SanctiFusion

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But Should Divorced People Remarry?

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ziggy diaryWe looked earlier at the fact that God provided for the first divorce documents under the Law, and that the purpose of that document was to show that the marriage covenant had been broken beyond repair, and that the bearers were each free to make their own living arrangements. Remarriage was not only allowed, but presumed, based on Genesis’ “It is not good for man to be alone,” and, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Without some particularly good reason, their not remarrying would have been a sin against God and against their nation.

Even into the days of Jesus and St. Paul, marriage was the normal state for adults in society, Jewish and Greek as well. When Jesus spoke of divorcing and remarrying, or marrying one who is divorced, the conversation He was speaking to points to it being about people who were divorcing one in order to marry the next in line. This, of course, is abuse and hypocrisy, and Jesus never had a lot of sympathy for either one.

As Paul was carrying out his teaching ministry, developing the Hebrew Bible teachings and Jesus’ words to address the lives of the growing Gentile churches, he provided a third witness to this. The church in Corinth had been dealing with teachings from their own pagan backgrounds. Some of the key issues they were facing dealt with the family and sexual integrity, and since his time and culture are more akin to our own we will look at the way in which he answered their questions.

In I Corinthians chap. 7 we can read that they asked him about what seems to be a motto from the ascetic religions of that day: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” He agreed, to a point, but said it is better for every man to have his own wife, and every woman her own husband, and went on to emphasise that within the marriage each one’s sexuality is dedicated to the other. In this he was merely confirming what had been part of the marriage covenant (wedding vows) since Moses, and is yet today.

He did point out that he was not commanding that all be married or not, but that marriage is the more practical state for most Christians “to avoid fornication.” To borrow from another passage, he warned Timothy to “flee youthful passions” and, as we recognise that not only the young have passions, he was then saying it is better to live with someone for whom we can be passionate than to be facing them alone.

But what about divorced people? Modern “wisdom” tells us, “They’ve had their chance. They blew it, so too bad!” God, however, Who created marriage in the first place, knows that every person and every marriage is different, each married person has a different spouse, with every one coming from a fallen background, is Himself a God of grace. We recognise that grace in other areas, but do we make our marriage ethic a holdover from an age of public stonings? Paul goes on to say,

I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. (verses 26-28, ESV)

Having earlier framed the question of whether to marry in practical terms of freedom from sexual desire, he now counsels for contentment. Some had been persuaded to divorce their unbelieving spouses, in a picture akin to Nehemiah’s in the Old Testament. Paul advised against this. For those already divorced, he advised not to be seeking out a wife, but then quickly assured them that if they did marry, male or female, they had not sinned. They would not enjoy the kind of freedom Paul had, they would have “trouble in the flesh,” but marriage did not / does not separate us from God. In fact, the way in which he lumps the widowed, divorced, and betrothed together indicates that the modern taboo against remarriage did not exist in his day. Paul dealt with what today is the one sin for which people are driven out of churches and pulpits as a mere fact of life, and not more a matter of blame or discipline at all!

But should the divorced remarry?

As a moral issue, we see that the main point is to avoid immorality, not protect one’s status. But we do find a paradox that even shows up today in secular counseling: “Are you loosed? Seek not…” vs. “But if you do, ..you have not sinned.” The first prerequisite for marriage, and especially remarriage, is contentment. Subsequent marriages have an awful reputation, and it may be from this one thing. No matter how harsh and abusive the wrecked marriage was, the person is accustomed to having a mate, and to seeing themselves as part of a married “social unit.” The harsh shock of freedom often drives people back into “more of the same.” Before thinking about remarriage, then, it may take some years for a person to establish a healthy knowledge of themselves (and of God!),. It is important to be at home in the single state before assuming we will be more content should we remarry?

Some years ago I was looking into settling in Canada. One of the first things I noticed was that if somebody were working in a trade for which the government saw a need for talent, that person was welcome as long as they kept working in that field and kept buying work permits. In practice, no secure status, and not far from slavery. If, however, that person had a few hundred-thousand to invest with the government, that person was welcome just as long as the money stayed in Ottawa. In the same way, the best marriage, or remarriage, is going to be one entered with established capital rather than the intent to work at building some. “Have salt in yourself,” Jesus says, “and be at peace with one another!”

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Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 14 September, 2009 at 11:06

Posted in Uncategorized

A Divorcé’s Request

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divorce def
My friend,

Please accept this letter in response to your questions. Although I’m sure they were meant well, many people do not realise that divorce is rated as possibly the one most painful event a human being is apt to endure. The death of a loved one is hard; the death of a spouse can be much harder than most; divorce, to at least half of the people who go through it, mixes the sense of loss experienced in bereavement with the combined sense of betrayal and moral failure even in those who did nothing to cause the divorce, who were possibly blindsided by a sudden revelation that their life mate had developed “other interests” and had launched a vicious attack on their “dearly beloved” to provide a smoke screen for their sin. All kinds of such scenarios happen every day, so to ask someone for details about his or her divorce circumstances, though possibly motivated by a sense of religious obligation, is no less callous than presuming to rip someone’s heart scars open to “better understand” the nature of their injury. In fact, the religious angle tends to make the pain all the worse, because the victim feels some obligation “for fellowship’s sake” to submit to such probing at least long enough to allow a good grip on the scar in question. I honestly think that to probe in such a way is much more painful even than to ask a woman, with no warning, to describe to all present all the details surrounding a past abortion.

On the religious part of the question, there is a long-accepted belief that it is a sin to divorce. Nowhere does the Bible support this. Malachi describes a man who is abusing and neglecting his wife, while still married to her, and calls his behavior, or attitude, “putting away,” which God does hate. In Exodus we read that divorce is authorised (even) in the case of a slave woman who is not treated with the full entitlements of a wife, so we can easily expect that a wife had such rights if they were spelled out as applying to the slave as well. Before the Exodus there was no such thing as divorce. Men had the right of property over their wives, even to beat, neglect, or starve them. Today, too often, men are the property of their wives in much the same way. Jesus said, “for the hardness of your hearts it was given.” God, not Moses, gave the ordinance as a relief against the hardheartedness of an abusive, neglectful, or adulterous spouse. The point of the divorce was not to “authorise” a lifelong separation, but so there could be remarriage, as it is spelled out in the Law, both in Exodus and Deuteronomy, so to impose a rule against that in the church is to go against what God’s mercy has provided. Readings of Jesus’ words which seem to be to the contrary overlook the historical / cultural context in which He was speaking, and the fact that, if He had said what many believe, He would have been going back on His promise not to change “one jot or one tittle” of the Law.

If you have any more questions, I will be glad to email you a paper I did on a pastoral approach to the problem. I would prefer not to be interrogated on this matter: not that I have anything to “hide” but, at the same time, I would prefer not to be dealing with a combination of the divorce trauma and that of being categorised and “lovingly” interrogated as someone somehow unworthy of the grace of God at the drop of a hat.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

In Jesus,

Robert

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 6 September, 2009 at 19:25

Posted in Uncategorized

“Hollow Men” Today

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Hollow_Men_by_owenfreeman
Eliot’s “Hollow Men” closes,

“This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Seeing the trends today, with the “Progressives” having their way in Church and in Government while people who know better stand and stare. If previous generations had seen such abuses there would have been blood in the streets, or at least the key players in these coups would have been locked out of the game rather permanently. Everyone sees, but nobody notices. Everyone knows, but nobody cares. Eliot’s poem was called, “The Hollow Men.” Calls us to a later work, an essay by C.S. Lewis, “Men Without Chests,” in which he pointed out the current trend in education to rob schoolchildren of the ability or desire to feel, to give any credibility to their hearts, to their for any sense of beauty beyond what can be measured and dissected in a sterile laboratory.

Now, a generation later, we see all the things we hold dear, or would hold dear if we could hold dear, stripped away from our paralyzed grasp as we stand by and say, “Oh, what a shame,” or rationalise it away as “one more sign of the Last Days!” We have been seeing such signs since the birth of the Church. Diocletian’s persecutions were seen as a fulfillment. So was the great darkness that covered the Earth in the mid-6th Century. Also the great plagues, the Saracen invasions, the Reformation wars in Europe, the great World War, the European Union, and the coming world currency. All these are warnings: signs that Christ is indeed coming back. If we sit back and watch for it, then how are we not like the “slothful and wicked servant” in the parable whom his master cast into the outer darkness for knowing his master was coming, and yet did not prepare?

We must- not can, might, could or should consider- we must go in by where we got out. We must rediscover the things we are lacking, the things of the heart. It is not enough to agitate and militate over issues, threats, or even atrocities. Attempts to do this, even over the past five hundred years, have all in the end only made things worse. Anger has its uses, and they are all short-term. So with pride, and even loyalties to family, tribe, or nation. What fuels and supports these emotions is just the ethos we are now lacking, not only as Easterners or Westerners, Americans, Bosnians, Chileans, or Deutschlanders. And it is the ethos we must reclaim.

A young lady, very dear to me, was born with a severe disability which left her with real damage to parts of her brain. People would “compensate” by telling her how clever she was. As a result, she was crippled farther by believing what she was told, but still could not add or subtract. Once she accepted that the polite noises did not define her reality she was better equipped to deal with life as she was best able. I grew up in the USA, and have seen in the US a certain trend in education. Reports from other countries, in Canada, Europe, and Asia show the same thing. Knowledge levels are falling, but “self-esteem,” based in group identity, is skyrocketing. “You’re so smart” has replaced “Good job!” in the students’ experience.

As with self-assessment, so with assessment of the world around them. Literature, which forms a vast part of the students’ understanding of the world outside the classroom, is carefully selected to support an ideology. The 20th century writers tend to have histories either as fighting for the communists in the Spanish “Civil War,” or Communist or Workers’ Party credentials. Poetry is largely from the Romantics and Transcendentalists, and if a Christian writer is included it is generally to provide fodder for “critical thinking” exercises, that is, seeing the world through the blinders provided. Music or art appreciation, or history generally, is either limited to the past fifty years or presented as mere dates and names, with not a glance at motivations, effects, or personalities involved: at what has developed our world and world-view!

What I call for, what we so desperately need in the “free world” or the world at-large, is not easy, or all that simple. It may not even be possible, but it is worth every effort. It is revolutionary in the deepest sense of the word. I will not even try to describe the conditions our grandchildren will face without these measures, because the particulars are not nearly as important as simply seeing the trends and acting accordingly. We must, by all means,

I. Begin by committing our lives to God, in Christ, for His guidance in all things.

1.Search out the “sources” of what life in Christ entails. The earlier the better.
2.Begin to live what we discover.

II. Search out the literature left out of the textbooks. Surely Milton and Danté weren’t the only poets to believe in Christ! Are pride of place and resentment of the rich really the driving themes of human existence? Or is the “raw material” of the human person so much more “authentic” than what that person can make of him/her self?

III. Learn History! Not just, “Who did what to who and when,” but “Why?” So many millions of lives have been lost simply from people not knowing the issues behind the conflicts they have been drawn into; so many are enemies today from not knowing the others’ backgrounds.

1.Learn about art: What made the Dutch Masters depict reality as they did? Why were the old icons painted in such a way? How did the different schools and trends relate to the thinking of their day?

2.Learn philosophy: How did the prevailing beliefs- the various trends of humanism, nominalism, existentialism- influence the art, literature, politics, of that day? Were those philosophies ultimately based on sound bases or prejudice?

IV. In all things, think critically! Not based on the latest, politically correct, trends of thinking, but from the truths we are learning as we continue in Step I. Not just asking how we as members of our “modern” society should see things, but how would these things square with the revealed truths of Christianity? With the Person of Christ Himself, Who is Truth?

V. Finally, make all these things not merely individual pursuits, or allow them to become mere hobbies or side interests, but all parts of one main pursuit: and not as individuals, but involving as many people as possible, and going as very far as possible. And in all things, calling out to God for His forgiveness, His cleansing and renewing of our minds, and His guidance!

Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 20 July, 2009 at 12:20

Posted in Uncategorized

Eternal Security in the 21st Century

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eternal security card
“..nor any other creature can separate us from the love of God.”

Just to say, for any who might wonder, I do believe in eternal security. Scripture is full of promises that God will never cast out his faithful children or change His mind about His salvation. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” cannot be any firmer either in the English, or in the Greek from which it is taken. Psalm 23 ends with the promise, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…” and begins with “The Lord is my shepherd.”

What causes problems with some people, though, is not eternal security, but eternal presumption. Eternal presumption claims the Lord as his shepherd, but insists on shepherding himself. When he hears the Lord calling, “follow Me” he imagines he also hears, “and you can take the lead,” or, “wherever you want to go.” We preach that Christianity is a relationship, but do we then exclude
Jesus from the picture? We say that Christianity is a party, but is it Jesus’ party we’re going to or do we somehow throw a party in His honor, but leave him off the guest list? Here in America, the polls tell us that 85% of the people are Christians, most of these claiming a “born-again” experience. Jesus gave us a parable, in which the Word of God was eagerly received, and imparted life and promise, but from it not being allowed to take root and assume its rightful place as a plant growing in the soil, the life and the promise died away. The ground where it had been planted then became dried and hardened, covered with obnoxious weeds. Consistent with that picture of God’s Word being like a seed, Paul writes, “..if anyone be in Christ, ..all things are made new.” The Christianity of that 85% has so little effect on their own lives that militant atheism and a “rights” agenda aimed at turning the world into a homosexual “paradise” (both representing a scant minority in the US, have them cowed to even mention the name of Christ in public. Like the withered seed, they have no power, no confidence or joy, their lives do not make a difference because their lives, for the greater part do not differ from the “norm” of the non- Christian “minority.”

King David, in Ps. 19, speaks of two kinds of sin that can affect our lives. First, there are “errors” and “secret faults.” In the Law, these sins, when discovered, could be atoned by some kind of sacrifice as a kind of “personal housekeeping” to keep things right with God. Also, there were the “presumptuous sins.” Presuming on God’s mercy and “niceness,” violating God’s commands and principles regardless. Even in the New Testament there is no blank-check guarantee that this can be forgiven. In Hebrews we read, “They that sinned knowingly under Moses’ law received no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking-for of wrath and fiery indignation.” and, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Is it all hopeless? Not necessarily, but as the Spirit continues in that passage, it is on us to remember the goodness of the Lord, call on Him, and commit our lives to being His people, on His terms, rather than presuming that He is ours, on ours.

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 11 July, 2009 at 14:34

Posted in Uncategorized

Independence Day!

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patriotic-desktop02-640Today’s the 4th. Happy 4th, to all Americans! This day commemorates the children of English and European settlers binding together to form a new nation. Lately, though, that seems to be about all we know about it. Our schools spend precious little time on that era, and what time is taken is put to memorising dates and names the students know nothing else about, making the very study of history repulsive to them. If we understood the story behind the “story” we are fed, we would have a far greater appreciation both for the price paid for our freedoms in this country and the relationship of the American Experiment to the rest of the world.

From what I”ve gathered of the readers who have come to this small site in the past two and half years, it seems that the average person is probably a lot smarter and better-educated than me. Instead, then, of launching into one more Internet history lesson, there are some questions that need to be answered if we are going to be able to preserve the heritage that was begun some 233 years ago today.

Was this land first settled to establish a political system, an economic system, or to establish God’s kingdom throughout the world?

We know that the majority of our Founding Fathers claimed an evangelical faith in Christ. What of the spearheads of the independence movement?

What is there to learn from a closer look at our country’s early conflicts that might help us see our development as a nation among the nations more clearly?

What was the relationship between the populist / socialist movements in Europe in the mid-18th century and the developments here during that time?

How did FDR “save” the US economy, and social structure, by increasing taxes (decreasing the money supply) and spending the money of throwaway projects which forced men to leave their wives and children for extended periods, producing a fatherless generation?

How is it that what we call Patriotism we learned in a school system developed by self-proclaimed Socialists?

Is there a link between public-school “socialisation” and Socialism?

Could any of this be a factor in the so-called “Change” we are now witnessing?

Written by Robert Easter

Saturday, 4 July, 2009 at 12:03

Posted in Uncategorized

The Economics of Murder

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deaths_headA murder in Kansas  has the attention of all the news media today. However many innocents have died in Sudan or Congo, how many Christians have been imprisoned, tortured, murdered in countries throughout the world, none of that is newsworthy. Neither, apparently, is the growing toll of abortions in this country. One man, one of a handful who openly aborted even babies at the point of birth, and who used the bloody gains of his butchery to bankroll his own filthy agenda in the halls of Government, has himself been killed. Do two wrongs make a right? Or could there have been a better solution? Doubtless this fellow Tiller (Was he yet a doctor, or was his license to practice as an MD actually pulled as I vaguely recall?) At any rate, the “abortion provider” awaits his Judgment while Public Opinion suffers a new wave of opinion engineering as the Media trade on the the shock value of his death to create a martyr.

What will come of this? Will his death reduce the number of abortions, or are there too many more dogs in smock coats ready to lap the filth he left behind? Will it cut off the funding to his favorite Governor, or with her new appointment would he have actually have been more of a liability than an asset? Interestingly, the police seem intent on finding ties to pro-life groups instead of simply looking for what ties there may be.

For you and me- Will we content ourselves cluck our tongues over the terrible situation (pick one!) as we go about our daily business of generating tax dollars, or do we bother ourselves to pray, fast, and examine our own hearts & lives that the Lord will still have mercy on this country, that we as a country may turn from our corporate individualism, petty selfishness, and our growing thirst for the perverse, and commit to the right thinking, right loving, and right living that He wants to restore in our lives?

A wise priest said recently that if a politician has no respect for the life of the most innocent and helpless among us, why should we expect them to protect the rest of us? And “it’s the economy, stupid?” Righteousness establishes a nation, but sin will only, always, destroy it. No politician, but only God can do anything to save us.

Written by Robert Easter

Monday, 1 June, 2009 at 16:09

Posted in Uncategorized

The End of America?

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Wiley+Miller+Judgment+DayOkay, so you’re a Christian. Odds are if you’re reading this you’re an American, where 85% claim to be “saved.” There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of agreement on what we’re supposed to be saved from, or saved for, how we came to be saved, or why. But we’re saved. You can bet on it.

So a Christian society endorses pornography, abortion, drunkenness, adultery, divorce-for-convenience, euthanasia, and all kinds of sexual immorality in degrees unparalleled since the fall of Rome, and brags about its “liberty.” It even sits idly by as its leaders enact a new law giving pedophiles protected status that in the same stroke they denied their returning war veterans. Yet we indignantly wonder that other countries, despite lavish “foreign aid,” don’t love us unquestioningly. Do we even imagine that the fragrance of our religion doesn’t utterly gag the Almighty? Yet we’re so sure we’re all destined for eternal glory. We’re Christians, after all! Well, let’s not bet the farm on it. Or our old bug collection for that matter.

God had His witness in Sodom. “Righteous Lot” lived among the people as God’s representative, but his desire to do business compromised his life, and he nearly died in their judgment. His wife did not even survive. Nineveh was, if anything, worse even than Sodom, but one unwilling prophet appeared on the scene to proclaim, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed!” Nineveh turned to God, and He held off His judgment.

Is there hope for this country? Will the US survive? Every lesson from history seems to scream to the negative. America has in the past been a savior to the other nations, pouring military and humanitarian aid into many nations to defeat dictators, to fight hunger, to help in education. Lately this is being more and more off set by our role as the UN’s pet bulldog in areas like the Balkans and the Mid-East. The humanitarian aid often “misses” areas that are in the worst need, and the education is more about self-worship and greed than anything useful or even honest. We think of Sodom as being some city-wide, full-time, romp, but the descriptions we see in the Bible could as well be about any city in this country. Where are the prophets? For over sixty years our recognised “prophets” have been clucking their tongues like an indulgent grandmother about, “not having God’s best” when the Spirit would have them issue a call to repent from the sins that are destroying this nation, and each life in it, from the inside out.

These “prophets” tell us that a revival will come when God “sovereignly” decides to send one, so we sit calmly in our sinking boats, refusing to either bail or row, and assure ourselves that we are in God’s will. God’s will is not for the churches in America to founder and sink. He has given us everything we need to not only stay afloat but to rescue those drowning all around us, but we adjust our deck chairs and religiously mutter, “But that is God’s job!” The Church is not preaching repentance, is not preaching righteousness, but is telling those drowning all around them that such things are only invisible legal fictions in the courts of Heaven. Can this nation survive if no preachers are even calling it to receive the life God has been trying to offer it? Can this nation turn to God if it truly believes that such a turn is only a matter of putting the right face on things? Nineveh heard their prophet, turned, and lived. Sodom compromised their prophet, and corrupted his message. Is there hope for America, or is this encroaching “secularisation” merely the darkness approaching as God withdraws His light?

The answer is up to us. “Ask, and you will receive, seek, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened.” By His grace we are able. Let us not let it slip!

Written by Robert Easter

Sunday, 24 May, 2009 at 9:24