This is a follow-up to the last post, in which I outlined what I think is the biggest problem the church faces today. The first aspect of the problem that needs to be recognized is it happened because God did it and it’s a punishment.
Before anybody thinks Toad has gone off his rocker, Romans 1:18-32 describes the wrath of God being poured out on a world in which people do not acknowledge, honor or worship Him. That wrath is poured out in three distinct phases. First, God gave them over to impurity that they might be dishonored in their bodies. The second time God gave them over to depraved passions. The third time God gave them over to a depraved mind.
Given the specific issues involved (especially Romans 1:26, the women giving up the “natural function”) it is apparent to me that passage is a prophesy which has already come to pass for Western Civilization. It started in the period of the 1960’s with the replacement of absolute (Biblical) morality with moral relativism. There was an explosion of infidelity, promiscuity, divorce and adultery as people rejected God’s standards and replaced them with their own. A generation later in the 1980’s we saw the depraved passion of feminism explode into the public consciousness as women gave up the natural function of women and began to truly hate men. Likewise, the men gave up the natural function and homosexuality experienced explosive growth. They received the due penalty in their own bodies with the devastation of AIDS. A generation later with the 2000’s we see the cycle complete with evidence of depraved minds surrounding us.
I have spent the past few years studying Biblical family, marriage and sex; and the results of that study have been surprising. Or, perhaps they should not have been surprising… because it’s obvious the average church-goer cares far more about what others think about them than what God thinks about them. the more I dug into this, the worse it got. Finally, it got to the point that I started all over from the beginning. I had previously thought the major issue was divorce and remarriage in the church, but I was thinking of “official” marriage and divorce.
As discussed in the last post, when we start with the concept of marriage and take it from there, things get interesting. There are multiple passages in Scripture that deal with marriage, but the critical passage is Exodus 22:16-17 because that passage clearly states when a man and a virgin have sex they are married unless the father refuses to allow it. Since there isn’t any dowry or bride-price for virgins any longer, the fact is, sex with a virgin is the act of marrying her.
However, one thing we do not want to do is create a doctrine based on a shaky foundation, so we must rigorously test this. The on-point passages are Deuteronomy 22:13-21; 28-29; Numbers 30:2-5 and Judges 21. Comparing Exodus 22:16-17 with Deuteronomy 22:28-29 and contrasting those passages with the punishment of the virgin in Deuteronomy 22:13-21, it becomes evident there is no other way to take Exodus 22:16-17 except as a definitive statement that “taking a woman’s virginity is the act of marrying her.”
This creates a huge dilemma for a great many people. I strongly suspect the reason we have such a strong tradition of marriage ceremonies is directly related to this. We started off with people who understood clearly that the act of taking a woman’s virginity was to marry her and if her father refused he was annulling the marriage, not preventing it (yes, splitting semantic hairs, but necessary). The act of annulling the marriage was to rescind the woman’s agreement and invalidate the marriage after the fact, not to prevent it, and the father had 24 hours (“on the day”) to annul her agreement.
However, we notice that in verse 16, this Law specifically applies to “between a man and his wife; and between a father and his daughter in her youth in her father’s house.” The father does not have the right to annul the marriage of a woman who gave her virginity to a man while no longer in her youth, living in her father’s house.
Again, this creates a huge dilemma for many people and there is tremendous pressure for people to dismiss this as simply too preposterous to consider. However, we have two examples of people who were in this situation and a record of what happened. The first is found in 2nd Kings 22-23. Josiah was 26 years old, having ascended to the throne of Judah at the age of 8. He was the son of Amon, an evil king, and the grandson of Manasseh, a truly evil king, but “he did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left.”
In the 18th year of his reign a copy of the book of the Law (which had been lost) was discovered during a renovation of the Temple. The book was taken to the king and read in his presence. When he heard the words of the book, Josiah tore his clothes and sent men to inquire of the prophets, saying “great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
They went to Huldah the prophetess, who said:
“Thus says the Lord, Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place and it shall not be quenched.”
“But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, regarding the words which you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you, declares the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, neither shall your eyes see all the evil which i will bring on this place.”
Read the entire story, both chapter 22 and 23, but pay particular attention to that passage because it is critical. First, God plainly tells the King that judgment is coming because His wrath has been kindled and it will not be quenched. Second, because Josiah’s heart was in the right place, he will be spared (and his people with him) from seeing the day of the Lord’s vengeance on His own people.
How is this any different from out situation today? The wrath of God is being poured out but salvation in Christ awaits all who call upon the Name of the Lord, confess their sin and repent of their wicked ways. Churches talk a lot about calling upon the Name of the Lord and confessing sin, but there seems to be a strange silence when it comes to repentance.
Look at what Josiah did. First, he gathered the people and they had the book of the Law read to them. Then, the King stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord (a vow) to walk after the Lord and keep Hi commandments and His testimonie and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul and carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant. After that, King Josiah spent the rest of his life striving with all his might to enforce the book of the Law in his kingdom. He tore down the high places, he broke the altars of Baal, he forbid the rituals and re-instituted the passover and new moons feasts. In the end he received the testimony of the Lord that he was the greatest king, for none before him had served the Lord with all their heart, all their soul and all their might and none like him came after.
Josiah did not just confess his sin, he repented. He did all he could to ensure that God was honored and God’s Law was observed, that the people would keep the commandments of the Lord.
Now, we turn to the book of Ezra, and the story of the mixed marriages in chapters 9 and 10. A group of Hebrews under the leadership of Ezra journeyed back to Jerusalem from Babylon with the blessing of King Artaxerxes, but after arriving Ezra was informed that some of the men had violated the commandment not to take foreign wives. After calling all the people together (like Josiah) an agreement was made amongst the people to repent of their transgressions and they put away their foreign wives, some of whom had born them children. In total, 113 men had their names listed forever in Scripture, by name, for the sin of marrying foreign wives and they fulfilled their oath and put them and they children they had by them away.
Sounds pretty rough, doesn’t it? Let’s keep a few things in mind from what we’ve seen. The attitude of the person who hears the command of the Lord, confesses their sin and repents is something God honors.
The idea that taking a woman’s virginity is the act of marrying her is preposterous to many today because the tradition states “just because you have sex doesn’t mean you’re married.” In a way, that’s true, because in the case of a non-virgin sex does not create marriage, it usually creates a case of adultery. In the case of a virgin, her father (and only her father) has the right to say that and if he says it when he first hears of it then he is annulling the marriage.
Just as with the traditions of the people in the time of King Josiah, when the people bowed down and worshiped foreign gods, the traditions today concerning marriage and sex are very powerful and I am certainly no king Josiah. So, it seems to me that with the Law clear and the examples we have of both Josiah and Ezra, if the person who has finally heard and understood the command of the Lord humbles themselves, confesses their sin and repents of their sin, God will judge righteously.
First, ascertain the situation and status.
Perhaps some have heard the old saying “mama’s baby, daddy’s maybe.” The fact is, only the woman truly knows who she gave her virginity to if she willingly did it, and I proceed from the standpoint of the woman.
So, if you’re married, it gets a little complex, because that drags a bunch of other stuff into this, specifically Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and 1st Corinthians 7:10-15, but I neglected to mention one thing on that chart. The question of whether your father annulled the marriage really devolves to whether your father actually found out about the marriage. Did he? If you did it “in your youth living in your father’s house” and maybe he was one of those “don’t ask – don’t tell” guys, go to your father, confess what you did, explain why it’s important and ask him to pray and tell God that he is refusing your marriage to the guy you gave your virginity to.
Keep in mind, that you maybe ought to have him read all of Numbers 30, because there *is* that part in there that says the guilt will be on his head if he does it. I just can’t see the guy you married getting upset about it when he doesn’t know he married you.
But, maybe that won’t work, so let’s graph this out:
If the guy you married isn’t a Christian, contact him, tell him you joined a cult that believes you’re married, and ask him for a certificate of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). All he has to do is write that he’s divorcing you for adultery and sign it. You’re divorced and you don’t ever have to show it to anybody. Just because he’s not a Christian doesn’t make him the non-believer who left you. You may very well have dumped him. Play it by the book and get a certificate of divorce. If necessary, offer to end it with a bang: it’s not like it’s a sin because until he signs that paper he’s your husband.
If he won’t do that, ask him when you should move in with the kids. When he says he isn’t interested, you’re free (1st Corinthians 7:15). If he does want you back, you have to consider that you have a choice. 1st Corinthians 7:10-11 says that since you’ve already “left” him, you are to remain single (chaste) or be reconciled to him. That’s the choice.
Now, here’s where a bit of investigation might help. If he’s married, you don’t want to tell him that he’s got the right to have more than one wife. That might interest him. If he’s been divorce raped and hates his ex, find out how to act just like his ex. That should fix the problem. Being stupid got you into this mess but that doesn’t mean you have to continue with that plan… and ultimately it’s his decision, so why not give him some incentive to decide the way you want him to?
If the guy claims to be a Christian, 1st John 2:2-6 applies. If he won’t be reconciled to you, present your case to the elders of your church and ask for their judgment. They won’t want to but since they won’t agree with any of this from a doctrinal standpoint and they don’t have to put anything in writing, they’ll probably go along. Cry. That always helps. Since he isn’t being obedient to the Word (1st Peter 3:7- “husbands live with your wives”) ask for a judgment of excommunication. They can excommunicate him, that makes him the unbeliever who will not consent to live with you and you’re free. (“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven”)
If the guy claims to be a Christian but is married to another woman, you’ll probably get the same answer, but this time when you present it to your elders point out that there is nothing to prevent a man from having more than one wife and he obviously has 2 wives as far as God is concerned but he isn’t treating you equally (see Exodus 21:10) by providing equal food, clothing, shelter and conjugal rights. Again, ask for a judgment of excommunication.
Trust me on this, the Toad has enormous experience with the reactions of church-folk when they’re confronted with some of the stuff Scripture allows but happens to fall outside their comfort zone. If the guy is a serious conservative Christian, find a friend to help you. Your ideal friend will be dressed like a slut, tatted up with a skrillex haircut, piercings and have no hesitation about a bit of groping and swapping spit with you in front of the guy. Tell him it’s OK, she’s your girlfriend and the two of you are *really* close but you’re the only one that likes guys. She hates them. If necessary, have said girlfriend snort a line in front of him and offer him some.
If you really want to wiggle out of this, all you have to do is put him in a state of mind in which he absolutely does not want to have anything to do with you. In other words, get in touch with your inner slut, your inner bitch and maybe get in touch with your kinkiest girlfriend. If you don’t have any of those, go find a dyke bar and tell a few of the the girls there your story about your need to make a seriously bad impression on a fundie Christian guy. If they’re anything like the ones I know they’d get a kick out of helping out with something like that and probably wouldn’t even hit on you (much).
But, you know, wouldn’t it be nice if churches taught what the Bible actually says about marriage? Saying giving your virginity to a guy doesn’t make you married is like saying you’re only married if it happens in a church, you’re wearing white, a preacher officiates, somebody sings a sappy romance song, at least one of the women cries and your mother acts like a pain in the ass. I mean, really? Is that in the Bible somewhere? (no)
The point is, as a Christian, you either want to please God or you don’t, which means you either commit yourself to being obedient to the Word or you don’t. Think about it.