Divorce

The gates of Hell will not prevail against Her...

Our hope and faith are never in laughable schemes of political improvement. Rather, it is in God Who has been pleased to make His Church an armory of spiritual weapons for spiritual warfare, promising the gates of Hell will not prevail against Her.

[NOTE: Because of an e-mail pointing out errors in Shaunti Feldhahn's statistics, I've removed the link to her interview.]


Aimee Semple McPherson: conflicted celebrity evangelist...

Itinerant evangelists have proclaimed the good news in crusades and tent revivals, in fields and stadiums, in tabernacles and classrooms. Over the last 150 years, Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899), Billy Sunday (1862-1935), Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944) and Billy Graham (1918-present) have been household names in their eras. Each used different methods and had vastly different personalities, and was able to tap into deep undercurrents of American piety. My intent in this post is not to compare these four, but to consider a recent (1993) and major biography (400+ pages), Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody's Sister by Edith Blumhofer .

For much of the 1920s and 1930s, Aimee was front-page news. She was a relentless evangelist, a missionary to China, a megachurch pastor, the founder of a denomination, and a leader in helping to provide for the physical needs of those who fell on hard times during the Great Depression.

Yet her life was full of contradictions. Adored by thousands … 


Where our churches are headed...

Early in my ministry, I warned Evangelical pastors within the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) that their failure to rebuke and discipline fornication, adultery, and unbiblical divorce within their own session and congregation rendered their campaigns against the normalization of sodomy at the presbytery and general assembly level impotent. After all, PC(USA) liberals were only asking for their immorality-of choice to be granted the immunity the immoralities of conservatives had already been granted.

Time and again, I saw and had reported to me the failure of tall-steeple Evangelical pastors to do anything about the sins of their elders, particularly unbiblical divorces and adulteries. But then these same rich and famous pastors would mount their white stallions and sally forth against homosexual ordination once a year at General Assembly, taking home the reputation of Biblical integrity and courage they deserved not one bit.

So twenty years ago, my church and I resigned from the PC(USA), transferring into a southern denomination called the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)...


Anti-natal public policy...

Here's another helpful piece by Bob Patterson. This one ran in The Daily Beast and here's a teaser: 

...the United States has been anything but neutral on fertility, as public policy has chipped away at our formerly high birthrates for four decades. Indeed, today’s upside-down demography is the fruit of three heavy-handed policies that triggered immediate and permanent declines not only of birthrates but also of a key correlate of fecundity, marriage rates. The triple-witching spell was cast by Richard Nixon’s massive birth-control crusade through Title X of the Public Health Services Act and Title XIX (Medicaid); the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which sanctioned abortion-on-demand and trashed the hallowed custom of shotgun weddings; and the states’ imposition of no-fault divorce, which downgraded the marital bond to a precarious “at-will” relationship.

Note the comments by a bunch of bloodthirsty narcissists who think hissing and spitting are modes of argument.


Weak sons, easy divorce, and few children...

A young couple from Clearnote Church, Indianapolis forwards this taken from a speech given by President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt back in 1905:

If you mothers through weakness bring up your sons to be selfish and to think only of themselves, you will be responsible for much sadness among the women who are to be their wives in the future.

...easy divorce is now as it ever has been, a bane to any nation, a curse to society, a menace to the home, an incitement to married unhappiness and to immorality, an evil thing for men and a still more hideous evil for women.

On deliberately limiting the size of a family so that some few children can enjoy...


Charles, Andy, and millions yet unreached...

But flee from these things, you man of God... - 1Timothy 6:11a

Over and over I warn my sheep to run from the Mad Men of Christian marketing and the Bible peddlers they promote. Don't let them scratch your ears. If godliness is a means of profit, we're in the wrong religion. Rome and Apple do it much better.

Of all these men, few can compete with the tag-team of Charles and Andy Stanley. Charles has the pensioner crowd covered while Andy goes for the boomers and their children. Together they're so successful that church planters everywhere breathe the name "Andy Stanley" with the sort of reverence WWF men show when they snarl "Mark Driscoll."

Andy Stanley gives this summary of his entrepreneurial church planting skills:

I tell my staff everything has a season. One day we're not going to be the coolest church. Nothing is forever.


The courts always legislate morality...

As Tim prepared for his recent appearance on WTIU's In Focus panel discussion on same-sex marriage, a number of men corresponded over different aspects of marriage law in Indiana. One pastor wrote the following:

'[You] should know that the assumption in Indiana (& most states) is that each parent is equally responsible for the support of the child, up to the limit of his or her capability. The law expects that each will be employed. So, for example, if a stay-at-home mom with four kids is divorced and gets physical custody of her children, the law will expect her to be employed and will set child support on that basis. If she is not employed, the law will impute to her the income the judge thinks she could be earning. At the least that will mean 40 hours weekly at the minimum wage level. The only major exception is if either the parent or one or more children is disabled.

'The law follows our society's assumption that child rearing is a hobby, like stamp collecting.'

In further correspondence, another pastor (who will remain anonymous given the personal nature of his testimony) gave his take on why this is the case, what it could mean for godly, stay-at-home moms, and how it relates to the larger question of sodomite marriage. We believe that his testimony and insight will be instructive and helpful to BaylyBlog readers. He writes:


Even these may forget, but I will not forget you...

(Tim, w/thanks to Cindy P.) Foundational to understanding our world including the Evangelical parachurch culture is a close reading of Ibsen's "A Doll's House." For a real-world example of Nora in our own time, cry your way through this one. But then call to mind our Heavenly Father's tender promise:

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:14,15)

 


I'll call you a a Christian if you'll call me a scholar...

(Tim) Our American-African correspondent, David Wegener, just sent in this review of John D’Elia's A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America (Oxford University Press, 2008).

This biography is a parable of the dangers of seeking the approval of the world. Didn’t our Lord say, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mk 8:36). Yet this is what Ladd sought, and along the way he lost his soul. He was one of the most respected evangelical Bible teachers of the mid-twentieth century. Nobody from my generation can teach on the kingdom of God and not quote George Ladd. Yet he craved the acceptance of the world and, when he did not attain it, his life fell apart. Didn’t the Apostle write, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Rom 8:7). The world will never accept us. It can’t.

Ladd became a Christian as a young man, sensed a call to the Christian ministry, trained at Gordon College and then entered the pastorate. Somewhere along the way, he changed direction and began to pursue further education so that he could do scholarly work on the Bible...


Our scale of marital breakdown has no historical precedent...

(Tim) This just in from our African correspondent, David Wegener:

Found that article. It's "Splitting Up" by Joseph Adelson, a professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and the author of, "Inventing Adolescence." It ran in Commentary, September 1996, pp. 63-66. I can't find it online unless you subscribe. Here are the first few...


Historical markers along the path of sexual perversion...

(Tim, w/thanks to James) Thinking beyond the obvious, those who have trained themselves in discernment will see where the wickedness of our culture will lead us and our children in the coming years. Seeing the mile markers that have flashed by, the trajectory before us will be clear.

First, the church embraced fornication; then it was on to divorce and sinful remarriage. Next came the weekly consumption of soft pornographic television shows in our families' living rooms, followed by the ubiquitous secret viewing of internet pornography by the church's sons and husbands.

On the other side of the sexual divide, women wanted relationships and children so we stopped blushing at the mention of artificial insemination and single parent adoption. It became perfectly respectable for women with little prospect of marriage to choose to become mothers...


A good piece by Bob Patterson on Republicans and marriage...

(Tim) "Marriage Matters" on National Review Online is by my good friend, Bob Patterson, who writes:

Republicans resent the presence of social conservatives in the party and, even more, the fact that in 30 states social conservatives have succeeded in defending the legal status of matrimony against elites who want America to be more like socially liberal Europe.

...In 1776, (Adam Smith) noticed how men and women on this side of the Atlantic were twice as likely to marry — and at younger ages — and had twice as many children as their European counterparts.



It can all be traced back to your daughter's Facebook page...

(Tim, w/thanks to Mark C.) If the truth that God hates divorce is not enough for you, here's something that may stiffen your resolve. A ten-year-old home schooled girl whose parents are divorced has been ordered to go to government school and the order has been approved by Judge Lucinda V. Sadler for this reason:  "(the child's) vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to [her] counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view." Of course, her "religious beliefs" considered by the court to be a threat to her well-being are Christian.

Why are the courts making this decision about a ten-year-old girl?


Newsweek hates homosexuals, actually...

(Tim) When I was a child, Dad subscribed to Time for a time. Then came the day they ran an ad for men's cologne pictured in a bottle shaped like a phallus. Dad wrote them strenuously objecting to such degradation.

Since then, our family hasn't been big on news magazines. The only one that's ever entered our home is World, to which we have a lifetime gift subscription kindness of its founder. Truth be told, I'm not at all fond of Time and Newsweek (especially), and Newsweek's current issue provides a good example of my reasons.

The cover story is a puff piece on sodomite marriage. The really disgusting thing, though, is that Newsweek's editors allowed their female (and yes, I believe sex matters here) religion editor, Lisa Miller, to play the schoolmarm to the nation on the true doctrine of Scripture concerning sodomy. The story's title tells it all: "Gay Marriage: Our mutual joy; Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side."

Yes, of course; Newsweek's religion editor is going to lecture us on the Bible's teaching on love. And I'm guessing she believes in the slaughter of little babies in their mother's womb, too, and could lecture us on Scripture's doctrine of love there, also. Our chattering class has Goebbels' principle down cold...


The blind intolerance, moralism, and dogmatism of pagans...

(Tim) On Facebook, a friend and former CGSer has been discussing sodomy, marriage, divorce and the civil law with several friends who have said things like: "semantics is a cheap reason to deny a minority their civil rights. None of the many gay folk I know agree with the "semantics justification" for denial of marriage. Also, such a social mandate (YOU live by OUR rules) has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ--and everything to do with the teachings of the Pharisees."

Wanting to say a couple things, I pointed the conversationalists to this page and here's my own contribution to their dialog. Sorry I haven't linked things, but I wanted to get this up before all our guests arrive for Thanksgiving Dinner. If any of you want to add links, just post them in the comments.

* * *

Sam, Scripture isn't just dogma; it's narrative. Descriptive isn't necessarily prescriptive. It can be, but with divorce, incest, polygamy, concubinage, etc. Scripture reveals both where it was that every culture got marriage and also the laws to which God bound all sexual intimacy.

So, for instance, when Jesus was asked a question similar to yours (but this one concerning divorce), He responded saying it wasn't that way from the beginning (Creation) and that God made male and female for each other for life with the two becoming one--not three, four, or a thousand (Matthew 19:3 ff.). So there's no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments on this matter. The two, male and female, shall become one until, by God's decree, death parts us. (My dear wife and I are on our thirty-third year, now, and still chugging away in harmony and love, praise God!)

All Christians through all time have always spoken this truth...


He has denied the faith...

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. - 1Timothy 5:8

In a nation where the majority of citizens claim to have "a personal relationship" or to be "living a narrative" with Jesus at the center, how is it that babies keep being murdered at a rate of 1.3 million per year? How is it that women continue to take on more positions in which, by design and intent, they exercise authority over men? How is it that the family meal has died? That what my Dad called "that huckster" now owns the center of our living room and dying room? That no one practices hospitality any more—except perhaps at restaurants or hotels? That husbands love internet sluts instead of the wife of their youth? That one fifth of our nation's women now arrive at their early forties never having given birth to a child?

Really, the older I get the more sense it makes to me that the New Testament Epistles place such constant and heavy emphasis on simple (or should I say foundational) household matters. Do we really think that killing babies, women sleeping with women and men with men, children defying their fathers, mothers abandoning their children and home for a public life, husbands loving prostitutes instead of the virtuous wife God gave them, wives refusing to submit to their husbands and taking over the leadership of the church and state, smutty plays and drama and poetry, and spoiled cats and dogs are things unknown in the world of the early Christians?


Roman Catholic and Protestant divorce and remarriage...

(Tim) Divorce is one of the most difficult questions pastors and elders face as we shepherd God's flock. Providing spiritual counsel in cases where husband and wife don't get along is relatively easy. Much harder are those cases in which husbands or wives physically abuse their spouses, fathers or stepfathers sexually abuse their children, husbands or wives commit serious sexual sin (what Jesus refers to as "porneia" in the exception clause of Matthew 19), or husbands demand their wives and children deny the faith. Each of these matters requires the most careful study of Scripture, prayer, and pastoral counsel. Sometimes the result is a session (board of elders) recommendation of divorce.

In the twelve years since Church of the Good Shepherd was founded, our session has made such a recommendation two or three times, each by unanimous consent. Sometimes it's hard to say whether the believing or unbelieving spouse is the one taking the initiative in the divorce. This is why it's impossible to say precisely how many times we've counseled divorce. We don't make the decision--the innocent party does. Yet neither do we abandon that innocent party to their own counsel. Our Westminster Standards are correct..


The children of divorce...

(Jake, posted by Tim) Read how the introduction of no-fault divorce affected the author's high school graduating class.

In Seeing With New Eyes, David Powlison fights the idea that there's a causal relationship between present sins and past experiences. And he's right. All you have to do is read this article and see how differently everyone responded to their parents' divorces to find your proof. Yet I've never experienced anything so violently and permanently impacting as my parents' divorce. Because you can't make causal connections between your sins and your past does not mean that sins don't have huge consequences...

I rarely think about it (my parents' divorce) anymore, but when I do (like when reading this article) it's like ripping my chest open.

I was talking to a neighborhood boy just last week about his family and when we were done hanging out, I got in the car to go to small group with my wife and son and I cried for him the whole way there. He's 7 years old and his brother is 4. He "used to have" a sister, but she lives with his dad. They divorced when he was five--same age as when my folks divorced. And as much as I mourn my parents' divorce, I can't help but bless God for fitting me to love these kids and their parents. I can speak their language.

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