Lolo Jones, church weddings, and white...
Dear sister Kamilla passed on this article by feminist Carolyn Custis James responding to Olympian Lolo Jones's public confession of sexual purity. Months ago Jones told her interviewer she was a virgin, and then she said:
It's just a gift I want to give my husband. But please understand this journey has been hard. There's virgins out there and I want to let them know that it's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics. Harder than graduating from college has been to stay a virgin before marriage. I've been tempted, I've had plenty of opportunities.
It's no surprise that despicable publication that loves the blood of the unborn infants called the New York Times will try to smear Miss Jones. But Ms. Custis James claims to be a Bible- believing Christian. How does she oh-so-subtly diss Miss Jones's wonderful Christian testimony?
By talking about how women misled by our cultural values or raped in the Democratic Republic of Congo shouldn't be viewed as any less worthy of a husband than virgins like Lolo Jones. Which is to say public discussions of virginity might make women who are victims or sinners feel bad--it might hurt them.
Very true. That's why raping a woman or fornicating with a woman are evil. They rob the women God has called men to protect of the most precious gift a bride gives her bridegroom at her wedding. Isn't that what Miss Jones said?
Remember that it's the postmodern's morbid habit to sacrifice the normal on the altar of the abnormal. And if there's ever a case of normal, it's the bride being presented by her father to her beloved bridegroom as a virgin, dressed in virginal white. If our efforts are spent trying to make non-virgins think nothing of their sexual oppression or failure, what will we do with all the Biblical texts holding up the purity... of the bride?
The girl (Rebekah) was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. (Genesis 24:16)
The priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself even for his father or his mother; nor shall he go out of the sanctuary nor profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am the LORD. He shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or one who is profaned by harlotry, these he may not take; but rather he is to marry a virgin of his own people, so that he will not profane his offspring among his people; for I am the LORD who sanctifies him. (Leviticus 21:10-15)
If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days. (Deuteronomy 22:28, 29)
So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better. (1 Corinthians 7:38)
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. (2 Corinthians 11:2)
* * *
And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.”
Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”
It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” (Revelation 19:5-9)
Yes, of course we are called and want to comfort the afflicted, but our comfort ought not be given in a way that minimizes the shame and suffering and oppression the victim has suffered. Both the tramp and the woman raped by her father should know the grace of Jesus Christ through our loving witness. But our witness ought never to minimize the tragic sin which is the defining reality of her wedding ceremony: her father is unable to present his daughter, the bridegroom, the chaste virgin that is a picture of the Church being presented to her Bridegroom at the marriage feast of the Lamb when she arrives dressed all in white garments which are the righteous deeds she has done in preparation for her marriage to her Beloved.
Yes, this is all equally true of the Bridegroom. His virginity matters just as much. His oppression and sin are tragic, also. But since Scripture speaks of the Church as the Bride of Christ, we focus on brides' purity just as Scripture does.
One final pastoral note: at their wedding ceremony, I don't think women who have been raped should have any public shame attached to their loss of virginity at the oppression of their band teacher or father (for instance); and I think church weddings with the bride in white should be the norm for the bride and bridegroom who have come to Christ since their fornication. But I believe covenant children who have fornicated need to be disciplined by their pastors and elders so that they do not have the same weddings and the same symbolism as those covenant children who have fought the good fight.
I'm sure this will raise all kinds of questions in the minds of readers. "But how would the pastor or elders know?"
They won't know for sure, but they should be asking explicit questions in the premarital months--and some of the souls under their care will tell the truth.
"But then what? Tar and feather them?"
No. Just do something that places a note of confession of sin over the wedding so they don't make the public claim of virginal purity that gives so much of the beautiful symbolism to Christian weddings.
"Are you saying the bride should dress in black or the bride and goom both dress in read?"
No, but maybe the bride should clothe herself in an off-white wedding gown, and maybe this should be the requirement of the board of elders of her church. Or maybe the wedding should be in the living room of the bride's parents as my own wedding was. And maybe confession of sin should be the context for the wedding just as it was for Mary Lee's and mine. Maybe that would be as beautiful a testimony to the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ towards the sinful covenant children of the elders of your church as it was for the daughter of Ken Taylor and the son of Joe Bayly in Wheaton back on February 28, 1976. (And I should add that this was Mary Lee's and my desire and decision--not the decision of our church or families.)
God is so longsuffering and full of tender mercies! Can we not be humble and forgiven sinners together? Is this too much to expect of those of us who love Jesus Christ?
"But you're raising more questions than you're answering!"
Yes, of course. That's the nature of pastoral ministry, and it's why I am a presbyterian and take the comfort a number of times a month of asking the elders of the church I'm serving to provide counsel and direction to me and the other pastors and all the souls of our congregation who are under their care.
Just keep in mind that the only principle I'm really pushing for just now and here is that, at the very least, when covenant children (children of the church) get married having admitted to fornication prior to the wedding, they should not be married with the same symbolism and claims of virginal purity of those who have joined Miss Jones in fighting the good fight.
"But what if it's petting--not full intercourse. Then are you saying they should be married outside of the church?"
That's a good question. Ask it of your elders.
And if you are a member of a church where they'd look at you cross-eyed, find another church. Your pastors and elders are to be faithful shepherds of your soul and that of your sons and daughters, and in this evil day you can't afford to live without faithful care from them.
Too, it's always been the confession of the true Church that without the right exercise of church discipline, the church is no church at all, but rather a synagogue of Satan. And if there's no discipline of fornication--say of the pastors' or elders' children, for instance--where on earth is there the right exercise of discipline?
Since Satan has labored from the beginning to adorn his pestilent synagogue with the title of the Kirk of God, and has incited cruel murderers to persecute, trouble, and molest the true Kirk and its members, as Cain did to Abel, Ishmael to Isaac, Esau to Jacob, and the whole priesthood of the Jews to Christ Jesus himself and his apostles after him. So it is essential that the true Kirk be distinguished from the filthy synagogues by clear and perfect notes lest we, being deceived, receive and embrace, to our own condemnation, the one for the other. The notes, signs, and assured tokens whereby the spotless bride of Christ is known from the horrible harlot, the false Kirk, we state, are neither antiquity, usurped title, lineal succession, appointed place, nor the numbers of men approving an error. For Cain was before Abel and Seth in age and title; Jerusalem had precedence above all other parts of the earth, for in it were priests lineally descended from Aaron, and greater numbers followed the scribes, Pharisees, and priests, than unfeignedly believed and followed Christ Jesus and his doctrine . . . and yet no man of judgment, we suppose, will hold that any of the forenamed were the Kirk of God.
The notes of the true Kirk, therefore, we believe, confess, and avow to be: first, the true preaching of the Word of God, in which God has revealed himself to us, as the writings of the prophets and apostles declare; secondly, the right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus, with which must be associated the Word and promise of God to seal and confirm them in our hearts; and lastly, ecclesiastical discipline uprightly ministered, as God's Word prescribes, whereby vice is repressed and virtue nourished. Then wherever these notes are seen and continue for any time, be the number complete or not, there, beyond any doubt, is the true Kirk of Christ, who, according to his promise, is in its midst. (Chapter 18, Scots Confession)
(Jesus said) I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)