Serving an international
Vol. 10 No. 2 February 2008
Since You Asked By Louis Rushmore
Not Really Married
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).
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.
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
authorized by direct statement (Hebrews 10:25), by example (Acts 20:8)
implication (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The church did not own church
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
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.