Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 8 August 2018
Page 16

Questions and Answers

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Breaking an Engagement Today

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreRead your article and agree what you wrote down concerning Jesus’ teachings of the exceptive clause about fornication, which was addressing the Jewish custom. As for Christians, though, it will best to divorce during the betrothal or engagement stage…

In western, contemporary society, civil laws governing marriage do not include an engagement or a betrothal in the legal proceedings of a wedding. Biblical Judaism overshadowed cultural, religious and civil circumstances, and it lumped together the engagement or betrothal—a legal contract—with the officiation of the wedding.

The Bible does not designate a wedding as a religious activity other than that a man and a woman may marry to avoid immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2, 36). Therefore, people must address the laws of the land under which they live (Romans 13:1-7) respecting the legal proceedings of obtaining and defining a marriage. Whatever legal procedure required in a nation to constitute a marriage is obligatory upon couples intending to wed (as long as man’s laws do not conflict with the laws of God, Acts 5:29, e.g., so-called “homosexual marriages”).

However, once a marriage has occurred, Deity requires that the marriage continue, except that a separation or divorce from marriage may occur due to fornication (Matthew 5:32) or because of desertion (1 Corinthians 7:12-15). Jesus Christ set a precedent for the Christian or Gospel Age regarding divorce from a marriage, stipulating that only the innocent party to fornication may remarry (Matthew 19:9).

New Testament teachings concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage are not confined to consideration of biblical Judaism (e.g., the Gospel of Matthew). The Gospel account by Mark likewise presents our Lord’s marriage instructions to non-Jews—Romans (Mark 10:11-12). The Gospel according to Luke also represents the teaching of Jesus about marriage, divorce and remarriage to a universal, international readership (Luke 16:18). Of course, New Testament epistles also contain marriage instructions (e.g., Ephesians, 1 Corinthians).

In conclusion, in nations with which I am familiar, an engagement or a betrothal to be married is not part of a legal marriage. Therefore, an engagement or a betrothal in those countries may be terminated without violating New Testament biblical instruction about marriage, divorce and remarriage. That scenario may not be true in all contemporary nations, and some countries may have laws comparable to legal requirements governed by first century Judaism. (Though Palestine was under Roman rule in the first century, to an extent, Jews were permitted to govern themselves.)

What’s Wrong with Instrumental
Music in Christian Worship?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

“I don’t see anything wrong with instrumental music in Christian worship, and I like it,” is the sentiment sometimes expressed. Well, I like instrumental music, too, and if God had asked me for my input, I would have recommended it. However, God stipulated, a long time before I or anyone else who has lived in the last nearly 2,000 years was born, precisely how we in the Christian Age are authorized to worship Him musically. Specifically and exclusively, Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 authorize “singing.” Note that singing is not only distinguishable from instrumental music, but it is also distinguishable from vocal expressions other than singing (e.g., humming, whistling, extraneous noises, etc.).

The very next verse following Colossians 3:16 pertains to authority in religion. While the passage applies generally to the authority of God’s Word, in its context, Colossians 3:17 applies first to singing being authorized for Christian worship. “16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of [by the authority of] the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:16-17 NKJV).

Some Old Testament Bible characters could have said that they, too, didn’t see anything wrong with doing something in an alternative way to what God stipulated or authorized. For instance, Nadab and Abihu—sons of Aaron and priests themselves—could have reasoned and verbalized, “I don’t see anything wrong with using an alternative fire-source to burn incense with which to worship God.” On that occasion, God reacted miraculously and immediately to demonstrate clearly His displeasure. “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane [“strange” KJV] fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (Leviticus 10:1-2). God Himself had been the initial source of authorized fire as He sent forth fire to ignite the animal sacrifice (Leviticus 9:24). We read about that just a few verses prior to the event chronicled in Leviticus 10:1-2. Censors were to be ignited with coals from the altar (Leviticus 16:12), rather than from an alternative, unspecified source.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23). Truly, God said, through the Holy Spirit to the inspired New Testament penmen, what He meant, and as assuredly, He meant what He said! Everything else is “lawlessness.”

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