The Divorce Culture
The Bible warns us of the grave sin of covenant-breaking (Rom. 1:31). The most pervasive example of covenant-breaking in modern society is divorce. The Bible does not prohibit divorce without exception; and in some cases, God even requires divorce (Ezra 10:3). Apostasy, fornication, witchcraft, abandonment, and murder are (among other sins) warrant for divorce. However, the vast majority of divorces in the United States today are sought on such inconsequential grounds as "incompatibility." A wise old Christian once remarked, "All partners in every marriage are incompatible; that is the point of a godly marriage — to work together according to the Word and Spirit of God to solve the incompatibilities." Today, even professed Christians are suing for divorce at an alarming rate, and according to some statistics, no less frequently than the pagan world. When Christians take a wedding vow to remain married "until death do us part," this is precisely how long they are required by God to remain married.
Our divorce culture is a flagrant symptom of a depraved covenant-breaking.
Fallacious Disqualification from Church Leadership
Overcompensation is one of the great errors, and occasionally sins, of humanity. It is particularly prevalent — and lethal — in the church. An example: we live in a culture in which parents, including many professed Christian parents, have woefully abdicated their spiritual responsibilities. Lately a false teaching has been floating around, according to which ministers or elders whose adult children have fallen into some particularly egregious sin, or simply drifted from the church, are considered disqualified from the ministry or eldership and are required to step down. The Bible clearly declares as one qualification to the ministry that a man "ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)" (1 Tim. 3:4-5). Clearly, the children under consideration are those still subject to the father's rule. This cannot, therefore, refer to those who have entered into another marital covenant — nor can it refer to adult children who no longer live within the elder's (or prospective elder's) home. We may deplore, as I do, the popular American notion that when children turn eighteen years of age they need a late-year automobile, a fully furnished apartment, and weekend party stipend. However, the society in which we live legally permits children the freedom to walk away from parental rule on their eighteenth birthday. If a Christian child chooses to do this, and, in addition, chooses to commit an especially egregious sin, his father may feel obliged to resign from church leadership in order to devote time to repairing his son's spiritual condition; but he is under no Biblical obligation to do so.
Any attempt to coerce such resignation is an example of phariseeism which, when you think about it, might be just as egregiously offensive as the sin allegedly eliciting the original resignation.
Sin is already evil; we don't need to compound it by a pious phariseeism.
The Pagan Billy Joel
In late November 2001, the Arts and Entertainment Television Network carried a special by popular rock singer Billy Joel. Among other silly comments, he said, "I believe that when people die, they go to live in the hearts of the people they love." This is a manifestly pagan idea; and it should not surprise us because Billy Joel is a manifest pagan. Unfortunately, it is only a somewhat secularized notion of a heresy too commonly held by many Christians that the "release" of death is the joy of a disembodied "spiritual" existence.
The ancient pagan Greeks were proponents of the immortality of the soul. The Bible, on the other hand, stresses the resurrection of the body. While we do not cease to exist at death ("soul sleep"), the Bible has little to say of this "intermediate" existence. In the Bible, personal eschatology is inextricably linked with the resurrection of the body. First Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4 (among other Scriptures) make this abundantly clear. As G. I. Williamson wrote several years ago, one of the big defects of many Christian funerals is all of the talk about the deceased's being "with the Lord" (which is blissfully correct) but no talk whatsoever about the resurrection. This, in fact, is to reverse the Biblical emphasis.
The great war on things material is a largely pagan conviction, deeply pessimistic, which has infected the church as heresy. The greatest proof of the inherent goodness of creation is Jesus Christ's bodily resurrection — and ours. Our hope is not a Casper-the-Friendly-Ghost existence, but an existence on a renovated earth in a resurrected body. Glory be to God!
Reformation: Mainstream and Tributaries
A dear friend, a prominent evangelical leader, has been ostracized and shunned by his peers because he has opted to take his redemptive-Reformational ministry into the mainline churches. There is no question about his own credentials; he is impeccably orthodox and morally unspotted. These evangelicals, however, are convinced that only in the pure tributaries of impeccably orthodox churches should the task of Biblical reformation be found. The "mainstream" is irretrievably polluted and suited only for dead fish. They seem to forget that Jesus Himself (and His first followers) ministered in the apostate synagogue, from which our Lord drew many of His first disciples. We do need pure tributaries, but let us never give up hope on the main denominations that once were stalwarts of the Faith. If God reoriented and revived apostate ancient Israel and even pagan Nineveh, can we dismiss as out of hand efforts by modern Josiahs and Jonahs dedicated to turning back entire, massive denominations to our Lord? Let the independents not excoriate the denominationalists and the denominationalists not chide the independents. Let us work faithfully where God has placed us to restore a devotion to God and His infallible Word and the orthodox Christian Faith so that the kingdom of God may overwhelm the earth as the waters cover the sea.
Gay Dad, Taliban Son
John Walker, the American who joined the Taliban, lived a privileged life in wealthy Marin County, California, before converting to Islam at sixteen and moving to the Middle East. His parents have asserted that why he did this is all a mystery to them, but it is not a mystery to the very liberal San Francisco Examiner. The December 18, 2001 issue states:
Not that it matters a whit to us here in the cool, gray city of love what Frank Lindh, daddy of the Taliban warrior from Marin, does, did or dreams of doing with other consenting adults, but shouldn't he come clean with us about all the facts in the odd odyssey of his son?
Frank Lindh has been quoted time and again as saying it was his son John's reading of the "Autobiography of Malcolm X" when John was 16 in 1997 that turned his son's head and heart towards Islam. But something else then going on in the family's life may be have been just as pertinent.
When Frank Lindh left his family in 1997, it was to move in with a male companion. Yep. ... The man with whom Lindh lived has since been described as "a family friend," but other family friends say the men lived as a gay couple.
It would take a specialist in family issues to map the constellations of feelings and problems that would describe John Walker's path toward Islam in 1997, but sources close to the family say the father's turn of life from married man to modern gay man startled and flustered the 16-year-old.
Given the pummeling that the Walkers and marvy Marin County have taken from the national press over their wayward son, you can't blame the old man for wanting to suppress reporting on his sexuality. ... [http://www.examiner.com/sfx/templates/printer.jsp?story=pj1218.w]
It is safe to presume that Walker's father's homosexual relationship will not be touted on network and cable news as one of the reasons for his strange conversion to Islam.
In the fall of 2001, the wife of a faithful Christian minister (Reformed) abandoned him to "devote" her life to a "prophetic ministry." The minister was far from perfect, but he was also far from being an adulterer, abuser, and so on; and she had no Biblical grounds for divorce. The notion that wives have a separate "ministry" from that of their husbands' is starkly unbiblical (Gen. 2:18), and it is an abomination in God's sight.
- P. Andrew Sandlin
P. Andrew Sandlin is a Christian minister, theologian, and author. He is the founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California. He was formerly president of the National Reform Association and executive vice president of the Chalcedon Foundation. He is a minister in the Fellowship of Mere Christianity.. He was formerly a pastor at Church of the Word in Painesville, Ohio (1984-1995) and Cornerstone Bible Church in Scotts Valley, California (2004-2014).