and wedding ceremonies becoming part of the local economy. I find it ironic that many denominations today, including the Southern Baptists, include separation of church and state in their official “faith and message” statements. Yet, their preachers sign state contracts for weddings everyday. Church and state can’t get more bound than that.

What does all of this have to do with virginity? A lot. When you take away waiting, weddings, engagements, true love, romance, lawyers, preachers, civil servants, marriage licenses, wedding rings, and flowers, what’s left? God’s magnificent creation is left – A man and woman coming together as one flesh, in a holy union forever. Desire becomes something good, not something to be scared of. Trust becomes something earned over time, not something you miserably wait through. We can play gymnastics with the English language from now until eternity. We can conjure up all the “feel good” terms we want. Anybody want to “separate?” But in the end, we will not be able to change God’s natural laws or commandments.

Since God invented sex, he also invented virginity because it’s what works best for us. His commandments against fornication and sexual immorality are not stifling rules that we must follow. They are guidelines for our benefit. He made every neuron and axon in our brains, enabling our capacity for memories. He invented memories! Can you think (or dream) of a more permanent memory than first time sex? Breaking news – Two virgins are necessary for that to happen. That is not shaming anybody else. It’s not intentionally making anybody uncomfortable. It’s not calling anybody else dirty chewing gum. It’s a fact. Scientists are aware of the chemical bonding that occurs with oxytocin, dopamine, and other endorphins in our brains. Virginity maximizes that bonding and provides the greatest chance for marriage to last a lifetime, for both guys and girls, whether officially married or not. Those chemicals bind us to a spouse in marriage and to a prostitute in fornication (1 Corinthians 6:15). Can you see how glue or tape may have come to be used as an analogy? There are some biblical concepts that have no easy comparisons.

We have denied virginity its dignity, its sacredness, its spiritual dimensions – all in the name of physical pleasure, uncontrollable hormones, and “try it before you buy it” mentality. Virginity is viewed as nothing more than a new car sitting in the dealership lot, something to be sold to the highest bidder. It’s seen as the embodiment of naitivity, when in fact it’s the foundation of wisdom. We don’t just live in a “fallen” world. We live in a world where sex has devolved into mind-numbing, self-serving primal mechanics. We are at a point now where mankind doesn’t even trust himself. Indeed, single men are being banned from theme parks because those not carrying valid state marriage licenses are assumed to be pedophiles (http://nypost.com/2014/11/10/family-theme-park-bans-all-single-people-to-prevent-pedophilia/) and chastity is denigrated as being part of a “purity culture.” Yes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to think on those things that are true, things that are honest, things that are just, things that are pure, and things that are lovely. But it doesn’t matter what labels society puts on me. I know who my creator is and acknowledge that he knows more than I do about sex – because he made it.