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Marriage and the Bible VII

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Question #1:

Thank you again. I will do as you say and take it day by day; the only reason I fear is I've fallen away before and I feel so close to the Lord right now I don't want it to happen but I understand to just take it day by day and I can feel the spirit growing; vile thoughts are less; my mind is on heavenly things; I read that same verse this morning before you sent it to me.

I have questions about that as well if you find time to answer I was married young; I cheated she cheated we divorced; I've been with my fiancι for many years. I know adultery is grounds for divorce and I know I greatly love my fiancι as she is a believer as am I but I don't want to enter into a perpetual sin of adultery. If I marry is that the case? She has never been married. I just want to please God and I'm worried that to marry her which I thought would be the right thing to do might be bad? I'll try not to ask anymore questions as you've helped so much already again thanks to God bless and much brotherly love to you!

Response #1:

You're very welcome, my friend.

Apologies on the marriage question – I don't think that email got through to me as a separate email (but I do see the question down in the message chain).

I will give you some pertinent links, but the bottom line is that there is no such thing as a "permanent state of adultery" for a man and woman who are legally married. There are times when marrying someone may be a sinful act – the act of doing so, that is. But once it's done, it's done, and it shouldn't be undone if possible. My synopsis of the biblical guidance on marriage (details to be found in the links) is as follows:

1) Don't get married if you can help it.

2) But if you do get married, stay married.

3) But if you do get divorced, stay single.

4) But if you do get remarried, stay married.

This is not to say than indulging in any of the "buts" is not necessarily a sinful thing to do. It may very well be, and we ignore the Lord's authority and guidance on this matter at our peril. After all, it's not just a question of divine discipline for doing something that displeases Him (although there certainly is that factor to consider), but the rules on marriage are given to us as they are for our own good. For example, if we marry an unbeliever knowing it's wrong for a believer to do so, we will have to deal with the unhappiness and stress that comes from worrying about someone we love's eternal future unless and until he/she converts (no guarantee of that). And there is also the point that what is most important to us in this life will be of no importance to our spouse – that causes heartache and trouble, especially in regard to children.

The above is just one example. Marriage has enough problems and troubles of its own in any case (e.g., 1Cor.7:28ff.). We add to them exponentially if we violate the rules. But that does not mean that we should end a sacred commitment once we have taken it on. That would be compounding our error for the wrong reasons (if what is motivating us is misplaced guilt about incorrect interpretations of e.g., Matt.5:32). You cannot cancel out a wrong by doing another possibly greater wrong. Once married, however we got there, we should stay married if at all possible. Sometimes it's not possible, of course, for our spouse has a vote too. I think of the example of David and Bathsheba. David committed adultery with her and then had her husband murdered to cover his tracks. That was a horrible combination of sins and David was made to suffer horribly for them (fourteen years of discipline wherein one son murdered the other and came near to deposing and killing his father) – and yet God did bless the marriage even so. The Messiah comes from the line of David through Bathsheba and their son Solomon.

In terms of your particular situation, you are "not married", so it's always better to "stay as you are" (e.g., 1Cor.7:8), but most of us are not "gifted" to do so (1Cor.7:7), and "if you marry, you have not sinned" (1Cor.7:28), provided you have the right to remarry, and adultery on the part of the spouse is the exception our Lord mentions at Matthew 5:32.

Here are those links:

Divorce and Remarriage: What Does the Bible Say?

Christian Divorce and Remarriage II

More on Divorce and Remarriage

Marriage "Matters"

Marriage and the Bible II

Love, Marriage, and Divorce: Marriage and the Bible III

Marriage and the Bible IV

Marriage and the Bible V

Marriage and the Bible VI

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Thanks again for the quick response and caring position on your answers. I've been with her for many years and have step kids whom I love as my own and also have grandkids from my step children. I know she is a believer as am I and wish to grow together with her. I've made amends with my ex wife and do feel bad that I did wrong and have expressed that to her. However, I do feel at now I should marry and not burn. For so long thought that asking God to see us as married meant that we were, but I do believe it prudent to have a church wedding as I do desire to do things right. We both are looking forward to breaking the bonds that have ensnared us, loving the Lord more and more each day. I feel that I've built a family already so to remain unmarried would be very hard. I will continue to search the Lord on all matters as I don't want to fall away and do wrong. I do appreciate all your correspondence to me and I will pray for you in all my prayers as it's the least I can do for my brethren. Thanks so much and brotherly love to you dear brother

Response #2:

You're most welcome, and thanks much for your good words and especially for your prayers.

I do promise to say a prayer for you about all this.

One thing I should mention: marriage is a civil institution created by God for the entire human race. So there's no particular benefit to a church wedding (nothing wrong with it either). What matters to God is the actual marriage (as defined by the civil authorities of the place and time).

Feel free to write me any time, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:


I have read several of your articles on remarriage but have not seen an in depth discussion on these 2 areas:

1 ) the role of porn in the breakup of a marriage.

2) the abandonment (refusal to support a Christian wife) of a Christian husband after long marriage: abandonment and no support for several years then asked for divorce.

My dilemma: when my Christian husband asked for a divorce I agreed based on number 2 but then found out number 1 had progressed to online foreign sites asking for indecent pictures (lest you think otherwise he had been involved with porn from teenage years but I didn't know when we married, and he is still involved to this day on these foreign sites, having gone thru all his money). So we divorced. I still feel even today God was protecting me from further damage with his porn addiction. I later remarried a Godly man but he passed away and now I am engaged to marry another Godly man. I believe God is blessing me for staying faithful in loving Him and seeking His Will above all.

I know what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage...after prayer and study...I based my agreement to #1s request for divorce on the scripture that says if a man doesn't provide for his own family he's worse than a heathen. I believe God allowed me to remarry in His Grace because #1 had slipped into unbelief. I know he didn't pray about this or about changing because he didn't believe in prayer as God didn't answer his prayers so he said. I prayed diligently regarding marrying a second time and felt only peace and joy and I've seen the way God has made provision for me through that marriage. I still feel blessed God gave him to me, even for the brief time he was in my life.

My questions: was my reasoning valid in #1s divorce? I've read articles that say yes and others no. I'm confused, yet I've seen God at work in my life...and concerned, yet I have peace. Still and all, I know I'm sealed but I know I don't want to disappoint Him or disobey. Yet I enjoy being married.

So can I scripturally get married again? Your take on this?

Thank you

Response #3:

Good to make your acquaintance.

I will give you my opinion, but please understand that it is a personal opinion only. This is one of those things that only the person in question can hope to be able to figure out correctly with the help of the Spirit, prayer and consultation of scripture. It seems to me that you have followed that godly procedure to come up with your answer already and are merely looking for some sort of confirmation. That is not a bad thing to do; however I feel the need to point out that there are many ministries and ministers out there, especially in cyber-space, who have a warped and legalistic views on this (and many) subjects and who would have no problem giving you (what I would consider) the exact wrong answer just to satisfy their own self-righteous views. The bottom line is that if you ask this question enough of enough "Bible teachers", you will find plenty who will tell you the wrong thing. What I'm going to tell you is my opinion based on what you've shared with me (I wouldn't call it "the right thing" but I'm convinced it is not "the wrong thing"). I have even bumped into some so-called ministers who counsel people to divorce and destroy a perfectly happy marriage because in their twisted view it is "in a state of adultery". That is of course not only ridiculous but an impossibility (as you no doubt know from reading some of the articles at Ichthys); yet misplaced guilt is a powerful negative emotion and causes people to do all manner of crazy and ill-advised things.

The fact that you are clearly – from the tenor and tone of your email – comfortable with your decisions, speaks volumes to me. It means that having approached these problems in a godly way, you are confident in the Lord through the Spirit's guidance and illumination of the scripture about what you have done and what you are intending to do. That is the main thing. We need to act out of faith (Rom.14:23; cf. Jas.4:17). If you are acting in faith, as it seems you are (and were), then there is nothing that can said against that correct procedure.

If I had a close friend or relative whose spouse abandoned her, I would certainly counsel divorce in every case, and I would also tell that person to put out of her mind any notion that she had any further responsibility to the cad who did so or that she was in any way restricted from future marriage. As I say throughout the marriage postings at Ichthys, there are spiritual advantages to remaining single, "but if you do marry, you have not sinned" (1Cor.7:28); and most human beings are actually not fit to be single and do need to be married (1Cor.7:1-2; cf. 1Tim.5:14).

Marriage is a wonderful thing, designed by God Himself as a blessing for the entire human race. But it takes two to make a marriage. We cannot control the free will of our spouse, and if the spouse is unwilling to stay married and to actually be a spouse in fact and not just in name – that is, being loving and not abusive, working and not loafing, being present and not absent, etc., etc., – then that is not our responsibility. If we are doing our part and our spouse effectively puts the marriage to death, making that official through a divorce is the only reasonable and rational course – and I would call it godly as well.

So in my personal opinion, based upon my understanding of scripture and from what you have told me, this verse applies: "if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace" (1Cor.7:15 NIV). Your first husband may have been a believer, but a believer who is acting like an unbeliever to an extreme degree as in this case is to be treated as an unbeliever (e.g., 1Cor.5:9-13). In any case, the choice was not really yours, even if you "agreed" to a divorce; what were you supposed to do? Husband #1 by his scandalous behavior and by his abandonment ended the marriage without doubt; all the divorce did was mutually and legally ratify that choice of his.

Situations like that one, moreover, are beyond reconciliation. It might not be possible to get a signed and sealed opinion from the Lord or a scripture which blasts away every doubt, but that is often the case when it comes to living life in this world and applying general principles of the Bible to complicated lives. We believe the truth; we honor the Lord; we make the best decisions we can in faith and out of faith. It seems to me that this is exactly what you are doing.

Best wishes for your future happiness in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Thank you...so very much appreciated and yes, it was confirmation that I needed. May God continue to bless you and bless your ministry as He increases you in all knowledge and wisdom.

Response #4:

You're most welcome.

Best wishes on this and also for your continued spiritual growth in Jesus Christ – everything ultimately depends on that.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I am in hopes that you are well and the new school year has started with ease.

I’m writing this for my friend who is in a relationship which seems to have complication(s)…

First to explain that she was in a relationship for about three decades and had a son from that man who was two decades her senior.

Though they never married, he has passed over two years now.

The man she was with had a son back in high school and that son is the same age as her.

Now that man and she are having a relationship…they are very much ‘into’ each other…

Is this relationship ok to have? Should they fall in love and want to marry, would this be ok in God’s eyes?

Oh my goodness, Dr. Luginbill…life sure can be difficult and filled with surprises!

Anyway, good news for me…my son made it safely thru Hurricane Irma in Miami.

He was safe and his apartment stayed intact AND he still has his job!! Whew!!

God is great!

Thank you for your input to this matter.

Response #5:

Good to hear from you, my friend! Happy to hear about your son's safe passage through Irma. My late mother and I got chased across the state by Charlie some years back, so I have some perspective on all that.

On your question, anyone I knew who was contemplating something like you report and asked me about it I would definitely ask them to read 1st Corinthians chapter five VERY carefully and consider whether or not their "circumstance" was different from the one described there.

As you suspect, when it comes to relationships, human beings are very emotional and very vulnerable to making mistakes, so it is wisdom to stay away from anything that even looks like it might be "trouble" (1Thes.5:22). For example, a believer getting too cozy in "friendship" with an unbeliever is another such situation where a person is just asking for trouble.

This is not our business, obviously, but we can certainly pray about it.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Dear Bob,

I was curious as to what the difference was between premarital sex and adultery, or if they were the same thing and there was no difference between them. Other answers on the internet generally seem to point towards there being a difference, with adultery involving a married person engaging in activities which are meant exclusively for their spouse, whereas premarital sex is different wherein neither party is married.

This question came to mind after watching a podcast of sorts recently. The man in the podcast said he considered adultery to be unforgivable (he is Jewish), but I did remind myself and remember that there is no unforgivable sin (other than not accepting God's gift in Christ), and that all I needed to do was maintain my faith in God and in Christ.

It did get me wondering about the difference, though. Obviously, sin is sin is sin, all of it is bad, but if I recall adultery is considered a more 'serious' one. Again, I know both are sin, and both are bad, and to be avoided, but wanted to see what you thought.

Response #6:

Good to hear from you.

You are correct that there is a technical difference between sexual sin generally (in Greek this is often porneia) and adultery (moicheia). The difference is the same as in English which also represents that difference by having a technical term for the latter, namely, violation of a marriage (from inside or outside) as opposed to other sexual sins which do not do so. As you rightly suggest, all such sin is very dangerous. Here is what Paul says about it:

Flee sexual immorality (porneia). Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
1st Corinthians 6:18 NKJV

You are also correct that the only "unforgivable sin" is that of rejecting Christ (that is "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" who testifies to Him). We are forgiven all sins when we confess them (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5), but very clearly some sins are even more consequential than others bringing down worse divine discipline as well as having worse natural consequences connected to them as well (as Paul says above).

In this case you ask about, getting involved in any sort of illicit outside of marriage sex is just asking the Lord to "wallop" you with a big dose of discipline, and the sort of discipline which might last a LONG time in order to keep you out of future trouble . . . because after all this sort of sin leads to all other kinds of trouble and unintended consequences. So porneia is plenty bad enough. But if we add to that damaging someone else' marriage or betraying the trust of our own spouse, watch out . . .

I'm keeping you in my prayers.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

[details omitted]

Response #7:

You're welcome.

I think you've got this issue figured out exactly right. David got disciplined for fourteen years – but it didn't keep him from loving the Lord . . . or the Lord from loving him.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Greetings dear Robert

Thank you for accepting the extensions of some more questions. As you know, there has been a great deal of transition in my way of approaching things now if not all, many things around me are strange and it's like a whole new world I'm living in, not to mention I feel like babe in all things and since I have also adopted the policy of all things put to scripture and leave whatever comes second behind.

It is always a great honor and privilege to hear from you sir. I have read so much about marriage matters and I couldn't help to think that somehow marriage "remarriage" can be some sort of tribulation blew my mind, and that marriage doesn't bring happiness as we're accustomed to think it is, at the same time a blessing to some but others not.

Let me go direct to my questions.

(1) is there a formula for a Christian wedding biblically?

(2) is it necessary to go through the rituals shrouded in weddings/ceremonies?

(3) is it necessary to have a wedding blessed with the Anglican formula or words "the I do and that sort of formality?

(4) how should a believer approach this matter of marriage "from my perspective since I'm no longer associated with the corporate church "denomination/local church)"?

(5) what do you think about marriage vows??

And please add my email your weekly postings of the latest materials.

Response #8:

It's good to hear back from you – thanks for your good words, and congratulations on your (obvious) commitment to spiritual growth. As to your questions in this email:

(1) is there a formula for a Christian wedding biblically?


(2) is it necessary to go through the rituals shrouded in weddings/ceremonies?


(3) is it necessary to have a wedding blessed with the Anglican formula or words "the I do and that sort of formality?

Not biblically. Marriage is a civil legal contract, so the government is the one to set the legal rules. Some countries / states / municipalities may require a formal and public pronouncement of vows, but that will vary by area.

(4) how should a believer approach this matter of marriage "from my perspective since I'm no longer associated with the corporate church "denomination/local church)"?

Marriage is a divine invention meant for the entire human race. It is the foundation of the essential human unit created by God, i.e., the family, and for these reasons the Bible commands us to take marriage extremely seriously. If anything, a believer in Jesus Christ should be even more circumspect when it comes to the sanctity of marriage and the serious nature of it because of his/her faith (cf. Heb.13:4).

(5) what do you think about marriage vows??

See #3. Because something is not required does not make it necessarily wrong (especially if we understand very well that it is a cultural thing and not a biblically required thing). So if a believing couple wants to comport with tradition and have a traditional "church wedding" (of course there are myriad variations on that theme), I see nothing wrong with it – as long as they don't judge others for not doing so.

And please add my email your weekly postings of the latest materials.

I have added your name to the Ichthys list, but I only use it once in a great while to announce major new postings [n.b., the actual digital list was when my hosting company transferred servers last winter; I may be able to reconstruct it in the future, but I have a lot else on my plate at present].

For the weekly email postings there is an RSS subscription service to keep you apprised. Here is the link to the subscription page: "Ichthys RSS".

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #9:

[question about immigration wherein an engaged couple allowed into the country together is considered to have a quasi-married status by the government admitting them]

Response #9:

Good to hear from you. Certainly, this is up to you and not my business to weigh in.

Out of concern for you, the one thing I would want to know clearly before committing would be whether or not this is a binding and mandatory circumstance. What I mean to say is, if you truly would be, by whatever name, essentially "married" in the eyes of the state in which you would then be living, married for all legal purposes (e.g., inheritance, support responsibilities, not having the right to marry someone else without a prior divorce, etc.), the time to consider whether or not marriage is the right thing for the two of you would "now" would be before signing the immigration papers and committing yourselves to that status – because it sounds to me as if this situation is a "marriage-in-all-but-name-only-included deal. It's all well and good to be intending to get traditionally married after the fact, but there are always reasons why intention may not become reality. If it turns out that signing such papers will be, in effect, getting married legally, binding legally, that is a marriage then. That is fine if now is the time and that is the decision and the commitment. But "doing it" for the sake of legal process when it is not in your heart to "do it" just yet would be something I would at least want to think twice about. You can't be married and not married at the same time.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:


Yes, figurative uses can be abused when interpreting words in the Bible. For example, the vast majority of professing Christians hold the view that if one of the spouses in a marriage cheats on the other by committing adultery, the marriage can be dissolved on the basis that figuratively, since adultery would have resulted in stoning of the one who committed adultery in the Old Testament, the living spouse would be free to marry someone else. In other words, the adulterer is figuratively considered dead now in New Testament times as the penalty of stoning is no longer applicable for adultery.

The above view contradicts the clear literal teaching of the Bible in Luke 16:18, Mark 10, Romans 7, and 1Corinthians 7. Marriage is permanent until the death of a spouse. If one departs, the other is to: "remain unmarried or be reconciled". With the increase in divorce & remarriage in the churches today, and given that adultery is a heaven / hell issue (unrepentant adulterers "will not inherit the kingdom of God." it is imperative that we as Christians understand what adultery is according to the Bible. www.Cadz.net has a thorough study on this topic that I think covers it Biblically.

Have you studied this issue in the Bible?


Response #10:

I don't see the connection between this and your previous email.

However, on this new topic, I was under the impression that salvation was a matter of being born again through faith in Jesus Christ (Jn.3:16-18), and that it was bestowed by grace through faith and not of works (Eph.2:8-9). I was also under the impression that sin was forgiven when we believed (Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; cf. 1Cor.6:11), and that after salvation sin was forgiven through repentance and confession (1Jn.1:9; cf. Ps.32:5).

Also, I have not read in the Bible anywhere any command to divorce (whatever the circumstances), if that is what you are counseling. It is a very dangerous thing to go beyond what is written (1Cor.4:6), particularly when such advice would destroy a marriage (whatever you personally may think of it) and also may have the potential of destroying many other lives as well.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies – and whatever is similar to all these things. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Galatians 5:19-21

The phrase in bold is often overlooked. Paul adds it deliberately to cover whatever sinful conduct – of heart or tongue or hand – he has not mentioned that may apply in particular cases; in other words, this principle applies to us all.

In Jesus Christ in whom alone we have salvation by grace through faith.

Bob L.

Question #11:


If a man or woman (though divorce attorneys & civil court judges) puts away the God joined spouse and marries another, the Bible refers to that 2nd marriage as adultery: "so then if while her husband liveth she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulterous."

If I steal someones car, what does repentance mean for me regarding that sin? Does it include returning the car or just confessing and being sorry?

Are we to define whether someone is married by civil government laws or God's Word, the Bible?


Response #11:

Women are not cars, nor are they property (nor men either, for that matter).

Also, You are quoting Romans 7:3 in the KJV version, but are doing so out of context. Here is the verse immediately preceding (emphasis added):

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth;
Romans 7:2 KJV

This passage applies to those under the Law of Moses. Surely you know, however, that Paul is directing a good part of his arguments in Romans against those who are insisting on keeping the Law and trying to make others do so as well. The very point of the passage you quote is not to discourse on marriage but to show that we are "dead to the Law" of Moses as Paul says in the very next verse after your quotation:

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Romans 7:4 KJV

When you use this passage to tell others who are married to divorce because of the Law, you are actually putting yourself in direct opposition to what this passage teaches: for we are no longer under the Law as believers in Jesus Christ – it's the whole point of the passage and the context, namely, that we can be under the Law or we can belong to Christ but NOT both, because we can only be married to one husband at a time:

But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Romans 7:6 KJV

This is not a simple issue. I have seen people try to make it simple, but it is not. Even our Lord does not suggest it is simple:

1) Our Lord gives an exception allowing divorce at Matthew 5:32; 19:9; and while there is much debate about what constitutes this porneia exception, in Greek the word covers ANY sort of illicit sexual behavior being rather a larger than a smaller area of sinfulness (i.e., the same word is used in 1Cor.6:18 where it clearly covers much more than technical adultery). Please note also that He does NOT say (anywhere), nor does the Bible say (anywhere) that in such cases covered by the exception it would be wrong to remarry. So in some cases – where there has been any sort of porneia – remarriage would certainly not be prohibited.

2) Our Lord actually says that it is the act of entering into wrongful marriage under the Law that constitutes adultery, not that the fact of being married thereafter or having relations while married if the marriage doesn't follow the precepts of the Law is adultery (as some would have it). Also, importantly, Romans 7:3 does not say "marriage" as the KJV and some other versions wrongly suggest. In fact, the situation is entirely the opposite. The passage is talking about adultery per se: "being with another" WITHOUT being married to him. The word "married" is NOT present in the Greek of that verse (the versions have interpreted the Greek wrong by adding something not there); so that verse cannot be used to suggest that a person can be married and commit adultery with the person with whom they are married. That is nonsensical on its face in any case, and it is not supported by any scripture in any way (certainly not this one).

3) Our Lord also does not instruct the Pharisees who have wrongfully divorced their wives without cause to now divorce their new wives and remarry their old wives. If your position is correct, that is a very strange omission inasmuch as nowhere else in scripture is such a procedure even discussed. What our Lord has done is to show the Pharisees that they were wrong and were hypocrites and sinners. But a new wrong (divorcing the present spouse) would not solve an old sin (only God can forgive sin in any case), and would only result in new heartbreak and trouble. So our Lord does not counsel it. And you do?

I do not defend remarriage. I always give the scriptural guidance that we are all better off single, and if we are married that we ought to stay married (see previous links for voluminous commentary). That is the opposite of what I am hearing from you – since you are counseling divorce – and I find it troubling. Telling people that this is a simple issue when our Lord did not do so, and telling them to divorce when neither He nor any of His apostles ever did so is taking things far "beyond what is written" (1Cor.4:6), and in a non-biblical direction which contradicts scripture on many points (see prior links).

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."
Matthew 7:1-2 NKJV

To over-simplify a complex issue to the point where what the Bible actually says is overturned, is false teaching. That is bad enough. The thought of counseling others to do something so terrible that it may destroy their lives, the lives of their children, and those of others as well – something which the Bible never commands – makes my hair stand on end.

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.
Romans 14:4 NKJV

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:


Yes, it is not a simple issue. Because it is a salvation (heaven or hell) issue, it is needful to rightly divide the word of truth in understanding God's will in the matter.

As Christians, we are to judge righteous judgment. Jesus includes it as one of the weighty matters of the law: But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Luke 11:42.

It is an act of love to rightly judge these adulterous marriage situations within the body of Christ, and to work & pray for reconciliation of covenant spouses. "Do not ye judge those that are within?" Are children's lives ruined by their parents forgiving one another? Children see the gospel picture lived out clearly when parents reconcile. One current situation in Ohio comes to mind as I write this. A lady who was divorced by her husband (and he married another woman), is now seeing her husband returning to her. This has been a blessing to their son who continues to show interest in following Jesus.

The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. 1 Cor. 7:39. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Eph. 5:25. Christ died for the church (made up of both Jews and Gentiles). His New Testament marriage rules apply to both.


Response #12:

I am a bit dismayed by your opening statement.

In short, I'm concerned about your salvation. When you wrote me last time that this was a "heaven or hell issue", I attributed that to rhetoric and emotion. But now it seems you firmly believe this?

Let me ask you this, and it is simple. How are we saved? Is it "by grace through faith" or is it "by works"?

Here is what I read in the Bible:

(8) For you have been saved by [God's] grace through faith [in Christ]; and this (salvation) did not come from you – it is God's gift. (9) Nor did it (i.e., salvation) come from what you have done, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

And . . .

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

This is a bedrock issue, a make or break issue, a true "heaven or hell" issue, because those who believe in Jesus Christ for salvation are saved, but those who rely on working their way into heaven are lost and condemned because they have relied on their own efforts and not on the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Galatians 5:4 NKJV

I don't know anything about your background so now I am wondering if you are Roman Catholic. This issue is "hot" nowadays in the RC church, I understand, and the position you are defending is straight along RC lines, so perhaps I have been laboring under a mis-impression. They believe that "I am living what I consider a good life (regardless of faith) so I will go to heaven" or "You are living what I consider a bad life (regardless of faith) so you will go to hell". That is the very definition of salvation by works, and the irony is that things are the exactly other way around (as long as the "you" person has faith in Christ).

I have known many RC's in my life and they have been better-than average good folk for the most part, salt-of-the-earth good neighbors, good citizens, good Marines, good friends. But not saved. At least that is what every RC who has ever escaped that religion and come to put the truth before everything else has told me. Why? Because it is a religion of works which seeks to earn God's favor by "doing things" (penance, charity, membership, obedience, rule-keeping, mass-taking, etc., etc.), and by doctrine eschews the precious sacrifice of Jesus Christ as alone sufficient for salvation, forgiveness and fellowship with God.

If I am wrong about the above, no offense meant. But there is no point in getting into the details of one particular area of life if our entire understanding of the bedrock of the plan of God is different.

One thing I will say to you once again without getting too deep into the details is the Bible never counsels divorce (which you are doing), never says a marriage legally contracted between a man and woman is "not a marriage" (which you are doing), and never advocates doing wrong to others as a means of penance and attempting to justify it by "expanding" scriptures to mean what they patently don't say (which you are doing).

If you think you have verses to prove the contrary I'd love to hear them.

No doubt it is sometimes wrong to marry. Indeed, it is better to stay single, we are told (1Cor.7:1), so anyone who is married has as much reason to second guess that decision as people who have divorced for whatever reason or remarried. And no doubt it is better to stay single if separated or else reconcile (scripture is clear on that). But marrying is not a sin (1Cor.7:28), with the exception of someone who has callously divorced without justification in order to change partners (our Lord's teaching in the gospels). And even in that later case, though the act of marriage was a sin, there is no scripture to suggest that the man guilty of what our Lord accuses the Pharisees of is allowed to withhold himself from his new wife or divorce her – he is certainly not allowed to remarry his first wife, according to the Law:

(1) If a man marries a woman and she does not please him because he has found something offensive in her, then he may draw up a divorce document, give it to her, and evict her from his house. (2) When she has left him she may go and become someone else's wife. (3) If the second husband rejects her and then divorces her, gives her the papers, and evicts her from his house, or if the second husband who married her dies, her first husband who divorced her is not permitted to remarry her after she has become ritually impure, for that is offensive to the LORD. You must not bring guilt on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4

I could point out that the "something offensive" is translated by the Septuagint as porneia and that is the basis for the word's use in the gospel passages. And I could also point out that, under the Law, the woman IS allowed to remarry (v.2 above). And finally the point of bringing this passage up is to show that under the Law the reconciliation you are counseling and pressuring people to accept was FORBIDDEN under the Law (v.3 above).

But this all involves intricacies of the Law, and for good reason the New Testament does not go into them. My question is, why do you feel so emboldened to "go beyond what is written" in this regard – and as the passage above demonstrates to actually go CONTRARY to what is written?

When you tell others to ruin their lives and the lives of others by destroying otherwise happy marriages and attempt to reconstruct prior marriages which by definition were problematic because they ended in divorce, taking no heed to the well-being of the new spouses or of how either sets of children will be negatively impacted by this unnecessary turmoil, in my humble opinion you are treading on very shaky ground. Perhaps that is why the Lord led you to me – to give you fair warning and convince you to "clap your hand over your mouth" before anyone takes your advice and you suffer for it (Prov.30:32).

It's fine to tell people that it's better not to marry (if they can abide celibacy) because they will have trouble; that is biblical (1Cor.7:28). And it's fine to tell people that if they are married it is better not to divorce – that is certainly biblical too (Mal.2:16). But unless I have misunderstood, you are telling people to divorce (definitely not biblical) and to marry those they had previously divorced (definitely not biblical) – and not because they are unhappy or being abused or otherwise being spiritually hindered, but only because it suits your own sensibilities and a "private interpretation" of scripture which does not hold water (2Pet.1:20). That is a dangerous thing indeed, and I would urge you to change your opinion – or at the very least, keep it to yourself that you may not be judged severely for judging others and leading them into personal and spiritual shipwreck.

In the grace and mercy of our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hi, I have one new question about 2 Cor 6:14. Can we have nonbelievers friends or wife?

Response #13:

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
2nd Corinthians 6:14 NKJV

The prohibition here is against "yoking" ourselves to unbelievers, that is, binding ourselves into legally restrictive relationships from which there is no easy exit. That certainly includes marriage (although if we already have married an unbeliever, that is not grounds for divorce: 1Cor.7:12-16).

Friendship with unbelievers is not prohibited:

If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
1st Corinthians 10:27 NIV

It does have the drawback, of course, that while we are confident of eternal life, we also know that they, unless they come to Christ, are bound for eternal condemnation. That is an uncomfortable dynamic for me, personally. Also, how close could I ever be with someone who considers of no account what I value most in this life?

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I had a person ask me about tithing today, and I gave them the answer and was pleased that it matched yours. I am finding that you and I agree on many topics although you are much more advanced and learned than I am. Sir, I am having trouble being comfortable even at non-denominational churches because they push tithing and water baptism even though tithing is part of a defunct religion and the Holy Spirit Baptism is what is crucial for salvation today. Do you have any advice on attending church? I feel like even if I don't attend a church, that I am a member of the Body of Christ as we know it states in the bible. It seems like they are so commercial and have strayed far away from the early Christian church. So many agendas.

I wanted to ask you about another issue other than me being uncomfortable at church. I am a middle aged single dad of two boys. My wife, who was an unbeliever at the time, left me and divorced me about a decade ago because she could not take the pressures of marriage, and I have remained unattached since. I tried to reconcile with my ex wife for years, trying to convince her to reunite, but she just wants to remain friends and co-parents. She truly prefers to live alone and spend time with her mother and sisters. Recently a beautiful woman of outstanding character, a Christian woman who I have known for more than two decades reached out to me. This was quite a surprise since I refuse to use social media of any kind. Anyway, she has been single for years like myself, and I feel she may be the answer to my prayers because the timing is too incredible and the circumstances just don't make sense unless God is orchestrating it. So I am hoping it would be ok for me to possibly marry her. I have asked God for his permission if she is the answer to my prayer. But I was wondering if you could give me biblical advice. I would sure appreciate it, because I love her deeply and she loves my sons. I want to honor her and lead a Godly life together if God will allow it. Like I said we know a good deal about each other already from when we were friends many years ago. It just feel too much like a blessing to ignore. To be honest I had abandoned the idea of ever being with a woman again, but I have been praying, asking God if it would be ok if I could marry again since I am lonely, and she showed up out of nowhere in the same boat I am in. Same circumstances. Her husband left her over a decade ago as well and she has remained unattached and does not date.

Thank you Dr. Luginbill. I hope I am not wasting your time. I hope this is not a trivial question. God bless you sir.


P.S. I have been referring friends and folks I meet to your website. I feel that you are correct in all of the topics I have studied thus far. Thank you so much for making your studies available to everyone.

Take care my friend.

Response #14:

Good to hear from you.

On churches, I agree with you completely. As to advice, there is a good deal about this on the site (latest link: "Finding a Church - or something better? II"), but mostly it consists of complaints similar to yours. Please also see in this week's posting about lukewarm mega-churches (at the link). As I often say, "Ichthys is my church" and I've gotten to the point of making no bones about it. If you do find a good commutable place where the Bible is actually being taught correctly and in depth as the reason for its existence, that is a rare jewel.

On marriage, I always first make it clear that I can only talk about the biblical principles rather than giving individual advice. Making the "right decision" in regard to a critical life-changing choice wherein every emotion in the book plays into things and information is imperfect even for those on the firing line is hard enough; it's folly for a third party to think he/she could point in the right direction, no matter how well-intentioned.

In general terms, I always summarize the biblical position something like this:

1) It's better to stay single.

2) But it's better to marry than to fall into sin, and marrying is usually no sin.

3) Once married, stay married (even in cases where there was some problem known or unknown ahead of time, marriage is still marriage and should be maintained).

4) If divorced, stay single.

5) If you remarry anyway (it's better to marry than to fall into sin, and marrying is usually no sin), stay married (even in cases where there was some problem known or unknown ahead of time, marriage is still marriage and should be maintained).

The thing that one really has to keep in mind is what the Spirit is telling one's conscience on this matter, and that is sometimes tricky when it comes to a subject about which so many ill-informed would-be theological "experts" have done their best to inundate the church-visible with oceans of misplaced guilt. Human beings being what we are, most of us need to be married. That being the case, being married to a Christian who is similarly committed to the same "right things" we are is the ideal situation. That doesn't mean we should kid ourselves about the challenges of marriage, even "the best" of them, however. As Paul says:

But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
1st Corinthians 7:28 NIV

As to particulars, I don't see anything personally in the situations of yourself and your prospective bride as reported which would give me pause. However, if there is any issue of conscience – you did ask me about this after all – that is something best resolved in toto before the fact. I certainly wouldn't let the great doses of false teaching and concomitant false guilt being spewed out there nowadays stop me from doing something I was convinced in my heart before the Lord was the right thing to do.

There is lots about all this on the website but most of it has to do with responses to people who have been afflicted by false teaching or to false teachers themselves so I am reluctant to link it (it's easy enough to find and I'll give you the links if you wish).

You are certainly not "wasting my time"! I appreciate your desire to be right with the Lord on this. I advise you to continue to pray about it. He is able to give you confidence in your decision. We walk by faith, and we have to be solid in our faith in all we do (e.g., Rom.14:23; Jas.4:17).

Thanks for the referrals! I promise to say a prayer for you on this.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

This was the most articulate, thoughtful, and biblically sound advice I have ever received on this question. I am truly grateful. Thank you for approaching your answer from a biblical perspective and for sharing your personal thoughts as well. I am really grateful to have met you and am very appreciative. I thank our Lord that you have so diligently studied His Word. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I am definitely going to take the information you have given me into account.


Your brother in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #15:

You're very welcome!

Wishing you and yours the very best – and praying for that too.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

I am approximately 30 pages into an exposition of relationships and marriage for Christians, as best as I have been able to parse them. As you have mentioned before, this a favorite topic of Laodicean teachers -- so it is not as if there is a shortage of writing on these things out there -- but I found myself most dissatisfied with everything I came across, and decided to have a go at it. We've discussed these things several times now, and those email chains have helped a lot as I've plugged along.

I am currently working on a section dealing with exactly how one ought to go about meeting potential spouses. Here's an excerpt:

Grim statistics for single Christians

If one takes the commonly quoted statistics at face value, approximately a third of the world is "Christian." If you narrow this further by knocking out people that have doctrine incompatible with true Biblical Christianity (e.g., Mormons, JW's, Catholics -- religions where salvation does not come by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone), I'd estimate that about half of this initial third would remain. If you restrict this smaller group to those people that are actually serious about their faith, if we are being moderately strict in our definition of "serious," that would cut the number by, say, a further factor of five. This leaves us with 1/3 * 1/2 * 1/5 = 1/30th of the total male or female population (assuming relatively equal proportions of serious Christianity among men and women). This means that only one in every 30 people of the opposite sex is a serious enough Christian to marry.

You may say that this doesn't sound so bad -- 1 in 30 isn't so unmanageable. And this would be true... except the numbers I just quoted are for Christians across all age groups. In our lukewarm era, serious Christians are disproportionately represented among older people, particularly those over the age of 40. If we optimistically assume that Christians between the ages of 22-28 compose 12.5% of the Christians from above, we are now talking about 1/30 * 1/8 = 1/240th of the total male or female population.

It gets worse. Most very serious Christians tend to get married ASAP because they well understand the extreme pressure that singleness puts on individuals in our sex-obsessed society. So many of the people from above will already be married, or at least in serious relationships headed in that direction. Let's say that only a third of the people in this already small group are actively looking for a marriage partner at any given time. Now we're at 1/240 * 1/3 = 1/720th of the total male or female population.

Consider this: so far the only thing we are narrowing the pool with is the requirement that potential partners be relatively serious Christians. This is obviously the most important consideration for marriage, but not the only one. When one factors in other things -- such as matching expectations for income, children, who works and who stays home, etc. -- I would wager that the ratio of acceptable to unacceptable partners is at least 1:2000 for any given Christian.

How should one go about meeting potential spouses?

Through churches and campus ministries

Churches, as a rule of thumb, get more and more lukewarm the larger they get, and college campuses are full of Christian social groups rather than legitimate teaching ministries.

It has been my personal observation that the majority of the red-hot Christians of our time are primarily "outside of the camp," so to speak, following internet teaching ministries or very small local churches that self-select to small sizes and a lack of emphasis on advertising and marketing. This makes them rather hard to meet in an intentional sort of way.

Through friends and family

This seems like a good idea in practice, but since it is getting less and less common for people to stay in one place for an extended period of time, it seems to be rather rare for pairings to actually happen in this way.

On the other hand, close friends and family are likely to know us well enough to play matchmaker relatively effectively, so the number of relationships that fall flat through these connections should be lower than the general average.

Through work

I do not think it is realistic for people to count on meeting another serious Christian compatible with them in their day-to-day jobs. I'm sure it happens -- colleagues fall in love more than probably any other group of 20-somethings -- but not as much for Christians as for people with lower standards.

This will obviously depend upon your field and your coworkers.

Through bars, parties, etc.

Generally speaking, all of the places that unbelievers go to meet partners are not going to be useful for Christians because they will be full of unbelievers or Christians that are not very serious about their faith.

I'm not saying that serious Christians cannot meet at such places. But I would not in any way recommend that Christians only try what unbelievers try if they want to marry the right person.

Through typical forms of online dating

Dating websites/apps tend to attract a certain demographic of people, one interested in seemingly everything but serious relationships and marriage.

I don't have a problem with online dating in the abstract. In fact, I think it could be incredibly useful if done well. I have just been thoroughly underwhelmed with what I have seen of how dating websites/apps are generally used.

Coming up with something better

Here's the problem for many serious college aged Christians today: either being tied to a small local church, with the number of marriageable opposites around very low, and many of them already in relationships, or learning occurs the internet where there is no such contact.

Campus ministries: there may be nice people in them, but very little substantive truth being taught. No one serious about studying can possibly spend time getting acquainted with various groups for the purpose of vetting spouses.

Most family and friends don't keep lists of single people in their minds for the purpose of setting others up.

Peers in college may be nice people for the most part, but mostly not Christians or at least serious Christians and so not the sort of person one want to marry and spend the rest of one's life with.

Bars or parties: These don't seem to be particularly good places to find serious Christian opposites.

Finally, all my research on Christian options for online dating (for example, Christian Mingle and CDFF) has left me rather cold. Christian dating websites seem to suffer from the same falseness and insincerity that plague their secular counterparts, and emphasize all the wrong things.

I was planning on continuing on with a section about some sort of online network among serious Christians associated with teaching ministries like Ichthys and Bible Academy -- an online network that could provide a way to connect with truly serious Christians for both general friendship/fellowship and for marriage.

I thought I had asked you about this some time in the past, and after some digging, I found your response:

Last but not least, the idea of an online community is appealing, but whenever I have considered something like this, the potential disadvantages seem to me to far outweigh the potential advantages. On the one hand, it would be a way for those interested in Ichthys to get to know each other and interact. On the other hand, well, there's nothing to prevent people from doing something like that individually or collectively quite apart from anything officially sanctioned. This ministry is all about the truth rather than social interaction. If I did set up, say, a Facebook page, it seems to me I would be responsible for moderating what was said; not only don't I have the time for that, but there are more hidden rocks and shoals here than first meet the eye. Secondly, what would prevent someone from pretending to be "gung-ho for the Ichthys ministry" and using that subterfuge to get friendly with someone else at such a site but for ulterior purposes? In sum, such a site might falsely project the idea of a safe place that was not entirely safe.

You bring up some good points (particularly regarding the distinction between informal and "sanctioned" communities), but I'd like to discuss the idea further, particularly as I move into getting my own internet ministry set up. I benefitted greatly from you putting me in touch with our friend, for example, and I can only imagine that there are other brothers and sisters out there that would be equally happy to be able to make such connections.

What do you think in general? Additionally, what do you think of having such a community exist, at least in part, to solve the vexing situation that single Christians now find themselves in?

Yours in Christ,

Response #16:

Apologies in advance for the brevity. Long week, short weekend, late night.

First, as to all of your daunting statistics et al., I have no doubt that the Lord has just the right woman in mind for you and will bring her into your path in just the right way and at just the right time without you having to strategize about it at all (as long as you trust Him and wait patiently for Him). For some things, like finding a job, of course we need to "get out there and hustle" aggressively or we are not acting in a responsible way. But marriage is different for exactly the reasons that you adduce. One could go further. Even if you were surrounded by hundred's of "potentials", 1) you couldn't know their heart or God's will – without Him making it clear (just as I expect Him to do without that situation); 2) it would probably make things just that much worse, you being a human being and thus unlikely to see through the many distractions so as to notice the person whose heart was just right for you.

As I have said before no doubt, a common phenomenon I have noted is that many people relax and "trust the Lord" in the area of looking for work – when they ought to be hustling because looking for work is something that can be done successfully with enough honest effort; yet they pull out all of the stops in looking for a spouse – when all such human efforts are probably only making finding him/her less likely because here the Lord has to be involved: many job possibilities (many of which are godly); only one spouse (ideally).

Before we get to far off into romanticism, let's quote some scripture:

But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
1st Corinthians 7:28 NIV

So from the biblical point of view, you needed a woman? OK, the Lord provided. It's not a sin (and it's "better to marry than to burn"), but instead of "happily ever after" you are going to have "tribulation", and that is in the best of marriages to the person who really was best for you.

On the online community question, I'm even more skeptical of it today (given events of the past few years in these media) than I was when I first wrote these words to you. We can discuss it, if you like, but I think that there are far better ways to spend our time.

Keeping you in my prayers on this and all things.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

What is it in scripture exactly that lets you be so sure we aren't supposed to play a part in finding a godly woman to marry? What about Proverbs 18:22 ("going out and getting in a good way")? I'm obviously not saying we should rush the process or be hasty and impatient, but it strikes me as unrealistic to sit back and expect God to provide without us doing any work – even in this area.

To use myself as an example, I haven't gone to any church for about a month now (I'll be going more regularly once I start teaching my class) – all of my learning is done through Ichthys and Bible Academy, as well as my own reading. My classes keep me busy enough that I'm not even really getting enough sleep. Outside of my family and roommates, I interact with few humans on a level deeper than asking how the weather is. God would quite literally need to bring a woman to my door in order for me to start a relationship, much less get married.

Re: tribulation in marriage, etc. -- we've been through this. I don't think I have unrealistic expectations anymore, but I appreciate the reminder.

I certainly don't want to take up a lot of your time having you explain to me why you don't think internet communities are a good idea, but I would like to better understand simply for the sake of explaining why I won't have any of them either. Right now I'm a bit fuzzy on exactly why they are such a bad idea -- even a list of bullet points to get me thinking would suffice.

After thinking about it, I realized that I wasn't so much drawn to the idea of an online community as an "address book" of sorts. Despite my sharing of Ichthys with others, I remain the only person I know who follows it to any great degree.
There wouldn't be any "community" except for that which was self-organized based upon some basic information. The whole thing could be opt-in as well, meaning nobody participated in this that didn't want to in the first place.

Is your opinion of this idea any different?

In Christ,

Response #17:

To take things in reverse order, I wouldn't be worried about you and having your email posted on the site. If some "nut job" contacted you, I figure you would have enough moxie to be able both to figure out what you were dealing with and how to handle it too.

However, consider the following scenario. I open this up as you suggest. A young woman who is a reader of Ichthys wants her address posted and since that is "the plan" I do so. She is contacted by some older male, a predator (sexual or financial or otherwise) who pretends to be a "good Christian" and interested in Ichthys et al. as well. She might be more savvy on Facebook or have her identity better protected on Twitter (e.g.), but because this is Ichthys she assumes (wrongly) that she is dealing with a better group of people – but in this case she has only given away her email address and opened herself up to exploitation because of her assumptions about who it is that frequents the site. But the reality is that being on the internet, anyone can have access to it. So if she is exploited in any way, perhaps I am not legally responsible (perhaps I am), but I am certainly morally responsible.

Alternatively, some man spends a few months emailing me with questions and gives the impression of being decent and genuinely interested in the truth. I have some misgivings but they are not serious enough for me to feel right about blackballing him from posting his name and email address since that is "the plan". But he uses this address as a "fly trap" for starting relationships of exploitation (financial or sexual or otherwise). Again, I would consider myself responsible.

Or how about this one: two people who are not out to exploit others but have good intentions both post and get to know each other "online" as a result of exchanging emails. A relationship (romantic or financial or otherwise) ensues, but later sours and creates tremendous hard feelings (at the least); the spirituality and spiritual growth of one or both is adversely affected. I would feel somewhat less responsibility for that but would not consider myself completely without blame because I have sponsored the venue. The fact that this has all taken place online and outside of anyone else' purview means that all manner of misunderstandings might occur which never would if person A were speaking with person B face to face irrespective of Ichthys.

In short, while I would love to have folks interested in Ichthys get to know one another, the sort of thing you suggest has always seemed to me to fall into the category of "Great idea . . . forget it".

On seeking a spouse, here is my translation of Proverbs 18:22:

He who finds a wife [and] who finds a good thing [in so doing] obtains favor from the Lord.
Proverbs 18:22

Meaning, as I interpret the verse, if you are looking for a wife and if you find one who is a good one, that means that the Lord has blessed you. Also, the Hebrew word matsah means something more like "come across / bump into" – more of an accident, as we might say (albeit a God-directed one), than representing an active process of searching through our own self-will as may be read into the English word. So I don't find a mandate for aggressively looking here; what I find is an indication of what I've been trying to suggest, namely, that if a person does "find / bump into" a good spouse, that is a blessing from the Lord and nothing that could have been worked up personally no matter how much effort is expended. If the Lord has someone for you, but you pull out all the stops to look for yourself, you are probably going to "find" someone (in the English sense as the result of effort), but it might not be the one the Lord had in mind. If He has it planned for you to bump into Ms. Right next year, you searching this year may net an attractive and likely seeming person, but she might be all wrong, actually, and only complicate or even derail the plan for Ms. Right.

I don't know a single verse in scripture that might be made to suggest that a person is in any way wrong in waiting on the Lord for help on this issue. Just the opposite. For things that are beyond our ability or ken, waiting on the Lord is the only answer. And after all, God looks on the heart – but we are largely incapable of doing that when it comes to others, really. It takes a great deal of maturity and discernment, not to mention a spiritual gift, to be able to see into or through people even to a minimal degree. To look beyond the outward appearance of a potential spouse and see the heart is something I doubt anyone can do with complete objectivity – with the one important exception of when they really are talking to / looking at Ms./Mr. Right. And how can that be the case if the Lord has not brought the meeting to pass? That is impossible.

It's not a matter of statistics. God has someone for you. If you force the issue, you are likely going to convince yourself that someone else is "the person", and that will not end well.

If we trust that nothing is impossible for the Lord (and we do), if we are willing to wait for Him to fulfill our needs in His perfect timing (and we should be), then it will all work out. All other planning and effort is at best a futile waste of time; at worst it may result in substituting our plan for His plan while rationalizing that we are doing the opposite and this will have all manner of negative effects.

Should we expend effort and planning to get a job? Absolutely. But that is in reality an entirely different thing. We can get a job. And we can change jobs. Of course the Lord is the One who helps us with all that and if we exercise faith and discernment we will get the "right one" and not the wrong one and be able to adjust down the road. But a marriage partner is different in so many ways – not least because it is a once and for all thing and involves judgments we could never hope to get right without His help – not to mention that the level of emotion and distraction involved makes a rational process (such as we go through in a job search) largely impossible – which is to say that we can try to approach matchmaking as a job hunt but we are kidding ourselves to think that can know as much as in that other case, or be as objective about it . . . or be able to put ourselves by our efforts in the path of the person the Lord has in mind.

I have been and promise to continue to keep you in prayer about this, my friend. Abraham had to wait a very long time – not for a spouse but for an heir. When he listened to human-viewpoint reasoning it only made him miserable and delayed what he really wanted; when he set himself to wait on the Lord the Lord brought it about in the most wonderful and miraculous way. I'm not saying you will have to wait many decades; but if you had to wait a year or two it wouldn't be the end of the world. The Lord has His plan for you on this. Give Him the benefit of the doubt please.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for taking the time to go at this again with me. I daresay that I have probably spent more time reading and re-reading these relationship/marriage emails than any of the other correspondence we have had (even some of the more complicated, theologically dense things we've discussed). I guess it is just because the godly path here is so different from everything we are taught to expect growing up that it's "going down harder." It hit me tonight after reading your response that I keep asking the same questions, already knowing the answers, but wanting them to be different. Every time you explain the fundamental calculus in a new or slightly different way, it gets through to me clearly (as it is now). And then weeks go by. I feel the pressure of loneliness and hear about how wonderful finding someone is. I see couples around me who appear to be blissfully happy, tackling the challenges of life arm in arm. And I'm sure there is a degree of that going on. But I'm also sure that there are fights, and irritations, and compromises that the world never sees. The "many troubles in life" parts of marriage.

I shall attempt to not continue the cycle. How you have put it this time really made a lot of sense to me.

I also see the points you make about the internet list idea. Sometimes I forget that I'm far more discerning than the average person (not that I'm perfect), and would never get taken in by a lot of this sort of thing. This clouds my judgement. I was going to mention that I forgot the "address" part of the address book (as in, ", from __-town, USA"), but given what you've said, that seems like an even worse idea than email alone. The longing for genuine face-to-face fellowship was the primary driver behind me bringing this up in the first place (i.e., figuring out if there were any other dedicated readers of Ichthys close enough to me to make meeting in person possible), but given the issues you've mentioned with email, I can't imagine in-person meetings would have any less potential for abuse (and would suspect the potential is quite a bit higher in fact).

I suppose, in my particular case, if I have my email address on the internet (associated with my ministry website), it will be possible for anybody who is interested to get in contact with me.

I thought I'd inform you that I got the website up. Not too much on there yet, but I have my plans. I have some things I would like to discuss: [details about readers being able to post content omitted]

Thanks as always for taking the time. I'm sorry this one got a little bit long -- I know you mentioned you were a bit buried earlier. Please take your time.

Your friend in Jesus,

Response #18:

It's no problem, my friend. I appreciate your willingness to consider direction.

I've updated the link to your ministry.

As to the process you ask about, this seems to me to be the other extreme from the one I came up under. My mentor Col. Thieme brooked zero disagreements and/or pointed questions, let alone providing a venue to introduce them. I answer questions but have the process under pretty tight control in that they don't make it to the website immediately and without editing. Allowing users to weigh in / make changes along the lines of Wikepedia strikes me as inviting problems, but every ministry is different. The biggest practical question you are likely to face in the early going, it seems to me, is that when your work begins to get notice you will be compelled to "deal" with all manner of such input pretty rapidly. That would be fine if it were all you were doing all day long. But if you are still in school, still doing Bible study from another ministry, and have or are starting a family, that might make for some sleepless nights coming at the wrong time. So if you are going to try to do things this way, I would suggest putting in some sort of system delay whereby you are notified of posts/comments/corrections, but have, say, a week or so before they "hit" – or else have to physically approve them before they are posted. It's possible that this is already the case – apologies if so (I'm not familiar with this type of website construction).

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Hi Bob,

No changes post until I explicitly approve them. So it's not really like Wikipedia.

You didn't directly comment on me publishing "works in progress." Does this mean you think it is OK for me to do so, as long as I follow the precautions I outlined above?

Finally, re: marriage, I sat down and thought some more after I sent the email last night, and still am not totally convinced that I understand what is expected on "my end." I have a busy few weeks ahead so am going to back-burner this for now. I trust that God will works things out. I expect I'll better be able to formulate this once I've worked some more on my current project regarding what the Bible has to say on relationships, and once I have some more room to breathe and think freely. Like I said, I really do appreciate all the time you've put in to helping me on this score.

In Him,

Response #19:

Sounds good.

On "works in progress", I'm not a fan of that (not telling you not to do it by any means). Here's the thing. We are working hard and studying hard and learning all we can in order to be able to be authoritative in what we say (cf. Lk.4:32). Putting it out there in raw form runs the risk of making it seem as if we have a flippant attitude towards the truth: If we know what is right, why don't we say it? If we aren't sure yet, why are we saying it? More on this below.

Which brings me to the next point. There are two basic approaches to serious teaching: 1) topical/ doctrinal treatment and 2) "biblical"/verse by verse treatment. I have seen the advantages and disadvantages of both and also the occupational hazards of both. Verse by verse can tend to bog a person down because of wishing to teach in detail every principle encountered moving forward – which is a good thing but can lead to, e.g., the "Peter series" lasting decades. Topical treatment has its own hazards. If the topic is one that is pretty clearly put forth as such in scripture, it will be self-limited to a certain degree. But the danger for a teacher/exegete is in "going beyond what is written" into areas and speculative indulgence where other teachers have previously gone. So, for example, it's very tempting in writing about election to get caught up in the whole Calvinist vs. Arminian feud as well as digging into the R.C. mind-set that preceded it. More profitable is to focus only on what is really in the Bible in the verses where the subject is covered, dealing with previous treatments only when that is necessary to refute some well-known mistake or other.

To apply the above to your previous emails and questions, I would not be averse to someone wanting to cover marriage or even "relationships" biblically, but I have often remarked on how little the Bible has to say about this topic compared to the overwhelming interest in the church-visible and the vast and inordinate amount of attention it receives in "church" today. Based upon what is really important in the Bible, if I were teaching only one lesson once a week on Sunday morning, it might well be fifty years before I got to "sex and marriage" as a discrete topic . . . if ever. But go to any evangelical "church" on any given Sunday morning and you stand a good chance of hearing a sermon (I despair of saying "lesson") on family matters, marriage, romance and etc. Why is that? Because, obviously, that is what "they want to hear" – even though that is probably the last thing they need to hear. Why? Because 1) all "they" need to know is in the Bible in fairly unambiguous terms (with questions easily and quickly answered for all who are willing to listen); and 2) because hearing a sermon on sex/marriage/romance/family as a single person is going to have me thinking about sex/marriage/romance/family . . . when I spend WAY too much time thinking about that anyway; but 3) it is not going to contribute to my spiritual growth in any significant way and it may even be detrimental in skewing my focus (not to mention that in "churches" which are given to this sort of thing it seems to be inevitable that the "teaching" is also usually either wrong or at least "off" in some significant way).

If I were going to do a major posting / study / lesson on sex/marriage/romance/family, it would be verse centered and principle centered and would, as best as I could achieve it, avoid speculation. Consider the excerpt you sent me in your first email in this chain. Now that we've talked it over, I hope you can see that getting others to focus on the statistics is going to have them thinking human-viewpoint solutions rather than trusting God to take care of the otherwise impossible. And that goes back to the previous question. If you posted this as a "work in progress" it could give someone just that wrong idea (in my humble opinion). I think from our conversation that you see that now too. So you pull it off of your website. Problem is you have already (in this considered scenario) had it up there for some time for people to read . . . and make some dangerous assumptions as a result. Everyone is responsible for their own decisions, of course, but I couldn't say that you would be without blame for promulgating spiritually unhelpful viewpoints – if that is what even you yourself come to see them as now, after some thought.

In other words, this is all a very serious business. Some things, as in delivering the Word of God, benefit from thinking about it and thinking it over for a while first – privately – until a man is sure in his own heart of the absolute veracity of what he says / writes / posts (as far as that is possible). Granted, we all make mistakes and none of us is perfect. But in my view it's a questionable practice to put anything out there that may be taken as "the truth" if we are not at least firmly convinced of the substance of it. "Trying it out, trying it on" and testing it is something we should probably best do on our own time out of public view. It's lonely. But that's the job. And it's too important not to do right.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

[details omitted]

Response #20:

Of course I would never disclose any personally sensitive or confidential information.

As I often remark, people today view orientation as a "yes / no" issue. That would have made any ancient Greek laugh. From their point of view, it's more like a spectrum from zero to a hundred for both orientations, with natural inclination altered, focused or magnified (and sometimes stood on its head) by choice and practice. That would explain why people "discover" they are this or that later in life: if it were always solidly "yes/no", one would think that little discovery would be necessary. I think that is consistent with the biblical view as well, adding of course that some things are permitted in the Bible, others are not.

Anyone who is unmarried is not permitted to engage in sexual activity of any kind. That includes allowing oneself to be "attracted", engaging in any sort of mental promiscuity - - which is also sinful (as our Lord made clear) – and a deadly precursor to the physical act. So purely (or nearly so) heterosexual Christians who are not married are in the precise same situation as "gay" inclined Christians (or whatever they are or combination thereof and to whatever degree). Only a married man and wife can engage in sexual activity without severely damaging their (immediate) relationship with the Lord and bringing on significant divine discipline.

This means, by the way, that 99% of what the culture bombards us with is 1) illicit, and 2) a big fat lie – to the extent that "happiness" is implied as a promise when there can in fact be no "happiness" in truth outside of what God has provided as legitimate. There are differences too, of course, in that most unmarried Christians may have "hope" of marriage whereas someone who is definitely oriented same-sex has no prospects – biblically – and needs to accept that with all his/her heart. Those stuck in the middle are also in the position of being better off embracing celibacy, because otherwise they will probably have to be dishonest with their opposite sex partner all of their lives.

But as long as an unmarried Christian is not sinning, either in mind or in body, the point is largely irrelevant. It only becomes relevant when sin enters in, and some sins are more damaging and spiritual destructive than others.

Flee sexual immorality (porneia). Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.
1st Corinthians 6:18 NKJV

It is nobody's business what a Christian "is" (or thinks he/she is) and to what degree on this topic, just as long holiness is the order of the day. In fact, worrying about the "what am I?" question is a dangerous thing to do. For unmarried Christians, thinking about sex in any way is a dangerous thing to do, even if (or maybe especially if) rationalizations lead the way. The "what am I?" question invites thinking about sex – in a subtle and deceptive way. Best advice: stop thinking about it, stop worrying about it, stop talking about it . . . and by all means do not do it ("it" being anything that even comes close to engaging in anything sexual as an unmarried person). Not to say this is easy, but victory is achievable for all those who are ruthlessly stern with their personal areas of weakness – and we all have our share of those, so we all need to be ruthless with ourselves in one area or another at one time or another.

It is also important to point out that we are not here on this earth to enjoy ourselves, to "have a good life", or to "pursue happiness". We are here for Jesus Christ, to grow, progress and serve to win eternal rewards that glorify Him. Anything that distracts from that purpose is better off thrown overboard; how much more is that not true of anything that compromises it or even has the potential of destroying it.

You have a lot to offer the Body of Christ. I worry that fixating on this issue is a sign of being under deceptive attack, and I pray for your deliverance.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #21:

[details omitted]

Response #21:

As to choice/no choice, in the first instance sexual activity is absolutely a choice regardless of inclinations, natural or otherwise. What we "do" is always a choice, regardless of the pressure to "do it". Those pressures differ according to the times and the culture. A near 100% heterosexual feels very little pressure if any to engage in same-sex behavior (but plenty to engage with the opposite sex). But if said person had lived in ancient Thebes or Sparta where this sort of thing was a rite of passage, it'd be another story. Nowadays there is more pressure – because of politics and social engineering and advocacy – to consider this sort of behavior than was ever the case before. In previous generations, the behavior was stigmatized. Today it is not too much to say that it is close to being glorified. I heard one wag remark that he gotten "gay-married", not because he was gay but for the social justice points. That's funny because it has the ring of truth. So to the extent that someone is somewhat tempted in this area, it is certainly the case that all of the societal buzz and positive reinforcement for it and legitimizing of it has made the job of those tempted to it to refrain from it even so all the more difficult. And of course that is true of ALL things sexual in our culture today of course; one cannot walk down the street without being bombarded by it in adds, music, dress, etc., etc.. Pursuing sanctification in the contemporary U.S. is not easy for anyone these days, regardless of inclinations.

As to choice/no choice in the second instance, as mentioned, it seems to me that we all have "inclinations", proclivities of our biology and in this respect of our sin natures (biblically speaking), proclivities which are not just "yes/no" but also "exactly what specifically and to what degree" (in the same way that some are more disposed to like pork chops than broccoli – the analogy I hope relieves me of the need to list a catalog of "kinkiness" and its multifarious variations).

This may be compared to various nascent abilities we all have. Some people are just more naturally inclined to be good basketball players than others. Certainly, physical characteristics are important, but size and strength don't necessarily make a person a good shooter or a great ball-handler. It is a certainty that if there were a way to determine who in this country had the objectively considered "best natural talents" for basketball, we would find that many of these would not be in the NBA or perhaps not even in athletics at all. Talent has to be developed and that takes input from the talented. This works in an analogous way for the negative side of things too. If we reinforce the bad proclivities of our nature, they will strengthen, and the ones we concentrate on will strengthen more. Why we may choose this or that particular sinful expression as our most "favorite" has something to do with biology to be sure, but it is not divorced from choice, choices made at various times and places that guided our course, things that "happened", etc. But we were involved nonetheless: People become addicted to alcohol by drinking it, e.g., and that is certainly a choice – even if it can come to a point where there is little free will left for those who've gone to extremes and become seriously addicted.

The moral of the story is that a person cannot take hot coals into his/her lap without getting burned. If that has happened in the past, as with all sin, there is forgiveness upon confession, and dwelling on the past is a mistake. "Thinking about it", whatever "it" is, is also always a mistake, because even if the "thinking about it" is ruing the past, "thinking about it" still always lowers the threshold for "doing it". And if we have done "it" in the past (drugs or alcohol or illicit sex of any kind or whatever sinful or harmful behavior – gossiping, complaining, hating, coveting or any chronic sin), then we have created negative pathways in our heart which are eager and willing to be filled up again.

In other words, to the extent that we have made bad choices in the past regarding any sort of chronic, sinful behavior, to that extent we are more vulnerable to this same temptation in the future – because of familiarity – than if we had no experience of it. So to the extent that we engage in any behavior that familiarizes us with any sort of chronic sin, to that extent we are most certainly responsible. To take the alcohol analogy again, I know many people and many Christians who have serious problems with alcohol; I don't minimize the problem at all, and I do realize that alcoholism is a terrible condition as is addiction of any kind. But I dislike calling it a "disease", because that seems to me to relieve the person of all responsibility. The decision to take the first drink was a unforced choice – as was every reinforcing decision thereafter. And the more reinforcement, the harder it becomes to exert any force of will to extricate oneself from the quicksand. But choice is still choice, even when it has been hardened into place by use and prior choice. That is the case with most behaviors in life, good, bad and indifferent.

So the solution is to take no prisoners in our absolute no-tolerance stance of staying away from any behavior which is damaging, especially if it is grossly sinful. My concern is that "thinking about it", debating it, considering it, pondering it, analyzing it, categorizing, philosophizing about it, etc., are actually rationalizations for "playing with it" – and if we play with fire, sooner or later we will be burned.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

[details omitted]

Response #22:

By "rationalization" I don't mean anything philosophical; I'm using the word in the contemporarily understood sense (cf. Horace: usus / quem penes arbitrium est et ius et norma loquendi) of finding "reasons" to do what we wanted to do in the first place so as to overcome conscience and any other barriers to doing whatever it is and attributing our submitting to our lusts in this way to "logic".

As to the semi-humorous remark, this is merely meant to reflect the oppressively politically correct climate we're living in where one is supposed to think a certain way or risk being ostracized. It's not unique to us. It's hard to understand Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia or Maoist China or contemporary North Korea without appreciating this power of social pressure to think and act a certain way, even if contrary to the truth.

As to past history or present behavior, I certainly haven't made any such assumptions about you and am not at all surprised by what you affirm. The statements I made (I checked them) were all meant to be as impersonal and general as possible. These are the sorts of things it's good to point out to people before they get involved in any sort of dangerous behavior whether or not at present they're being tempted by it. Just because the world says something is "OK" does not mean that such is the Lord's opinion – and His is the only one that counts.

As to "good", as our Lord said, "No one is good—except God alone" (Lk.18:19 NIV). Amen!

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

I find your interpretation on remarriage comforting although it doesn't give me certainty.

Idk how I stumbled on your page but I did. You see, not only am I remarried, but I also have severe OCD. The OCD has taken on many "themes" including harm OCD, psychosis OCD and scrupulous OCD. So with my "remarriage", I have this "double whammy" fear of hell. One side of being OCD is constantly seeking reassurance that I will not go to hell and the exact doctrine that teaches that remarried people will in fact go to hell.

I'm gonna share some private things with you, tho you are a stranger, because I am still looking for someone to give me certainty that I will not go to hell . . .

[details omitted].

It's such a battle in my mind that I can't get free from. Please offer your thoughts and prayers.


Response #23:

It's good to make your acquaintance, but I am sorry to hear of your past troubles and your present unease.

Let me start by saying that I have known, known of, and heard of many who professed to be Christians who suffered some disappointment or abuse – often far, far less than what you report – and then abandoned Christ because of that negative experience (comparable to the reaction of the exodus generation every time they were tested). So the fact that you still profess the Lord after all you have been through lets me know that you are most definitely a believer in Jesus Christ – and all believers are saved (only unbelievers "go to hell", of their own volition):

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

The Lord wants everyone to be saved (Ezek.18:23; Matt.18:14; Jn.12:47; 1Tim.2:4; 2Tim.2:24-26; 2Pet.3:9). And Jesus died for everyone and suffered the price for every single sin (1Tim.2:5-6; Heb.2:9; 1Jn.2:2; cf., Matt.20:28; Jn.1:29; 12:47; 3:16-17; 2Cor.5:19; 1Tim.4:10; 1Jn.3:5). Why would the Father, who wants all to be saved, who sacrificed His Son so that all could be saved, kick someone out of heaven for some "sin" which Jesus has already paid for? In fact, the only sin Christ could not die for was the horrendous sin of rejecting the Gift of all gifts, rejecting Jesus Christ.

Since you eagerly accept Him, since you desire to be with Him, that is another clear indication of what we both know to be undeniably true: you are a believer – and all believers go to heaven, not hell. Hell is the place where those who have no wish to have any part of God, who have no desire to submit themselves to Him by accepting the Son of God, go to get their wish: an eternity without God. We believers, on the other hand, deeply desire to be in Lord's presence for all eternity. There can be no clearer distinction between these two groups – and you and I belong to the latter, those who will live in the New Jerusalem with our dear Lord forever.

The next point is the critical one for practical concerns. You are married. There are times that it is impossible to stay married. If the other party is unwilling to continue in a marriage, the marriage is over, and a legal divorce is merely making official what is already the case (cf. 1Cor.7:15). In the passage cited it says (NKJV): "if the unbeliever departs, let him depart". Given what you reported, it is hard for me to accept that your first husband was a believer in Jesus Christ, and his behavior towards you was certainly of a type which is in my interpretation of scripture equivalent to "departing" – by making it impossible for you to stay without being destroyed (so who it is that physically departed is a distinction without any real difference in such cases). Likewise, even if your ex-husband claimed / claims to "be a Christian", behavior of the sort reported is not in any way "believer behavior". If a spouse is functionally an unbeliever – and a dishonorable one at that – then again we have a distinction without a difference.

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
1st Corinthians 5:11 NKJV

I don't know all of the details and I do understand that no human being is totally "innocent", but even if you objectively do not feel you had a biblical right to divorce in the first place, please understand that "that ship has sailed"; "that egg has been scrambled"; "that round is down range" (feel free to supply your own metaphor of an action which can not now be undone). There is no going back. As with all past sin, error and failure, our job is to forget it, not dwell on it; to move on with the Lord, not look back to a past that can't be changed (cf. Phil.3:13).

Understand too that you are now married. And a marriage is something very important that the Lord wants preserved – not at ALL costs, but at every reasonable cost (even if it is not the first marriage: 1Cor.7:10). That is to say, if there is a willingness on the part of the other party to continue, then the believer should make all reasonable accommodations to do so (no change of rules if this is a second marriage). In a case such as yours where you are actually happy in your marriage, it would be nonsensical – and definitely contrary to all the Bible has to say – for you to exit your present marriage. If you were in any way wrong to exit your first marriage (I don't see it), or somehow wrong to enter in upon a new one (personally from what I've read here, I don't see that either), in any case, you are where you are NOW, not where you were THEN.

As I always tell people, the time to agonize about whether or not getting married is the right thing to do is BEFORE getting married. Once getting married, you are MARRIED. At that point, the Lord expects you to stick with it. Will you experience some negative results if you weren't supposed to get married and did so anyway? That is no doubt the case, but that does not mean that the Lord will not bless it anyway. David was abundantly blessed in his marriage to Bathsheba in spite of the fact that he received a horrific dose of divine discipline (fourteen years worth) for acquiring her in the murderous and adulterous way he did so: the Messiah comes through her line via Solomon. Again, I don't read anything like that in your case, but the point is that even so, staying married is both the biblical command and the best thing practically speaking as well . . . especially if you are happy in your marriage.

I am aware that there are all manner of false teachers out there on the internet. I am also aware that there is a particularly pernicious set who make it their full time job, so it seems, to sow doubt in the hearts of good Christians who have been divorced and are now remarried – as if that were some sort of unpardonable sin. But no sin is unpardonable – except that of denying Christ. Teaching things that are not true, however, especially if they end up destroying the lives of others, is a vile thing to do and a very dangerous thing to do that no doubt will receive a major dose of discipline for any such who are believers and doing so. Personally, I have my doubts that the most violent scripture-twisters in this category do belong to Christ since most of them teach works-salvation – but we will have to wait to see whether they are cast into the lake of fire with others who reject the Lord or will "merely" be without any eternal reward beyond the basics, having their false works torched before the judgment seat of Christ (1Cor.3:13). Now these "basics" are indeed blessed beyond present ken! But we are here to do better than that, and these sorts are playing with fire, especially in that people who listen to them often ruin not only their own lives but those of their spouses and more particularly those of their children.

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matthew 18:6 NKJV

So for the sake of your children, for the sake of your husband, for your own sake – and for the sake of Jesus Christ – please put all such thoughts out of your head. Our Lord has called us to peace (Is.26:3; 57:2; Jn.14:27; Rom.5:1; Eph.2:14; Phil.4:7; Col.3:15; 2Thes.3:16; 1Pet.1:2), and He means you to have and to live that peace, not to torture yourself with the lies of others.

Finally, the way to victory in struggling with anxious thoughts – and the way to victory in all things in this life for the believer – is consistency in spiritual growth. It is impossible to win anything on the defensive. Living one's life without the consistent intake of the truth and its dogged application day by day will never produce the peace and the joy focused on our eternal hope or growth the Lord means us all to have. And that process of growth is what yields eternal rewards. So I would encourage you to find a place where the truth is solidly taught as the reason for assembly and make learning and believing the truth the foundation of your life – for Christ is that foundation, and He is the truth, the living Word of God.

Ichthys is one such place (you are always welcome here), but I also recommend pastor-teacher Curtis Omo's Bible Academy (at the link).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #24:

Hi Bob,

God never rescinded his commandment to be fruitful and multiply, so if one is not being fruitful and multiplying, one is breaking God's law and in need of justice. My question is this: how do I know I won't be punished for not getting married

Response #24:

This is a good illustration of how being apparently logical is often antithetical to being theological. I believe it was Mark Twain who said that this command you refer to was "the only one of God's decrees which mankind has ever embraced with any particular enthusiasm" (or words to that effect). True. And that should tell you something. Here is what I read in scripture:

Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
1st Corinthians 7:1 NKJV

True, Paul goes on to say that getting married is better than falling into sexual promiscuity or porneia of any sort, but he adds:

But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1st Corinthians 7:6-9 NKJV

The above makes it crystal clear that not getting married is certainly permissible and no sin; however, staying single when one is definitely not cut out for it is problematic: being severely tempted may result.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Honestly, I prefer the peace of chastity over the cantankerousness of marriage. I also would prefer to use it to serve God. And if we believe we shall live forever, then why should we feel a need to "prolong the lineage" anyway?

Response #25:

You're certainly right about that, but then this principle is true about virtually everything in this life. 99% of what is done "under the sun" is either pointless or harmful (please read the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes).

Apart from spiritual matters, as long as we have food and clothing, we should be content with that (1Tim.6:8). People being people, however, we have aspirations, desire, pastimes. Family is part of that. After all, the Lord said Himself, "it is not good for man to be alone" (Gen.2:18). It's how we're built. So while I agree with you, I don't think we can fault, e.g., Abraham, for wanting an heir so desperately and intensely.

If we do have spare time and energy for doing pointless things and useless things and optional things (even if in the case of marriage and family it just hasn't developed yet), then it is a very good idea for a believer to spend a liberal portion of that surplus in Bible study and in preparation for and engagement in ministry.

One of the things I have observed in life (in myself as well as universally in others) is that one of the many gracious things God does for us is to keep a "load on the line" lest we have too much time and juice unoccupied – as this inevitably leads to trouble. I would imagine that marriage and family is a wonderful "load" along with a job that sucks up most of the potential damaging excess free time and energy that might otherwise lead a believer into trouble. So there is another side to all this. If time and energy are free / freed up, there has to something good to fill them – otherwise something bad surely will.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.


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