CTT | Christian Dating?

So, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. It’s been a while since we last tacked the subject of dating relationships, so I thought I’d revisit the topic. In covering this topic, there is going to be a lot of Law. We’ll get to the Gospel in this area, but in our society and even in our churches, there is a great deal of lawlessness in the area of romantic relationships.

Where does the Bible address dating?

Before I answer this question, let’s start off by clarifying what we mean by “dating”. In our modern context, “dating” in its cleanest form is what we call two unmarried individuals getting to know each other in hopes of determining whether or not they’d like to marry. I have no doubt that there are some who put this into practice with the best of intentions. In its dangerous form, “dating” is a short-cut to companionship and carnal knowledge between two unmarried individuals in hopes of gleaning all of the benefits of marriage without any of the commitment. Should this “relationship” last long enough as the most desirable, or the best each individual can hope to get, then it might progress into a marriage relationship. The common theme here is that it’s somewhat considered a process for selecting a spouse, but the difference between good dating and bad dating is the level of premarital intimacy. A major element in American culture is the hyper-individualism we embrace in every decision we make. We “date” for what we think will make us the most happy. We explain away dating mistakes, abuses, and heartbreak through the lens of “finding ourselves” or “doing what’s right for me”. Nowhere in Scripture is the marriage relationship described in such selfish and self-centered terms. Since marriage is never described as such, how can anyone justify “dating” with that mindset as a valid approach to finding a spouse. So, we have an issue with the term “dating”. Our modern context goes about it selfishly, carnally, and individualistically. So, let’s discuss this Biblically. For starters, let’s ask a better question than “where does the Bible address dating” by asking “Where does the Bible address finding a spouse”.

Where does the Bible address finding a spouse?

The short answer is “Yes, but not in great detail”. The first mention of finding a spouse we’ll look to is in Genesis 2. Let’s also look at what Jesus taught in regards to the Law of marriage.

Genesis 2:23-24 (ESV)

Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The first point I want to make here, is that until we are married, we are not individuals, we are very much a part of our family. Western society had a “kick them to the curb at 18” when I was growing up, and millennials tend to more of a “the kids know what’s best for them these days” mentality. Each of this is destructive to our understanding of the estate of the Family and the vocations of parents and children. The fourth commandment (5th Reformed) is in play here (honor your father and your mother) for both the man and woman leading up to marriage. Who you choose to marry impacts both families greatly. There are those whose family ties are already fractured, for now I’m talking to families that are intact. There are boundaries that need to be placed, for it is you who must choose to marry, but the fourth commandment applies across every social context. Rebellion is a horrible way to enter into the marriage covenant.

The sixth commandment (7th Reformed) “do not commit adultery” is one we modern-day Christians like to minimize either by stratifying the degrees of adultery or by crafting environments where we can understandably “oops” into sexual immorality by suddenly being overcome by burning passion, “in the heat of the moment”. The first approach comes by renaming the form of adultery we are more comfortable forgiving/excusing into “premarital sex” rather than adultery. We like to reserve that word for when one or both parties engaged in sexual intimacy is in-fact married to someone else. Then, we like to create degrees of error depending on the extend of the physical intimacy so there’s sex, and then there’s foreplay, and there is “heavy petting”, wet vs dry kissing, sexting, flirting, etc. Is this the right approach? No, it isn’t. To quote Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. (ref)“. Changing what we call a sin, and inventing our own taxonomy of terms sub-dividing that sin into categories does not have any real impact on the sinfulness of the sin. It’s still sexual immorality. It’s still adultery. Jesus addresses this attempt at diluting the Law directly in His sermon on the mount.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) | Lust

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

This goes for women, too, by the way. None is immune to this sin. So, if thoughts and fantasies apart from action are no less adultery, there is no muting of the sin of adultery in your dating by simply drawing a line in the sand where you think you’ll be able to refrain from crossing before marriage.

As for the “heat of the moment” approach to sexual sin, Proverbs 5 addresses this quite plainly as well. Whether you run toward sexual sin, or simply plan to be carelessly swept away by your own passions or are caught in a temptress’ snare, death is death, and to flirt with death is folly.

The Scriptures point to sexual purity whenever the discussion of marriage comes up. The primary reason for this is that sex is given as a gift only within the covenant of Marriage. Outside of marriage, sex is a curse. Sex in all of its forms outside of marriage is sin. It is a particularly dangerous sin. So, we’ve established that sex outside of marriage is sin. Let’s take a moment to see what happens when the Pharisees tested Jesus concerning marriage and divorce, particularly with how the disciples heard His teaching.

Matthew 19:1-12 (ESV) | Teaching About Divorce

Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

If you take some time reading through Malachi, you’ll see that the priests were abusing the letter of divorce under the Mosaic covenant and leaving the wives of their youth for younger models (Malachi 2:13-16). The LORD sends rebuke through the prophet, Malachi, for this and several other grave sins. So, marriage is a life-long covenant, not to be broken by man. The disciples, realizing the seriousness of the marriage covenant here, come to the conclusion that it’s better not to marry. They were right, but Jesus reminds them that not everyone can go through life without sexual sin. That is a particular grace; therefore, God has given us marriage. No marriage = no sex of any kind. That’s the Law. At this time, adultery was punishable by death, though not always sentenced to it. If you recall, Joseph thought to quietly divorce Mary, the mother of Jesus until and angel spoke to Joseph confirming the Word of the Lord to Mary (Matt 1:19-25).

Okay, so what about choosing a spouse?

Dear brother and sister in Christ Jesus, you are free to choose whom you will marry. You are not free to include sexual sin in your selection process, that is still sin and will require continual repentance. It’s also a horrible, terrible metric for selecting a spouse. In our modern context of dating, we allow things we don’t like in hopes of getting whatever we want. It is reckless to base a life long commitment of marriage on a few moments of sexual pleasure that may or may not be genuine and may cease the moment your marriage is settled. Physical beauty is fleeting, we all age. Making physical attraction/chemistry the focal point of choosing a lifelong spouse is also foolish.

I’d like to take a moment to read through the Apostle Paul’s instruction regarding marriage and remarriage in his first letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 6:12-20 (ESV) | Flee Sexual Immorality

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The vast majority of us fall in the category of those to whom it wasn’t given to be born a eunuch. We struggle with sexual immorality. We are told to flee from it. Marriage is a blessed escape vehicle from sexual immorality, for within marriage sex becomes a gift of uniting us with our spouse into one flesh. A word of LAW here, and it is not my aim to offend any of you, but where Paul writes “prostitute” we should consider those who are comfortable with sexual intimacy outside of marriage. In this Roman culture where we find Corinth, they were more “sexually liberated” than we are even today. The “red-light” district in those days were mainstream, publicly known, and even included in worship of various deities. Paul is having to rebuke Christians for engaging in such practices and providing Biblical instruction to them on the matter. This teaching couldn’t be more relevant for us today. Brothers and sisters in Christ, do not take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute or an immoral woman, and do not lead each other into sexual immorality.

Chapter 7 goes into great detail regarding marriage, remarriage, and being single. I encourage you to read through the whole chapter as one letter, but for now I’ll quote the portions that directly relate to what we’ve discussed so far.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 (ESV) | Principles for Marriage

Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Remember when we talked about our individualistic, self-centered, selfish approach to marriage. This blows that right out of the water. Now, I’ve sat through many a “marriage seminar” that has taken this passage and turned it into a pragmatic “if you meet your spouse’s needs then they’ll meet yours”, but this isn’t teaching a quid-pro-quo approach to sexual relationships within marriage. This isn’t about negotiating sexual favors, this is about surrendering ownership of your body to your spouse. You don’t get to desire/demand the things she hates, and vice versa. And it is usually here where the temporal effects of carnal living attack our marriages the hardest. Sexual immorality scars the mind and the body and twists and shapes your desires and fantasies. There is more to 1 Cor 6:18 than unwanted pregnancy and venereal disease, sexual sin will numb the conscience and warp the mind. The enemy will fire condemnation at you for things you’ve done, and hurl accusations toward your spouse for the things you wish they do or don’t do. For those of you who have not fallen in this area, Praise be to God. Continue to abstain and pray for continued grace in this area, that the enemy will not be given more ammunition. If you’ve fallen in this already, Repent, and trust in the LORD.

1 Corinthians 7:8-16 (ESV)

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Paul is urging that we keep the covenant of marriage in as far as it is within our charge. We see here that Paul is teaching what Jesus taught (no surprise since Paul is an Apostle of Jesus Christ) regarding being single. If you can be unmarried, remain unmarried. But better to remarry than to burn with passion (sexual sin). Paul instructs the Corinthians later (2 Cor 6:14-15) not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, but here he is addressing marriage and stating quite plainly that being married to an unbeliever is not cause for divorce, especially if that unbeliever is willing to remain in the marriage. But, if the unbeliever separates, let them go.

So where does that leave us?

The Church is the Family of God, we who are of the household of Faith are all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. The Law of God is summed up in 2 Commandments: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). If you are unmarried, take a spouse from among the household of faith. Do not prey upon the weak, do not cause one to stumble into sin.

My children are still quite young, but a day will come when I will have to give sound advice on this matter to them.

  • Stop looking for “someone to date”, you’re looking for someone to marry.
  • Look for a spouse from among the Household of Faith, the Church.
  • Understand that finding a spouse is a family affair. Know their family and let your family get to know them.
  • Remember the 10 Commandments, and pray/confess them daily.
    • 1. Am I trusting the LORD for all of my needs? Have I made an idol of my singleness or my desire to marry? Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner.
    • 2. Have I called upon the Name of the LORD in this matter? Pray to the LORD, make your petitions to Him.
    • 3. Am I resting in Christ Jesus? He is our Sabbath rest. Lord, forgive me for being anxious in the things I cannot control, and for trying to bring about my own peace of mind through dating and seeking a spouse.
    • 4. Is my desire for a spouse in keeping with honoring my parents? Am I guilty of rebellion in my pursuit of a spouse? Lord, have mercy.
    • 5. Have I thought evil of an ex? Have I harbored anger at a rival suitor or thought evil of a brother/sister in the Christ? Lord, have mercy.
    • 6. Have I committed adultery in my heart, or in my flesh? LORD, have mercy.
    • 7. Have I stolen another person’s property or failed to protect my neighbor’s belongings? Lord, have mercy.
    • 8. Have I destroyed (or failed to defend) the reputation of an ex, a rival suitor, a brother/sister in Christ, my neighbor? LORD, have mercy.
    • 9/10. Have I coveted my neighbor’s spouse/fiance/friendships in my heart? LORD, have mercy.
  • Choose a spouse. Don’t engage in mysticism, don’t look for a “soul-mate”, don’t let fate (or hormones) decide, choose a spouse. If that spouse choose you in return, marry and be blessed in the LORD.
  • The Christian life is one of repentance. The Married life is one of repentance and forgiveness. You’ll have to grow into your marriage in much the same way you grow in Faith and repentance. God is faithful and His Mercy endures forever. Amen.

As a mere layman, I’m sure this list will need some work. If you are struggling with this, do please contact your pastor about praying through the 10 Commandments.

The Gospel of Grace and Forgiveness

The problem of sin is an ever-present one while the LORD tarries. Many of our families are broken by sin, death, adultery, abuse, divorce. The wages of sin is death, but the Gift of God is everlasting life. There is forgiveness for sin at the Cross of Jesus Christ. All sin. Including sexual sin.

1 John 1:5-10 (ESV) This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

In this life, we will have struggle. In our struggling, we will have temporal consequences for sin. Praise be to God our LORD and Savior that our right-standing with God is not based upon our works of the flesh; rather, they are in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

CTT | Train Up a Child in Gender Roles

With all of the craziness in the news and crawling across social media, it is tough to keep steady and steadfast without getting completely frustrated. Maranatha! Today, we will be addressing a relatively new cultural phenomenon and how Christian parents need to respond to the culture in a way that we haven’t had to in a long time. We need to teach our children, in plain language, Biblical gender roles and Biblical sexual identity. God created us male and female. The gender binary is Biblical, it is God’s design, and man cannot change it.

Let us begin by looking at Proverbs 22.

Proverbs 22 (ESV)

22 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
    and favor is better than silver or gold.
The rich and the poor meet together;
    the Lord is the maker of them all.
The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
    but the simple go on and suffer for it.
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord
    is riches and honor and life.
Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
    whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.
The rich rules over the poor,
    and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
    and the rod of his fury will fail.
Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
    for he shares his bread with the poor.
10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
    and quarreling and abuse will cease.
11 He who loves purity of heart,
    and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
12 The eyes of the Lord keep watch over knowledge,
    but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
13 The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
    I shall be killed in the streets!”
14 The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
    he with whom the Lord is angry will fall into it.
15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
    but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
16 Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
    or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

Words of the Wise

17 Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
    and apply your heart to my knowledge,
18 for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
    if all of them are ready on your lips.
19 That your trust may be in the Lord,
    I have made them known to you today, even to you.
20 Have I not written for you thirty sayings
    of counsel and knowledge,
21 to make you know what is right and true,
    that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?

22 Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
    or crush the afflicted at the gate,
23 for the Lord will plead their cause
    and rob of life those who rob them.
24 Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
    nor go with a wrathful man,
25 lest you learn his ways
    and entangle yourself in a snare.
26 Be not one of those who give pledges,
    who put up security for debts.
27 If you have nothing with which to pay,
    why should your bed be taken from under you?
28 Do not move the ancient landmark
    that your fathers have set.
29 Do you see a man skillful in his work?
    He will stand before kings;
    he will not stand before obscure men.

Society Used to Promote Gender Roles

American Society used to promote gender roles as healthy and desirable qualities in men and women. Though the picture of a “man’s man” or a “fine lady” have gone through trends and fads, they were always there. Since WWII, however, things started changing on that front, and several progressives have pushed throughout the past 3 decades an agenda of dissolving gender roles, to the point where society is even unwilling to accept biological limitations on gender. The goal is (and always has been) to dissolve the family unit, so that there is only the State and a collective of individuals who obey it. The currency for this obedience from the individual is “empowerment” to do “what feels right for the individual”. Scholarly dissertations could be written mapping out the progressive movement’s assault on the family throughout the 20th century, but for our purposes we need only acknowledge society’s current state.

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t have to go out of their way to teach gender roles. Society accepted (at least in general) the fundamental differences between men and women. Our clothing was distinct (except for women’s jackets getting shoulder pads in the 80s… that, was odd) and for the most part men were expected to be a certain way and women another, and it was what we looked for in the opposite sex. Now, that is not to say that the gender roles within the family were right… culturally we had abandoned the notion of a single-income family, and latch-key kids were being raised by the public school system and television. The visible church was in the televangelist boom with Oral Roberts and the like promoting egalitarian views to keep in step with the feminist movement, and it was during this time also that Rick Warren and Bill Hybels were starting their movements. The family was on shifting sands at this point, but the fruit of such compromise wouldn’t manifest until the mid 90s. One such bad fruit would become apparent in the Columbine massacre. Society had abandoned teaching its kids right from wrong, had put down the rod of discipline in favor of more self-esteem psycho-babble, and we left our children to be brought up by the world. Fast forward a couple of decades and we have large swaths of evangelicalism abandoning the inerrancy of Scripture, the Biblically prescribed gender roles within the church, and even on the applicability of sexual immorality as sin. We are left with full-on rebellion against God’s design in cases like Bruce Jenner and Stephonknee Walschtt (Warning: both links are NSFL or Not Safe For Lunch) being tolerated and even celebrated.

Romans 1:22-32 (ESV)

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Christian Parents Now Must Teach Gender Roles Properly

I can remember a time while growing up when the cool fads in accessories for men were considered feminine in nature, such as bracelets and earrings. My parents didn’t need to point to any scripture to enforce the gender distinction, they simply had to hold the line at “those are for women, not men”. Whenever we bought a button-down shirt, we needed to know which side the buttons were on so that we wouldn’t be wearing a “woman’s shirt”. My point being that my parents’ role regarding training us up in gender roles was one of discipline and reinforcement of societal norms. Was this right? No, because we ended up allowing the world to push us into an egalitarian mindset, but it was the norm, and that’s what is new for our day as parents… it is no longer the norm. Insanity is the norm. Full-on post-modern, post-christian, delusion is now the norm. We now have to teach explicitly what most of us never thought would ever have been questioned. We have to teach our kids that their gender is bound to their biology and that it was all carefully and wonderfully made by God before they were even born. Sin has corrupted our flesh, and allowed death to enter into the Earth, but God’s design for sex, procreation, gender roles, sexual purity, and marriage remain. We now have to teach these things to our children plainly and without relying on society to enforce it. In fact, we must accept the truth that the world seeks to destroy our children’s minds and teach them to hate God’s plan for the family and even hate their own bodies that were given to them by God.

Ephesians 6:1-4 (ESV) | Children and Parents

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Matthew 19:3-6 (ESV)

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Genesis 5:1-2 (ESV) | Adam’s Descendants to Noah

This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.

I decided to walk this progression backwards, from Paul’s writing, to a quote of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees all the way back to Genesis. God created man, and He did so with a binary gender, not a fluid one. Our gender is bound to our bodies, and designed to become one flesh in marriage. That is by design, and man cannot simply annul a marriage covenant much less is he qualified to redefine gender or sexuality. Teach your kids to love their gender, their God-appointed gender, a gender that is bound to their biology and cannot be changed by man. Remember what we saw in Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him. Children must be taught in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. 

Titus 2 (ESV)

Teach Sound Doctrine

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Conclusion

My children are still very young… and we already have to teach God’s plan for men and women. We’ve taken the homeschooling route, and I’ve been working through Luther’s small catechism with them. We’ve not yet explained procreation, but we’ve already had to address cross-dressers, and the fact that my son will always be a boy and my daughter will always be a girl and that their differences will always be there, and that those differences are a good thing even if they don’t see it yet. We have to teach what is appropriate conduct for boys and girls, and my wife and I weep when we think of how much malice the world harbors for our children and their innocence. While in our flesh we are troubled, and we worry, and we so desperately want to protect them from the hate of the world, we are comforted knowing that we serve a Living God who is not unfamiliar with our struggles. We find rest in Him, and we pray the same for you.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

What the Bible says about Sex

marriageThere is a lot going on in the news these days regarding sexual immorality. The LGBTQ agenda has made huge strides against the Church in America. Sadly, there is a great falling away from Sound Doctrine in many so-called evangelical churches and denominations caving in to the world’s pressure to redefine sex, sexuality, identity and sin. I had planned a different topic for this week’s Bible Study, but I think we will spend our time looking at what the Bible has to say about sex. Many anti-christians start by attacking the Mosaic laws first, but I’d like to begin with something Jesus said as recorded in Matthew 19.

Matthew 19:1-9 (ESV) 1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The heading in my Bible for this passage is “Teaching About Divorce”. Why did I choose to start here? Because I first wanted to point out that sex and marriage are linked and instituted by God when He created Adam and Eve.

Genesis 2:20-25 (ESV) 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The union of man and woman is part of the design, part of our creation. God didn’t form men and women separately and then allow them to unite their flesh; He created them with this purpose in mind. Eve was formed out of Adam, and since then all men and women have been formed from the joining of one man and one woman. Sin has since perverted that, and we’ll get to that in a bit, but for now, know that in dealing with a legal matter, a test or question regarding the Law of Moses… Jesus went all the way back to creation and defined clearly the purpose of His creation. Remember our introduction to the book of John.

John 1:1-5;14 (ESV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Okay, so Jesus is the final authority on the purpose of Creation. He is the Word of God. But we also have the written Word of God as inspired by God the Holy Spirit; therefore, every word in the Bible is authoritative. My goal here is to point you to the words Jesus spoke while He walked the Earth for those who place undue emphasis on the “red letters” (all of the letters should be red). Getting back to the passage in Matthew 19, look at what happens next as Jesus speaks with his disciples:

Matthew 19:10-12 (ESV) 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

The disciples got the message loudly and clearly. You see, even in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, divorce had become an acceptable course of action. There was much more ritual involved then that what we have now, but the end result remains unchanged, it is sin. The breaking of God’s design. The disciples were correct in their assertion that since divorce was not a part of God’s design for man and woman, that if anyone might be considering the possibility of relying on divorce down the road, that it would be better for that man NOT to marry at all. However, Jesus makes it clear that not everyone can take that road. Why is that? Because the sin of divorce is not the only sin. Sexual immorality is a powerful sin that works evil within our flesh, and in-fact is part of our flesh from our birth as a result of the original sin. When Jesus mentions that some are “eunuchs from birth”, he is referring to those whose struggle is not of a sexual nature. I’m sure you’ve met people who just don’t seem to have that “sexual drive” that you have… and at times you’ve envied them or maybe thought ill of them. That is not to say they are “immune” to sexual sin, but that the drive isn’t there. In today’s sexualized culture, these folks are most often labeled “weird” or maliciously labeled queer/questioning, or now the world has developed a new attack called “gender confusion”. Regardless, my point being here that Jesus made it very clear that some are called and equipped to NOT marry. The Church has done a very poor job on teaching this truth from God’s word, for too long we’ve focused on Marriage and procreation as a Holy Sacrament. While it is the ONLY allowable context for sex, marriage in and of itself is not a prerequisite for serving God. We’ll explore this truth more. The next option (Jesus truly did cover all of the bases), is that some men are made eunuchs by the hands of men, and finally some choose to make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Some do so by choice. They choose, not necessarily to castrate themselves physically, but to forgo marriage (and sex) for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Remember, however, that the very context of this conversation is under “teaching about divorce”. Once you’ve married, you are joined with your spouse in the flesh until death. So, Jesus is clearly saying if God has given you the gift and calling to go your entire life single without falling into sexual sin so that you can devote yourself fully to the kingdom of heaven, do it. Otherwise, understand that in choosing to marry, that decision is to be made permanent in keeping with God’s design for marriage… one man with one woman. Paul also teaches on the call to ministry and being a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (ESV)  7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

Here, the issue of marriage is presented as both a binding covenant, and a remedy for sexual temptation. That’s right, in the same light that Jesus taught His disciples, Paul is exhorting the believers who are single, if you lack self-control, better to be married (so that sexual intimacy can be enjoyed in its proper context without sin) than to fall into sexual immorality. Notice also that marriage is not an automatic remedy for sexual temptation. Paul first exhorts married believers not to deprive one another of intimacy so that Satan cannot take advantage of a lack of self-control. For if burning with passion as a single person weren’t bad enough, allowing sexual immorality to take place within the context of marriage burns up both spouses, for neither of them owns their flesh, but the 2 are made one flesh in marriage.

Paul is not anti-marriage. He is instructing the church, a persecuted church, on how to fulfill the great commission (Matt 28:16-20). I don’t understand why it is that we preach the Great Commission in our churches when the topic of “how to live a Godly life” is concerned, but regarding sex and marriage we reach back to Genesis 1:28 (ESV), “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth”? The earth is filled with sinners, slaves to darkness, and a world that hates God. The Great Commission is our commission, our duty, not just “the pastor’s”. Paul is simply being practical in his encouragement and instruction for believers. He explains himself perfectly in the following passage:

1 Corinthians 7:32-35 (ESV) 32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

So we’ve established the connection between sex and marriage as being integral in the very design of mankind at Creation. I also hope to have reduced the “necessity” of sex and procreation in light of the Great Commission and working for the kingdom of heaven. Sex is still a gift for those of us who lack self-control, but that gift is very specific and has very specific boundaries. There is only ONE context for sex that is acceptable in God’s sight and that is within marriage. The institution of marriage was set at creation, when God made them male and female.

So what about the notion of homosexual marriage? Unbiblical. God’s design for marriage, from the beginning and throughout scripture is for a man and a woman to become one flesh. The world does what it does, and it will be judged (again and finally). There is no room for the church to accept homosexual marriage. The world will sometimes try to make it about “love” rather than the sex. Irrelevant for 2 reasons. The first, as we’ve established, sex and marriage are inseparable. The second, because God is love. He defines love. Therefore, anything God declares to be sin cannot be called love, for God is also Holy and Just. I mentioned earlier that the LGBTQ lobby has developed this new concept of “gender identity”. It is merely an extension of the claim “God made me gay”. This new approach is to circumvent what the Bible says about homosexuality by making about “identity”. The logic follows that a person might have been born in the wrong body (God’s fault) therefore their sexual orientation shouldn’t be labeled based on their biology but how they self-identify. Clearly this tactic isn’t embraced by the LGB folks, but the QT folks are growing in number. These are all lies of the enemy.

Romans 1:16-32 (ESV) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Yes, there are laws in the Mosaic covenant that we are no longer bound to for Jesus Christ fulfilled those laws on our behalf. The laws regarding sexual immorality remain, for they are nature’s laws, and God created them. The definition of sin has not changed. What was sin is still sin… in fact, under the new covenant, we now know just how inescapable our sin nature truly is, and just how much we need a Savior to atone for our sins that we might be made right with God.

Mark 7:20-23 (ESV) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Pornography & Sexual Fantasy = Adultery=Sin. There is simply no room for any church or any person to redefine sexual immorality. We dare not call evil, good. The Law remains to convict us of our sin, so that we might remain in the Grace of God, Jesus Christ. Let me be clear, unrepentant homosexuality is no more acceptable within the church than murder, incest, adultery, polygamy, or idolatry.  There is forgiveness at the foot of the Cross for all who repent. If we preach Gospel without the Law, we minimize the Gospel. We must preach both Law and Gospel so that the Holy Spirit can perform His sanctifying work on the Body of Christ by the seed of God’s Word being planted in our hearts.

1 Timothy 1:8-17 (ESV) 8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

Biblical Encouragement and Guidance for the Unwed Christian

dringValentine’s Day is a seriously rough holiday for the unwed Christian. Even for those who reject the holiday openly. But being a single Christian in a world that is completely wrapped up in defining ourselves by sexuality, being Christian while being single gets a lot of mixed messaging throughout the year, not just on February 14th. It was not all that long ago (still less than 10 years) when I counted myself among you. But I failed in more ways that I care to mention, so for this post, it isn’t my authority we will be leaning on. As with all of the Bible Study posts here at Faithful Stewardship, we will be turning to God’s Word. I do want to encourage you in this… having placed my faith fully on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I now live and walk by the Grace of God the Father, and have been made whole, and continue being perfected (exhortation, admonition, repentance, and forgiveness) by His Word and His Holy Spirit. No matter where you are in life, or in your Christian walk, there is always Hope, and He is at the Right Hand of the Father interceding on our behalf. So in Christ, we are made righteous and free to love the Lord Our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, and all of our mind. With that encouragement as our focus, let us turn to the Word of God. But first, let’s address some woeful misconceptions about the single life.
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