You Have No Right to Your Rights

30 04 2020

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

One of the biggest hindrances to American Christianity is politics. We have so merged the two that to be a conservative republican is to be a Christian. I see Christians everywhere demanding their rights. This is not in and of itself evil. We are guaranteed certain rights and it’s not wrong to want those rights.

What tends to happen is a mean spirit seems to fester and before too long Christians are name calling and angrily demanding their rights. I have seen Christians get into arguments with police officers over their rights while street preaching. Often it is unnecessary and seldom Christ honoring.

In the text above Jesus makes a clear statement that as the Son of God He had certain rights and yet to fulfill the will of God He had no claim to those rights. In other words all of our rights stop at the cross which is the ultimate place of submission to God. Our right to live the life we desire stops at the cross.

Our right to vengeance dies at the cross, our right to self exaltation dies at the cross, our right to our reputation dies at the cross, our right to anything comes to an end at the cross. The cross is the end of self. While the heathen (Republican and Democrat) scream for their rights, believers know that we don’t have a rightful claim on all of our rights.

When I’m taking the Gospel door to door I often leave a tract on a house that says “no soliciting.” The reason is that I know that religious free speech is protected by the 1st Amendment and is not covered under soliciting laws. The problem is that the average person doesn’t understand that. Too often I have seen Christians in shouting matches with people over their right to leave a tract.

While I agree in the right to do it I also have to admit that it may be better to forego that right as a witness to that lost person. I’m not a good testimony when I scream my rights at them. Many point to Paul using his Roman rights while in captivity. True, he did as far as it benefited the Gospel, but he also at times he laid aside his rights in order to further the Gospel.

If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 9:11-12)

Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.” (1 Corinthians 9:14-15)

We as believers find the will of God to be our ultimate authority. All other rights whether political or even Biblical must be held only in the light of their value to the will of God.

Free but Servant to All

31 03 2020

My pastor recently preached from Romans 14 about Christian liberty. The Bible makes it clear that we are not under the law.

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14)

We have liberty having been freed from the curse of the law by Christ who was our perfect law-keeper and who met the demands of the law on our behalf. The text in Romans 14 deals with judging others for using their freedom differently then we use ours.

While we are free the Bible also teaches that we are servant to all. We are to serve one another and live our lives for the benefit of the brethren.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)

In Acts 15 a council was called in Jerusalem to consider what was required from the Gentile believers. The answer was given by James.

Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” (Acts 15:19-20)

The argument was that since they were justified by faith why put them under the law which was a burden that even the Jews couldn’t keep. James said the Gentiles had to abstain from a few things but why?

The answer is unity. There were tensions in the Jewish/Gentile church and many Jews were trying to bring them under the law. James didn’t take away the liberty of the Gentiles but instead affirmed it then advised they abstain from certain things offensive to the Jews.

Often times we boast in our liberty yet we forget that things we enjoy in liberty others cannot and we may weaken the faith of our brother.

But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:15-21)

We have tremendous liberty in Christ but with that liberty comes great responsibility to act in a manner that conveys love for our brother. The faith of others is more important than the liberty we possess. All things must be done in love looking to the things of others before our own things.

In Everything Give Thanks

29 11 2019

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I think this short verse holds one of the most difficult commands in the entire Bible. I know it does for me. Corrie Ten Boom struggle with obedience to this verse as well. Listen to her story.

“We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw.
..Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
“‘Fleas!’ I cried. ’Betsie, the place is swarming with them!’
“‘Here! And here another one!’ I wailed. ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

“‘Show us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ’He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’
“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in First Thessalonians,’ I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.

“In the feeble light I turned the pages. ‘Here it is: “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…’”
It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.

“‘Go on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’
“‘Oh yes:’…“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”
“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“‘Such as?’ I said.
“‘Such as being assigned here together.’
“I bit my lip. ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’
“‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’ I looked down at the Bible.

“‘Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.’
“‘Yes,’ said Betsie, ‘Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’

She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.
“‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.’

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–’ 

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’
“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.
“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”
“Back at the barracks we formed yet another line–would there never be an end to columns and waits?–to receive our ladle of turnip soup in the center room. Then, as quickly as we could for the press of people, Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.” Around our own platform area there was not enough light to read the Bible, but back here a small light bulb cast a wan yellow circle on the wall, and here an ever larger group of women gathered.
“They were services like no others, these times in Barracks 28.

“At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call.
There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. It was the same in the center room of the barracks: half a dozen guards or camp police always present. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.
“One evening I got back to the barracks late from a wood-gathering foray outside the walls. A light snow lay on the ground and it was hard to find the sticks and twigs with which a small stove was kept going in each room. Betsie was waiting for me, as always, so that we could wait through the food line together. Her eyes were twinkling.

“‘You’re looking extraordinarily pleased with yourself,’ I told her.
“‘You know, we’ve never understood why we had so much freedom in the big room,’ she said. ‘Well–I’ve found out.’
“That afternoon, she said, there’d been confusion in her knitting group about sock sizes and they’d asked the supervisor to come and settle it.
“But she wouldn’t. She wouldn’t step through the door and neither would the guards. And you know why?”

“Betsie could not keep the triumph from her voice: ‘Because of the fleas! That’s what she said, “That place is crawling with fleas!’”
“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

The reason we can obey this particular command is in the light of Romans 8:28.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

If all things work together for our good then we can confidently give thanks for everything because no matter how bad anything seems all things work for our good and therefore deserve thanks.

Praying with Meaning

9 02 2018

The prayer of Jabez became a popular prayer among evangelical Christians. I’m not saying his prayer was bad for him to make but I question the motivation of Christians making that their prayer today. The reason I believe that most people love the prayer is its request for physical prosperity. An increase in land and territory. In our day of the prosperity gospel we are taught that the ultimate sign of Gods blessing is material and physical abundance.

Not too long ago I was listening to myself pray and was disappointed at the shallowness of my prayers. I noticed that those around me were praying the same way I was. My prayers were limited to what amounts to memorized dialogue such as you would see in a movie. When praying for the offering “Lord bless this offering bless the gift and the giver.” When dismissing the service “Lord dismiss us with your blessing and bring us back to the next appointed service.” What was strange was that 5 different men could pray and say a slight variation of the exact same thing.

Private prayer seemed almost worse. Saying the same things time and again. Asking for the simplest things without much thought. “Lord bless so and so” and “Lord if it be your will do such and such” “Lord provide their needs” Lord put a hedge of protection” “Lord bless the pastor” “Lord bless the church.” I readily used the word bless without much definite description. This made the blessing so general if it didn’t happen I wouldn’t know it.

Then I read some of the prayers of Paul and I realized how empty my prayers truly were. Listen to the Apostle pray:

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” (Colossians 1:9-11)

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:15-19)

I quickly realized how shallow and non-specific my prayers had been. I had been asking God to bless people in some general sense or to expand their material blessing without ever giving thought to the weightier matters namely their spiritual understanding. So let me encourage you to listen to yourself pray and ask yourself is your prayer a sign of unbelief? Are you praying in generalities because you’re afraid God won’t answer it?

Does your prayer only center on physical needs and blessing? These are hard questions as praying is almost an art form we have spent our lives perfecting so that we can impress those around us but are we praying to man or to God?

Concerning Prayer

27 04 2015

Do we pray? How do we pray? Why do we pray? What do we teach our kids about prayer? In this post I try and share my heart concerning prayer and where we as a church fall short of it in America.

Reflections upon Resolutions

7 01 2014

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17)

I think we often read the verse above without giving it much thought or meditation. I want to encourage you to take a moment and meditate on it. Take it literally, embrace it’s truth more fully. Paul even repeated this advice in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” A Christian should do nothing out of habit, or convenience, or thoughtlessness. All we do, all we say, and all we eat or drink it should be to the glory of God. I take this to mean that if God is not in some way glorified by it then we ought not do it. What an amazing ideal to strive towards! To be able to say of our lives that all we do glorifies God.

This means the food we eat should glorify God. If you can’t in good conscience eat something then don’t eat it because it won’t glorify God. If you can’t drink something in good conscience then don’t drink it because if you do then God is not glorified. Sometimes God is glorified in what we don’t do. I went to a wedding not too long ago and people were getting drunk. My wife and I had vowed a few weeks before before our church family by joining into the church covenant that we would not drink intoxicating beverages. Had we chosen to drink that  night it would not have brought glory to God but our abstaining did. There was dirt dancing going on during the reception and we chose to abstain to the glory of God. We ought not just do tings to the glory of God but we ought to not do things to the glory of God.

If we watch television it should be to the glory of God. If what we are watching glorifies sin then we are not watching it to the glory of God. We should listen to music to the glory of God. Does your music celebrate adultery, fornication, murder, rape, or self? Then it is not to the glory of God. Shopping should be done to the glory of God, dressing should be done to the glory of God, voting should be done to the glory of God, posting on Facebook should be done to the glory of God, sending a Tweet should be done to the glory of God, enjoying vacation, and spending time with our families should all be done to the glory of God. Everything we do even marital relations between spouses should be done to the glory of God. The physical acts of the marriage bed is an act of worship to God and should be participated in to His glory. So there is no aspect of our lives that escapes the reach of this verse.

This brings me to the idea of New Years resolutions. Nearly all people Christian or heathen make resolutions and few Christian or heathen actually carry them out. Some now call them personal life goals but either way how should one make or better yet carry out a New Years resolution? The answer from our text is simple, to the glory of God. Did you resolve to lose weight for your health or family? Wrong reason, it should have been to the glory of God. Did you resolve to relax more this year for your health? Wrong, reason it should have been for the glory of God. Did you resolve to anything at all and your first and foremost reason is not the glory of God then it is for the wrong reason. How do we carry out a resolution? Well, if we made it to the glory of God then we can’t just drop it by the wayside, or give up on it lest we give up on bringing glory to God. We must carry it out for the glory of God.

Let me encourage you for the whole year don’t say, eat, drink, listen to, watch, go anywhere, or do anything except that you can say in some way God is glorified by what I’m doing and let’s do all for the glory of God.

Lessons From Darth Bane

22 05 2012

     I am a big fan of the Star Wars saga as many Americans are but my love of that universe goes beyond the movies to the many novels that have been written in the ever expanding Star Wars storyline. In the not too distant past I started reading the Darth Bane novels which are set about 1,000 years before the movies. It was Bane who set up what is known as the modern Sith order. There were many Sith and it was he who killed all of them and set up the two Sith at a time rule. I found as I read the books though, there are several lessons that modern Christians can take from these stories.

     The first lesson is his pride in the title of “Darth.” This had been lost because they were trying to be all inclusive so when he first became a Sith he was called Bane of the Sith until he decided to adopt the ancient title of Darth. I see a trend among Christians many of whom are well meaning and they try and drop the titles that distinguish who they are. You can walk into a community or Bible church and not know if it’s Pentecostal or Baptistic until the service starts. I find that disturbing. We can be inclusive and unified without doing away with those things that define us. The term Christian was a name given by enemies of Christ and those of our sect have worn it as a badge of honor since then. We should take pride in it but what kind of Christian are you? Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal? Those titles define how we believe and we should find them as a source of pride not as a bad thing.

           I fall under the Baptist tradition and I’m proud of what that means. The title stands for our belief that baptism follows a profession of faith and is not to be applied to infants in order to gain salvation. We do not fall under the Protestant title because Baptists didn’t come out of Rome. We have existed seperate from Rome since the days of the apostles. Often meeting secretly and not taking any formal titles. Many who followed the teachings now called Baptist were tortured and burned at the stake by the Catholic Church. There is a long tradition of loyalty to Scripture and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

     The next lesson is his devotion to the ancient writings. If you read the novels when Bane was training in the Sith Acedemy he finds that the lust for power that was a staple of the Sith Order was gone and they were teaching partnership and equality. They had abandoned the ancient ways and were spending all their time practicing the “new methods” and yet they seemed powerless. Bane begins to spend all of his time in the library reading the ancient Sith writings. He begins to excel the others in his power and knowledge.

     This is the case in the church today. So many christians and churches are spending all their time in the new ways of building their church and they end up with a building full of people but powerlessness. They have abandoned the old ways of personal evangelism that changed hearts and brought power to the church. They are always looking into the new books and new ways yet the ancient writings(Scripture) is ignored. We need to learn from Darth Bane and realize that the new ways are not the best way or the right way. We need to not remove the ancient landmarks that our father’s have set for us as Solomon advised us to do. Let us seek to walk in the old paths and follow the advice I recieved from an old preacher when he said if it’s new it’s probably not true.

In Your Own Way

1 12 2011

“In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25

This is a fair description of our world today. As morality crumbles and the “if it feels good do it” philosophy takes over we see an ever increasing wickedness in society. What is even more disturbing is that this same trend exists in professing Christian churches. We hear things like “worship God in your own way” We have turned devotion of God into a stylish system that makes us feel the most comfortable. We believe that God just wants us to be happy and do things our way as long as we say we are doing it for Him.
Jesus condemned many by saying “these people honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me, in vain do they worship me.” We have turned the worship of God into a vanity. We shun holiness calling it legalism, we make our church services as cultually relevant as possible while ignoring the fact that our culture is evil and we are to be a church ( meaning called out assembly)
Instead of offering hope to the world we say “come to our church where you can be youreself” we forget that God demands repentance and a willingness to let Him change us. Instead of doing what is right in our eyes we need to examine all things in the light of the Scriptures. Paul the apostle said to “try all things hold fast to that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21) If you are doing what is right in your own eyes then please heed the warning of Solomon, “There is a way which seemeth right unto man but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12)

Addicted To The Ministry

28 11 2011

“I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)” 1 Corinthians 16:15

     It says the house of Stephanas was “addicted” to the ministry. What a thought!! Think of a drug addict who has to have his drugs and will stop at nothing to get them, and whose life is utterly consumed by drug…s so they were utterly consumed by ministry. They had to do it, they couldnt go a day without it. Think of a person addicted to cigarrettes. They have to smoke, they can only go a certain amount of time without smoking, they will sneak out of important events just to catch a smoke. These people were addicted to the ministry. It wasn’t a burden, it wasn’t a hardship, it was a desire, an unquenchable thirst.

     Think of the gambler who can’t stop playing poker. It consumes hours of their day, and alot of thier finances but they have to play, they can’t go a day without it. So these people could not go a day without ministry. I’m sure being addicted it took up much of their time and much of their finances. What a blessing to be addicted to ministry. We need to pray for the same heart and desire. let’s not be addicted to T.V., Facebook, technology, drugs, tobacco, or poker. Let’s be addicted to the ministry of the saints. I’m sure looking back from the Celestial City the house of Stephanas doesn’t think the price was too great. We will never get to the Judgement Seat of Christ and be ashamed at having done too much or having spent too much time in the work of the miistry. We will be ashamed at having done and spent too little.

Written By: Rick Garland

Divorce: What Saith The Scripture?

1 09 2011

“For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” Malachi 2:16

     It is common to hear the term, “God hates divorce” and this verse is usually the proof text quoted to back up that saying. Is that saying accurate? Well the problem is that proof texting always leads to error. We cannot isolate one verse from it’s chapter, topic, and the rest of the Bible. We must study each verse in the context in which it is stated, and each topic such as divorce should always be looked at not through the microscope of one verse but the teaching of the entire Scriptures on the subject. We must start by first looking at what marriage is.

     Marriage is a God ordained institution(Genesis 2:24) and is given as a gift for man(Genesis 2:20). The marriage bond is given as a type or picture of the relationship between God and His people(Ephesians 5:22-33). Marriage is intended to be for life and should not be taken lightly nor broken up lightly. Does God hate all divorce? Well we need to look at all we can on the matter to see what the Scripture says.

     What does the law say about divorce? In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 we see the law concerning divorce. Verse 1 starts off, “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her…” This shows we are not talking about an engaged couple whom is often called husband and wife in Scripture. This is talking about someone alrready married. It goes on, “and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” He can divorce her if she has found no favor in his eyes but it gets even more specific. The word “because” shows the only kind of disfavor, it says if she finds no favor in his eyes BECAUSE of some uncleanness. Verse 2-4 say that she may go to be another man’s wife but may not return to her first husband.

     Has God ever allowed divorce? Yes He has. In Ezra 10:10-19 we see Ezra the prophet of God ending the marriages of the Israelites who had married heathen women. We see nothing negative being said about it, and we see no indication he was wrong for doing such a thing. This does not mean God endorses Christians to divorce heathen wives, all this shows is that God allowed this to happen and did not condemn Ezra’s actions which is odd if what Ezra did was something God hated.

     What does Jesus say about divorce? Well Jesus speaks on the subject in Matthew 19:3-12. In verse 3 the Pharisees asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Even though the law stated that a man could only divorce his wife for some uncleanness, the rabbi’s had over time perverted the meaning of the law and defined anything and everything as “uncleanness.” If your wife didn’t tend your every whim you could say she lost favor in your eyes and was unclean to you. So divorce was being done as a regualr thing.

     Jesus answers them by telling them why God made marriage and quoting Genesis, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”(Vs. 4-6) The Pharisees asked why Moses commanded to divorce if God did not intend that. Jesus responded that divorce was not in God’s original plan and it wasn’t. Man has been marred by the fall and many things that go on are not in step with God’s original intentions. For instance God allowed men to have multiple wives and we even see where God gave His people multiple wives(2 Samuel 12:8) Polygamy was not part of God’s original creation order but due to the fall it became a necessary way of life just as divorce had become one.

     He then goes on to clarify what Moses meant by saying you could divorce your wife if she lost favor in your eyes because of some uncleanness, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”(Vs. 9) The only uncleanness that makes divorce lawful is fornication, the Greek term used was “pornea” which is where we get our modern term of pornography. A man cannot simply divorce his wife because she has made him angry or because he is tired of her. The only cause is sexual immorality. Even in this case I think every attempt should be made by both spouses to reconcile and divorce should be a last option.

     Some say “well, yes He allows it in certain cases but He still hates it” that is very inconsistant. The fact that God allows divorce in some cases must mean we cannot throw a blanket statement such as “God hates divorce” out there. Paul when speaking on the subject of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7 says that it’s better not to marry at all, unless you cannot contain your passions(Vs. 8-9). He says that a man should not put away his wife(Vs. 11) and if  a wife departs from her husband she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband(Vs. 10-11) Of course he does not mention fornication so we must assume he is speaking of just leaving for no reason. He then goes on to say, “But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.”  What he is saying is that if someone gets saved after marriage(because it is sin to marry a non-believer) and their spouse is still lost then they should stay with them and pray their testimony reaches their spouse(Vs. 12-13) He also says that if the unbelieving spouse leaves then the christian spouse is not “under bondage” which would be the marriage bond. So adultery or abandonment by an unsaved spouce are the only causes for divorce in Scripture.

     What is the meaning of the statement in Malachi? Let’s put the staement in question into context. In Malachi 2, verses 1-10 God is reprimanding Isreal for breaking and profaning His covenant with them. In verse 11 it says, “for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.” The the historical context is that these men had married heathen women who worshipped other gods.

     Where these single men who had sinned in this manner? No, let’s read on, “Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.”(Vs. 14) So these were married men who had broken their marriage vows, divorced their wives and married heathen women. From the phrase “wife of thy youth” I might also understand that they were older men who put away the wife of their youth to marry younger heathen women. This is not stated and is only a guess. The Lord then goes on to say, “And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”(Vs. 15-16)

     So the context is that these married men had broken their marriage vows, divorced their wives to marry heathen women. God tells them that He hates the divorce, not all divorce but the divorce of those in question. Does God hate divorce? Yes, wrong divorce, not divorce in the bounds He has set. Does God hate sex? Yes, outside of the bounds He has set. Is divorce sin? Yes, outside the bounds He has set. Is sex a sin? Yes, outside the bounds He has set. Lawful divorce is just as right as lawful sex. Unlawful divorce is just as sinful and wrong as unlawful sex. In Proverbs Solomon gives a list of things God hates, not an exhaustive list but divorce does not even make the top 7.

     Can we conclude that God hates all divorce? No, not without ignoring the Scriptures. He hates wrong divorce. Is all divorce sin? No, only wrong divorce. I find it funny that Jesus allows divorce yet His followers claim all divorce is sinful. Are they then concluding Jesus is ok with sin under certain circumstances? Absolutely not! It’s true divorce was not in the original intentions of God but neither was death, polygamy, slavery, religion, pain in childbirth, work or many other things that we have due to the fall.  God hates divorce for the wrong reason and this puts Malachi, Jesus, and Moses, and Paul in perfect harmony.

     Divorce even in right circumstances is not a desirable thing and it should only be done after much deliberation, many attempts at reconciliation, and with a pain in the heart. Rates are staggering, In 1920, there was 1 divorce for every 7 marriages. That is 14%. In 1940, there was 1 divorce for every 6 marriages. That is 17%. In 1960, there was 1 divorce for every 4 marriages. That is 25%. In 1972, there was 1 divorce for every 3 marriages. That is 33%. In 1977, there was 1 divorce for every 2 marriages. That is 50%. Of course, the divorce rate has stayed around 50% since the 70’s, but has recently exceeded that. 

          It is a shame to see such high rates but the answer to this is not to be reactionary and declare all divorce as sin and say God hates all divorce. We see a divorce rate in the church almost as high as in the world and the reason being that most professing christinas are not really saved in the first place. We must not judge by our reactions but by Scripture. In all circumstances and on every topic we must say, “what saith the Scripture.”

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