The Bible, Premarital Sex, and Marriage Part 2

Yesterday I pontificated upon Exodus 22:16, which says that it is lawful to have premarital sex with a woman as long as you intend to officially make her your wife.

It is lawful to go about marriage this way, however most Christians would say that premarital sex, even for an engaged couple, is wrong, let alone for a non-engaged couple.

I find this sort of clear-cut statement a tad amusing.

The Bible has many accounts of people getting married. Most of it involves going and getting a woman, having sex with her, and taking her home.

Other unique Biblical ways of getting a wife include, but are not limited to:

Having your servant go get one for your son
Holding a dance and having men hide in the bushes and jump out and grab a cute woman to take home
Get mad at a married guy and have God kill him and then take his wife
Work for a father of a cute girl for seven years, then marry her sister, work seven more years and finally get the woman of your dreams
Cut foreskins off the enemies of the father of a cute girl
Hold a beauty contest and bed the winner

Certainly no one would use such means in our day, this is true. So, perhaps we should stop using the Bible as a guide for getting a wife?

So, what about Exodus 22:16 and the lawfulness of premarital sex?

Well, couple things come into play.

1) We’re no longer under the Law of Moses; we now follow Christ, the embodiment of love, which is the fulfilling of the Law.

2) The Law also said divorce was OK. When the Pharisees pressed this point with Jesus, He said divorce was allowed because of the hardness of their heart. I think Exodus 22:16 fits that category to a tee. God is not saying this is how marriage must take place. He seems to be saying that if you have sex with a girl, make it right by marrying her.

3) The New Testament is filled with commands about sexual purity. Sex outside of marriage appears to be a fairly straight-forward teaching. However, when most young people who have sex take their confession to a church, usually the church judges them, kicks them out, and has a hissy fit, usually lead by older, nosy, voyeuristic men (not always, but I’ve seen it).

The sexual urge is a strong thing, especially in youthful people. People make mistakes. This is one of them. Once it has happened, there’s no going back. Make it right, marry the girl. Everyone else should chill, help them out, and encourage them to remain faithful and pure.

It is good for us to be honest with Scripture, not to make ridiculous statements about how the Bible says premarital sex is wrong. Use that carefully and know how to answer anyone who brings up Exodus 22:16, or related passages.

Know the Book before making absolute statements supposedly from it.

The Bible, Premarital Sex, and Marriage

There is and has been much talk about dating and marriage by Christians. Books abound on the subject. A topic that reminds me of the words of Solomon, “of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

What cracks me up is that most of these books claim to tell us “what the Bible says” about marriage.

At best, these books focus in on one or two passages, the one or two passages the author believes sums up everything the Bible has to say about marriage.

1 Corinthians 7 is typically ignored, for instance, “the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none.” Kind of throws a wrench into Jesus wanting you to have Date Night doesn’t it?

Few take into account all that the Bible says about marriage.

Yet strong moral pronouncements are made using Scripture to declare the author’s pet opinion.

For instance, many believe pre-marital sex is out of the question. Christians should not do this.

It’s bad. “The Bible says so.”

Except, of course, the Bible never says so.

This is where a guy can get himself in trouble, but alas, the Bible never says so.

The Bible implies if you have sex with someone you are married to them.

In fact, in a verse I’ve never heard anyone mention when it comes to “how the Bible says to get a wife,” there is Exodus 22:16:

And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.

The Law of God, as revealed to Moses, says pre-marital sex is a lawful way to get a wife!

Now, I’m not saying people should have sex before marriage, what I am saying is that we need to be careful how we link our opinions with supposed Scriptural authority.

Before launching on me and how horrible I am for saying pre-marital sex is lawful, go ahead and deal with the passage in an honest fashion.

I can, but I’m not worried about me. I’m more worried about those parents and pastors who speak to youth about stuff like this and tell people they are “speaking biblical truth,” when in reality a kid who has a concordance can argue quite well against such points.

Many a youth has wandered from church because a supposed Scriptural authority was detected playing games with Scripture.

Let’s be honest and careful with the Bible. Let’s not lead people astray by changing, or dishonestly ignoring, what the Bible says, just so we can buck up one of our favorite points.

An Intentional Dialogue to Thought-Lead a Conversation on Change Agenting the Noncontinuationalism of Jargon

Yesterday I talked about what “missional” means. “Missional” is underlined by my spell-checker because IT’S NOT A WORD!

Words like “missional” give me the creeps. When someone wants to “dialogue” with me I want to, frankly, just die, whether a log comes with me or not.

Lately there has been much talk about the church needing to be more intentional with stuff. Intentional. Intentional means to do stuff on purpose. “Intentional grounding” is when a quarterback purposely throws the ball into the ground to avoid taking a loss of yards on a play. He purposely fired the ball into the ground so the play would end.

I typed “the church needs more intentional” into search engines and came up with the following suggestions:

the church needs more intentional communities
the church needs more intentional infliction
the church needs more intentional living
the church needs more intentional interim pastors
the church needs more intentional discipleship

I don’t know. I really don’t know about “intentional infliction.” What?

Have we been unintentionally doing these things? I remember that one time I unintentionally hired an interim pastor! Oh man, that was a mess.

The list of non-sensically complex words could go on:

thought-leaders
change-agents
attractional
progressional dialogue (I kid you not)
incarnational

I hope you don’t hear these much. If you do, I encourage you to change your hangouts.

People who have to invent new usages of words in such ways are doing one of a couple of things:

1) Trying to look smart
2) Hoping to intimidate you into awed silence, proving they are better than you
3) Trying to sound hip
4) Making stuff up and hoping you don’t ask questions

Most of it has to do with appearances, trying to dress up the outside to appear better. Trying to impress people is a bad sign. Not that we’re trying to un-impress (depress?) people. The point is that we live for the Lord and do things for Him not for people. Certainly God doesn’t need us to talk this way.

In the end, it might be innocent fun, but I honestly believe people who play games with words like this, actually have no idea what they are talking about. If they did, they’d be able to explain it in a way that would help others understand their thought.

It may not always be true, but when people use verbs as nouns, or nouns as verbs, or weird things with adjectives in adverbial forms or whatnot, it’s a red flag in my mind. I begin to tune out.

Paul warns about using “enticing words,” words that sound intelligent and yet have no real meaning.

It is highly discouraging to hear Christians do this with the Gospel. The Gospel is so straight-forward, and to hear us hip it up to be cool and trendy, while all we are doing is burying meaning, is a travesty.

Theologians do this. Corporate Christianity does this.

You don’t hear this sort of talk in the line at the food pantry.

Stop trying to fit in with the uppity-ups of the world, and go serve the least of these, even in your language.

What Does “Missional” Even Mean? Or, One Reason Why I Dropped Out of Seminary

I’ve been reading a book by an academic theologian lately. Came across this sentence:

“Missional presence and activity is nothing more than participation in the missio Dei and that participation is the praxis of atonement.”

First, let me just say, after one reading, I hope you have no idea what that means.

Second, if you do know what that means after one reading, I encourage you to get out with people more often.

Third, although theology is just a bunch of guys trying to talk smart about God, it’s not a bad thing to know how to dissect their statements.

It’s a good exercise to read complicated theology every once in a while. Not too often, but once in a while. It does stretch the brain. Sometimes it stretches boundaries of word definitions as well.

If theologians made theology easy, they’d be out of a job. Theologians spend a lot of time alone with big books. Their only hope of being of use is to turn others into isolationist book readers who talk above others.

There is no office of “theologian” detailed in the Bible for the Church. Ephesians 4, which tells us all the gifted people we need to be mature in Christ, never mentions a theologian. Yes, there are teachers, but the job of a teacher is to make complex things simple, not to make complex things indiscernible.

Theologians work in schools where others go to be theologians. They are practically of no use at all.

I understand I’m probably being flippant, hyperbolic, and rude, but seriously, it’s my honest opinion.

It is my contention that the Church would be better off without academic theologians. Anyone who thinks otherwise went to seminary, works at a seminary, wants to work at a seminary, or wants to feel like their student debt was actually worth it.

What they mainly study is what other theologians say. In the end, much of what passes for academic theology has little to do with the Bible, and much to do with dead white guys. It is a common theme among seminary observers to wonder why seminaries don’t seem to be equipping pastors for actual pastoral work. Hmmm, it’s a mystery to me.

But, I digress. To the statement above. Here are a couple common-man definitions of theological concepts:

Missional–this is a relatively new word, invented by what is known as The Emerging Church. It’s a new way of “doing evangelism.” A middle road between evangelism (telling others the good news of Christ) and the Social Gospel (doing nice things for people as we imagine Jesus would have, but probably never mentioning Jesus). Missional means that the Church is on a mission to bring God to the world, mostly shown by example, more so than by handing out tracts.

Missional presence–refers to the purpose of the church being here–the Church is God’s redeeming presence on earth.

Missio Dei–Latin for “the mission of God.” Jesus Christ isn’t just a person, the part of the Gospel who saves you. Missio Dei is seeing yourself as doing part of the saving of others by living the example of Christ to the world around you.

Praxis–means “practice.”

Praxis of Atonement--what happens when we begin to see the redemption of Christ as more than just what saved me, but living the Gospel to bring others to redemption in Christ.

In the end, all those words are defined by me and are my take on what those who use such words are saying about those words. I’m sure they would tell you I’m an idiot, that’s totally not what we mean by that.

In essence, what the theological statement above is saying is this:

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Why couldn’t they just say that? Because if all theologians did was quote the Bible, they couldn’t sell books, speak at conferences, be tenured, be superior to you uneducated dolts, and so on. Also, by using complex words, they can avoid biblical application and develop their own slightly-off application. Their application is different than Paul’s on this subject.

I dropped out of seminary, I’ll admit it. It wasn’t because I couldn’t handle it, I was pulling a 3.50 GPA after a year and a half of mostly Greek classes. Academic Theology was one reason why I dropped out. Couldn’t handle the smoke and mirrors, the suspicion there was a man behind the curtain putting me on. Why not just make it simple and go with the text?

Read the Bible way more than theology books.

Christianity is Love and Love Hurts

Love seems pretty easy.

When people hear that love is the main responsibility of Christianity, I think most take a deep sigh of relief.

“Love? That’s it? That’s easy!”

Then we come to find out love has big, sharp, nasty, pointy teeth and all of a sudden we want to run away.

Don’t think love has big, sharp, nasty, pointy teeth? Then I’d declare you do not know what love is.

The Gospel is God’s demonstration of love toward us.

The Gospel isn’t just about us identifying with Christ; it’s also about Christ identifying with us. He identified with the results of sin.

He was wounded.

He was bruised.

He was chastised.

He was scourged and whipped.

He was crucified.

In all this, we see God’s love to those who have suffered due to sin.

Just getting beat up didn’t save anyone, but God lowered Himself and became obedient even unto death. He tasted the results of sin, the curse of sin, and ultimately the wages of sin–death.

There is much humility here. When Jesus said, “As you do to the least of these you do to me” He really meant that.Christ gave His life for the least of these. Now go do the same and show the love of Christ.

Love hurts. Love is sacrificial. Before honor comes humiliation. Too often we jump too quickly to honor and shrink when humiliation arises.

The cross is a torture device; yet God turned it into a symbol of His love for us. A torture device symbolizes His love. A torture device.

Love hurts.

Granted, love has many upsides–He endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. Don’t mean to picture this all as negative.

My fear, however, is that we’ve pictured it way too one-sided on the happy side, and thus made a caricature of love.

Christian love and the common notion of love have a few things in common, but where they differ makes all the difference!

If your using of Christian love doesn’t have some pain in it, you might not be doing it right. More to the point–you may not know what God’s love is, and perhaps the Gospel is still just a story to you.

Newness of Life and Love

Love was most clearly demonstrated on the Cross of Christ. The sinless Son of God died to save sinners.

Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God should die for me.

Modern theology has done a fine job of emphasizing Christ. Unfortunately, sometimes they took this emphasis too far. “He did it all, we do nothing!” and other banal phrases are strewn about the theological landscape.

Although I get what is being said, and in one case would even agree–we are not saved by our works, but by Christ’s one act of obedience–this thinking gets misapplied.

Christ did die for you. This is true. By faith we benefit from His death. And by faith we join Him.

Romans 6 says we were crucified with Christ, buried with Him, and raised up with Him. He didn’t just do it FOR US; by faith we actually do all this WITH HIM.

The result then is that we are raised up to newness of life. This new life looks like the Gospel.

And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

This is where many turn back. This is where many a theological barricade is thrown up.

“Nope, it’s all by grace. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to deny myself or live for others, Jesus did all that for me.”

That sounds fine and humble and Christocentric and whatnot, but it also sounds very unbiblical.

Not living for yourself, not living according to your fleshly lusts, not living for this world is what the New Life in Christ is.

Hate to break it to you.

No, actually, I don’t hate to break it to you. I’m pleased to break it to you.

Your flesh life isn’t all that great. Gotta be honest with ya. Christ is way better than you. I’d rather have you live His life than yours.

Yeah, if a guy really bought into this he’d have to give up on his American Dream. He’d have to maybe quit some hobbies, passions, interests, and maybe even some jobs. He’d have to make some tough calls, go through the pain of cutting off fleshly patterns.

But the end is Christlikeness!

I mean, really? You’d rather be a good golfer than like Christ? You’d rather get straight A’s than be like Christ? (Those are just examples. I’m not saying Christians can’t or shouldn’t golf or get straight A’s. Different people have different hangups, What are the ones keeping you from Christ?)

It’s amazing what dumb stuff consumes our time, money, and energy. It’s amazing how “busy” we are but still manage to do all the flesh stuff.

Priorities demonstrate what life you are living. Do you have new life in Christ? Does anyone see it? If no one does, do you really have new life in Christ?

Nice is not the same thing as Love

Nice is not the fulfilling of the law.

God’s niceness was not demonstrated when Christ died for us while we were sinners.

It wasn’t because God was nice that He sent His only begotten Son.

Faith does not work by nice.

All uses of “nice” above should be replaced with “love” to be stating things correctly.

Perhaps we too often confuse love with nice.

Now, in all the above examples, certainly God was nice in sending Christ, and nice fulfills quite a bit of the law, but still, “nice” doesn’t cut it.

Love isn’t always nice.

The difference between nice and love comes down to pleasure.

Nice is defined as “what is pleasing and agreeable in nature.”

Love isn’t always shown in pleasing ways.

If my father were nice, I would have never gotten in trouble. “Oh son, yes I see you shot an arrow through our neighbors shed. Here is a pleasing and agreeable response: go eat some cookies.”

“Oh wow! Thanks Dad! Watch how quickly I can reload and shoot another arrow!”

Love, on the other hand, is willing to be real. “Son, I see you shot an arrow through our neighbor’s shed. Watch me break your bow and arrows in half. Get your money, let’s go to the store and buy supplies to fix the neighbor’s shed. Cookies? No cookies for a month.”

Always being nice is a surefire way to ruin your kids. A father who loves his son chastens his son.

If you claim God is nice, that He doesn’t chasten you, watch out! You’ve just declared He’s not your Father.

God loves you. He demonstrated that love by sending Christ to die on the cross. In order to wake you up to your need of Christ, and to get you to apply the Gospel, don’t be surprised if God occasionally does things to you that are not pleasing and agreeable to your flesh!

Remember, the same God who spared not His Son for you, is the same God who allowed His Son to be killed for you! There is great love in this, but there is also great teaching in what will become of you!

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

“Present your bodies a living sacrifice.

“If ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

The Spirit of God puts to death the deeds of your flesh. Your flesh is not pleased with this; it’s not nice. But guess what it means if this doesn’t happen? It means your dead in sin, which ultimately, is not pleasing to your flesh for eternity.