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 Vol. 5, No. 1 

January 2003

Since You Asked

~ Page 18 ~

Image Husband of One Wife

By Louis Rushmore

Dear Louis, Can A divorced man serve as a "Deacon" or an "Elder"? Husband of but one wife can mean, not more than one wife at a time, or it can mean not more than one wife "ever". All the qualifications for leaders mentioned in 1 Tim. and Titus, rules out men without fault, today. Dosen't mean they don't have things in their past they arn't proud of, but I understand, we, because of the Grace of God, can be, and are forgiven, when we repent and change our ways. I hear "Church Leaders" treat "Divorce" as the "Unforgiveable" sin. Why is the other sins forgiveable and that is not? I know each case is different, but I would like your views on this subject. Thanks, Bill Suffel

Biblical qualifications for elders and deacons are addressed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. The phrase "husband of one wife" appears in the former context, once each applied to elders and to deacons. Commentators differ respecting the meaning and application of that phrase (e.g., Robertson; Vincent). That the phrase constitutes a prohibition against a polygamist, at a time when polygamy had been suffered by God, seems apparent to me. If that is the case, then the verses do not address widowers or divorcees who remarry. Other Scriptures govern the acceptability of a prospective deacon or elder.

Death dissolves marriage and any widower who is otherwise eligible to marry may marry any other biblically eligible person (Matthew 22:23-30; Romans 7:1-3). Jesus also taught that the marriage partner who is innocent to the adultery of his spouse may divorce him and may marry another person who is biblically eligible to marry (Matthew 19:9). So far, from this information, one who is a widower or the innocent party to divorce because of adultery might remarry with God's approval and otherwise qualify to be a deacon or an elder respecting the qualification of being the husband of one wife (at a time; not a polygamist).

A sometimes-overlooked factor respecting the selection of church leaders is that they cannot lead where a congregation will not be led by them. By this we mean, that we must not ignore that a congregation selects its own leaders in addition to the qualifications stipulated by God (Acts 6:3). Even if a widower or a biblically divorced and remarried man otherwise meets the qualifications for either a deacon or an elder, the congregation must choose him to serve in either capacity. It would be pointless to attempt to be appointed against the desires of several in the congregation and expect to be able to lead effectively.

As to the last point in the query, "divorce" is a sin on someone's part, if not on the part of both spouses (Malachi 2:15-16; Matthew 5:32). Repentance includes a celibate life when the marriage cannot be resumed or resumption of the marriage.

"And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife" (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).

Marriage to someone else except as provided by Jesus himself because of adultery does not constitute repentance but rebellion. "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery" (Matthew 19:9)

Finally, any sin for which someone repents can be forgiven (1 John 1:9). However, forgiveness of one's sins does not necessarily remove the consequences of sins. For instance, a body ruined with disease as the result of sinful pleasures may be impossible to repair completely, despite repentance and forgiveness. Similarly, while neither divorce nor any other sin is unforgivable upon one's repentance, depending on the circumstances of that divorce, one may either not qualify to be a deacon or an elder, or a congregation may lack confidence in one's ability to serve as a deacon or an elder, in spite of repentance and otherwise meeting the biblical qualifications to serve in one of those capacities.Image

Image Image Religious Vows

By Louis Rushmore

Hello, What would a religious nun with a perpetual vow do to obtain dispensations from vows? ~ Josephine A.

Religious vows have been a part of each religious dispensation of time (e.g., Patriarchy, Judaism and Christianity). Jacob, who lived under Patriarchy, made a vow (Genesis 28:20; see also Job 22:27 for a reference to vows under Patriarchy.). Deuteronomy 23:21-23 below demonstrates that vows were a part of Judaism. Acts 18:18 records a vow of the apostle Paul in the Christian era, though he may have initiated that vow while Judaism was still in force.

The following instruction to the Jewish people illustrates that religious vows were voluntary in nature, but obligatory once made.

"When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth" (Deuteronomy 23:21-23; see also Ecclesiastes 5:5; Psalm 50:14; Proverbs 20:25.).

However, the type of vow to which you refer is contrary to God's will and he expressed that in the New Testament. There are a number of biblical reasons why no one is obligated to keep the type of vow required of nuns.

First, instead of being the 'holy apostolic church,' the church that requires vows of its nuns is actually the 'wholly apostate church,' and the mother of religious deviation from simple, New Testament Christianity about which anyone can read in the Bible. The type of vows that nuns are required to take did not develop within the Catholic Church until centuries after the beginning of the Lord's church and were not considered obligatory for over a 1,000 years after the Lord's church began.

There is some difference of opinion respecting the origin and extent of monastic vows. Some authors affirm that they were made legally binding and indissoluble as early as the Council of Chalcedon; but the more general opinion is that, though considered obligatory in foroa conscientice, according to their nature, no civil disability or irreversible obligation was incurred by them till the time of Boniface VIII, late in the 13 th century. The three solemn vows, as they are termed, of the monastic orders are poverty, chastity, and obedience, to which others are occasionally annexed by certain religious orders. [McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia, Electronic Database, (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft) 2000.]

Further, the apostle Paul, by divine inspiration, anticipated apostasy from primitive Christianity and gave some of the descriptions of the apostate church. The prominent departures in the passage below are universally identified with the Catholic Church, namely: "forbidding to marry" and "commanding to abstain from meats."

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth" (1 Timothy 4:1-3, emphasis mine, ler).

The propagators of these departures from pure Christianity are said by this Scripture to have departed from the faith, hearkening to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, lying, practicing hypocrisy and their consciences are immune to the Word of God.

Second, women (and men) are advised by Scripture to marry for a number of reasons. Especially applicable to women, notice the following verse. "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" (1 Timothy 5:14). God designed the role of women to include rearing a family (1 Timothy 2:15). Another reason for women, as well as men, to wed is to satisfy their natural, God-given sexual drive.

"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency" (1 Corinthians 7:2-5).

Undeniably, the rampant problem in the Catholic Church regarding sexual abuse (which is not a new development, but centuries old) is directly traceable to the adoption of the sinful doctrine of 'chastity' or 'celibacy' for its religious servants (i.e., priests, nuns). "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4).

Summarizing, (1) The Catholic Church has no biblical right to exist; it does not appear in the New Testament and it is not the church for which Jesus Christ died to establish. (2) The Catholic Church has no divine permission to make doctrine, for all doctrine was provided in the first century (Galatians 1:6-9; Jude 3) and there is a great and eternally severe penalty to anyone who adds to or takes from the Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19). (3) Monastic vows are not valid New Testament doctrine and are expressly condemned in Scripture and associated with apostasy rather than holiness. (4) God advises women to marry and rear families under normal circumstances, though they may voluntarily refrain from marrying or wed later in life, as they choose.

Therefore, since the type of vows addressed above are biblically invalid, one, such as a nun or a priest, can merely disavow that behavior without risking God's disfavor. Better yet, make renouncing monastic vows a part of one's repentance in becoming a Christian only and a member of the only church for which Jesus died.

Remember, the apostle Paul predicted through the insight of divine inspiration that apostasy would affect the first century church (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, emphasis mine, ler).

Eventually, the apostate church developed into the Catholic Church. Years later, during the Reformation Movement, dissenters to Catholicism (Protest-ants) established variations of the Catholic Church or in some cases over time radical departures from Catholicism, but nevertheless still manmade churches. Mankind has not ceased yet to establish churches according to his own wishes. However, anyone whose heart is honest can return to New Testament Christianity by practicing what the first century Christians practiced to become Christians and be the church of the Lord, about which we can read in the New Testament portion of the Bible. Following are some of the admonitions inspired persons in the first century, whose words are forever recorded in the Bible, gave relative to becoming a child of God, a Christian and a member of the church over which Jesus alone is head.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). "...Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (Acts 2:38). "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 3:21).

As a personal note, I was reared as a Roman Catholic. Finally, I proposed to search for the one, true church of the Bible, though I was not sure how I would recognize it were I to stumble over it. I was fortunate (providentially, I believe) to discover that it yet exists on the earth and can be confirmed confidently and objectively by appealing to the Scriptures. I am a member of the only church for which Jesus died and about which anyone can read on the pages of the New Testament. If I can be of any assistance in helping you or others make that journey, please let me know; I would be delighted to lend whatever assistance I can. The pomp and ornate furnishings of Catholicism still have an appeal to me, but the draw of heaven through the church of Christ's choice has greater appeal and a sure promise of a favorable eternity.Image

Image Image Weep at Birth
 Rejoice at Death?

By Louis Rushmore

When I was younger I was told that the bible talks about how we are suppose to weep when a baby is born, and rejoice when someone dies because they are going to live with God. Could you help me to find what scripture refers back to this scenerio? Thanks, Retondra

What the precise Scripture is that you may be desiring to find escapes me. The following reference pertains to a period of persecution that had begun in Paul's day and which he expected to continue.

"But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not" (1 Corinthians 7:29-30).

Old Testament references to impending doom or release from persecution resulted in similar language. "Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country" (Jeremiah 22:10).

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5-6).

Ordinarily, we should share in the joy of our fellows, particularly that of Christians, and we should sympathize with the same regarding their sorrows. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).

God's faithful children do (or ought to) appreciate the end of life's burdens and the commencement of eternity with God in heaven. Among others, the apostle Paul repeatedly expressed his joy at the prospect of crossing the threshold of death. "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better" (Philippians 1:21-23).

"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Though I was unable to find specifically what you requested, perhaps the foregoing nevertheless satisfactorily addresses the subjects you introduced.Image

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