Tag Archives: marriage

Is homosexuality the only sin?


by Stan Mitchell

From 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, we note the following: There are sins mentioned other than homosexuality (just so you know that I know). But some are deceived (“Be not deceived”) into thinking that they can live these lifestyles and still attain the kingdom of heaven.

Apparently these ailments are not incurable (“Such were some of you”). Many Corinthians had once done these things, but they were doing so no longer–repentance had taken place.

Two things one often hears regarding the subject of homosexuality.

  1. “Why are you making a special case of homosexuality? Why do you not preach against other sins? You act as if homosexuality is the only sin there is!” 
  2. “In what way is speaking against homosexuality calculated to influence those who are homosexuals to become Christians?”

With regard to statement number one, I feel professionally and personally hurt. Homosexuality is distinctly not the only sin I have preached against. I have been preaching for a long time, and I have addressed many subjects in my messages.

I do indeed care about racism, poverty, theft and so on. If you do not believe this is so, you have simply not been listening.

Regarding the second concern, please note the following declaration: “To commit homosexuality is to break God’s law, and those who do so are called to repentance.”

How would this approach differ from that of an adulterer, a gossip, or a racist? How, for instance, should we approach the racist?

  • Shall we suggest it is a sinful lifestyle, or not?
  • Should we teach this from the pulpit and in private, or not?
  • Shall we suggest the racist should repent, or not?
  • Should we suggest that for the penitent racist, there is forgiveness and grace, or not?

It seems to me that it is not the Christian who makes a “special case” of homosexuality, it is the homosexual advocate. They want this sin to not be considered sinful. Gossip, racism and other acts are sinful, but this one is not.

When homosexuals win the legal right to marry, do you believe the “homosexual agenda” will be satisfied? Will their powerful lobby simply retire happy in the knowledge that they can now be considered married? You would be extremely naive if you thought so.

Already Christian-based orphanages are being pressured to give equal opportunity to homosexual couples for adoption. Already speaking against homosexuality is being couched as “hate speech.” The day will come when this very article will be considered hate talk.

Christianity, it seems, has become the “alternative lifestyle.”

Some Questions you might ask:

  • Is it sinful to be confused about your sexual preferences, or to feel tempted? Answer: Remember that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, yet did not sin. 
  • Does God love the homosexual? Answer: Yes. Jesus died on the cross for the homosexual, just as much as he died for the arrogant, the murderer and the thief. Remember, however, that the cross runs two ways: It expresses not only God’s love for the sinner, but the seriousness of the sin. The same cross that expresses the grandeur of God’s love also expresses the depths of our depravity. 
  • Is it unkind to say that homosexuality is a sin? Answer: No. It can be said in an unkind manner, I acknowledge, but how else is the church to know what is a sin? Mental telepathy? Osmosis? 
  • Is homosexuality the civil rights issue of our era? Answer: No. The Bible frequently states that God is no respecter of persons, racially speaking (Acts 10:34,35). If a preacher or Christian declares a person of color is not valued in God’s sight, then his statement is unscriptural and wrong! The Bible, however, does speak against homosexual sin. 
  • Will homosexual marriage become the law of the land? Answer: Yes, I believe it will. Hasn’t the shift in public opinion the last 10 years shocked you?

This is sad, considering America’s Christian background, but when did God’s people ever decide biblical doctrine based on a nation’s legislation?

The bigger question is how the church will respond. I think the most depressing factor in this matter is the large number of people in Christian circles who have already compromised on this issue. In the face of clear biblical teaching, they have walked away from the Bible.

Here is the issue, in a word: Will we take the Bible as our guide, or will we conform to the world. A generation of faithful Christianity is at stake here.

God bless us all!

Sundry thoughts about marriage


by J. Randal Matheny, editor

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments against the traditional definition of marriage, as homosexual advocates attempt to include same-sex relationships in the legal definition of the institution established by God. Forty-one states have affirmed the traditional concept of marriage, and conservatives hope the court will not undermine this healthy movement.

Fallen man loves to redefine God’s terms. He ever moves the divine limits. Proverbs warned against changing the literal boundary lines set when Israel took possession of Canaan. “Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22.28 ESV; cf. 23.10). Shifting the boundary stones meant oppressing the weak. Moving marriage’s limits also oppresses children who need a mom and a dad to develop properly, become responsible adults, and, most importantly, learn about God.

No marriage is perfect, because there are no perfect people. But marriage can and does play its essential role for imperfect people. It plays this role best for Christians who have the sacrifice of Christ as their model for relationship (see Ephesians 5).

No marriage can fulfill all of a person’s desires. Marriage is a place to give, not the place to seek satisfaction. It is true of marriage as well that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Marriage ought to be, was designed to be, a microcosm of the divine love. Man was created as the object of God’s love, and marriage is that relational commitment in which that love is best shared. This is no negation of the church, but an affirmation of the first divine institution created for man.

Good marriages undergird strong churches. Elders must be married, in good relationships, with submissive wives and obedient children. Servants must also be married. Letters to churches devote space to marital and familial relationships. Holy matrimony and faithful churches reinforce one another.

Marriage is a commitment that not even baptism can undo. Baptism does not miraculously turn adultery into matrimony.

Unhappy married people will be unhappy in subsequent marriages, researchers tell us. Marriage does not make people happy. Marriage will reveal one’s inner state of being, the self that one brings to the relationship.

A large percentage of the invitations I get to speak in other congregations and in events of the brotherhood deals with marriage and the family. These are topics of intense interest today, because at home people show their real face. It’s often not as pretty as the face shown in church meetings. The solution to improve or repair a marriage, however, is to apply an individual remedy: repentance from selfishness and renewal of the sacrifice of Christ in one’s life.

Marriage can limit or expand one’s usefulness in the kingdom of God, but it cannot prevent one from serving the Lord. Singleness can also be a blessed state for service.

It is better not to marry than to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. If a married couple cannot share the grace of God in their relationship, little is left to share. Love lacks divine definition in such a relationship and will likely grow cold.

Haste to marry wastes many a life. Marrying for a bad reason seldom makes for a good marriage.

The “one flesh” of a godly marriage produces a new life. Man and woman become one, and the union is blessed with children. This seems almost a paradox, but it reveals the greater divine plan. From the one God springs new life to receive an eternal love.

Pornography dehumanizes in three ways


by Richard Mansel, managing editor

God created us as sexual beings (Genesis 1:31). However, sex is a gift to be enjoyed only within the confines of marriage (Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 5:27-28).

God wants husbands and wives to enjoy the sexual union within the one-flesh marriage (Song of Solomon; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:22-29).

Naturally, Satan took the beautiful creation of God and turned it into something evil and enslaving. Thus, pornography was born.

Pornography dehumanizes in three ways:

1. Porn turns people into appliances

It teaches that desirable men and women are animate bodies available only for our pleasure. In other words, vibrant human beings, created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), are to be used and discarded as so much garbage.

Countless people have degraded themselves based on this lie. The psychological wounds from pornography are inestimable.

2. Porn distorts reality

Pornography is founded on lies and deception and presents a false ideal that cannot be attained beyond the camera’s eye.

Porn makes promises that cannot be fulfilled. Fantasies are often nothing more than elaborate hoaxes that lead to frustration and hopelessness. It sends us after an ideal that does not exist.

Porn is a drug where we become obsessed with the next hit only to find that it never satisfies.

3. Porn destroys pleasure and intimacy

Since it chases a manufactured ideal, real human spouses cannot compete. In time, sexual satisfaction in marriage becomes impossible. Satan takes sex out of the bedroom and into the pits of depravity.

Lies and deception have no place in marriage, but they are the lifeblood of porn.

Sex, as created by God is beautiful but the version conjured by Satan will take away everything we have.

Moments of pleasure cannot match a lifetime of joy together within the bond of matrimony. If we will trust God’s plan, we will find the true power of pleasure and we will forever be grateful.

Factors of good communication


by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Communication is almost always listed in the grievances among dating and married couples who come to counseling.

As counselors try to help them through these struggles, three factors must be considered. When they are addressed and accounted for, the couple can begin to make progress.

First, communication must account for personality. Many people have a difficult time expressing their feelings. Instead, they may use other forms of speech.

A quiet husband may get up early, go to work, come home, cut the grass and take out the garbage. His wife gripes because he is not verbally expressing his love. However, he is speaking loudly through his actions and cannot understand her anger.

Someone is not going to become a completely different person in every aspect of life. At some point our personalities are set.

We can all learn to do better to accommodate our spouse. In the one-flesh marriage bond, our spouse is a part of our bodies and we care for them more than we do ourselves (Genesis 2:18-25).

Accordingly, it pains us when they are suffering. The effort made to express our feelings will be worth it in the end.

Second, communication must account for trust. We must feel safe as we open ourselves up completely to another person. This trust must be earned and it can be easily destroyed.

When someone has been hurt in the past, they will protect themselves at all costs. Their hesitation is understandable and they may have a difficult time trusting another person. The problem is that we cannot have a one-flesh bond without trust.

Third, communication must account for knowledge. When our loved one allows us into their hearts, we begin to learn more about them. The more we learn, the deeper our communication should become.

The selfish person cannot grow in this area because they do not see anything outside of themselves. We must allow our spouse true access, if they have proven themselves worthy.

True unselfish love will not allow us to hurt the other person without serious pain on our part (Ephesians 5:22-29). We know everything about our partner, yet we love them anyway. We protect and cherish them and never share their personal thoughts or fears with others.

The groundwork for communication is too often overlooked and couples suffer, as a result. Successful communication requires a large sacrifice as well as courage and patience.

When we have the type marriage God desires, we will be more than willing to do the work required because the joy will be exhilarating.

Steel and love

by John E. Werhan

At the dawn of God’s creation, God declared that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:1-31). Within this realm of creation, God created mankind.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:26-27).

This was God’s ultimate creation since it was man in whom he gave not only the breath of life but an eternal soul (Genesis 2:7).

To his creation of man and woman, God gave instructions as to their worldly union. Man being alone, God deemed that he must have a “help meet” (Genesis 2:18). So from man God formed for him a suitable creation (Genesis 2:21-22).

Man’s response to this new creature was as follows:

“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24, KJV).

God instituted a union between the man and woman that was to be a binding stronger than steel, yet tempered by love.

The words translated “hold fast” (cleave) is from the Hebrew word dabaq which means, “to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.”

This God instituted union is manifest in the love that binds man and woman together into one unit. It is because of this love that King Solomon notes:

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22).


“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).

In essence when a man and woman commit themselves to this union, it is as much a blessing to them as it was to the first man and woman at the dawn of time.

Let us each look into the mirror of our souls and see if we are manifesting such a love in our God-instituted union.

  • Take the time to tell your spouse of your undying love.
  • Show them your love by your actions.
  • Never take each other for granted.
  • Strengthen your union daily and never let anything weaken it.

“But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:6-9).

John preachers for the The Northeast church of Christ in Sentinel, Oklahoma.


by Christine Berglund

After 30 years, I am once again cultivating a curious little fruit that our family calls “pie tomatoes.” Physalis is a little berry in the Nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.

My friend Cherry remembered them from long ago, and sent me the seeds, sold under the name “Ground Cherry” and “Husk Tomato.” It is also known as “Cape Gooseberry.”

The plant is rather ugly, and looks like a weed. It can grow three feet tall and spreads up to four feet wide. The fruit is enclosed in a loose husk which completely encases the marble-sized berry. They ripen to a papery yellow and then drop off the plant, which is the signal that they are ready to eat or cook. They make the most wonderful pies!

My mother got her plants from a Jewish friend, along with the pie recipe. She called it Shoo Fly pie, which I found out later is something altogether different. I suppose they didn’t know the English equivalent to whatever they called it before, possibly in Europe, and so adopted the erroneous name.

These peculiar golden fruits bring back memories of my childhood, and of my sweet mother who passed away when I was nine. I still call the fruits “pie tomatoes” and the pie is simply “pie tomato pie.” I should be taking suggestions for a pie-naming contest. It deserves a good one!

The mundane name does not in any way detract from how good these are! They even contain chemical compounds that combat inflammation, hypertension, and even cancer. However, in life we assign false names to things that often should be called what they really are.

Our firstborn, Heather, was a champion at re-naming things. An early talker, she probably just didn’t want to wait to find out the name of an object before she would assign one of her own. As she played on the monkey bars at a local playground, she might say,“Mommy, I’m climbing the blambidge!” The tall pails we used for toy storage became “dummalines,” and the knobs on her crib were “pams.”

Even as a baby, whenever she saw the moon she would point and murmur in a reverent tone, “Schlabaah…” We still don’t know what that meant, and neither does she.

I must admit our family still uses these words, mostly because of our nostalgia for Heather’s baby days. Sometimes it’s okay to use fanciful words, but our last-born chided us recently for our failure to tell her that “dummaline” was a made-up word.

Her friends gave her a blank stare when she used the word in their presence. Silly friends! No; silly us, for using the wrong word for “storage bucket.”

There has been a lot of buzz lately about what the word “marriage” can be used to describe, and even a news report that a Brazilian man and two women have a union called “marriage” recognized by the government.

Everybody has his or her own opinion on how far we can go with this classification, but rarely is the will of our Creator considered. We simply argue about the word, or it is re-made to mean something different.

We can call something “health care” when it really means killing an unwanted child. There are numerous ways to make something look better by simply re-naming it.

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NASB).

Let’s use our words carefully, and let them always be true. Pie, anyone?


Contradictions of Calvinism

by  Mike Benson

Bad news travels fast–especially in religious circles. The latest fatality is Dr. Jack Schaaps, “pastor” of the 15,000 member First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. Schaaps is 54, married with two children, and has served with the congregation for about eleven years.

He’s also been involved in an illicit relationship with a 16-year-old female church member.

According to news reports, a deacon noticed a text message on Schaap’s cell phone. The image showed preacher and girl engaged in a kiss. When confronted by his church board, Schaaps admitted to having an affair with the youth.

From a legal standpoint, the preacher is not in trouble because the legal age of consent for sexual activity in Indiana is 16. But from a professional, marital, and moral standpoint, Schaaps is in all kinds of hot water.

But here’s the kicker. Jack Schaaps is a Calvinist. Let that marinade around your brain stem for just a moment.

One of the petals of Calvinism (e.g., TULIP) is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints–what is popularly known as “once-saved, always-saved.” The idea is that once God has saved you, there is absolutely nothing you can do to be lost. Period. Dot. End of sentence.

However popular the doctrine may be within the religious world today, it is simply not in harmony with the teaching of Scripture. In reality, there are over 2,500 places in the Bible that teach a child of God can sin and be lost. Here’s a brief sampling from the New Testament:

  • In the Parable of the Talents, the servant who buried his one talent was cast into outer darkness (Matthew 25:14-30).
  • In the Parable of the Soils, some who become children of God have their faith choked by thorns (Mark 4:14-20).
  • Some believe for a time, but, fall away because they succumb to temptation (Luke 8:13).
  • Jesus is the vine and Christians are the branches. A branch that does not bear fruit is cut off and burned.
  • Judas fell (Acts 1:25).
  • Ananias and Sapphira were Christians who died in their sins (Acts 5:1-11).
  • Simon was in danger of losing his soul (Acts 8:20-22).
  • If a child of God lives according to the flesh, he will die spiritually (Romans 8:12-13).
  • The brother in the church at Corinth who had his father’s wife was in a lost condition until he repented (1 Corinthians 5:1-3, 5; 2 Corinthians 2:3-11; Revelation 21:27).
  • A weak brother can perish (1 Corinthians 8:11).
  • Even Paul could have been castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27).
  • The Israelites fell and were lost (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).
  • Some Christians in Galatia had already fallen because they had turned back to elements of the old law (Galatians 5:2-4).
  • See also 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Ezekiel 3:20; 18:21-25.

The episode in Dr. Schaap’s life is heart-breaking. He has sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind. His influence has been destroyed, his marriage has been damaged, and our society continues its downward spiral into the moral abyss.

But perhaps what wrenches my heart most of all is that many, like Dr. Schaaps, do not choose to see in the Word what is clearly illustrated in his life.

How can a person claim to be saved in Christ when his life and teaching are obviously not Christ-like?

Satan's weapon of hate

by Richard Mansel, managing editor

Satan is the master of lies, deceiving countless people daily through sleight of hand and subtle tricks of the language (John 8:44). Yet, most people no longer think he exists, even in churches. We must be diligent to expose his activities.

In our upside down age, we blame God for evil and credit man for good. Recent events shed light on Satan’s lies.

The owner of the restaurant chain, Chick-fil-a, made it known that he did not support homosexual marriage. A firestorm of criticism led thousands of Americans to stand in line to support the restaurant’s stance on traditional marriage.

Detractors insist that everyone who is against homosexual marriage hates homosexuals. This is too devious for man to come up with on his own. Clearly, Satan is at work because these claims are antithetical to God’s Word.

As Christians, we are commanded to love everyone (1 John 4:7). The gospel is for all, no matter what sins we have committed (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

While God condemns the practice of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27), God created those who practice homosexuality in his image (Genesis 1:27) and sent his Son to die for them (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

Nevertheless, Satan is reaping great benefits by redefining words to cloud the minds of men (Ephesians 6:11).

In the spiritual realm, he has changed the popular definitions of grace, salvation, church, Christian and saint. Accordingly, countless people are being lost, thinking they are pleasing God while falling for Satan’s lies.

By altering the parameters of the homosexuality issue, Satan has found a way to pressure people into acceptance, even Christians who have replaced faith with timidity.

They ignore the clear teachings of the New Testament against homosexuality because they fear the approval of men more than they fear the approbation of God.

“The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25, NKJV).

They are spineless, just like Aaron, who was more frightened of the people than of God (Exodus 32:21-24). Will leaders of God’s people follow the same path? Sadly, many will.

God gave Jeremiah some very sound advice that applies today:

“Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:8).

Genuine conversion

by Michael E. Brooks

Domestic violence is one of many moral problems in South Asia. Almost every daily newspaper contains stories of men who burn their wives with acid, cruelly beat, or even kill them. Often the motive is extortion of money (dowry) from her family or anger at their failing to provide it to him. Many other, less severe, acts of violence are suffered regularly for various reasons.

Recently I was asked to mediate in a domestic dispute of a different kind. A couple was frequently quarreling and fighting and neighbors tried to intervene to help them. According to those neighbors it was the wife who was the aggressor, continually tormenting her husband not with blows but with words. She accused him groundlessly and wildly of misconduct, cursed him, abused him with foul language, and spoke with great disrespect of him and his family. She repeatedly threatened to kill him, using poison, suffocation or other means.

I am not suggesting that her abuse was worse or necessarily equal to that of the malicious husbands described above. I do point out however that everyone has the potential to sin against and harm others.

But that is not my primary reason for citing these examples. Rather it is to say that this kind of behavior, though not unknown in other nations and cultures, is especially prevalent here. I cannot help but believe that one reason it is so culturally pervasive is the absence of significant Christian influence.

The Bible makes it plain that such behavior is sin and totally unacceptable. Unfortunately not all religions or philosophies contain the same teaching.

When Christian missionaries come to evangelize non-Christian areas of the world, our emphasis is always to present Jesus’ promise of eternal salvation. Ours is a message of invitation and hope. Yet we need to present Christ’s challenge to a world lost in sin – we do not have to live like this. We can do much better.

Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:22-24 are directly to that point. He commands us to put off the old sinful way of life and live as God intended. God will help us but we must make a diligent effort.

In the remainder of chapter 4 (verses 25-32) Paul describes the kinds of change that are required. He tells us to stop stealing and work honestly for what we need (28). We are to quit lying and tell the truth (25); refrain from sinful actions, even if we are angry (26); and be kind to each other, practicing forgiveness (32).

Prominent among these changes is our habit of speech. No corrupt word is to depart from our mouth (29), and we are to avoid all evil speaking (31). In contrast we are to speak only those things that are good for necessary edification and that will impart grace to the hearer (29).

What a different world we would live in if all would follow those instructions. If honest labor, true speech, and positive language were the common characteristics of all, what joy and peace we would know.

We understand that most will not follow God’s will. But that does not lessen the importance of each one of his people making their very best effort. The changes described above are one definition of conversion (Acts 3:19).

Those times of refreshing surely include the positive results of our behavioral changes. Every time an abusive husband repents and comes to Christian faith, or a profane woman purifies and controls her tongue, they, and society, are refreshed.

May we labor diligently to help that happen more frequently.

When two become one

When a couple gets married, they form a new person that enters the world fresh and vulnerable. It must be cared for, if it will survive. From the wobbly first steps to the sturdy paths of the mature, it must be nurtured and protected from predators.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NKJV).

They unite to form a being that has never before existed. The cruel world will be determined to destroy it, as soon as possible. The couple must develop strategies to fortify the walls, so the attacks can be repelled.

“So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Divorce is an act of violence that destroys the lives of everyone involved. The shrapnel of the bomb creates permanent scars (Malachi 2:16). The new creation can thrive and persevere. It will just require hard work and an indefatigable eye on the big picture of commitment.

How will they remain married for life?

First, be stubborn. Refusing to break up is a great start. When we resolve to stand firm, we find it easier to withstand attacks. We build our fortifications and man the walls together, not allowing anyone to come between us.

Second, be separate. Entering a place of their own design, they retreat there for safety and sanity. United as one, they protect and cultivate their special place, so it will always be their haven of peace.

Third, be a student. We must learn as much as we can about one another, so we can strive to bring fulfillment and happiness into our lives. We cannot do this for our spouse, but we can sow the seed. We learn all we can because knowledge is power.

Fourth, be substantive. Spend quality time together in play, pleasure, communication and in service to God. Don’t waste days. We must ensure that intimacy and affection are pervasive in our marriage.

Marriage is an extraordinary blessing if we will do the work and make the proper choices. If we do, we will have joy all of our days. If not, we will either break apart or live the remainder of our days stuck in a nightmare.

Sounds like an easy decision.