Letters on a Tuesday. What Did You Think Was Going to Happen?

Twerking Drag Queens

Until about 6 years ago I foolishly ascribed to the “religiously neutral” argument. Praise God there are more and more leaving that position every day, and understanding that in a very real way, it truly is Christ or chaos. But sadly there are still many in evangelical leadership whose only cultural commentary is “Jesus isn’t a republican” or something anti-Trump while saying nothing about the absolute wickedness that is celebrated in our culture.

I’d argue these leaders have already lost trust and many are in no rush to earn it back, but outside of you and MacArthur I haven’t seen much filling of the gap. Not that you two can’t carry the mantle but you know what I mean. Can we continue this wave without more leaders rising up or those already there turning course abruptly?

Matt

Matt, no, there have to be many more. And I believe that is happening.

For an essay I’m writing about advocates of Christian Nationalism. 1. To what degree is your version of CN informed by Rushdoony? Do you think ideal Christian societies will eventually put people to death for as many crimes as he suggests?

2. Does your understanding of CN privilege one race above another?

3. Should women hold civic offices or leadership positions in businesses?

Mark

Mark, I don’t think Rushdoony is that influential in all the details, but many of his structural insights are unassailable (e.g. “not whether, but which”), and have thus provided a framework. So, to answer your questions, no, no, and sometimes.

Forgiveness for a Cheating Husband

“A cheating husband could ask for forgiveness from his wife, and genuinely receive it, and still find himself divorced.” I’m not too sure about this one. Are forgiveness and trust separate and distinct things? Yes. Are they completely unrelated. No, I don’t think so.

I’ve seen a lot of talk lately about forgiveness in a lot of different circles, and it seems to me we’re in danger of so compartmentalizing biblical forgiveness that we’ve removed any practical ramifications of it and are turning it into a mere theological construct. Maybe I’m wrong, but that what it seems to me.

?

SA

SA, I think we have to make a distinction because for Christians forgiveness is mandatory, and according to Scripture a reconciliation is not mandatory. A spouse could divorce someone because the situation was simply untenable, and yet have no trouble coming to the Lord’s Table with that person.

One other consideration is that the cheater is a biblical wolf. He/she will confess only to things that are unenforceable or they will say that they confessed years ago and were forgiven. They will be vague about specifics. They will deny they cheated at all and you are the one who is mistaken.

Z

Z, yes. That is a problem also.

A Unique Question

I have followed you for several years now and have greatly benefited from your ministry and that of Christ Kirk, Canon Press, and the whole gang. Thank you. I have a question about who may perform marriage ceremonies.

I am a twenty-six-year-old Tennessee lawyer, as is my soon-to-be fiance. The question has arisen because I am considering asking a Chancellor I clerked for after law school (who also swore me in as an attorney) to officiate the wedding. He is a Baptist believer, an elder at his church, and actively engaged in the ministry of his church. However, he is not an ordained “minister.”

I am finding the Tennessee Code easier to understand than Scripture. T.C.A. Sec. 36-3-301 states that those who may solemnize a marriage include “[a]ll regular ministers, preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis and other spiritual leaders of every religious belief, more than eighteen (18) years of age, having the care of souls, and all members of the county legislative bodies, county mayors, judges, chancellors, former chancellors and former judges of this state.” Simple enough.

Yet, the Book of Church Order states the following: “Christians should marry in the Lord; therefore it is fit that their marriage be solemnized by a lawful minister, that special instruction be given them, and suitable prayers offered, when they enter into this relation.”

Put simply: May I ask the Chancellor to officiate my wedding with a clear conscience? Or must we go with a “lawful minister”?

If the issue is “that special instruction be given them, and suitable prayers offered, when they enter into this relation,” I see no reason why he would not be permitted to marry us, as he is someone I trust to provide such instruction and prayers. The title “lawful minister” in itself doesn’t seem to carry much weight, or at least it is no guarantee of one’s spiritual state. Though, I do have some lawful ministers in mind who I would be glad to have officiate the ceremony.

Could it be that I am missing something in the words “married in the Lord”? Is it even possible for two believers to not be married “in the Lord?” (Presumably getting this from 1 Corinthians 7).

I know that marriage isn’t a sacrament; nor is it merely a civil arrangement. What I don’t see in Scripture is whether a Christian man authorized by the government to marry a Christian couple, may do so.

Thank you again. I pray that God blesses your socks off and keeps the ministry going strong.

Mason

Mason, I think that such a ceremony would meet all the biblical requirements. And as far as the BCO goes, I think that such a ceremony conforms to the spirit of the thing.

IVF Question

I would like to ask a question about life.

I have I friend who believe that IVF and such treatments where people made/helped babies been made outside the womb is biblical.

I am not sure how to defend that it is not right because there is always more than one embryo (which is a baby) made, but only one, sometimes two, is chosen to be put in to the mother and normally all the others are being killed. She argues that when you take only the strongest embryo it is like natural selection or that they do put all the embryos in the mother and only one will survive, which is also natural selection. I want to know how to explain to her that it is still murder and that it is your responsibility because you made them with unnatural methods. Will you please guide me and show me how to see all this in a biblical viewpoint.

I would also like to know what is your conviction on when our souls are ‘made.’ Is it when the egg is fertilized or are our souls made before conception?

Another question one of the girls asked was what is the biblical definition of life? When does someone qualify as alive?

I hope my questions is clear enough.

Thank you for being such a powerful tool in the Lords hand. May He continue using your church to preach His sovereign will.

May our Lord bless the work you do for His Kingdom.

Marne

Marne, I believe Scripture teaches that human life begins at conception. I don’t think that there is anything inherently immoral about planting an embryo in a womb but, as you point out, there is a grave problem with the ones that are washed down the sink.

Building? Churchyard?

At the ground breaking, my son asked if we were going have a cemetery on the grounds. Are we?

Kate, for George

Kate, we would like to. But we have to do some spadework first.

I have not heard anything recently about Christ Church’s building project in Moscow. Are there any updates regarding that?

God bless,

Adam

Adam, we just had our ground breaking ceremony last Sunday. We are very grateful to God that we finally made it through the planning and permitting process.

A Courtship Question

Our nest is empty now, but years ago we dealt a case of puppy love that got out of hand, and since that time we had the kids read ‘Her Hand in Marriage’ every couple years so the plan was always fresh in their minds; and indeed had a couple delightful courtships without chasing anyone with a snow shovel. When my wonderful little chefs would make date bread I would exclaim “NO! You cannot have date bread! It’s courtship bread!” I miss those days. Thank you for your part in them.

I dislike exaggeration, but I was really shocked in last week’s letters to read your advice to a young man, that he should approach a young lady’s father after they were engaged to ask for a blessing instead of permission. In Her Hand in Marriage you convincingly laid out the Scriptures that a dad can veto a vow, and if I remember you even point out the passage stating that he can stand in the way if the couple has slept together.

I see nothing in the Scripture related to her age or where she is living—though in Biblical times I do not think she would leave home until marriage unless they were destitute or she were “a pro.” And regardless of these, I could not refer to a man going around a girl’s father as being upright. It seems to be a clear violation of Scripture.

Craig

Craig, thanks. That answer was based, not on the young lady’s age or independence, but rather on the hostility of the parents to a godly spouse. If a father would require that his daughter marry an Amalekite, the situation is different.

Another Idea

Have you considered writing something about raising daughters to be godly women from the perspective of a father? It seems there is a void in this area of writing [with the focus being on the mother] and you have raised two high caliber women.

I would appreciate the help,

Grant

Grant, good idea. But it is an “hours in the day” problem.

Sexual Consummation and Marriage

I’m having trouble with the example of the quadriplegic here. I *do* get your point, but . . . is the key the exact act, or type of consummation? Or is it the sexual exclusivity? In other words, are they capable of *some* type of closeness and intimacy, which they would do with no other? is that not enough? Or am I letting sentiment run away with me?

I wonder where the boundaries are. Is a consummation valid if the man needs Viagra? What if he needs an implant instead? What if he has so serious an accident that he needs something cosmetically created for the implant to be inside of? Etc.

Lest you think I am just being obstreperous . . . I think it ties into larger questions about Christian worldview. Cosmetic breasts to compete with other doxies are not so good . . . but cosmetic breasts to restore appearance after cancer surgery, seems okay? That sort of thing.

Greg

Greg, in any human activity the question of precise boundaries can be made. But in my view, a man and a woman become one flesh in old school sexual intercourse. Aids to that would make it happen, but substitutes for that wouldn’t. To take an extreme example, phone sex would be sexual intimacy but not a consummation.

I’m writing to you with regard to a point you made in “Wedding as Adornment” which a couple of my friends have had some qualms about and I wondered if you could provide some clarification.

In that post you say the following:

“If covenant vows are taken, but there is no consummation, then it is not a marriage. If sex has occurred, but no covenant, then there is no marriage.”

You also said

“In my experience talking about this, this is something that a good many tender-hearted Christians struggle with. They think it is endearing and sweet when a quadriplegic ‘marries’ his high school sweetheart, regardless of the accident rendered him incapable of consummating the marriage.”

Now, the point in question isn’t about the “sex before marriage” line. We all agree on that. It is on the point that if a Covenant has been made but there is no sexual consummation then it is not a marriage.

You mention quadriplegics for instance. It is possible for some quadriplegics, especially with the help of modern technology, to have sexual relations, yes? Or what about Mary and Joseph? Joseph didn’t know Mary sexually before she gave birth to Jesus so they were married for a decent amount of time prior to their consummation, yet it was still considered a marriage before that time of consummation, yes? How does this fit with your definitions? It took these folks a great deal of time to be able to consummate. You do mention getting counseling and working through issues, but this seems more than that.

Or what about a person in the Old Testament who is betrothed and cheats? It’s considered adultery (breaking a marriage vow), but only a promised Covenant is present seeming to make Covenant alone the basis of a marriage. So why are sexual relations more than just a privilege of the Covenant which can either be present or not? And if sexual relations are more then in what way are they more?

Lastly, for a person who is willing to give their life over to helping a person they love and giving as you aptly say elsewhere “my life for yours” with no promise of sexual reward, why may they not willingly enter into a covenant marriage relationship with that person? There are many who have done so and it seems a good legal and relational protection for the person(s) involved. Is this post’s wording not unnecessarily cruel to those people? It not, how?

Thanks for reading, hope to hear from you soon.

Michael

Michael, Old Testament betrothal was stronger than our engagement, such that it required legal action to break. But the marriage wasn’t marriage/marriage until consummation. A consummated marriage was stronger still. And I applaud those who live together in intimate friendship without sex—the relationship is fine. I just don’t want to call it marriage. How about two celibate gay men getting “married”? Would that be a marriage?

Great comments on getting the wedding “backwards” and your intuitive use of the “gold and the altar” argument from our Lord. Spot on and worth a few more thoughts–incidentally, my daughter was engaged this past weekend. So, this is all fitting. But the two-fold requirement for marriage raises a different question. You anticipated objections with the quadriplegic comment, but let me pose my real-life situation. My grandmother became a widow when she was 80, after 60 years of marriage. Five years later, she wedded a widower, and the whole thing was rather endearing. Now, I’m not privy to anything that has or hasn’t happened in their bedroom, but my grandmother did say she wasn’t getting remarried for the sex. She can be kind of frank like that. So . . . and I’ll never know…so IF she and my new grandfather have not consummated, but are perfectly content ranching, gardening, and watching summer storms together—maybe even sleeping in the same bed but not, you know . . . you would say they aren’t truly married?

I don’t have a category for that . . .

Andy

Andy, right. I would say that the marriage had not been finalized, as it were. And in the thought experiment, let us say the relationship went south after a year. I think the church could bless an annulment in a way that they could not bless a divorce. But if they have had sex, then they are married, and the biblical criteria for a divorce would apply.

Healing from a Relationship?

Can’t say enough of how thankful to God we are for you all. Up here in Canada, Could you please point me to a blog or something of yours dealing with a women who feels she needs time to heal from a relationship. A man is interested in getting serious, she was, he has talked to the Father and he is good with it but she has decided she needs time to think. And heal? Something?

Thanks so much

Norine

Norine, I take it that that healing is from a previous relationship that went south? If that relationship ended three weeks ago, then I think it is a good idea to give it a minute. But if that relationship ended three years ago, then I think time is not going to help with the healing, and something needs to be actively processed. And maybe a new relationship can help that along.

The Table and the Sword

What do you think is the correct response to someone who commits apostasy in the church nowadays? Calvin, like other reformers, equated apostasy with the unforgivable sin, referring to Matt 12:31-32 and Hebrews 6:4-6 in the same section of the Institutes. Jesus said that we should excommunicate a brother whose sin is “bound” against him (i.e. unforgiven) in Matt 18:17. If apostasy is the unforgivable sin, does that mean that excommunication is the correct response to apostasy? Does your belief in general equity theonomy mean that you would refer to Deut 13:9 and 17:5 (death as penalty for apostasy) in support of a principle that excommunication is the appropriate response nowadays?

Thanks for your time.

Regards

David

David, yes. I believe that because the church does not bear the sword, excommunication is the appropriate stand-in for crimes that would have incurred the death penalty in the OT.

Good Old Pay Pal

Is there a way to purchase items from your website store, without using PayPal or without going through their website, or is PayPal the only option for purchases?

Thanks

Brian

Brian, PayPal is something that comes with the shopping program we have, and which I would like to change when we can. But in the meantime, you can pay with a card if you don’t have a PayPal account. And if that fails, just write and ask me to send you whatever book it was gratis.

Sabbath Feast

My family has started doing a festive sabbath dinner and it has been such a blessing already. I found your sabbath liturgy post and love the catechism style questions you include. I wanted to do something similar but the main question I really want to ask my children is “Why do we feast today?” (modeled after Exodus 12:26-27), but I have not been able to come up with a biblical answer. What is the connection between God’s established day of rest and preparing a festive family feast? Thank you.

Cloe

Cloe, I would suggest something like this: “Why do we feast on the Lord’s Day?” “We feast on the Lord’s Day because it is the fulfillment of the weekly sabbath, and the weekly sabbath is called a feast in Lev. 23:1-4”

Glory and Beauty?

I have two questions for you:

1. What would you say to unfulfilled evangelicals who long for and are drawn to the beauty/liturgy/traditions, etc. of the Catholic, Orthodox, and even Anglican Church?

2. If Protestant evangelicalism is the correct way (and I suspect it is), why does it have to be the ugliest and most uninspiring option?

Thank you for your time.

Evan

Evan, I would say several things. First, I believe that there is a robust Protestant option that cultivates beautiful and God-honoring worship. We should do everything we can to encourage that kind of a liturgical resurgence. But we should also never forget that there are ornate forms of worship which not only fail the biblical test, they also fail the aesthetic test. Simplicity is an aesthetic value, and nobody around here wants worship that is done up like a circus wagon.

The Civil War

With respect to a point you recently made in passing about your would having fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, I truly respect that and understand where you’re coming from. Following the work of Mark Noll and others, the Civil War was not exclusively a war to end race-based slavery but was rather a clash between two contending forms of Protestant civilization and two contending interpretations of the Constitution. However, I also don’t think we can reduce the war and its aftermath as simply a struggle of states’ rights over against federal power, although I understand that’s how many Southerners viewed the conflict then and thereafter. I would suggest that the cultural memory of the Civil War has been subject to revision by both the pro-Southern Redeemers and by the contemporary racial narratives.

I hale from the rural South, and I grew up in the vestiges of a heterogenous Jeffersonian farming community. I can retrospectively sympathize with the mindset of the Confederacy and the fear of federal encroachment and industrial capitalism as a threat to the antebellum agrarian way of life and the Jacksonian constitutional settlement. I also recognize the unique virtue of antebellum Southern culture as an expression of Christendom, and I applaud the work that you, Steve Wilkins, and others have done to exonerate the South and sainted Southerners from false charges of wickedness and infidelity and to demonstrate the noble Christian character of many Confederate generals. I just want to affirm that I understand and can sympathize with your views on the South and not regard them as inherently racist.

However, I say all this as a person who, had I lived at that time, would likely not only have fought for the Union, but would have been aligned with the more radical faction of the Republicans (Wade, Stephens, Sumner, etc.) during the War as well as during Reconstruction. I would have supported forty acres and a mule for every freedmen family as well as provision for their civic education, arming and training for militia service, and guarantee of their full rights of citizenship, even if it required federal troops to enforce all this until the South swallowed it and liked it and confiscating the property of duly convicted traitors to fund it.

I won’t try to make a full defense of the Lincoln Administration’s actions in the war nor of Reconstruction, especially not here. But I want to recommend a couple of recent books that have informed my thinking and changed my perspective. First would be “The Words that Made Us” by Akhil Reed Ahmar. This is an in-depth analysis of American constitutional thought from 1760 to 1840. This book provides a good defense of the Federalist interpretation of Revolution, the Framing, and the Early Republic and shows that Jeffersonian perspective on federalism, the Compact Theory of the Constitution, nullification, and secession are largely mythical. Ahmar, as you may know, is indeed a liberal law professor, but he’s a true-blue originalist in his jurisprudence and he is not afraid to follow the text, history, and tradition of the law to non-liberal conclusions, which he does quite often, especially with guns and abortion. The most interesting parts of the book are his defense of Andrew Jackson as a nationalist and his thorough argument as to why secession was unconstitutional. I really think you’d like this book even if you disagreed with much of it.

The second book I will recommend is much shorter and that is “The Second Founding” by Ilhan Wurman, another constitutional law professor. This book is about the framing and intent of the Fourteenth Amendment. The thesis of this book is that the Republicans’ intentions behind the Fourteenth Amendment were far more modest and less sweeping than we have understood. They were not trying to empower the federal government to override state power nor to establish a scheme of substantive due process for individual rights but were merely trying to assure state law privileges and immunities and common law rights for all citizens on an equal basis. This book is a wonderful example of originalist scholarship, and it delves deep into the meanings of terms and phrases in post-medieval English common law and how those meanings were used in the framing of the Amendment. The book posits that Congress, the courts, and our culture have misunderstood the Fourteenth Amendment as being far more sweeping and constitutionally transformative than it was intended to be and that the Civil Rights movement hijacked it to effectuate a federal predominance that its framers did not intend. Lincoln and the Republicans were not as miscreant as you might think they were when it comes to an intention of subverting the antebellum constitutional order. Don’t impute to Lincoln and Reconstruction what should be blamed on Progressivism, the New Deal, and the Warren Court.

I would absolutely love it if you would read one or both of these books (both of which are on Audible) and interact with them in your blog or the Plodcast. I don’t expect you to change your mind on Lincoln and the War, but I do hope you will consider the merits of the perspectives that the South’s theory of the Constitution was misguided and ahistorical from the start, that the North was fighting to preserve the Constitution, and that Reconstruction was not intended to be a subversion of state’s rights.

I tend to agree with you on almost everything theologically and politically, so I’d love to hear you speak more to an area where I would have a difference of opinion with you.

In Christ,

Joe

Joe, thanks for such a thoughtful letter. I have ordered both books. And we can agree on this much—motives were jumbled and mixed in every direction. And my statement about which way I would have gone is very much a hypothetical statement in hindsight.

On Wilson Not Being Everyone’s Cup of Tea

Why is it that there are sectors of the church, not Big Eva, whose pastors so vociferously oppose what you say? These men should be allies but want to paint you as some wild-eyed heretic?

Jeff

Jeff, yes. Some of our adversaries we understand. But with others, we honestly don’t know what’s going on.

If I am ever slandered half as much as you, it is my sincere prayer that I should have half as much fun with it as you are.

I’m sorry they’re giving you a hard time ( 15 of Fame) but please accept my gratitude for giving the rest of us a rousing good laugh.

God bless you!

Katelyn

Katelyn, thanks very much.

The post Letters on a Tuesday. What Did You Think Was Going to Happen? appeared first on Blog & Mablog.


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