Christianity and Modern Gods

What are the gods we deal with today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am reading through the church fathers, among other things, and something I am noticing with Tertullian who I am on now is that he has a vast array of knowledge about the gods of the Roman society he lives in. I grew up reading Greek mythology which was claimed by the Romans, but there is still a lot I don’t know about it. Tertullian is familiar with the ins and the outs of the great stories in addition to being familiar with the biblical topics he knows about and the history of Christianity and the Roman Empire.

Nowadays, most people do not believe in those gods. Many people would consider themselves secularists and even many Christians are largely secular in their thinking. That does not mean we are not without gods. Not by a long shot. We have several gods today and these are gods Christians need to know about as well to interact with worshippers of these gods, as there are plenty of such worshippers.

So what are they?

Let’s start with sex. Yes. We all know about sex. A goes into B and sometimes a baby can result. We all know how it works, but what about what it is. We have plenty of debates on this topic. What is the ultimate purpose of sex? Is it something reserved for marriage? Is it to be between a man and a woman?

Then this gets into our personal identity. What is orientation? Is there such a thing? Is there a difference between sex and gender? Is this something that is assigned at birth or is it something immutable that cannot be changed? On one level, we can say the question “What is a woman?” is simple, but on the other, it is something quite deep that we need to get more to an answer on.

Christians definitely need to have a message here. After all, if we aren’t sharing our views on this with our children, the world is and the world will speak loudly. If we do believe sex is reserved for a man and a woman in marriage, how can we tell children this is a great gift while at the same time saying it needs to be reserved for that state? (Something even difficult for we adults who are single again.)

Another god is money. For this, Christians need to study economics. Many of the debates we have in this country are because people are ignorant of economics. We think with our hearts alone and think “If our intentions are good, the results will follow.” Not at all. I am not saying to avoid compassion, but I am saying that to see if a policy works, you don’t ask “How compassionate is it?” but rather “How effective is it?”

Capitalism is often seen as encouraging greed. Is it? Marxism is seen as caring for the poor. Is it? Why did we go to war with Marxism so much in our history? Is Marxism necessarily linked with atheism? Were the early Christians socialist?

As for caring for the poor, what is the best way to help people who are poor? What method has the best results? How should individual Christians care for the poor? Is it wrong for you to buy something really nice for yourself when there are poor people in the world?

Power is another one and this gets into politics. This is definitely here when an election year is going on. Christians need to learn how their government works. Can we tell the three branches of the American government? What is the Constitution? The Bill of Rights? The Declaration of Independence?

How much power should the government have? Should the citizenry be able to have guns and if so, are there any limitations to that? What should we prohibit? What should we permit? What should we promote? What role do passages like Romans 13 play?

What about science? This seems to be the reigning authority today. What is science? Is science necessarily materialistic? Can it answer the God question? Can it answer questions of good and evil? Is it the only way to know anything?

What should we accept in science and what should we not? Is evolution true? If it is, what does this say about our beliefs on Scripture, inerrancy, the existing of God, and the resurrection of Jesus? Can you be a faithful Christian and accept evolution? Can you be a good scientist and reject evolution?

What about modern issues as well like climate change? Is the earth’s climate changing? If so, is that something that would happen anyway or is man responsible? Is there anything that can be done about it either way? What about our response to Covid? What did we get right? What did we get wrong? Can we trust the science or are we even more skeptical?

Christians interacting in our culture need some knowledge on all of this. In addition definitely understand other gods if you are interacting with other systems. We need Christians who understand cults, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, atheism and any other belief system out there.

In all of this, yes, we need to know our Bibles and our history and what we believe and why, but we are interacting with people who speak of other gods. Like good missionaries, we need to know what those other gods are and how to address them. Christians throughout history have had something to say about more than just Christianity. We need to do the same to be effective witnesses in our culture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 12

Is internet porn a danger? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Up until now, I have considered Mills highly ignorant.

Yet when I got to this chapter, that changed.

Mills has an attitude that is disgraceful to have and highly misogynistic towards women. I do not make such statements lightly. I do intend to back it.

First, why this chapter anyway? Why did he write it? He didn’t just write a chapter about supposedly odd views about sex that Christians have. No. This was about internet porn specifically. This was about men going on the internet with the intention of looking up pictures of women in various stages of undress all the way to completely nude for the purpose of feeding their own lusts and that is okay to Mills. Note I say men specifically since that is the group that Mills focuses on saying girls don’t really have this struggle. Well, they actually do, and a large part of that is because men do as well.

So let’s dive in.

Is there truly a problem of children’s accessing pornography on the internet? And if there is, shouldn’t we, as adults, strive mightily to prevent impressionable children from viewing sexually oriented material intended solely for adults? The answers to these questions are: (1) There is no problem; and (2) We should not strive to “child-proof” the internet.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 193). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Entirely wrong on both counts. It is extremely hard for women to find men today who are not viewing porn. They are the exception, not the rule, and this is changing the way men think about sex and in turn changing the way women are doing sex and thinking about sex. Men are getting more and more the idea that what they see on the screen is how sex is supposed to be an how women are supposed to look.

Those are airbrushed fantasy and put a real woman next to a fantasy and the fantasy will win. I hate saying that because real women I do think are definitely superior because they are real, but fake women can be whatever the man wants them to be. Today, a man’s first sexual encounter won’t be on his wedding night. It will be in front of a computer screen.

Yes. We need to child-proof the internet. Minors are passing around nude pictures of themselves that in any other hands would be considered child pornography and a crime. A number of them have committed suicide after said pictures have leaked. Women are suffering in the Instagram generation where they think they have to look like the women on Facebook.

But this is just the beginning for Mills.

He goes on to talk about how our young men reach sexual maturity in their teen years and then have to wait several years before they can get married. On this, I agree. This is a problem. Our society has set eighteen as if it is some magical number that suddenly makes a boy a man. It doesn’t. There are several boys who are over eighteen and there are several men who are under, though those numbers are greatly increasing on both sides.

So Mills says:

So economic reality, more than anything else, has crafted our perception that teenage males are “harmed” by sexual preoccupation. Today’s male faces a frustrating gap of approximately ten years between the onset of his sexual maturity and the median marital age. Genetically and hormonally, however, today’s teenage male is unchanged from the day when early teenage copulation was the accepted norm. During this extended gap between puberty and marriage, all teenage males masturbate frequently, and the overwhelming majority of them view pornography as well.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 197-198). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

In this, there is very little to disagree. It’s his next part that’s the big problem.

Again I pose the question: If, throughout the entirety of human history, teenage males were not “jeopardized” by full penile-vaginal intercourse with their teenage partners, how then are today’s teenage males “endangered” by mere photographs of women?

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 198). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

And this I declare is incredibly misogynistic. Mills says “If a man was involved in a relationship with a woman where he was spending his life with her and siring children with her and raising a family with her, then how is looking at photographs a problem? That is hardly a one-to-one parallel. The former requires that a man be a man. It requires that he take responsibility for a woman he has pledged loyalty and faithfulness to. It requires that he work to provide for her and the children that they will have.

Pornography does the exact opposite. It requires that a man not be a man. It does not require the man to take any responsibility. It does not require him to be faithful and loyal to anyone. It does not require him to make any effort to provide for a woman or provide children. The woman in pornography is solely there for the gratification of the man. He doesn’t even have to know her name or anything about her. He doesn’t have to risk himself with her at all.

Yet Mills sees these as parallels.


This really tells you how Mills sees women.

Pornography causes young men to see women as just bodies and cheapens sex. I am not at all saying women’s bodies are not beautiful. Thank God they are. I am saying you can’t beat the real thing. It is why even as a divorced man I strive to keep myself porn free so that when I remarry, my then wife will know I only have eyes for her and she doesn’t have to compete with a Rolodex of images of nude women in my head.

Another sad fact is that if Mills’s view is true, then yes, there is nothing wrong with any of this. There is nothing wrong with anything. There is also nothing right with anything. Things just are. That’s it.

Thank God the world is not like that.

Thank God women are real and good in their own right and that sex was a gift He created for us to enjoy in the context of a marital relationship.

We don’t want a cheap thing like Mills does.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)



Femininity is a Good Thing

Is it good for a woman to be a woman? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I read some of a mystery every day. Yesterday morning, I read this in the one I’m going through now where a female detective is wanting to find out how to get close to a male suspect she wants to question.

“Rob Saunders is obviously a bit of a Casanova. You’re a young, pretty girl. You could use that to your advantage.”
“What? You’re not telling me to seduce him, are you?” cried Ellie.
“Oh, don’t look so shocked. I’m not suggesting that you sleep with him,” said Aunt Olive, clicking her tongue. “But a man like Rob… well, now, he’d be easy to interrogate if you know how to play him.” She saw Ellie’s expression. “Oh, come on, poppet! Calculated seduction is a time-honored tradition in intrigue and espionage! I know it’s not politically correct to say this nowadays, but you can achieve a lot with a suggestive smile and a show of cleavage.”
“Aunt Olive! You’ve just set the women’s lib movement back fifty years or something!”
“Rubbish!” snorted her aunt. “A woman who knows how to use her feminine charms to get what she wants is the one who’s truly empowered.”
I realize some people might think the language here is a bit crude and no, this is not a Christian work, but ultimately, as I read this passage, I had to agree with Aunt Olive in her basic point. The empowered woman is not the woman who tries to deny her femininity. It is the one who knows how to use it properly.
The feminist movement has really been very anti-woman. One of the main problems is that they set up a sort of competition between men and women. Men didn’t have this problem. Women did. Women wanted to be able to focus on a career, not worry about children, and not be seen as a piece of eye candy.
I am not against a woman having a career and not every woman will be a mother. Certainly a woman shouldn’t be treated as an object, but the way women went about these goals was wrong. It was not by being better at what they were, being women, but by trying to in essence not be women and be men.
So a man can have sex and not have to worry about carrying a baby for nine months as a result. No problem. Use birth control and if that doesn’t work, get an abortion. Deny your biological clock (Which men don’t have) and just work at your career and you decide when you want to have a baby, if you ever do. If men can walk around topless, women can too!
It hasn’t worked well for women.
Believe it or not women, if you want to get a real man, a man wants a woman who is a woman. He doesn’t want a woman who is trying to act like a man. He likes the things in a woman that set her apart from men.
That includes beauty.
That beauty is a good thing also. Yes. A woman can do a lot of damage to a man if she misuses her beauty and seduces him into doing things that he shouldn’t. However, she can also use that beauty to greatly inspire and motivate a man.
Consider Jacob in the Bible. When he sees Rachel, he’s immediately impressed by her beauty and when asked what his wages will be, he already knows. He wants Rachel! The text says he worked seven years, but they seemed like a short time because of his great love for her. I can imagine him easily out in the fields working hard and here comes Rachel walking by with a cute smile, the breeze blowing through her hair, the grace of her figure, everything, and Jacob just thinking “Soon.”
Then when the seven years is up (Is Jacob counting down the days), Jacob is awfully brazen and just goes to his future father-in-law and says “I’ve done my work. Give me your daughter. I want to sleep with her.”
That’s what the text literally says! I honestly can’t imagine going up to my former father-in-law on the day of the wedding and saying “You ready to give her up? I’m wanting to sleep with her.”
Now in the story, Jacob had to work seven more years for Rachel, but he did it. Why? Because female beauty is highly inspiring to a man. A man can do things he never would have dreamed of doing before just for female beauty. My ex-wife did cause some major good changes in me just because I was motivated by her beauty, something no one else could do.
Ladies. Keep this in mind also. Perhaps a guy who asks you out isn’t a ten in your minds, but consider this. If he is of good character, go out with him and see what changes can be brought about in him just because he wants you. You can inspire a man to be a man in ways he never was before just because your beauty has that effect on him. (Consider how in the Christmas special, Rudolph flies immediately just because Clarice says she thinks he’s cute.)
It’s the way God made the system. Enjoy it. He knew what He was doing.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Outdated

What do I think about Jonathan Pokluda’s book on dating? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In many ways, this is an excellent book. It deals with a lot of myths out there not so much about dating, but about marriage. Naturally, I hate that I have to read dating books again, but lo and behold, I do. Pokluda is a minister who didn’t walk the street and narrow before his conversion and so has made many of the mistakes in the book. Each chapter begins with a brief lie about marriage and then what the truth is.

Throughout, there are generally good insights. An example is that if you are just out there dating just to have fun, that’s what you’re going to get. Dating should not be a hobby. It should be done as a means to an end. When you start dating someone, there are going to be two possible outcomes. You get married or you break up.

One myth he deals with is the idea that you have to find the one who is out there and just right for you. It is a lasting myth many people believe and he cites a NASA scientist who said that if the idea of soul mates were true, 1 in 10,000 people would marry theirs, and I really think that’s likely being generous. We are too often expecting a magic fairy tale scenario.

He also says we have an idea that there is supposed to be a magical spark when we meet someone and we just know. It would be something like a movie where you see that person and all of a sudden you just get spellbound. The reality is there are probably plenty of people you have met who would be wonderful matches for you and you have put them in a friend zone for some reason like that. He mentions people looking for a mystical sign, which I think could easily include God saying “This is the one!” The speaking of the friend zone is his wording, but I want to speak on behalf of many single men out there and say “Hear! Hear!”

Instead, real life and real marriage is hard and when you marry someone, you see their flaws and if you went on a spark, that spark fades away. Then you meet someone else who you have the “spark” with and decide that that person must be the real one you were meant to be with. However, you bring all your same problems with you that you never worked on in the original relationship and before too long, history repeats itself.

Speaking about appearances, he has a great saying that if you can’t cherish someone who loves Jesus, but isn’t that physically attractive to you, that says a lot more about your spirituality than anything else. On the other hand, this chapter did seem to be teaching a lot against “Don’t marry for looks” to which I agree with, but said very little on the role physical attraction plays in a relationship. I agree it is not everything and to think so is shallow, but at the same time, the Bible, specifically when speaking about women, regularly talks about their great beauty.

I also understood what he said about men needing to be initiators in relationships, and I agree, but as someone on the spectrum who has a hard time even asking for a divider at WalMart, easier said than done. On this front, ladies, please let us guys know you are interested in us. What you might think is obvious is not obvious to us.

There are many other topics dealt with in this book such as pornography, living together before marriage, and pre-marital sex. This is really a good book for dealing with a lot of myths that people have and the author wants to see good dating because he wants to see good marriages. He wants a great foundation and it starts with proper dating.

If you’re single, I recommend it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


How Porn Is Destroying Sex

Will pornography help your sex life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I was watching the TimCast IRL show and there was talk about pornography. The claim was made that in Japan, families are now hiring strippers and prostitutes for their sons because their sons are so addicted to pornography that that’s all they do. Folks. I try to verify everything, but after a brief web search, I decided to just grant this one and say even if not true, the situation does make sense.

Fortunately, all I saw in my search was links, but it was clear when all I saw about was hiring sex workers, I figured it was best to move on. I have enough information on this here in America. After all, when listening to talk radio often in the Atlanta area, I would regularly hear commercials for ED medication. There are men in their 20’s taking this kind of medication.

I blame it on pornography.

There have been attempts to do studies of men who watch porn regularly compared to those who do not. The problem is they have only been attempts. In our society, there haven’t been enough men found in the latter category to make a significant contribution to the study.

When I worked at a retail job before I came to New Orleans, I remember the word got out that I don’t watch porn and the women who I worked with were stunned. This included teenage girls naturally who were likely working their first job. A man who doesn’t watch porn?

The problem with pornography is that it takes subjects that are beautiful, sex and the human form, especially the female form, and cheapens them. It makes them common. These are both things that should in the most intimate sense remain private, but it makes them public.

I am mainly going to be speaking about men here, seeing as I am a man. I am not ignoring that this is becoming more and more of a female problem as well. Women also have their own version of porn that they deal with. (Think romance novels) Men are presented with a physical fantasy. Women often get an emotional fantasy.

For men, the problem becomes that we get so hooked onto the fake that we want more and more of it and can’t accept reality anymore. Reality loses its appeal for us. This is why real women can’t compete with porn. It’s not that real women aren’t beautiful. They certainly are! It’s that you can make fantasy be whatever you want.

In movies and TV shows, the hero is always a perfect shot, everyone knows just the right thing to say, and love flows naturally and smoothly. In real life, bad guys can get away because heroes can be bad shots, people say hideously wrong things, and love can have constant blunders, and even sex can have embarrassing moments and sometimes, it’s not the case that both the man and the woman are jumping to go at each other.

We also all tend to go down the path of least resistance. If a man thinks that he cannot coax the lover in his life, be it a wife or girlfriend, into a night of passion, well go and turn on the computer or pick up the phone for a little bit. I’ve thought lately of an analogy of this with the gaming world.

When I was growing up, if you made it to the final boss, for the most part, you had to work to get there. You had to take all the steps right and it required skill. Now, you have save states where you can stop at any time and pick up where you left out. In some ways, this is good for those of us who don’t have time like we used to, but it also makes us not take the game as seriously and play as well. I lost? No biggie. I’ll just start from that same spot again.

Over time, we’re not nearly as good at this and I find I don’t play nearly as well as I used to. The same happens in our relationships. If we can take the easy way, we won’t work so much on what is the harder way. That way is the way of discipline. It is learning how to love your wife better and then learning how to control yourself when things don’t work out. I am not at all saying men should love their wives just to get sex, but in a healthy relationship, that should be happening regularly and men should be putting in the effort to love their wives so both people can be satisfied spouses.

Along the same lines, this is also why social media can easily lead to divorces. I talked to a friend after mine who said he did some research into court cases with divorces and noticed that Facebook showed up a large number of times. When you live with someone, you see in person all their faults and failures and those habits you wished weren’t there. When you talk to someone on a computer, you only see their best. You can turn them into whatever you want and again, reality cannot compete with fantasy.

Fairy tales often end with happily ever after as if the wedding of the couple is the end of the story when it’s the beginning. When Cinderella woke up the next morning, Prince Charming had bad breath. When he woke up in the morning, Cinderella was having a bad hair day.

If we take the easy way of porn, we damage ourselves and our relationships and ultimately, our country and world. Pornography is really a tool to destroy the family unit and if the family falls, so does a nation. If you are a married man, pornography is essentially cheating on your spouse. There’s a reason a woman feels betrayed when she catches her husband hiding a porn habit. She feels like she is not good enough or beautiful enough for him, and why shouldn’t she? She wants to be your one and only when you’ve shown she’s your one of many.

Here’s an idea to consider men. Getting rid of pornography will actually enhance your sex life. It will make it so that every time you see her body, it will be because she trusted you and you earned that honor. It will make it all the more special. You also won’t have to think about all these other scenes you have seen in your head. It’s just you and her.

I have said reality cannot compete with fantasy. There is one distinction.

Reality is real.

It is really happening. This is a real woman showing you her body and trusting you in the most intimate way possible. This is a real woman who can really love you and really have your children with you.

The woman on the screen? She doesn’t really care about you. She doesn’t even know you. She is doing this for just any other guy out there too. (Yes. That OnlyFans girl doesn’t care about you.) That real woman does. She really wants you. She really wants to have a future with you.

Also ladies, please cut your men some slack. He’s not going to do everything men in romance novels do. We men try, but honestly a lot of times we just don’t get it. We bumble and make mistakes and if a man tries to do something, don’t tell him what he did wrong. Appreciate what he did. (Believe it or not, a lot of guys won’t bother to try to load the dishwasher again if when they try, their wife comes over and “corrects” everything and shows them what they did wrong.)

So guys, if you are watching pornography, please get help. Try organizations like ProvenMen or Covenant Eyes. Go find a local Celebrate Recovery.

Since these are Christian ministries, it’s important to remember also that if you are watching pornography, you’re not just hurting yourself and your wife, you’re dishonoring God. You’re treating women he made as objects when you could be investing in a real-life woman who loves you or seeking out such a woman.

Be a real man. Get rid of porn. Go for a real woman instead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Reply To Honestly By Tom Copeland Part 5

Are all relationships sinful? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Paul writing to the church in Corinth.

So guys, I hear you’ve got a case where you have a man who’s sleeping with his stepmother. Gross! Am I right? But hey, all relationships are going to be hard in life. All relationships have struggles. I want to suggest that all of you just show your love and support to them. Don’t judge them by any means! God can redeem any relationship and He will redeem this one!

Or at least that’s what Copeland’s friend would likely say if he was in Paul’s shoes.

Copeland has a friend who grew up very conservative and now is an Anglican with no condemnation of same-sex relationships. This friend is described as someone who takes Scripture very seriously and knows the Bible very well. His proposal is that instead of looking at same-sex relationships as fine and wonderful, just realize all relationships are sinful. All of them have all of us acting in sinful ways. All of them are used to sanctify us.

Copeland uses an example of him being married to his wife for thirty years, and yet he has been a sinful man many times in that relationship. Anyone who is married can attest to that and anyone who has been married can be. Even if Jesus was married, He wouldn’t have had a perfect marriage because He would have been married to a sinful woman.

Except Scripture doesn’t say all relationships are sinful. It says all people in all relationships are sinners, but the relationships themselves are not always the problem. If all relationships are fallen and we just need grace in all of them, Paul would not have written what he wrote in 1 Cor. 5.

Copeland goes on to say to people in a same-sex relationship that:

The good news here is that even if the scripture does condemn your relationship (and as I’ve said, I’m not sure it does), it doesn’t condemn it any more than any other, and God redeems it.

Copeland, Tom. Honestly – A Book About Sex for Christians . Tom Copeland. Kindle Edition.

Because we know of all those passages that condemn opposite-sex relationships.

Now someone could say “Well what about the situation in 1 Cor. 5? Isn’t that such a relationship?

Indeed, it is, but the problem wasn’t it was opposite-sex. The problem was it was highly incestuous. Not all opposite-sex relationships are approved by Scripture, but not a single same-sex romantic relationship is. I would love to see Copeland try to back the statement he has made here.

Ultimately as Christians though, if Scripture condemns it, we have to as well. Now how we could do that could be wrong. We should realize that a person with same-sex attraction is experiencing a real loss and if they are willing to sacrifice this for the good of the kingdom, we should support them in that and praise them and help them with the struggle, just as we help a single person who is not married.

The rest of this section in this chapter is about the scientific research, which I cannot comment on. On the ethical, I find it all weak. Copeland does not interact with the best Scripture and violates on the ways he says liberals violate. It’s a shame because really, much of the rest of the book is quite good.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


Do We Believe In Magic?

Is our society more involved in magic than we realize? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

No. This isn’t really about the New Age movement or about witchcraft. This isn’t about reading Harry Potter or watching Sabrina: The Teenaged Witch. This isn’t really about fantasy as fantasy.

In our day and age, we like to think we are a scientific people. We have abandoned the ways of magic and religion. We only believe in that which can be empirically verified, and by that, we mean scientifically verified, even though the two aren’t identical. All scientific verification is empirical, but the reverse is not so.

If anything, today we see science as a new priesthood. I do not say this to demean science in the sense of the study of the material world. That is wonderful and that needs to continue. What I do demean is the idea that because someone is a scientist, they are qualified to speak on areas outside their expertise. However, there is also the danger that something can supposedly fall under science, but like scandals of bought priesthood in the past, so a scientific person can be bought off as well.

The Covid “pandemic” really brought a lot of this to light. At the time, I was not at all worried about it. It was a virus. It would come and it would go like any other virus. I never got caught up in mask hysteria and when I was required to wear one, I took it off as soon as I could. I never practiced social distancing for the virus. If I was doing it, it was generally just because I don’t like being close to people in general. I am also one of those people who never got a vaccine at all.

And yeah, I’ve never had Covid.

My parents also never got the vaccines and they’re in their 70s. They each got Covid earlier this year and then within a week of each of them getting it, they were both fine. My rule has been to never get caught up in hysteria where everyone is panicking.

Many of us now look back and realize that a lot of mistakes were made. The lockdowns were a mistake. Pulling kids out of school was a mistake. Plenty of people are questioning the vaccines and it used to be a conspiracy theory to say the virus came from a lab in Wuhan. Now it’s pretty much established fact.

A number of us also don’t support climate change hysteria either. When I take any kind of online survey, I can easily answer questions when it comes to environmental claims. It’s not that I don’t care about the planet, but I think that many of our solutions are harmful in the long-term even if we think there are short-term benefits. I would like to see us using nuclear power more and I would like to see the Keystone pipeline open.

As soon as I say any of this, there are people out there getting their proverbial pitchforks ready. After all, I have questioned the reigning dogma. We have seen that people who do go against whatever the reigning dogma is, particularly today on climate change, are quickly castigated and they are the new heretics.

“The difference though is science is evidence-based and religion isn’t!”

Which is entirely a straw man. The evidences are different, but all sides use evidence. Religions tend to use history and philosophy more as well as interpretation of sacred texts and analysis of it by believers and skeptics. Of course, some dogmas can be right, just like in science, and some can be wrong, just like in science.

One area that this comes to an interesting place is in how we use words. Magic is the idea that one can use words to somehow alter reality. Properly, this isn’t always the case. When a minister says “I now pronounce you husband and wife”, he is doing something his words have the power to affect. There are times when this is not the case.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has referred to seeing men’s and women’s bathrooms as segregation. Don’t believe me? Go take a look here. (Warning. This is something unedited so there is language in the video.) It starts around 2:50. Shortly after 4:00, NDT says he sees men and women bathrooms and thinks “Colored and white”.

Go back twenty years, maybe even ten, and this wouldn’t be being questioned at all. Now NDT acts like it’s segregation. Why? It’s the spirit of the age. It’s where the politics lie.

I recently shared this picture on my Facebook.

One of the first replies I got was “Transwomen are women.”

What is this said today but a mantra? Repeat it enough and it will become true?

The next worth talking about is I just asked the question “What is a woman?” and got told that the idea of a woman is a societal construct. To which, I gave the reply that the idea that the meaning of woman is a societal construct is itself a societal construct.

We live in an age where we believe if we declare it to be so, it is. What is it called when someone goes in for a transgender operation? “Gender-affirming care”, when it is really the exact opposite. We have said that we should include couples of the same sex under the label of marriage, but did we stop to ask what marriage is and what it means? Consider also a group like Black Lives Matter. So if you don’t support the group, which is about many many things besides black lives, then you don’t think black lives matter?

This isn’t science. This is magic.

Too many of our leading scientists are also leading the way in this. The basic reality of biology would not have been denied until the political climate rolled around and then all of a sudden, we think we know something that no one else before us in history knew. We live in a society where we want to erase differences between men and women, do economic Russian Roulette and think only our intentions matter, and think that if we say the words, we can change reality. We can’t.

Reality will always win in the end.

For those in the scientific establishment also, this has only hurt them in the long run. There are more and more people unwilling to trust science when we think that there is a political side to it. If anything, we are not a scientific society. We are anti-science.

That doesn’t make us like religion in the past. Religion in the past still tried to tether itself to external reality by basing their conclusions on the idea of a supreme being outside the cosmos that created a rational universe and thus made the universe rational. Now, the basis for how we see reality is not without, but it is within. How someone feels about themselves and society determines reality.

The good news is, this path cannot last long. It will destroy itself.

The bad news, I have no idea how much it will take out with it when it collapses.

Let’s be prepared.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views

What does Larry Richards have to say? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This was an odd chapter. Pastorally, this was the best chapter in the book. Not even a contest. Richards really takes the time to emphasize the love and concern needed for people walking the path of divorce.

Exegetically though, it’s the worst, easily. There are simply several assumptions thrown out and while they could be right, no reason is given for them. As one respondent says, Richards only has two footnotes. That’s far below anyone else.


I have yet to meet a Christian who, when he or she stood before pastor and family and church to say “I do,” planned on divorce. I have yet to meet anyone who enjoyed divorce. For each person involved there is pain: worry about the children, uncertainty, sudden loneliness, financial hardship, the lingering and agonizing death of hoped-for love and belonging.

For most Christians there is also a sense of guilt, the awful realization that somehow they have failed, falling dreadfully short of God’s ideal of a permanent, lifelong relationship. Even the “innocent party” feels guilt. What did he or she do wrong? What might he have done differently? What happened to destroy a relationship she entered with such joyous expectation?

It is true that in our society divorce is all too common. It is also tragically true that the Christian community has proven as susceptible as the general culture. Most churches have men and women attending who have been divorced and, in many cases, have remarried. I have no statistics on the Christian community, but the most recent study I’ve seen suggests that about 51% of Americans who many for the first time will divorce. Many of these divorces will be unnecessary. If both parties were willing to receive counseling, to work at the relationship, most marriages that end in divorce could probably be saved.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 215–216.

Amen and amen. Would that every contributor remembered this. This isn’t just an academic exercise in this case. One could say a debate on eschatology for instance might not have a lot of immediate significance for one’s life, but this one does. A lot of people who pick up this book could be going through the pain of divorce themselves or know someone who is. This isn’t just an academic interest for them. Richards brings that out.

First, we must guard against being so swayed by sympathy for hurting people that we ignore or reject Scripture. As Oswald Chambers once wrote, “It is possible to have such sympathy with our fellow man as to be guilty of red-handed rebellion against God.” Now I confess to a great sympathy for many struggling with the option of divorce. One of our neighbors, whom I’ll call Brenda, has an abusive husband. For some ten years he has belittled and sworn at her, constantly ridiculing her. What troubles Brenda now is that her husband treats their two girls the same way. How can she stay with him and see her daughters emotionally damaged for life by his verbal abuse? Is it right for her to stay in a relationship where not only she but her girls are victimized?

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 216–217.

Indeed. Not only this, but how many marriages could be saved if we called out bad behavior on the part of one spouse (Or both if need be) instead of trying to make sure feelings weren’t being spared. We have an idea that we should try to love people into the Kingdom. We often forget we can love them into Hell as well.

Looking more closely at Malachi, we note that something happening in our society today was also happening then: Men were deserting the “wives of their youth.” This phrase, repeated twice in Malachi 2:13–16, makes it clear that these were older couples and suggests that, then as now, older men were deserting their first wives to marry younger, more sexually attractive women.

Partnerships forged by years of shared struggle and joy were being broken up by men who “failed to guard themselves in their spirits.” This phrase, also repeated twice, reminds us that as men grow older they, like Solomon, become more susceptible to sexual temptation. So it is clear from the context of Malachi that when God said “I hate divorce,” he was speaking of divorces motivated by lust, divorces that involved abandonment of women who had been faithful, loving partners through years of married life. You and I also hate this kind of divorce. We recognize its source in selfishness and sin. We see the anguish it causes a partner who has lavished years of loving care on a person who now pushes her aside. No godly person treats another in this way. And nothing can justify such a divorce.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 218.

I too hate this kind of divorce as well. It’s one we should never encourage in the church. It is sad that some of the rabbis did say a man could divorce if someone prettier came along.

It seems to me that there is only one way to avoid the two dangers I have identified above. On the one hand, we must avoid arguing from human experience. It would be easy to list case after tragic case and to so play on emotions that any sensitive reader would cry out, “No! Let him or her go!”

It would be almost as easy to list case after case of selfish and unnecessary divorce and to trace their tragic consequences. But we Christians do not find moral guidance in human experience. We find moral guidance in Scripture, and we then apply Scripture to help us evaluate experience. Thus any valid discussion of divorce and remarriage must begin with a study of the Word of God, not with appeals to have compassion on hurting people.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 219.

And I agree again. Many of these stories can have appeal to emotions. I have made it a point to not often share my story and even when I do, I leave some details out, mainly out of a way of still not wanting to speak ill of my ex-wife.

So far, so good, but now we get into the argumentation.

Jesus then goes on to sketch three useless routes people sometimes take in a search for spiritual greatness. The Pharisees, who raise a legal question about divorce, represent the way of Law (19:1–15). A rich young man, who takes pride in his humanitarianism, represents those who seek greatness by doing good works (19:16–30). Workers in a vineyard represent those who seek greatness by working harder than others in God’s service (20:1–16). In each case Jesus shows why the route chosen is useless as a way to spiritual achievement.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 220–221.

This could be, but I’m skeptical. I found it intriguing, but I think a stronger case needs to be made. I don’t think the Pharisees were trying to use the law to find greatness. If they were, divorce seems like an odd place to start.

If God, sensitive to the fact that human hardness of heart would turn some marriages into destructive caricatures, announced through Moses that marriages could be ended, how can we deny divorce to those few whose suffering cries out that their marriages, too, should end? If Jesus recognized hardness of heart as the rationale for permitting divorce in Old Testament times, how can we insist that there is no rationale for divorce today, even when one spouse persistently sins against his or her partner?

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 223.

This point I do think is valid. What happens today if one spouse hardens their heart and refuses to honor the covenant? Tough luck for the other person?

Jesus’ words warn us that pastors and other Christian leaders have no more right to stand in judgment over the dissolution of a marriage than did the Pharisees. His words tells us that theologians have no right to decree, “People in this situation can divorce and remarry, but people in that situation cannot.” Jesus’ words to the Pharisees confront us if we, like those jealous men of long ago, take it upon ourselves to convene our ecclesiastical courts to make pronouncements on an issue which must in the last analysis be a personal decision—a personal decision that Christians will consider only as a last resort, and then prayerfully and purely, with a heartfelt desire to know and to do God’s will for them.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 226.

While Richards thinks this is a powerful argument, I really do not see this in the text. I see nothing about ecclesiastical courts or anything like that. I don’t see Jesus at all saying we have no place to judge someone else in the case of a divorce. This is especially so since Richards earlier in this chapter described one scenario and said we hate this kind of divorce.

On the other hand, the way to treat a wayward spouse, as illustrated by God’s treatment of adulterous Israel and Hosea’s treatment of his adulterous wife, Gomer, is to seek reconciliation and renewal (see Hos 1:11). Adultery may be grounds for forgiveness, but it is not grounds for divorce!

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 229.

This statement puzzles me since it looks like Jesus does explicitly say that, yes, this is grounds for divorce. I am all for trying to seek reconciliation and renewal first, but if that is resisted, what then? You can’t reconcile with someone who doesn’t want that.

First, he means that the Law, which says “give her a certificate of divorce,” does not express God’s highest standard or ideal. The Pharisees thought that it was righteous to divorce one’s spouse as long as the legalities were observed. Jesus makes it clear that, while it is permissible to divorce, it is not righteous. Divorce falls short of God’s will for us and reveals human failure. In view of God’s ultimate standard for us, divorce, while permissible, is still sin. And remarriage, while permissible, involves an act which measured against the ideal must be acknowledged as adultery.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 233.

This really strikes me as dangerous. Divorce is sin? It can be, but are we to say that a wife who divorces her husband who is a cheater and who beats her and the children is sinning? Also, if remarriage is adultery, is Richards seriously telling us then to go on and sin in divorce and go on and sin in remarriage committing adultery and God will forgive you? Dangerous indeed!

When Richards goes pastoral, it is much better, as he does here:

Too many pastors and teachers insist that there is no forgiveness for the divorced, no fresh start. In many Christian communities, if your marriage fails, you are marked forever and dismissed to a lifetime of loneliness—unless, of course, by some legalistic twist or turn you can be pronounced the “innocent party.”

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 236–237.

Thankfully, this is not my experience, but i know it is the experience of some men.

How strange! We would invite a converted murderer to give testimony from our pulpits. Yet we will not permit a person who has been divorced and has remarried to praise God in our choir.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 237.

This is indeed strange. I have had a Baptist minister tell me this same concern. I am not at all say a converted murderer should not give a testimony, but one can be redeemed of murder but not divorce?

We can draw a number of important principles concerning divorce and remarriage from Paul’s discussion of the issues that troubled the Corinthian church. First, a single, permanent marriage relationship is unquestionably God’s will for his people (7:10). There can be no debate over this question. Marriage is intended to be a lifetime commitment, in which couples share not only their bodies but all of life, and especially their spiritual life.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 239.

This is something we should all agree with. Yes. Marriage was meant to be forever.

As ministers of God’s good news, we will affirm the forgiveness that the divorced can claim. We will show by our own warmth and caring that Jesus values them, despite the worthlessness they now frequently feel.

In our churches we will try to provide social groupings where the divorced can feel they belong. We may sponsor seminars to help them deal with unexpected feelings and tasks for which they are not equipped. If we are uncertain how to minister to the needs of the divorced, we will take the initiative and purchase a helpful book, such as the 1987 Zondervan release Effective Divorce Ministry by Sue Richards and Stan Haggameyer.

Larry Richards, “Chapter 4: Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 244.

Yes, churches. Please do this. A Babylon Bee article a couple of months ago said a new Christian dating app had come out that said “Just go to church,” Many, myself included, said in the comments that that does not work at all for a lot of us. If anything, it’s easy to feel lonely in the church. You go in and see married couples and couples talking about their children and there you sit by your lonesome. Churches. Please remember this!

I do think in looking at the responses, something Laney says definitely needs to be commented on.

While I would agree that divorce and remarriage should not disqualify one from all service in a church, the office of elder and deacon have a specific marital requirement, “husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2, 12; Tit 1:6). While divorce and remarriage is a forgivable sin, it would be disqualifying in terms of church office.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 253.

I really am stunned to see this kind of thing. If followed consistently, Jesus and Paul could not speak at a church. They are not the husband of one wife. Also, if we went this route, anyone to speak must have at least two children. After all, the man must see that his children obey him. Gotta have two. This kind of thinking has done a lot of harm to a good number of divorced men.

I think Edgar also has a powerful reply to Richards:

Richards claims that he originally held the no-divorce and no-remarriage view, but has changed due to a restudy of the passages. How can this be? It does not take a restudy of the passages to change from the view that the Bible teaches that divorce is always sin and remarriage is always adultery to his present view that the Bible teaches that divorce is always sin and remarriage is always adultery but go ahead since God will forgive it Did he need to restudy the Bible to be aware that God is merciful and gracious and will forgive sin? This is the only real difference in his position. All of the writers in this book would agree that God will forgive the sin of improper divorce; we would not all agree that this makes it a valid option.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 266–267.

In conclusion, overall, I side with Edgar’s view the most. Pastorally, I appreciate Richards the most, and the one I disagree with not only in his chapter but in several responses is Laney.

We’ll see what comes next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


Book Plunge: Divorce and Remarriage — Four Christian Views Part 3

What do I think of Thomas R. Edgar’s chapter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Edgar holds to a view of divorce and remarriage in the case of adultery and desertion. To clarify on this, I would include in my own view a couple of other possibilities as legitimate divorces such as a spouse who is being abusive to a member of the family. I don’t know if Edgar holds that position, though it wouldn’t surprise me, but I am stating it here.

So what do we have in Edgar’s chapter?

The opinion that marriage is indissoluble may be held dogmatically, as in the Roman Catholic tradition, or may be derived from an alleged teaching of Scripture regarding the nature of marriage. No verse in Scripture explicitly teaches that marriage is indissoluble. However, those who are convinced of this tend to interpret every passage on divorce and remarriage with this assumption rather than following normal procedures for interpretation and the most natural meaning of the biblical passages involved.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 152.

This is certainly true. Nothing in Scripture does say that marriage cannot be undone in any way. If there is divorce in even the Old Testament and remarriage there, it would seem that the answer is indeed that marriage can be undone. Whether it should be undone is a different question.

The view which allows for no divorce, even because of adultery, may seem to be more ethical. However, it could also be considered quite the opposite—as a more tolerant view of adultery—in that it treats adultery no differently than numerous other marriage problems.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 152.

This is an interesting point. As it stands, with someone who is an adulterer, or even in our day and age, a porn addict, such a stance could be enabling. I am sure Laney and Heth would agree that adultery is bigger than many other marriage problems, but does Laney’s view in particular lead to this conclusion? Heth at least does allow for divorce so he doesn’t have as much of a problem.

Edgar’s main exegesis in his chapter is on Matthew 19’s section on divorce. I am not at all condemning exegeting that, but as one responder points out, there are other passages. There is little if no interaction with the Old Testament on this matter. That should at least be consulted.

That being said, Edgar’s exegesis of the passage is intense, if not at times seemingly tedious. I do think he spent too much time on weaker objections. I also agree with one responder who said that he spends a lot of time telling us what the passage is not saying and too little saying what it is saying.

While I agree with Edgar’s position, I do get concerned when he says this, and one of his responders will as well.

Many conservatives, perhaps unaware, seem to hold a similar position. For example, those who insist that the exception is not “understood” in Mark 10:2–12 or that Mark 10:2–12 disallows any exception since it is determinative of Jesus’ teaching on divorce have implicitly surrendered the inerrancy of Scripture. It must be kept in mind that both Matthew 19:3–12 and Mark 10:2–12 are recording the same historical incident and the same statements of Jesus. Neither is attempting to give his own view, nor the church’s view on divorce; rather, both are reporting the very same conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. Matthew explicitly states that, not only on a previous occasion (Mt 5:31–32), but in this very conversation, which is also described in Mark 10:2–12, Jesus specifically stated the exception. Unless Matthew 19:9 is inaccurate, in the conversation recorded in Mark 10:2–12 Jesus did state the exception. Therefore, it must be understood in Mark’s account even though he does not record it Mark, as often happens in other passages, merely omitted a detail which Matthew included.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 166.

I would say instead that they are having an inconsistent hermeneutic. If Mark has no exceptions and Matthew does, and you don’t want to throw out inerrancy, then to be consistent, you have to say that Mark most likely took the adultery one as a given. This is what I find consistent with other writers on the topic. Saying that there is a denial of inerrancy leads to outcomes I have seen before, namely in the inerrancy wars starting in around 2010.

Overall, Edgar’s argument in Matthew 19 is highly complex and I don’t think I can summarize it here. I do think it is the way most Protestants do understand the passage, however. For now, let’s also look at 1 Cor. 7.

The crux of the issue is the meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:15. The arguments against interpreting this verse as referring to a divorce and allowing remarriage are few. It is argued that the verse only refers to allowing the partner to leave and says nothing about remarriage. If such an approach were followed elsewhere, many doctrines, including the doctrine of the Trinity, would be lost. The situation Paul refers to either allows remarriage or it does not This is what needs to be determined.

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 189.

I look at this claim repeatedly and while Edgar could be right, he doesn’t explain it at all which leaves me wondering just how it could be that this leads to a denial of a doctrine of the Trinity. This is a serious danger. Edgar needs to do more than just throw it out there.

Some argue that the deserted believer is not permitted to remarry, because the entire context of 1 Corinthians 7:17–24 urges the believer to remain as he or she is and not to change his or her status. This opinion ignores the details of the context The preference for remaining as is refers also to those never married and to widows and widowers. If this aspect of the context prohibits remarriage, it prohibits all marriage. The passage actually teaches the preference of staying single, but if you desire to marry it is not sin. Although this statement may not specifically allow remarriage of divorced persons, on the other hand, the context does not specifically deny it unless it denies all marriage. Paul implies in 1 Corinthians 7:10–12 that he has something to say that was not specifically covered by the Lord. Since Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:9 is true for all, including believers and unbelievers, Paul must be doing more than repeating the same teaching for application to a mixed marriage. If he merely repeats in verse 15 what he said in verses 10–11, that divorce and remarriage are prohibited (except for adultery) and that separated people should remain unmarried, then he has stated nothing that the Lord did not already say. If verse 15 is mere repetition, why then would Paul state that the Lord did not speak regarding this matter?

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 191.

I do agree with this. If the argument is that this is why these people shouldn’t remarry, then it proves too much. It is an argument why no one should marry, even the man who is engaged to the virgin he wishes to marry. I also think it is concerning a famine that was going on in Corinth at the time and that needs to be considered in the context.

Many approach the subject of divorce and remarriage as a policeman would who is not primarily interested in stopping robberies, but more interested that the criminals not enjoy the benefits of their crime. They seem less interested in avoiding marriage failures and more interested in keeping the divorced from remarriage

Thomas R. Edgar, “Chapter 3: Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 192.

Thankfully, I have not encountered this in my path through divorce, but I do understand the legalism. The pastoral side must be remembered. In a book like this, there are real people and I would that every contributor had remembered this more. We’ll see that more in part 4.

Laney’s response comes first where he says this at the start:

Edgar writes, “The Bible specifically states that God intended for marriage to be maintained” (p. 191). He also states, “We should not sever that which God has joined” (p. 191). It is surprising that Edgar can make such strong statements regarding God’s design for marriage and then take the entirety of his article to argue the legitimacy of divorce and remarriage.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 197.

But what is surprising about this? I agree with this as a divorced man. Marriage should be maintained. We should not sever what God has joined. The problem is, if one person doesn’t want to maintain a marriage, they won’t. What God joins does get severed. I hold that divorce can be a necessity sometimes, but in all cases, it is a tragedy. Someone broke their promise on the wedding day, a tragedy.

A major difficulty with Edgar’s viewpoint is the absence of an exception in Mark 10:1–12 and Luke 16:18. According to Edgar, Mark “merely omitted a detail which Matthew included” (p. 166). I would have to say that Mark’s omission of an exception to the permanence of marriage is more than a detail! Eusebius records that Mark carefully recorded the teaching of Peter for the church at Rome after Peter’s death. The church at Rome was apparently not taught by Peter that there was an exception to the permanence of marriage. Peter’s preaching contained no exception. Neither did Mark’s Gospel. Neither were the gentile readers of the Gospel of Luke informed as to an exception. This is not a minor historical detail. This omission would have a significant impact on the lives and marriages of Mark’s readers.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 199.

Yet this assumes that everything Peter was teaching is found in Mark. If Edgar’s case is correct, the exception is understood. It is a problem to say Mark’s Jesus said no exceptions and Matthew says an exception and both are true. The most likely scenario is Mark’s is understood.

Laney also says that Edgar’s view seems to have no place for forgiveness or promise-keeping. In response, I can say I have always held the door open for the forgiveness of my ex-wife. It doesn’t mean I will trust her again, but I can forgive her.  You can forgive someone for doing something, but you don’t have to trust them again. If the babysitter you hire abuses your children, you can forgive them, but it doesn’t mean you let them sit your kids again.

As for promise-keeping, you can hold Edgar’s position and still believe in promise-keeping. I do. If she did not want to keep her promise, how is that being unfaithful to mine? People around me can tell you I still don’t speak ill of her.

I really had a problem when Laney said this:

Instead of presenting a thorough biblical study of the subject, Edgar continually appeals to logic and states that the arguments of the opposing viewpoint are illogical (compare, pp. 173, 179, 180, 186, 192). I would hasten to point out that many biblical doctrines—such as election and free will—do not fit our categories of logic. How is the doctrine of the Trinity—three equal persons in one godhead-logical? Frankly, I would rather be biblical than logical if a choice is demanded.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 201.

If the Trinity is illogical, then that means it is impossible and should not be believed. I do not for a moment think the Trinity contradicts logic. Does the doctrine go beyond our understanding? Absolutely, but to say it is illogical is a dangerous path. I suspect Laney doesn’t really understand what is meant by logical, but I wish he would for he has opened a dangerous door with this statement.

There is nothing in Heth that I didn’t find in Laney worth commenting on, but in Richard’s response we read:

It may be correct for us to advise the injured party that he or she “can” divorce. But it is not for us to advise that he or she should. Instead we need to work toward the healing first of the persons involved, and then of the marriage.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 211.

This is a great point. We often forget that when the bride and groom come together on a wedding day, it’s not just them making a promise. The congregation is also to promise to support and help the couple. We don’t spend enough time doing this. We should all be working to help marriages in our community. I have told couples where I am that if they have a marriage problem and want to talk, my door is open.

Next time, we will look at Larry Richards’s position.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Divorce and Remarriage Four Views — Part 2

What do I think of William Heth’s view? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this volume, Heth defends the position that divorce is allowed, but not remarriage. This is an older work as since then, Heth has changed his position to allow for remarriage after adultery and desertion. Therefore, we can say that eventually he came to abandon his arguments here, but he still has his arguments and we need to address them.

To begin with, I do agree with parts where Heth speaks highly of marriage. I also think ideally that marriage should be permanent, but the problem is that it is too often not. This is even the case with God essentially sending a divorce certificate to Israel and Judah when He allows them to go into exile. There have been some who have said the same thing happens again in Revelation. Hosea 2 has God explicitly saying to Israel “I am not your husband.”

Heth says marriage happens when a man and a woman announce their covenant love for one another and consummate that love together. He says one is not sufficient in itself, pointing to 1 Cor. 6:16. The problem is, as was said yesterday, that 1 Cor. 6:16, quotes Genesis 2:24, which is said to be the foundational passage on marriage. Nothing in Genesis 2:24 speaks about announcing covenant love, for instance.

I do agree with Heth in that the purpose of marriage is not companionship. That is a purpose, but it is not the purpose. After all, men and women have plenty of sources for companionship. They’re called friends. We even consider our pets our companions. That being said, being divorced and single is quite lonely and so yes, that companionship is definitely missed.

I am unconvinced by his point on Deuteronomy 24 considering it does not allow for remarriage of the first husband. The purpose is that it still allows for remarriage. My thinking on this is that a back and forth exchange gives the impression that this is a case of men working together to have the same woman and claim to do so legally. It creates a love triangle scenario.

He speaks on Ezra with the marriages to other tribes at the end and says

As early as 1890, George Rawlinson observed:

It is quite clear that [Ezra] read the Law as absolutely prohibitive of mixed marriages (Ezra 9:10–14)—i.e., as not only forbidding their inception, but their continuance. Strictly speaking, he probably looked upon them as unreal marriages, and so as no better than ordinary illicit connections. For the evils which flow from such unions, those who make them, and not those who break them, are responsible.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 89.

I find this extremely flimsy. Are we to say that pagan nations had no “real marriages” since evils could flow from such unions? If all that is required for a real marriage is a public testimony and a consummation, then these were real marriages. If these were real marriages, then these were real divorces.

Heth goes on to say that

Yet the most serious cases of unlawful unions could be punished by the death of both parties, just like adulterers (Lev 20:10). Numbers 25:6–15 records the case of an Israelite who took a foreign wife and was summarily executed. It could be a significant act of kindness that Ezra only demanded the “divorce” of the foreigners, not their execution.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 90.

This also strikes me as problematic. In this case, we have no indication that the two were husband and wife. What is going on is a judgment has come to Israel and right after a public statement denouncing this, a man and a woman brazenly go in public so everyone can see them and then go into a tent and start doing the deed together. Phinehas says that that is enough and takes a spear and runs through both of them in one blow.

Thus, I hardly see this as a parallel. Add in also that Deuteronomy had standards for marrying a woman who was a captive and Rahab and Ruth were foreign women who we see in the genealogy of Jesus. Are we to think that those were illicit marriages?

As we move on, we see a quotation from Tony Lane, a lecturer on Christian doctrine at London Bible College.

If Jesus did allow remarriage, presumably it happened. How did it then cease to happen, despite the fact that his teaching was known, leaving no trace either of a period when it happened or of any controversy.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 97.

However, what I want to know is how is this known? For instance, let’s go with the early church having a problem with sex for pleasure. Are we to assume then that nowhere in the early church could we find couples having sex for pleasure? The reality is we just don’t have the marriage statistics on the early church so this is really an argument from silence.

Later when talking about Jesus and divorce, Heth says:

Divorce for marital unfaithfulness may be conceded in view of the prevailing social mores, but there must be no remarriage lest adultery be committed. The disciples then react in unbelief at the thought of a life of singleness apart from marital relations: if a man cannot get out of a marriage so as to marry another, it is probably better not to marry at all (v. 10). Jesus then responds by saying that his standards on divorce and remarriage are indeed difficult to understand and to live by. Nevertheless, God gives true disciples the ability to understand and live by Christ’s teaching. Furthermore, God will give faithful disciples the grace they need if they should face a divorce they cannot prevent (v. 11).

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 106.

First, we don’t know why exactly the disciples reacted the way they did. We just know that they did. However, if someone was stunned at the prospect of a life of singleness without sex, there’s a sure way to get that. Never get married. At least if you get married, you could say you can have sex for some time.

I also don’t deny that God can give grace to those of us who have gone through divorce, but at the same time, He can also give us new spouses who will love us faithfully. There is no doubt God can provide for me regardless. My hope is still that that will be through another companion.

As for Paul, Heth says

Paul’s statement that the believer is “not bound” in such cases has the same function that the exception clause does in Matthew 19:9: it relieves the innocent party of the guilt of violating Christ’s command not to divorce. In the case of Matthew 19:9 the woman who commits adultery is held responsible for the breakup of the marriage, while in 1 Corinthians 7:15 Paul exempts the Christian from the responsibility for the divorce which an unbelieving mate brings about. Nothing is said one way or the other about the possibility of remarriage for the believer.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 112.

This seems like a strange interpretation. Not bound means that the person is not guilty? That doesn’t seem to be the main issue at play here. No one seems to be asking “Who is guilty of the divorce?”

Finally, in looking at the responses, I want to only look at one comment from Thomas Edgar.

Heth’s argument that unless divorce is required it cannot be argued that the one-flesh relationship has been broken due to sexual sin, fails to take into account that although relationship with a prostitute is “one flesh” it is not marriage unless a certain legal ceremony is carried out. In the same way sexual sin breaks the marriage bond, but the marriage is not actually dissolved until a certain legal procedure (divorce) is carried out Does anyone argue that the marriage itself is actually dissolved the instant one enters into sexual unfaithfulness? I think that my discussion of the syntax shows that Heth’s view of Matthew 19:9 is incorrect. It is grammatically impossible to claim that Matthew 19:9 does not allow remarriage in the case of the exception.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 142.

This is an excellent case. Adultery does not ipso facto destroy the marriage as there can be repentance and it’s not as if the moment a spouse commits adultery, they are a divorced couple and then if the cheater comes home and resumes normal sex with the spouse, that the unaware party is having an affair? Just as the ceremony is part of the marriage, so it is part of the divorce. Adultery doesn’t necessitate divorce, but it is sufficient for it.

Next time, we will look at Thomas Edgar’s essay.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)