Over the years, as I have done my own bible studies, I have become increasingly alarmed at how Christians often allow their traditions to trump the Word of God. There are a wide area of subjects that are covered by these traditions, but one that is fresh in my mind is the area of marriage and living together.
Originally in this article, I had said that “The church I am attending has recently run-off one of our families, because their daughter was living with her boyfriend.”
I’m afraid this was a bit of an exaggeration; The pastor never told anyone that they couldn’t come back. It appears to be the interpretation of the family involved that they weren’t welcome. It is unfortunate that sometimes we read things into the actions of others that were not intended.
I also said; “Evidently living together before marriage is a sin worthy of excommunication in some churches.” The truth is that no one has been excommunicated from the particular church in question, however, there are churches who would remove a person from membership for the “sin” of living together. I am sorry I failed to distinguish between the practices of this particular church, and of other churches.
The question that comes up is; Is there a place in scripture where such a situation is addressed? The answer is “Yes!” Let’s have a look. Surely Christians should follow the bible’s guidelines, shouldn’t they?
10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; 12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; 13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. 14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her. Deuteronomy 21:10-14
It is true that the specifics of this case are not exactly the same as the case at my church. The young woman is not a refugee from war. At the same time, God never commands one person to do something that is a sin for another.
Notice also, that the man in this case is to live with his intended bride for a full month without having sex with her. Wait a minute! Shouldn’t there be a chaperone to make sure they aren’t having sex? This is a case where God is invoking the “honour system”. He is commanding the man to have respect for this girl and not take advantage of her for four weeks. God expects this man to act in an honourable way. Imagine!
Should their relationship progress beyond merely living together, there is another commandment that takes over;
16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. Exodus 22:16
The phrase “ and lie with her” is a euphemism for sex. Note that the word “endow” means “to provide support for”. In other words, the act of having sex has made her his wife. In God’s eyes they are already married.
Now go back to verse 13 of Exodus 21. All he has to do for them to be married is “thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.”
The truth is that it is the same today. The marriage is not real until it is “consummated”. (Another euphemism for having sex.) If a married couple never has sex, the marriage can be annulled.
An annulment simply means that the marriage never was. In other words, you may have a piece of paper from a pastor, an Imam, a rabbi, or a judge, but you are not really married until you have sex! I’m not talking about those Catholics who have children, and then get an annulment. That’s just dishonest. I’m talking about the way it was meant to be, and what the word definitions actually mean.
There is no place in the entire bible where it is commanded that one must have a minister, a rabbi, a judge, or priest to officiate a wedding. This is something that someone has added to the bible, and Christians accept this tradition as if it was from God. It is not wrong to have someone officiate your vows, but that is not really what marries you.
Exodus is from God. Deuteronomy is from God, but this tradition is from men.
There you have it. God actually commanded men and women to live together before marriage!
I can hear someone objecting that this was only in the case of a woman captured during a time of war. The problem is that God never changes! The principles He expressed in the law are expressions of His unchanging character. The statements made in the moral law are still relevant today. He never commands one person or group to do something that offends His nature.
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Malachi 3:6
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:8
As I noted last week, Jesus said;
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Matthew 24:17-18
The law is still valid.
But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets: Acts 24:14
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. II Peter 1:21
Yes that’s right. Exodus and Deuteronomy were written for our education, by Moses, the man of God, moved by the Holy Spirit! Don’t think that the writers of Scripture were simple, barely educated savages. They were Holy men of God, who actually had a greater understanding of the things they wrote than we, in our arrogance, know today! They wrote the things they received from God Himself, but we interpret their writings through the thick, distorted, lens of our traditions!
Most Christians do not believe Deuteronomy 21:10-14, nor Exodus 22:16. This brings them into opposition against the apostle Paul, and Jesus Christ! As I noted last week, it is possible to practice and teach error on certain issues, and to still be saved, but it still is error (see Matt 5:19-20). People who teach such error will find that much of their work on this planet was a waste of time! They preach the gospel and undermine it at the same time! In doing so they drive away people who need to be saved!
The bible does indeed speak of disassociating from those who are in open sin. The example used is a man who had his father’s wife (I Corinthians 5:1). This is clear disobedience of the law (Leviticus 20:11), and is not something a Christian should approve of. This is different than a couple merely living together. By doing so they are actually married, according to the biblical definition.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24
This is the biblical definition of marriage, being one flesh. It is there at the very beginning of the bible, but for most of us that is not good enough. We have to add our traditions, as if God’s Word is not sufficient!
Pastors tell their flocks that “If you don’t have a piece of paper saying you are married, then you are not!” By doing this the Church actually aids and abets sin, and gives men an excuse to leave their wife and children. “After all we weren’t married. She was only a girlfriend!” No! Once you are living together and have had sex, you are married, unless the woman was married before, then you are in adultery, a totally different situation.
No. This is about something else. It is about controlling people. It is about pastors lifting themselves up as leaders, and expecting unquestioning obedience from God’s people. It is about pastors attempting to control who gets married, and to whom. The problem is they belong to God, and not to you, pastor! They only need obey you if you are biblically correct. In this case the pastor is not following Scripture, but tradition.
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. I Peter 5:5
All means all, and does not exclude the pastor! In cases where the pastor is in sin, or teaching error, he needs to humbly repent just as any other member of the flock.
As I have studied this and other subjects I have been shocked to discover that there is a connection between each and every subject to the End Times. An incorrect understanding of biblical morality will actually lead people to accept the person of the Antichrist. If you are teaching unbiblical morality, you may actually be saved, and taken in the rapture, but what of those you leave behind? Will they accept the Antichrist as a man-of-God, because of something you said?
I can guarantee that what is considered “Christian tradition” will indeed lead many to accept the Antichrist. They won’t suspect that he is the Beast until it is too late!
This may be why Jesus told us;
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. Luke 21:36
While all who call upon the name of the Lord are saved, there are many who call upon a false Jesus. That Jesus cannot save. Many professing Christians define Jesus by their traditions. They ascribe characteristics to Him that are not from the bible, and they ignore the characteristics that He ascribes to Himself through the bible. When people call upon that Jesus, they are calling upon another Jesus. This is idolatry.
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. II Corinthians 11:4
When Jesus declared the following, He was declaring that He is the God of the Old Testament;
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Matthew 23:37
There is no place in the New Testament which this is describing, but there are many in the Old! The Old Testament was given to us as the foundation for the New. You cannot build a house without foundations or it will fall apart at the first shifting of the earth. The same is true of those who attempt to build a church without building it upon the Old Testament as the foundation for the New.
The same is also true of those who ignore biblical prophecy. Prophecy takes up between one quarter and one third of the Word of God. Pastors who ignore this divine ratio are NOT preaching the whole counsel of God!
Jesus actually bases His authority, and title, on His fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. Pastors who do not teach about this area of apologetics are building their congregation’s faith on a house of cards. When children are confronted by peers who say “Why do you believe that stuff”, it is not good enough to answer “Well, my pastor says…” Young people who don’t know about Jesus’ fulfilment of Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, 7:14, Daniel 9:26, Zechariah 13:6, and many others, will not have a leg to stand on when confronted by the logic of their peers.
I can assure you that the Holy Spirit did not inspire His prophets to write the bible only to have His preachers ignore a third of it! By the same token, He did not inspire the law, only to have the Church ignore it. By doing so we are not only harming ourselves, but we are actually harming others!
Some pastors tell us “I have the words of the Son of God, therefore this is all I need“. But the Son of God is the very one who said “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39 Talk about honoring the Lord with your lips, and dishonoring him at the same time, with your actions! Such pastors ought to be ashamed of themselves!
In the same conversation the Son of God made certain that we understand, the Scriptures He wants us to read are the words of Moses; “46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”
Pastors often preach from Jesus statements of Matthew 19, when the subject of marriage and divorce comes up;
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 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? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. Matthew 19:3-9
Unfortunately they stop at verse 9, as if this is the end of the discussion. Jesus went on, however, and the words of verse 10 carry equal weight as 3-8. In fact verse 9 explains what Moses actually wrote. It is not different than the law, but clarifies what is contained within!
9 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.
You see Moses used the word “uncleanness” as a euphemism for sexual sin, or fornication. The hard-hearted pharisees used this word as an excuse to divorce their wives for any perceived error on her part. Christians don’t see this because they don’t read Moses.
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, 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. Deuteronomy 24:1
Many pastors explain this passage to mean that if a betrothed, or engaged, young woman was caught in sexual sin, her intended husband could divorce her, and send her away. It does mean this, but it means so much more. It is worded indefinitely because God was giving the Israelites a way out, so they could show mercy to the guilty, and it wasn’t only for newly weds!
God clearly states that a young woman who is engaged, or betrothed, and who has sex with another man deserves death.
23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. Deuteronomy 22:23
Moses was giving Israel a choice. You can choose justice, and you can expect it yourself, or you can choose mercy, knowing that you too are a sinner worthy of death. When Jesus told the woman caught in adultery “go and sin no more“, He was consistent with the law of Moses!
The law was given for our benefit, and not only for Israel. You cannot understand Jesus without understanding Moses, nor the other way around! Moses did write about Jesus. He said that Jesus would be like he himself! What Jesus said about marriage is exactly backed up by the writings of Moses!
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; Deuteronomy 18:15
Jesus is not only like Moses in the fact that he spent time in Egypt. Nor is this talking about the similarities between Jesus and Moses as they were growing up. These are just superficial similarities. Jesus is like Moses in character, and doctrine. The things that really matter!
Moses is the context of the New Testament! If you are not cross referencing Moses, as you read the teachings of Jesus, you are substituting your own upbringing for the context of the bible. You will never understand it that way.
Paul told us “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing ALL THINGS which are written in the law and in the prophets:” (Acts 24:14) There is no way you will be able to do this if you neglect large portions of the Word of God!
The Church may not be under the law per-se, but the law actually reveals the mind of God to us on every subject it touches. I am not writing this to “stick it in the eye” of Christians. If your tradition is not supported from Genesis to Revelation it is because it has an extra-biblical source! Satan has a definite purpose behind his inserting man-made ideas into Church tradition!