Here are the questions I received based from the weekend message.
You certainly guided us through the biblical
guidelines of marriage and sexuality in the last few weeks. However, how
about divorce? Outside of unfaithfulness and desertion by an unbeliever,
is there any grounds for a biblically guided divorce? If so, what/where is
it? I ask mainly for a close family member who is strongly considering
divorce, but both are believers and there has not been unfaithfulness.
Here’s our Elder’s policy on Divorce and Remarriage
Download DivRemarPolAug07. It's a good place to start.
Q – The I Corinthians 6
verse confused me a little bit. I thought by grace we are saved, does this
verse mean homosexuals and the others in the verse are not?
A – Here’s the passage.
do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do
not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,
nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the
greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of
God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you
were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by
the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
I think you are assuming that Paul is
saying Christians don’t do any of those things once they have been washed,
sanctified and justified, but he is not. These verses have to be read in the
context of the whole letter, of Paul’s writings and even in the context of the
In this letter Paul clearly assumes
that Christians still sin—including the sins listed in this passage. In this
letter he goes into detail about how Christians will at times live
“according to the flesh.” Some translations translate “flesh” (when used in
this sense) as “sinful nature.”
Even in this passage Paul refers to the
fact that we are made righteous only through Christ and by the Spirit’s work. So,
it’s not about not doing certain things that we are saved.
But if a person’s life is marked by
these sins, a person’s heart lacks repentance and change/growth isn’t evident
in a person’s life, Paul is saying they can expect the same results as non-Christians at the
judgment because that’s what they are, in spite of their association with the
church and their verbal profession of Christ. Jesus spoke to this as well in
the Gospels (Matthew 13:24-30; also John 10:25-30). Paul’s words are first a
warning/exhortation that keeps the good "fear" of God on the forefront of the
believer’s mind. It’s one of the ways God helps all his children persevere all the way to the end. It reminds us to stay vigilant. We are at war with sin and evil. Failure
to be at war in our lives is a possible sign that we never enlisted! But his
words also function as a reminder that there are always wolves among the sheep.
Q – You
said we need to examine the policies we are voting on. Can you recommend
a good non-biased place to read about the policies and the pros and cons of
A – I don’t think this (or most topics) can
be approached in an unbiased way. So you're going to need to go to your usual trusted sources. I recommend building
a good stable of trusted sources for political and worldview issues—people and
organizations that deal with a wide variety of issues in a biblical way. Here
are some of my favorite organizations for this sort of thing:
- BreakPoint and The Colson Center.
- Christianity Today: Note that
Christianity Today has a variety of different publications and blogs to which you can subscribe. Check out their "Media/Culture" and "Politics/Current Affairs" sections.
- Although I haven't used it much recently, World Magazine seeks to consistently bring a biblically informed worldview to today's news and issues.
Starting with these resources will
introduce you to a variety of Christianity’s greatest thinkers.
Then, just to keep everyone honest, I
recommend exposing yourself to thoughtful sources that don’t claim to be
biblical in their orientation. One or two will do, but if you've been around Five Oaks for a while you know I listen a lot to the news on Minnesota Public Radio (including NPR news shows) and programs they carry like "Planet Money," "Marketplace," "Radiolab," and "This American Life." I also read the Pioneer Press, watch both CNN and Fox News and even get a dose of talk radio. None of these sources come from a particularly Christian perspective and you don't have to be an input nut like me to get a variety of perspectives.
Bring the Bible's teaching to bear on what you know learn from these resources and from trusted friends, then I'm pretty sure you'll be an well-informed voter.
Q – (1) For those of us who have
decided to vote “yes” on the marriage amendment how do we respond to people who
say that in the United States we have a separation of church and state and (2) something
so biblical has no place in politics? (3) In my experience that question is
always followed up with “how would you like it if non-Christian doctrine was
forced onto you”? (4) In your opinion what are the secular reasons for voting
A – I’ve taken the liberty to number
(1) I try to bring up a couple of ideas:
It’s debatable whether what the
constitution says about church and state should be interpreted as a "separation
of church and state." It’s good to remind folks that the terms “separation of
church and state” are not in the constitution and that the phrase is a debatable
interpretation of what is the constitution.
But whether or not it's a good
interpretation, we know for certain that the framers did not want individual
citizens to participate in the public square without their consciences (formed
by their faith or lack thereof) engaged. In other words, I like to remind
people that no one else leaves their convictions at home when they vote, so why
(2) I guess I would point out that
until recently every culture from every religion (including atheistic
governments) for all recorded history have only sanctioned marriage between men
and women. It’s not just a biblical position.
(3) As politely and respectfully as
possible, I would ask, “Are you serious?” Tens of thousands of Christians have
had their relatives (grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc.) aborted—children that would not otherwise have died except that our government
sanctions abortion on demand. Again, this doesn’t settle the issue as to
whether or not the gay marriage amendment is a good law. It simply is a reminder that all laws arise out of
the biases, ethics, convictions and worldview of those who frame them. There
are very few if any unbiased, neutral laws that don't force something on anyone.
(4) This is a very important question.
It assumes, quite correctly, that while we vote our consciences and convictions
based on Scripture, it’s not profitable to try to convince people who don’t share
our convictions about Scripture by appealing to Scripture. While we believe
God’s precepts (his commands) are
based on the principles he established
in his creation, and those principles arise from the person of God (his character), this argument doesn’t fly with the
general public. But if what we believe is true, doesn’t it follow that there
should be arguments we can make based on reason and common grace? Here’s a BreakPoint commentary the late Chuck
Colson wrote a few years ago that can serve as a starting point for making
those arguments (link here).
Even so, I think it’s also important to
point out the burden of proof actually lies with anyone who is advocating for changing
something that has been universally accepted throughout history. What evidence
do they have for suggesting “gay marriage” won’t negatively impact society or
the institution of marriage? I think their argument would need to be
Everything I’m saying here assumes that
gay marriage is not a good thing because God says it's not a good thing, but it makes no judgment on whether or not
the amendment itself is good governmental policy.