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Vol.  10  No. 2 February 2008  Page 20
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Since You Asked By Louis Rushmore

Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Louis Rushmore

Not Really Married

Hi. In Matthew 19:9, the guilty party commits adultery if he “marries” someone else. This, of course, could only be possible while the original marriage covenant is still intact. My question is: Since one of the parties still is actually married (though, unknowingly), wouldn’t the one who hasn’t married before be able to marry when they find out the truth and seperate, since they weren’t bound by a genuine marriage law (Romans 7:1-3)? Also, does their “divorce” have to be through the state system as well? Couldn’t they just seperate? Thank You I guess there are 2 questions here (sorry). Anthony Grigsby

    I have a first cousin who married a man and had children by him, only to learn later that he was already and still married to another woman. Consequently, she was not really married to the man that she thought was her husband and who was the father of her children. Neither the state (once bigamy was known) nor God recognized that supposed marriage as valid. However, the question posed represents a circumstance where the state recognizes a supposed marriage as valid, but God does not recognize the marriage as valid. In order to avoid the charge of bigamy being leveled against one by the state, a divorce according to civil law (comparable to the civil ceremony officiating the supposed marriage) must precede contracting a marriage in the future in accordance both with civil and divine law. Mankind is obligated to abide by the law of the land in which he lives (Romans 13:1-7) except where the law of the land and God’s law conflict (Acts 5:29).

Orphanages and Old Age Homes

    A preacher of the Gospel in India inquires about whether churches of Christ can operate orphanages and old age homes, or other social works. Essentially, the question revolves around what a congregation can and cannot do (with God’s approval) with the funds of the church. Does God allow churches to spend His money for benevolence, specifically for orphanages and old age homes?

    Galatians 6:10 authorizes the Lord’s church to spend church funds benevolently toward Christians and non-Christians, naysayers notwithstanding. Since the church is authorized to financially compensate its preachers (Galatians 6:6), the church (not just individuals) is authorized to act benevolently toward Christians and non-Christians (Galatians 6:10).

    How the church opts to satisfy its willingness to extend benevolence toward Christians and non-Christians is a local, congregational decision, the details of which to not appear in Scripture. For instance, a local congregation may decide the most effective way that it can exercise itself benevolently is to provide the services by partially (or wholly) funding benevolent services, such as an orphanage or old age home.

The Lord's Money

I read you response to eating in the church building and the comment about how it was sinful to make a law where there is none. my concerns about this is not the food but spending the Lords money for pleasure. The congregations I have visited who practice these frequent gatherings in the building purchased with the Lords money, Have large halls purchased with the Lords money and kitchen appliances purchased with the Lords money and are using utilities while they are doing such which is being paid for with the Lords money. This money is intended to spread the gospel and not for people pleasing which is what I have observed and refuse to participate in due to wasteful use of the Lords money. If you are worshiping in someone’s home where someone else paying the bills and they wish to have a dinner that is different which is what happened in Bible times. If you can show me in the Bible where it is alright to use the Lord’s money in this manner please let me know. But as of yet I haven’t found it and where there is no example, direct command or necessary inference it is best to error on the side of caution which in this case would be not to do so. than to do or teach others to do wrong. the issue here is not the eating it is who is paying the bill for our personal pleasure. Sharon Smith (emphasis added)

    The ownership of meetinghouses is authorized by divine implication and correct human inference. Weekly assembly of Christians is authorized by direct statement (Hebrews 10:25), by example (Acts 20:8) and by implication (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The church did not own church property for the first 200 years after the establishment of the Lord’s church; the church assembled in public places (Acts 5:12-14) and in private homes (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19). Nevertheless, for the church to assemble, there must be a designated place or site for it to assemble. For hundreds of years, church leaders have concluded that in most instances it is useful to guarantee a place to worship (and from which to exercise local evangelism and benevolence) by owning church property. The authorization to worship implies a place at which or in which to worship; brethren have inferred, then, that church property that fulfills the responsibility to worship fulfills that requirement.

    Likewise, the early church interacted socially in the newly formed Christian community. They did this publicly and privately. “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46). This social interaction among early Christians was essential to the synergy or combined and shared strength in primitive Christianity. Scripture authorizes the church to interact socially aside from worship assembly times. This implies the necessity of a place or site for this social interaction among Christians to occur. Church leaders sometimes infer that church property fulfills the need for a site for the effective social interaction among Christians to occur.

    Whereas my opinion respecting how much money it may be wise to invest in meetinghouses (and their trappings), including fellowship halls, etc., it is nevertheless only my humble opinion. The local leadership of a congregation, in concert with the congregation they guide, is ultimately responsible for making that congregational decision. I am no one’s policeman or lawgiver.

    Incidentally, the mission of the church, according to Scripture is three-fold: evangelism (Mark 16:15-16), edification (1 Corinthians 14:12) and benevolence (Galatians 6:10). It is not accurate to represent evangelism as the sole area in which the church ought to spend the Lord’s money. Church property that includes kitchens and appliances can be used for benevolence as well as socialization, and often individual members purchase or donate appliances to help placate trouble minds. Further, usually fellowship halls serve the dual purpose of providing additional classroom space.

    With all due respect, and not intending to be unnecessarily offensive, nearly all of the anti or prohibitive church laws among members of the churches of Christ revolve around money! Purportedly, we are talking about the “Lord’s money,” yet, the degree of attachment to the Lord’s money speaks to a personal attachment that individual givers should have relinquished when they gave it as a gift to God. Astonishingly, it has been the observation of preachers and elders that often the people who decry most loudly and often how the Lord’s money is spent give little and sometimes nothing to the Lord in the first place. The apostle Paul wrote for Christian consumption the warning about the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10). Apparently, the love of money is not restricted to personal circumstances, but extends to the Lord’s money.

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