Biblical Law is for the Wicked, Not for the Righteous

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 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, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

Most of us have experienced it. Someone at work messes up, so the next day a company-wide policy is implemented that is binding on everyone. A law is made. You see it all the time in society as well. “Let’s pass a law.” The problem is, that new law restricts everyone else, and they weren’t the offender! In a way, the righteous are punished right along with the unrighteous. The Apostle Paul says this ought not to be. The Law is laid down not for the just, but for the lawless.

Let’s bring this to bear upon the church and abusers.

Continue reading “Biblical Law is for the Wicked, Not for the Righteous”

Stephanie’s Story – Part 6 – Excommunicated

There are many other emails that were avalanched onto Stephanie by her ex-pastor which also included some communications from the “biblical counselor.” All of them put the primary burden for “saving the marriage” on Stephanie rather than where it belonged, on her abuser.

Here is a copy of the letter informing Stephanie that she had been ex-communicated, “In Christ’s Love” as you notice it is signed off. The fact is that this is exactly where her ex-pastor and church had been headed in the entire process, though they would deny it. Stephanie refused to “get in line” and had to be taught a lesson as well as the rest of the women in the church.

Dear Stephanie,

It is with deep regret that I write this letter to inform you that ___________ Reformed Baptist Church voted unanimously to excommunicate you from the church according to the process in our church’s constitution and Matthew 18. This action was taken by the church after much prayer and private advisory consultation with other Pastors at sister churches outside of our congregation.

This action was taken because you refused to continue to receive counseling to save your marriage. Also, this includes your deliberate actions to pursue an unbiblical divorce and break your covenant vows that you made before God in the sight of witnesses.

This action has been taken out of deep concern and love for your soul. We will continue to pray for you and your husband that the Lord will grant you repentance and reconciliation with Christ, your husband, and this congregation.

In Christ Love,

Pastor __________

So there you have it. This scenario is being played out in local churches every single day. Many of you have been through it yourselves.

Notice that this “pastor” insists that THE way to “save the marriage” is for people to submit to his “biblical counseling” routine. Notice also that he denies that abuse is grounds for a divorce and that when a person “signs on” to a marriage with vows, the “for better or worse” includes being bound to the abuse with no way of escape.

Finally, notice the lies. He says he and the church have a deep concern and love for her soul. That is a lie. They have NO concern for her. Just like an abusive cult, they are punishing her for refusing to bow to their oppression. “Let this be a lesson to anyone else thinking about going against the Pastor!” That is what is going on here.

Well, Stephanie, their “ex-communication” is not an excommunication from Christ. You are like the man in John 9 who Jesus healed and who was then put out of the Temple for confessing Christ. And then he found Jesus outside that Temple, just as you will.

Many blessings in Christ to you, Stephanie. May the Lord use your story here to His glory and may you keep experiencing more and more freedom from the evil that has been done to you.

Stephanie’s Story: Part 3

[If you haven’t yet read the earlier posts of Stephanie’s story, here are the links – Part 1, Part 2]

Stephanie’s pastor and his wife continued to make excuses for her abuser’s wickedness. Now Stephanie tells us how they stepped up that pressure. We will include some of the actual emails and letters that the pastor sent her in the next installment (Part 4).  They are like letters from the kingdom of darkness.

Stephanie continues now with her story:

The pastor had ordered us that no marital issues or concerns,  or any questions we (mostly aimed at me) might have were not to be discussed with family members or church friends. Nothing could be discussed concerning our marriage and life outside the house.

I would check the church prayer list every week, and now I was wondering if I would find that the church had removed me from it. I had sent a letter to the church to be released from membership. What I did find listed on the prayer list was this: “That the Lord would grant her [ie, ME] repentence and grace to fight for her marriage.”  There was no added prayer request for my husband!

Continue reading “Stephanie’s Story: Part 3”

Stephanie’s Story: Part 2

Due to pressure from her pastor, his wife, and her abuser husband (Terrance), Stephanie returned to the run down, spider and rodent infested house, and to her abuser. If you missed part one, here is the link Part One.

And now, Stephanie continues with her story: [In your comments, perhaps some of you could give us some insight into what is going on in the minds of this pastor and his wife. What do you think is their motive?]

Continue reading “Stephanie’s Story: Part 2”

Stop Saying “God hates Divorce”

It hasn’t been that long ago that someone told me our church’s position on divorce was wrong.  We acknowledge that God permits divorce for habitual, unrepentant, hard-hearted violation of the marriage vows.  Sexual unfaithfulness, failure to love and provide for, desertion, and abuse (a kind of desertion) are, we maintain, biblical grounds for divorce.  In fact, these violations are what destroy the marriage, not the victim who files the legal paperwork.  My caller however, insisted upon her rendition of Malachi 2 – claiming that it says God hates divorce.  What she meant by this, of course, was that God hates ALL divorce and thus divorce is never permissible.  She is wrong.  Very, very wrong.  And her words do great hurt and harm to abuse victims.  Christians need to stop saying “God hates divorce.”

Continue reading “Stop Saying “God hates Divorce””

We are to Separate From Evil, Not Order the Righteous to Live With it

Psa 1:1-2  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  (2)  but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

Pro 4:14-15  Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.  (15)  Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.

The Bible is filled with commands and warnings just like these. The Lord Himself cannot look upon evil. The wicked will never stand in His presence. His holiness consumes them in an instant. And His people are to reflect this holiness in their own lives by separating themselves from the wicked.

Somehow however, I suppose due to the idolatrous status and man-made legalistic traditions in regard to marriage, the wicked are being given a pass. It is sin, so many professing Christians claim, to separate from evil if you are married to it. The marriage vows, even if given under false pretense and broken habitually without repentance, serve as a kind of diabolical grandfather clause that makes the Lord’s commands to separate from evil null and void. “Separate? Sorry, no can do. You said ‘I do’ and so you’d better “do.”

Continue reading “We are to Separate From Evil, Not Order the Righteous to Live With it”

If You Haven’t Read David Instone-Brewer’s book, You Really Should

Here are some powerful and refreshing words from David Instone-Brewer’s book on marriage and divorce in the church. This will make you want to get your hands on the book for sure. And by the way – ANY pastor or counselor or Christian who fancies that they are competent to counsel on this subject but who is still ignorant of what Instone-Brewer presents and proves here – is not competent to counsel at all. [The boldface highlighting is mine]-

We will see in later chapters that what defines a broken marriage is broken vows: the vows that marriage partners make to each other in God’s presence. We will find in chapter three that the Old Testament describes God’s relationship with Israel like a marriage that ended in divorce because cause of Israel’s adulteries. So God is a divorcee-and he hates it as much as any victim of divorce. A victim?

Yes, God is a victim of divorce, even though he actually carried it out; in the same way, many victims today are actually the ones who initiate proceedings to bring the marriage to an official end. They call in the lawyers to stop the mockery and pain of constant adultery or the anguish of abuse. But as we will see, the Bible does not regard the victim as the sinner. It is the person who is guilty of causing the marriage to break up whom Jesus addresses when he says, “Those whom God has joined, no one should separate.”

In other words, his warning is not to the person who finally tidies up the legal mess after the marriage has broken down but to those who would violate their marriage vows and, in so doing, cause the marriage to break up. Jesus says that divorce should never happen because when two people marry they are joined by God, who is a witness to the marriage vows and is there to bless the marriage. These vows should never be broken-especially especially since they are made before God. But of course people do break them, just as they break God’s other commands. Jesus never says that these vows are impossible to break-as if God ignores the reality of sin-but but he teaches that if a partner breaks the vows and is then repentant, we should forgive that person.

If the vows are continuously broken, without repentance, then the marriage will be left in shreds. Therefore although the breakup of a marriage is always due to sin, it is not the divorce vorce itself that is the sin; the sin is the breaking of the vows, which causes the divorce. In later chapters we will look at the biblical marriage vows closely We will learn that the Bible allows only the victim to initiate a divorce-that is, it allows them to decide when enough is enough and, if their partner remains unrepentant, to decide that the marriage is over.

Jesus’ main complaint was that the Jews had abandoned this principle. They allowed a man to divorce his wife even when she hadn’t broken her vows-that is, when he had no grounds for divorce. Paul similarly condemned a Greco-Roman groundless divorce. Later on in the book we will look at the Old Testament’s teaching on divorce and remarriage-which allowed divorce on the grounds of neglect or abuse-and discover that Jesus and Paul both affirmed this teaching.

David Instone-Brewer. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities (p. 18-19). Kindle Edition.

(We have added Instone-Brewer’s book to the Resources tab on the top menu bar.  There  – and here – is an Amazon affiliate link if you are interested in purchasing the book.)