- “My spouse isn’t a Christian,” or “I wasn’t a Christian when I married my spouse.”Nowhere in the Bible is this seen as grounds for divorce. In 1 Corinthians 7:12-13 Paul very clearly urges men and women in such situations not to divorce their unbelieving spouse. In 1 Peter 3:1-2 women married to unbelievers are called to “be subject to their own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” Rather than seeking for an opportunity to get out of the relationship, Christians are told to seek for opportunities to share their faith with their unbelieving spouse.
- “We weren’t married in a church.” Matthew 19:6 renders this an illegitimate excuse when it says, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Marriage is sanctioned by God and is not dependent on the context in which those vows were made. Regardless of where you were married or who married you, if you have made a covenant of marriage, the Lord expects you to keep it.
- “I need to get out of this marriage for the sake of my kids.” This is, of course, a justifiable concern, but one that Paul does not neglect to address. In 1 Corinthians 7:14 he says, “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.” According to Paul, here is another opportunity to endure for the sake of the gospel, so that your children, too, may see your godly example of faith. However, in the case that your spouse poses a threat of danger, be it emotional or physical abuse, your children’s safety is a priority.
- “My spouse is a huge disappointment.” “He is a loser (poor provider).” “She hasn’t taken care of herself physically.” “I would have never married this person if I had known what I was getting myself into.” “I deserve better.” Even the best of marriages may enter lulls where thoughts like these remain prevalent for periods of time. Marriage can be hard. Your spouse may grieve or disappoint you greatly. However, this is not a legitimate excuse to bolt, but an opportunity outdo him or her in love (Romans 12:10), to grow in trust in the God who ordained your marriage (Proverbs 3:5-6), and to reflect the faithfulness of God until the very end (Matthew 25:23).
- “We are no longer in love.” If God commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), we can love our spouse, even if we can’t muster those romantic feelings that once defined the dating or honeymoon phases. The marriage covenant is binding until death, not until one or both of you falls out of love. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is no longer your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” When you love your spouse out of obedience to Christ, trust that God can help it grow from the heart and restore the romance that’s been lost.
- “I married the wrong person,” or “We were too young.” Perhaps your marriage was built on a foundation of sand. Maybe your spouse does not meet your present criteria for a godly husband or wife. That does not mean that your soul mate is still out there waiting for you. The idea of a soul mate is not rooted in anything scriptural. The person God intended for you is the person you are with now. If you are struggling with these thoughts, you would do well to confess any sin of disobedience or foolishness before God (1 John 1:8), receive God’s forgiveness, and continue in the assurance that God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28).
- “I owe it to myself to be happy. God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy.” There is a crucial difference between worldly happiness and godly happiness. The first is dependent on circumstance, the latter prevails in spite of circumstance. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” God cares deeply about our eternal happiness! The darkest seasons of marriage can tempt you to despair as the happiest and healthiest marriages around you shine even more brightly, but true happiness in God pushes through those seasons to thank God for any sufferings you may face for his glory (1 Peter 2:21).
- My marriage is a constant struggle In any of the above cases, believers can be faithful to the vows that they made even if their marriage is a struggle. If you believe that you can be happier outside of the will of God, then you are captive to a lie crafted by Satan. Do you really want to pit yourself against the sovereignty and wisdom of God? Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” It is better to struggle through marriage than to defy God by breaking the marriage covenant.
- “All my friends say that I ought to leave him/her.” Even friends with the best of intentions can lead you astray. This is why it is important to commit yourself to the full counsel of God in his word, allowing that to become your ultimate counsellor, no matter what differing opinions you hear elsewhere. This is also why it is so important to choose your friends wisely and to stay away from bad company (Psalm 1:1, 1 Corinthians 15:33). Surround yourself with people whose wisdom is grounded in biblical truth.
- “God will forgive me.” Apostle Paul directly addresses this in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Our God is full of grace, but that should not cause us to take advantage of it by being bound to sin. Instead, it should cause us to live in the freedom of his will, desirous of keeping his commands. Christ died so that we would no longer be slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). If you truly love Christ, you will not separate “what God has joined together” (Mark 10:9).
Is there a threat to the ability of Christians to practice our faith legally? According to Dan Calabrese the secular left has undertaken three legal strategies. In a piece over at Canada Free Press, Calabrese reveals what those strategies are:
The secular left cannot get a law through Congress that makes it illegal to practice Christianity. It would if it could. It can’t because it’s not politically plausible – at least not yet – and it would immediately be struck down by the Supreme Court if it could ever pass. At least as the Supreme Court is populated today and hopefully will be for a very long time.
But that does not mean there is no threat to the ability of Christians to practice our faith legally. There is, and it’s not distant or merely theoretical. It’s clear and present. In fact, to some degree the legal prohibitions against the practice of Christianity are already in place.
To understand this, you need to recognize three legal strategies the secular left is undertaking – right now, right under our noses – that making it difficult to practice Christianity without running afoul of the law. It is not an outright ban on the faith, but it could end up having the same effect by putting everything that’s central to Christianity in conflict with laws created ostensibly for other reasons.
How would you feel if you went to church next Sunday and “Pastor Hillary Clinton” got up to deliver the message? According to Clinton’s longtime pastor, Hillary says that she wants wants to start preaching. Considering the fact that she stands in direct opposition to just about everything that the Bible says, it is hard to imagine her doing this with a straight face. Bill and Hillary Clinton have been fueling anger and hatred toward conservative Christians for decades, but now she is suddenly going to turn over a new leaf? If Clinton announced that she had decided to denounce abortion then she would definitely get my attention, but at this point this just seems like another Clinton political stunt. (Read More…)
While national faith trends dominate the headlines, they often belie the diverse religious makeup of cities and metro areas throughout the country. To celebrate the release of Barna’s Cities & States report, which takes a comprehensive look at the faith profiles of these cities, we’ve compiled 10 interesting findings on spiritual beliefs and practices among American adults.
It was inevitable: the left warring against itself. When you have a whacko ideology filled with so much PC craziness and so many things that you can get offended by, sooner or later there was going to emerge some jarring inconsistencies and internecine warfare.
There are just too many fundamental contradictions at play within the left for this not to happen. For example, I and others have long noted the insanity of the left defending to the death both Islam and homosexuality. Um, Islam hates homosexuality, so which is it?
Who ya gonna run with here? The left is trying to placate both groups of course, but that is just a recipe for disaster and cannot last long. And when Muslims get into power the first ones to go will be these useful idiots. They will not for a moment preach love and tolerance to homosexuals and their leftist supporters.
Another area where we see these internal contradictions bursting at the seams is the secular left’s love affair with Islam, while it proudly hates on all things Christian. Usually when it blasts religion, it simply has Christianity in mind. The left seldom blasts Islam like it does Christianity.
And uber-atheist Richard Dawkins has long been a case in point here. He may have railed against religion, but overwhelmingly his focus has always been on Christianity. His The God Delusion for example was not one long, drawn-out rant against religion in general, but against Christianity in particular.
However, reality has a way of crashing in, and even die hard ideologues like Dawkins are forced to change their tune – at least somewhat. As a case in point, by now most of you would have heard of how Dawkins was scheduled to give a talk for a radio station in Berkeley.
It seems that the lefties at the radio station did not like his “tweets and other comments on Islam” and so the whole thing was cancelled. Hmm, so here we have Dawkins, the darling of the secular left all of a sudden being blacklisted by the secular left. Why? Because he dared to criticise Islam.
Ha, gotta laugh at that one. Dawkins was of course taken aback by all this. He complained, “I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?”
Yes, a good question. It seems the radical left is not really anti-religion. It is just anti-Christianity while at the same time quite pro-Islam. And of course the left always used to be the champion of free speech. But over recent times this has hardly been the case – just the opposite in fact.
It now routinely bans speakers, shuts down meetings, and attacks others who dare to have a different point of view on things. So now they are even attacking and censoring their own. What a hoot. Yet the radio station actually defended this act of censorship:
“The KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins’s views much earlier. We also apologize to all those inconvenienced by this cancellation.”
Dawkins replied by saying that the decision was “truly astonishing.” He continued: “I have criticized the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticized the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief. Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.”
And at the same time all this was happening, another bit of reality seems to have hit Dawkins. As one news report states:
Last week, during London’s Pride parade, members of Britain’s Council of Ex-Muslims (CEMB) were asked by police to lower signs that read “Allah is gay” while completely ignoring signs saying “Jesus is gay”. CNS News reports that in addition, signs that read “God is Gay”, “Jesus had two fathers” and numerous others mocking the church attracted no complaints by police. Yet, police attempted to remove signs saying “Allah is gay” for causing offense.
Christians of course were quick to point out the glaring double standards of all this. Said the CEMB: “The only reasons our signs are seen to be ‘provocative’ are because criticism of Islam is deemed to be impermissible, because there is the constant threat of violence by Islamists against ex-Muslims but also dissenting Muslims and others in order to silence and censor, and because criticism of Islam and Islamism is erroneously conflated with an attack on Muslims,”
But even Dawkins joined in the criticism, labelling this as “hypocritical”. Yeah it sure was hypocritical, and it is nice of him to start waking up to the fact that for the left, there is always an ongoing set of double standards running along nicely.
Now that he has experienced this himself, he might be a bit more discerning in the future as to how bad religion is, and/or how some are clearly better than others. Lumping all faiths together when some are definitely far worse, less humane, more violent, and less democratic is just not all that rational.
Elliot Kaufman has recently written about all this, asking what has become of the new atheists. He begins:
Organized religion’s shallowest critics made the mistake of blasting Islam along with Christianity, and the Left crucified them for it. On Friday, it became official: The New Atheists are no longer welcome on the left. Battered, condemned, and disinvited, these godless and once-favored “public intellectuals” are now homeless, spurned by their erstwhile progressive allies.
Dawkins is in good company. His New Atheist compatriots, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, had already been expelled from the party. In both cases, insufficient deference to Islam was the proximate cause. Hitchens remained a committed socialist, but felt a war on Islamic terror and autocracy was needed. For this, he was denounced as a “neocon.” Harris is a liberal, straight and true, but drew the ire of Reza Aslan for refusing to except Islam from his broad critique of religion. “Islam is not a religion of peace,” Harris often says. In fact, he thinks it’s just the opposite. For that, everyone from Glen Greenwald to Ben Affleck has cast him as an Islamophobe and a bigot. That means that three of the much-acclaimed “Four Horsemen” of New Atheism have been turfed from the left for extending their critique of religion to Islam. The fourth is Daniel Dennett, who also criticizes Islam. The only actual philosopher of the bunch, he is far too boring and ponderous to be noticed, let alone denounced, by anyone. In his place, one can add Bill Maher, a popularizer of New Atheism who has also been barred from Berkeley over criticism of Islam. One by one, these men have been excommunicated from the Left.
Kaufman reminds us that “The New Atheists have long harbored an irrational fear of Christianity, but Christophobia doesn’t worry the Left. Combatting Islamophobia, however, is a progressive priority, and so it is noticed and addressed when it strikes.”
His concluding words are spot on:
None of this New Atheist silliness bothered the Left so long as it flattered the right tribes and battered the wrong ones. It was only once the New Atheists extended their critique of religion to Islam that progressives began to turn on them. Muslims, though largely right-wing before the War on Terror, had become a “marginalized group.” Seen as the victims of Western colonialism, neoconservative aggression, and day-to-day discrimination, they became a part of the coalition of the oppressed, which is to say, they became virtuous. Islam, consequently, became a faith and tradition deserving of respect, not a “mind virus” like Christianity, busy infecting fools. As such, attacks on Muslims or their faith not only appeared to be “punching down” at the innocent, but also became attacks on the left itself. The New Atheists, merely by being consistent and focusing on the most-egregious religious intolerance, in effect surrendered their sophistication and, in the Left’s eyes, joined the ranks of the bigoted, reactionary Right. There is just one problem: We don’t want them either.
Yep, great to see the left imploding like this. These guys certainly deserve it.
Mark November 13, 2017 on your calendars,” urges Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. “it’s a day you won’t want to miss.” Why? It’s the day the powerful film Genesis: Paradise Lost hits theaters. Here’s more of the exciting news from Ken Ham, plus a trailer of the movie:
Genesis: Paradise Lost (formerly known as Genesis 3D) is a visually stunning film that animates the first chapter of Genesis, as God creates the world from nothing. Narrated by my friend Voddie Baucham, Genesis comes to life before your eyes as plants spring forth from the earth, planets are formed, the earth responds to God’s command to bring forth the animals—including what we today call dinosaurs (there are lots of dinosaurs in this film!), and Adam and Eve explore the beautiful world God created.
Believe it or not, some people will be upset with my title. You see, some “Christian” teachings out there would question whether this woman is even a Christian. They might even claim she is a fake, a fraud, a phony. At best, they will tell you that she obviously does not have faith, and/or she must have sin in her life that she refuses to repent of.
That in a nutshell is how the heretical Health and Wealth gospel looks at the issue of suffering. Except for persecution, these folks will insist that a Christian should never suffer. They certainly should not experience any sickness or illness, and they should not be poor as well.
They insist that Christians are King’s Kids and they should live like it. That means rolling in the dough and never having to suffer from ill health and sickness. If a Christian does experience these things, it is because of a lack of faith or unconfessed sin. This is a damnable theology, one I have refuted many times. See the 64 other articles here for more on this: billmuehlenberg.com/category/theology/the-health-and-wealth-gospel/
Thus the H&W gospel just does not know what to deal with someone like Joni Eareckson Tada. Because it is such a deplorable and unbiblical “gospel” it can only condemn someone like her. It has no place for this sort of suffering, and it teaches that God is only glorified when we are delivered from illness, not while in it.
But enough of the despicable H&W gospel, and more about Eareckson Tada. Many of you would know her story. Fifty years ago as a 17-year-old American teenager she dived into a shallow body of water. She was paralysed from the shoulders down, and has been a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic for half a century now.
Yet she has one of the most radiant and glorious Christian testimonies you will ever come across. God is glorified big time in her life and in her sufferings. The way she has dealt with her disability has demonstrated great faith – massive faith – more than most of us will ever know. And God has been greatly glorified by her moving and powerful testimony.
Millions of Christians have been strengthened in their faith by knowing about her and her story. She has spoken all around the world and has written often on her story. She has penned nearly 50 books, including her best-selling 1976 autobiography, Joni. Other terrific volumes include: A Step Further (1978); When God Weeps (1997); and Finding God in Hidden Places (2010).
She has just given an interview with Christianity Today, marking her 50 years of disability, and this is well worth quoting from.
How do you feel as you reflect back over the past 50 years?
Just the other day I was reading 1 Peter 5:10 [ESV], where Peter says, “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” Honestly, I’m amazed that the last 50 years feel like only “a little while.” Maybe God does that when we finally do love Jesus more, when we finally do follow him more closely. Maybe he erases all the horror, all the despair, all the depression of the past when we learn how to trust God. He pushes into the background all the terrible times of anguish, and he brings forward the highlights—the moments of hope, peace, and growth. As I look back over 50 years, I just see God at work. That’s pretty exciting.
Throughout your journey with quadriplegia, you’ve interacted with people who link suffering to sin or who’ve taught that having “enough faith” leads to miraculous healing. What appeal did this sort of “faith healing” initially have for you as a young woman?
When I was first injured, I just wanted out of my wheelchair. I wanted to walk again, I wanted to have hands that worked. So I followed every scriptural injunction: I was anointed with oil, I went to the elders, I confessed sin. I would call my friends up on the telephone and insist, “Hey, the next time you’re going to see me, I’m going to be on my feet. Have faith with me, believe with me.”
I remember going to [faith healer] Kathryn Kuhlman’s services. The one that sticks in my mind was the first one I went to. The place was packed. There were several thousand people and I was sitting in the wheelchair section. I was watching Kuhlman preach, testimonies were shared, and music was offered up from the platform. Then the spotlight centered on the corner of the ballroom where healings were happening and my heart started pumping. The spotlight switched to another corner, and I was getting more excited, thinking that maybe the spotlight will come and hit the wheelchair section. But it never did.
In fact, the ushers came early to escort those of us in wheelchairs out of the event so as not to create a traffic jam. I remember sitting there in the line of people waiting at the elevator and all of us were quiet. I looked up and down that line and I thought, Something’s wrong with this picture. Why is it that the people who needed healing most obviously were the ones that the spotlight missed? I realized I was getting it wrong—the Bible must have something else to say about this.
How has your view of healing changed?
One of the first things I read about healing that really helped was from Mark 1. Jesus has been healing all day long. Finally, everybody goes away and night falls. The crowds come back early the next morning and Simon Peter goes looking for Jesus because he’s not to be found—he’s somewhere praying. When they find him, Simon says, “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus’ reply to Peter is so amazing. He doesn’t say, “Oh, quick, let me go back down the hill and help all these sick people.” Instead he says to Peter, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—where I must preach there also. For this is why I have come.”
I read those words, “This is why I have come,” and I began to see Jesus’ priorities of healing differently. The same man who healed withered hands and blind eyes is also the one who said, “If that hand causes you to sin, cut it off, or if that eye leads you astray, gouge it out.” God is interested in a deeper healing.
There really are more important things in life than walking. There are more important things in life than having the use of your hands. And that is having a heart that’s free of the grip of sin and pride and self-centeredness. I’m not saying I’ve arrived—I’ve got a long way to go—but I’m on my way, and that’s a very good feeling.
Do you counsel those who are suffering due to disease or disability to pray for physical healing?
Yes, I think it’s so important to. In fact, the Book of James tells us to. We should follow every one of those scriptural injunctions I mentioned a moment ago. God may well miraculously heal, and if he does, it’s not only to the benefit of that person but it’s to God’s glory. It’s a sneak preview of the day when the eyes of everyone who is blind will be opened, and the ears of all those who are deaf will be unstopped, and the tongues of all those who can’t speak will shout for joy, and all lame people will leap like deer. However, I think those kind of miraculous healings are often the exception rather than the rule.
Of real interest is the fact that she also spoke about little Charlie Gard who died today in the UK, just before his first birthday. And she has long spoken out against legalised euthanasia. The interview says this about his tragic case:
Of the Charlie Gard case in England, you’ve said the hospital’s initial decision to remove life support against his parents’ wishes “only reinforces the ‘better off dead than disabled’ mentality that, as of late, is being fueled by cost considerations in hospitals.” Where do you see this mentality, and why is it so dangerous?
It’s dangerous because of the very low life value we put on people with severe chronic conditions—people who use up a great many healthcare resources. In an economy where healthcare dollars are very scarce, the triaging of healthcare resources will be skewed in favor of the strong and not the weak. I see this even now in some of my friends who are quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent. They’re having a harder time getting the kind of healthcare that they need.
Our economy is so focused on cost-effectiveness and return on investment. We live in an entitlement culture where cost-benefit analysis is preeminent. And who suffers in such a society? It’s the elderly. It’s newborns with multiple disabilities. It’s those in comas. It’s people with chronic medical conditions. That’s why I think that this whole issue is so critical right now for the church.
The interview goes on to talk about her views on legalised euthanasia and assisted suicide. Because this is such a hot topic at the moment, and because she has written and said so much on this matter, I will devote a whole new article to that issue. Let me finish with the closing question asked of her:
One aspect of your ministry, Joni and Friends, is equipping churches to develop disability ministries. What gifts do those with disabilities bring to the church?
If our churches are looking for God’s power to show up in our congregations, 2 Corinthians 12 tells us that God’s power shows up best in weakness. People with disabilities bring to the church a great audiovisual aid of how to deal with hardship. They show the church how God’s power can be released through weakness, and we all need examples of that. We need to see people who are smiling and persevering and enduring through their hardships.
Is God glorified when he instantly heals someone? Absolutely. Is God glorified when he gives the sufferer great grace to endure? Absolutely. Thank you Joni for your wonderful life and testimony. God bless you.