A Little Time With The 1689: Day 315

Day 315

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 4.

“…nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.”

Scripture Lookup

Mark 6:18

1 Corinthians 5:1

Reflection

Any scan of the news should put to rest any doubts one might have concerning the need for a chapter on marriage in the Confession. Accusations concerning executives in Hollywood and Washington toward women abound. Same-sex “marriage” is no big deal, and protected by the government. A politician’s son dates his widowed sister-in-law and the family publicly approves of the relationship. Sexual restraint has been tossed to the wind, and the winds in turn pelt our society with the hurt and damage such indulgence has created.

Lust isn’t new. And marriage alone will not quench all temptations. Yet it is the only institution ordained by God for the fulfillment of sexual desire. No matter how you attempt to sanitize other arrangements, they will always be sinful. One man and one woman, from different families, freely joined together for mutual aid, the creation of children, and the enjoyment of physical intimacy, is the only lawful union under God.

Marriage should not be feared, nor should it be glamorized. It is a beautiful relationship, reflecting Christ and His church, and it is a blessing to be a husband and wife. It is, however, work. We cannot exemplify godly marriages on our own; we must depend on wholly on the Lord to sustain us. Let us strive to keep our own purity, and that of our neighbor’s, by knowing what marriage is, calling out sexual immorality, and sharing the gospel to those who fail to keep the marriage bed undefiled.

Questions to Consider

  • How can you honor the institution of marriage?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 314

Day 314

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 4.

Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity, or Affinity forbidden in the Word;…”

Scripture Lookup

Leviticus 18

Reflection

Confusion surrounds the issue of marriage today. There has been a rebellion against the idea of only one man and one woman constituting a married couple, and the rebellious view is widely touted as just and fair. As long as two adults love each other and consent to the union, it should be legal, they say.

If marriage is simply two people who are of age and consent to be wed, then couldn’t any combination of people become a marriage? There are those who already would like to see marriages that include consanguinity and affinity becoming accepted by society. But just what is consanguinity, and what is affinity? Consanguinity is being closely related by ancestry to another person. Affinity is being closely related by marriage to another person. Scripture prohibits joining a man and woman in marriage that have a close degree of either consanguinity or affinity.

Rather than being oppressive, barring marriage based on consanguinity and affinity protects children and upholds the dignity of the individual. The genetic disorders that are prevalent among incestuous relationships are well known, thus the well-being of children are cared for with this restriction. Forbidding such unions also lessens the abuse of power that may occur within some family structures, where consent might not be as free when there is a closely shared history.

The Bible says that a man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (Genesis 2:24). Family trees are meant to branch out, to be united with others. Marriage extends the family; to marry within the family is sin.

Questions to Consider

  • How do the purposes of marriage forbid close relations from marrying?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 313

Day 313

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 3.

“…and therefore such as profess the true Religion, should not Marry with Infidels, or Idolaters; neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked, in their life, or maintain damnable Heresy.”

Scripture Lookup

Nehemiah 13:25-27

Reflection

Marriage is a blessing, but it is not to be entered into lightly. As a Christian, your duty is to marry in the Lord. Searching for someone who loves the Lord more than he loves you should be a priority.

There comes a time where you must evaluate your prospective spouse.  Do they profess faith? See if their profession lines up with their actions. Are they striving to live a life of holiness? Do they have a desire to please God? Do they understand the Gospel, or is their definition of a Christian based on tradition? While extending grace to someone who doesn’t have it all together is understandable, the standards must be higher when it comes to marriage. After all, you will become “one flesh” with this person. You, Christian, have been bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body, and do not join it with an unbeliever.

You may think that you are strong enough in your faith to withstand any tug your unbelieving husband may exert to draw you away from Christ. But what does it say about your faith now that you would disobey a command of your Lord to marry an unbeliever? Reflect on your faith, examine the faith of the one you are interested in, and submit to the Lord.

Questions to Consider

  • How do some Christians justify marrying an unbeliever or a false professor?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 312

Day 312

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 3.

“… yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord;

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 7:39

Reflection

Marriage is an institution ordained by God that is widely available to men and women.  There are few restrictions placed on who may be married: one man may only marry one woman, and vice versa. They must also be able to reasonably give their consent, and they must not be closely related. With such few regulations, there is vast freedom for humanity to choose who will be their spouse.

Christians are also subject to the same regulations concerning marriage as the rest of mankind, but they have an added command: they are to marry in the Lord. This means that a believer who wishes to marry ought to seek a spouse from among other believers. This shrinks the selection a bit, but it is a sweeter group from which to choose. To marry a fellow believer means that you will experience sanctification together. You will watch your spouse grow more Christ-like over the years. You will not be hindered in having the Lord be the center of the home. Such blessings are to be desired.

All of life is to be submitted to God’s law. Our feelings may get in the way of that, and there may be those who profess faith that desire to marry someone who is not a Christian. Sometimes the idea of marriage can be so consuming that takes a higher priority than God. Another name for that is idolatry, and that is a sin. “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). God has every right to declare what we can and cannot do. Our feelings carry no weight against the infinite, holy, and loving Creator. If you are a believer, your allegiance is to God, not your feelings. Marry in the Lord.

Questions to Consider

  • Are there any circumstances in which a believer may knowingly marry an unbeliever?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 311

Day 311

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 3.

“It is lawful for all sorts of people to Marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent;…”

Scripture Lookup

Hebrews 13:4

1 Timothy 4:3

Reflection

Who should be allowed to marry? That question has been particularly prominent in recent years, as nations have accepted same-sex unions as valid. The Bible is clear that marriage is to be between one man and one woman. Beyond that, there is a great amount of liberty in who you may choose as a spouse. Marriage is for all humanity, and the regulations concerning it are few. Geographic location, ethnicity, and culture have no bearing on whether or not marriage is biblical. Socio-economic status does not affect whether a marriage is pleasing to God. While there are matches that may be unwise when such categories are considered, they are not sinful.

Marriage is to be held in honor, as it is an institution that was ordained by God at creation. It is to be entered into after some careful thought. As such, those who cannot reasonably give their consent to a marriage should not wed. Those who do have sound judgement, though, ought to be careful not to spend so much time considering all the variables of a potential husband that they fall into sin: “…it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Corinthians 7:9) The restrictions upon whom one may marry, while crucial, are not endless.

Questions to Consider

  • What kinds of marriages are not biblical?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 310

Day 310

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 2.

“… and the preventing of uncleanness.”

Scripture Lookup

1 Corinthians 7:2,9

Reflection

Marriage is sexual. Shocking, isn’t it? We know that marriage is meant to have a sexual component to it, but yet it carries the connotation of lacking in that department. The real exciting stuff, according to the world, does not happen in the marriage relationship. When we see what marriage truly is, though, we see the statements of the world concerning intimacy for the lies that they are.

In today’s society, sex often revolves the self: my desires and pleasures are what is important. Whatever I feel like doing, whenever I want to do it, with whomever I want to do it with, are what guides society’s view of sex. Such acts springing from selfish lusts and desires are sin.

This self-centeredness carries over to the world’s definition of marriage: my feelings are the determining factor for getting married and staying married. Thus marriage is viewed as another choice, and intimacy outside of that institution is considered morally neutral. But marriage is not about ourselves. It is for the mutual aid of husband and wife. In focusing on the other, intimacy no longer is solely a selfish act. A married couple aids one another from sinning by keeping sex within the marriage relationship.

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. -1 Corinthians 7: 3,4

Questions to Consider

  • How does your view of sex affect your view of marriage?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 309

Day 309

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 2.

“…for the increase of Man-kind, with a legitimate issue,…”

Scripture Lookup

Genesis 1:28

Reflection

Through technology and medical advances, we today have the ability to separate sexual intimacy and childbearing to an extent unheard of in the 17th century. This has led to a variety of opinions concerning reproduction. Such opinions range from no children ever, to children being nice but not necessary, to have as many as you can no matter what. We think of children as a choice we make, and such a view affects how we view marriage.

When children are born out of wedlock, the sexual act that led to the child is no longer condemned by our society. It is simply regarded as another choice. How many times, though, is the announcement of an unwed pregnancy met with disapproval for not being responsible? “Responsible” in our society means not getting pregnant. The real irresponsibility, though, is in accepting such relationships as neither wrong nor inferior. While life is to be treasured, the marriage relationship is the institution through which children are to enter the world. The benefit of being born to a married couple far outweighs being born out of wedlock, because God has ordained marriage to be the vehicle for reproduction. Anything outside of that is sin.

Marriage is about more than yourself. In it, you are aiding your spouse physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And one of the purposes of marriage is to have children. To welcome new life and devote yourself to the upbringing of this life is self-sacrificing, and it is hard. Yet it is a blessing marriage provides. When a man and woman commit to aiding each other, and children are the fruit of that union, there is stability for the children. There is a shared history. There is a family.

Questions to Consider

  • How does your view of children affect your view of marriage?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 308

Day 308

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 2.

“Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of Husband and Wife,…”

Scripture Lookup

Genesis 2:18

Reflection

Marriage is mutual. This means that in marriage you are not the star of the show. You are, however, the best supporting sidekick. As a wife, you are to aid your husband in whatever life brings to the two of you. Likewise, your husband is to help you. Isn’t that what the wedding vows entail when the bride and groom promise “for better or worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health”?

Now, the help that your spouse may give you may not be quite what you were expecting when you said “I do.” Marriage is a great instrument of the Holy Spirit often used to work sanctification in His people. As you learn how to live with one another, you learn how to love one another. All the quirks and bad habits of your husband stir the pot of annoyance and discontentment that lurk in your sinful members. What do you do about it? Avoid it? Run away? Give in to temptation? Marriage forces you to deal with your own sin, and teaches you how to live with a sinner.

Living for others is hardly easy, but the mutual aid given by a husband and wife to each other is why marriage was created. Striving to put aside their own interests, the couple that seeks to serve the other obtains the reward of knowing someone in a way unlike any other relationship. Through praying for one another, forgiving one another, and trusting Christ to use that relationship for His glory, those who are married are able to grow in godliness.

 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. -Philippians 2:3-4

Questions to Consider

  • If you are married, how are you helping your spouse? If you are not married yet, how are you looking to others’ interests?

 

A Little Time With The 1689: Day 307

Day 307

Of Marriage.

Chapter 25, Paragraph 1.

“Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.”

Scripture Lookup

Genesis 2:24

Malachi 2:15

Matthew 19:5,6

Reflection

What is marriage? Is it happily ever after? Is it just a piece of paper? Many of us have learned what marriage is supposed to be from our parents, Disney movies, and the world around us. Unless your parents had a rock solid relationship, you never really learned what real-life marriage should look like. Conflicting views of what constitutes being married have risen in recent years, adding to the confusion.

So what is marriage? When we look in the beginning of God’s word, we see that God created Adam and Eve to complement each other. Eve was to assist her husband in tending the Garden of Eden, and Adam was to care for his wife. There was one man and one woman, and they were joined together. Their relationship was one of intimacy, trust, and love.

Yet problems seem to arise when we read further on in the Old Testament. Many in Israel – even godly kings – take more than one wife, and there is seemingly little objection. What’s up with that? Does God allow polygamy? To obtain the answer, we have to read ahead to the New Testament. Since the Gospel is further revealed in the New than in the Old, it will shine light on the issue of marriage. What does our Lord say in Matthew 19? Rather than citing the examples of polygamy, He points to one man and one woman becoming one flesh. Paul in Ephesians 5 compares marriage to the relationship between Christ and His Church. Does Christ have more than one bride? Of course not!

There is a 1:1 ratio in marriage. One man, and one woman, covenanting together to support one another. It is an institution given by God for the blessing of humanity. If we want to know what marriage is, then we need to look to the One who instituted it, not our experiences, movies, or society.

Questions to Consider

  • What is marriage according to the Bible? How does that compare with what society claims marriage to be?

 

A Reformed Baptist Perspective on Public Theology: The Pauline Epistles, Part VI – 1 Corinthians 1-10

You can read earlier posts in this series by clicking on the links below:

___________________________________________________________________

When discussing Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth, we must recognize that Paul did not merely write to address one single issue, but several. Corinth had asked several very valid questions of Paul. There were also some concerns about which Paul wanted them to know there was no question, because the answer was so clear. There were also reports that were brought to Paul about matters on which the Corinthian church was settled, but they had settled on the wrong side. In the following article, we will address several of these concerns, because many of them are still concerns for us today. Given the theme of our series, we will primarily be dealing with those concerns that touch the issue of public theology and, sadly, we will not have time to address all of the issues as thoroughly as we might desire.

To the Saints

First, let us recognize the endearment that Paul assigns to this church. He calls them saints: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling,” (1Cor. 1:2a; NASB). Yes, this church had some major failings. However, he recognizes that they are beloved of God and, even as an apostle, he does not have the right to rail against Christ’s bride. He will go on to rebuke her, but he desires that she see that his rebukes come from a heart of love, not self-righteousness.

Furthermore, he does not write to Corinthian unbelievers out of a desire to offer a defense of the faith and attempt to validate those unbelievers’ objections to the Corinthian church’s errors. When Paul sees that the actions of the church are enabling the world in their blasphemy of God, he addresses the church. Never does he side with the world in condemning the bride of Christ.

Acquiring Knowledge

Before addressing the Corinthians’ error of being “puffed up” in knowledge, notice his prayer on their behalf:

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to yu by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge,” (vv. 4-5; NKJV).

Paul does not desire that the Christians in Corinth be ignorant of the truths of the faith. Rather, he thanks God regularly for the fact that they have been enriched in their knowledge of Him. Oftentimes, Christians will read 1 Corinthians, and they think there is something virtuous about remaining blissfully ignorant about the truths of God.

What these Christians do not realize is that it is the not the acquiring of knowledge Paul argues is improper for Christians. The error is found in the fact that the Corinthians were misapplying their knowledge. They were acquiring knowledge for the sake of winning arguments, or perhaps for the sake of looking good in front of their friends (1Cor. 8:1), but they were not acquiring it for the sake of growing in their worship of God.

As we acquire greater and greater amounts of knowledge, we should do so for the sake of growing closer to the God of all truth. We will address the Christian’s relationship to knowledge in more detail when we get to our study of the book of Colossians, but Christians should want to grow in knowledge. The more we know about our faith, the more we know about the God we claim to love. The more we know about our faith, the more we know about the neighbors we claim to love.

Love and Marriage

In fact, love is perhaps the defining issue in the first six chapters of book of 1 Corinthians. Paul spends an entire chapter focused on the superiority of love over any other gift we receive from God (chapter 13). Paul contrasts true, godly love with the Corinthians’ selfish motives for acquiring knowledge and presuming themselves to be worldly wise (chapters 1-2). Paul contrasts true, godly love with the factionalism that was prevalent in the church at Corinth (3-4). Paul contrasts true, godly love with the license the Corinthian church gave to unrepentant so-called brothers in their midst (5). Paul contrasts true, godly love with the practice of taking fellow church members into secular law court (6).

For our discussion of public theology, it is important at this juncture to stop here and take note of two things. First, Paul tells us not to judge outsiders. In this context, he does not mean that we do not hold political leaders—especially political leaders claiming to be Christian—to a high standard. What he means is, in regard to church life, we are not to allow open, unrepentant sinners to go around claiming to be so-called brothers (1Cor. 5:9-13). Thus, when a man claims to be a Presbyterian and brags about sleeping with married women, or a woman claims to be a Methodist and openly supports women’s supposed right to murder their children, church leaders have no right to publicly affirm their Christian profession. In doing so, these church leaders make themselves accomplices in the sins of these candidates and the resulting blasphemy of an ever watching world.

Second, it is important for the church to police itself in matters of sin and offense. We do not take our in-house disputes before unbelieving magistrates. If a matter occurs in the local church, the local church is to handle it locally. If the local church, for whatever reason, is unable to judge the matter properly, that is why we have associations. Under special circumstances, a local church may call upon local church elders within its association to serve as officiators over local church tribunals. In these instances, though, Baptist polity requires that we recognize that these associating elders are serving as consultants to the church, not as an authority over the church.

In chapter seven, Paul addresses questions raised in the church of Corinth in regard to married people, single people, widows, and widowers. The gist of this chapter, as it relates to our study, is that Christian singles ought to marry other Christian singles, married people—saved or not—ought to remain married except in the case of abandonment, if you are single and able to remain single without burning (there is an interesting debate on this word, but we will not cover that here), stay single and devote your time to God in ways that married people are not able and, if a married person’s spouse dies, he / she is free to remarry. Seeing as marriage is a picture of Christ and the church to a lost and dying world, it truly is deserving of a full chapter. One of the most important things to which Christians must commit in order to properly engage the culture for Christ is a biblical affirmation and a biblical practice of marriage.

Christian Liberty

In chapters 8-10, Paul uses their question about meat sacrificed to idols to address a whole host of issues regarding Christian liberty. When discussing Christian liberty, the same questions always seem to arise: “What can we do?” “What can’t we do?” “Where are the boundaries?” Paul answers some similar questions in chapters 8-10: “Can we eat meat sacrificed to idols if we don’t recognize those idols as real?” “Can we eat it in a pagan temple?” “Can church leaders marry?” “Should church leaders be make their living from the church?” Paul affirms that Christians are free in all of these, except assembling with pagans to partake of their idolatrous meals. He says Christians are free, but that our freedom comes with the responsibility to love our weaker brothers.

Now, we must note here that Paul does not mean that we ought to refrain from the practice of our liberty in Christ so as not to offend mature brothers. There are seminary professors, pastors, and even seminary presidents who will tell us that we ought not to enjoy our liberty in Christ so that we might appease their ill-informed consciences. These men are supposed to be church leaders, and yet they would have us treat them like weaker brothers so that they might control our actions. Brothers, if the Lord has freed your conscience in a matter, walk in that freedom. Only, do not use your liberty in such a way as to offend or entice new converts to disobey their consciences.

In chapter 10, Paul warns against using our liberty for the sake of license and indulgence rather than a means to glorify God, and he uses Israel as an example. Christians do have liberty but, if we abuse that liberty, we can shipwreck our faith. Israel had liberty to eat, drink, and play. They had plenty of reason to do so, having been freed from their bondage in Egypt. However, they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play without any thought to the glory of the God who had just delivered them out of Egypt. Their liberty had become license and, before long, they found themselves worshipping at the feet of a golden calf. Christians must likewise be careful in the use of our liberty, lest we run the same course as the generation that died in the desert.