Reasons for Creeds — Of Marriage and Divorce

Creeds are simple statements of belief. The word “creed” comes from the Latin word “creedo,” which means “I believe.” Since the church is confessional, we have always had creeds in that we had to be able to express what we believed in order to be a part of the church. In other words, confessing to one another what it is we actually believe about the Bible, what is most essential there for eternal life and happiness. It just so happens, that the creed I subscribe to is the Westminster Confession of Faith. This is helpful because it is the statement that I have promised before God to believe, uphold, and teach. If you want to know what I believe, read the WCF.

Given the recent state of affairs, there are those who are advising that we need to have our beliefs on marriage stated in our bylaws. Just given that I’m part of the Presbyterian Church in America, shows that I already have our statement on marriage, and have for some 400 years. The following is our belief on marriage:

Of Marriage and Divorce.

I. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman: neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.

II. Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.

III. It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry who are able with judgment to give their consent. Yet it is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord. And, therefore, such as profess the true reformed religion should not marry with infidels, Papists, or other idolaters: neither should such as are godly be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are notoriously wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresies.

IV. Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man, or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together, as man and wife. The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred nearer in blood than he may of his own, nor the woman of her husband’s kindred nearer in blood than of her own.

V. Adultery or fornication, committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.

VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments, unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage; yet nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage; wherein a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it, not left to their own wills and discretion in their own case.

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The Gay Wedding and The Faithful Preacher

The following is fictitious. 

The two men climbed out of their Jaguar XJ, one of the finest machines on the road. When it came to doing anything, Ted was committed to the best. This is why he wasn’t the most impressed with the church building they were approaching. It was cute and quaint, but he had been looking for a church that was much more lavish.  This one seemed like it would actually fit better in a small town, not a thriving metropolis where they lived.

Fred reached the door first. He was truly looking forward to finding the right place for their wedding and this building looked like it was the one. He knocked on the door, loud enough so it could be heard inside the building. A few moments passed, and he knocked again, this time louder. They heard the sound of feet approaching, then heard the door being unlocked. It opened.

The pastor stood there for a second with a surprised look on his face. He had been waiting for a couple that needed marriage counseling and was surprised to see the two men standing there. He regretted not looking through the peep hole, for the moment he saw the two men, he knew exactly where this was going.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes,” said Fred. “We were wondering if you rented out your building or allowed other people to use it for weddings.”

The pastor’s heart sunk. Up until this point in his four years as a pastor, he avoided this encounter. But now, it was here on the doorstep. Since the elders of the church would not adopt a policy on weddings, he knew that he, nor the church had any legal standing to turn the two men away. He knew that since he had performed weddings for couples outside of the membership of the church, he would also be required by state law to perform this couple’s wedding. The church did have a policy about weddings, “their building, their pastor.” The pastor hated that policy.

“We have in the past,” he said. “We do have a policy though that if you choose to have a wedding here, that I have to officiate it.”

The pastor was hoping to say something to discourage them. “You must also understand that I do not believe in marriage between two men or two women.”

At this point, Ted grew red in the face. “How dare you! We are good people. How dare you insinuate that we cannot get married.”

The pastor tried to calm him down. “I’m telling you my convictions sir, you may not like them, but I still have the right to my convictions. I did not say I would not do your wedding. I know the laws of this state, if I say ‘no’ we could lose our building and a lot more. But I’m going to be upfront with you, I will not call your ceremony a marriage, I will not pronounce you as husband and husband, husband and wife, or wife and wife. For it is my conviction that a marriage is between a man and a woman as given to us by God and confirmed by Jesus Christ.”

The sweat from Ted’s face was running down his shirt. His temper was about to unload when Fred took his hand to calm him down. “It’s OK Ted. He said he would do the ceremony.”

The pastor lost all hope at hearing those words. He was trying to discourage them, trying to be honest with them about what he could and could not say. Even given his strong, biblical convictions, he knew that saying what he had to say, would be the toughest thing he was ever called upon to do as a pastor. He would be standing against the culture, the state, the federal government and whatever guests these two men chose to invite to their ceremony.

“Listen, because of state law, I cannot turn you away. But please understand that I will not say what you want me to say given that it goes against my beliefs as a Christian.”

Ted lost control. “You better do our wedding the way we want it done. I will sue you into the next life if you so much as utter one unpleasant word. Do you understand me? I’m not letting you get out of this so easily. One slip up and I will drag you to court that day.”

The pastor knew he had no choice. He could not turn them away, but he also knew, he could not call what was taking place a wedding, blessed by a holy and just God. He agreed to perform the ceremony.

The Wedding Day

As the wedding day approached, the pastor began to lose sleep. He felt the weight of the sin before him like never before. He prayed and buried himself in the word and realized how fortunate he had been over the past four years. The LORD, sovereign of all, had blessed him with four years of crisis-free ministry. But no longer. The pastor knew that his LORD had ordained what was before him and he was afraid he would fall into weakness, suppress the truth in unrighteousness and go the way of Balam. This was the last thing he wanted. He wanted to stand strong and speak the truth. He wanted to declare what these men needed the most. He wanted them to understand that God did not approve of their vile union even if it was brought about in a church. But he also knew that there were forces at work much greater than his own feeble desires.

He resolved to be a vessel used by the LORD and prayed for the filling of the Holy Spirit. It would be by God’s grace alone that he did what was right in the LORD’s eyes, as opposed to what so many of his fellows pastors had done, doing what is right in man’s eyes.

The pastor led Ted out of the side room into the sanctuary. Fred would be led down the aisle by no less than his own mother, given his father had abdicated his responsibility in Fred’s life so many years before. The entire ordeal was causing the pastor to become nauseated, but he pressed on. “What a mockery,” he thought. “How in the world did it ever come to this?

The three men stood at their positions at the altar. To make it even more of a spectacle, Fred was wearing a white dress. The pastor was tempted to walk out and take his chances in the courts. Just at the greatest moment of temptation came to turn and walk out, he felt the Spirit telling him to press on. The Spirit calmed his nerves.

“Friends, and family,” the pastor began. “We are gathered here today, in the hopes of bringing about a union that will be filled with joy and peace for these two men. But as one called by Jesus Christ, King of kings, and Lord of lords, I cannot in good conscience admit that any such thing will happen.

“We stand here because our country’s greatest court has declared that we could do just this. But there is a higher court than this one. The higher court is occupied by only One judge, and He judges the hearts and intents of all mankind. He judges justly. He is the One who gave us marriage in the beginning. He is the One that confirmed it to us in His earthly ministry, saying that marriage is between one man and one woman. It is His prerogative to define marriage for mankind, for we are subjects to His Law.

“While we may say the words of a husband and wife, this is not a marriage. It cannot be. It can no more be a marriage than a leopard shed it’s spots. A marriage, by God’s declaration, is between one man and one woman. In fact, God has declared unions between two men, and two women, to be an abomination before Him. This is not because He is unloving, but because these unions warp the image of God in us. We are more than just animals higher up on the evolutionary chain, we are made in HIS image, and we warp that image when we commit to such unions. We sin against God.

“To say all this, I realize that I cannot in good conscience, continue on in this charade. This is not a marriage, this is unholy, and every one of us, from the youngest to the oldest needs to repent and turn from our own sinful way, trusting in Christ for salvation. Only Christ can save us from our wicked…”

The pastor was unable to finish the sentence. Fred, who grew angrier with each word, exploded like a brute beast and attacked the pastor. He hit him, not with his fist, but with the full weight of his forearm, leveling the pastor on the floor. He jumped on him and continued to pound him, screaming profanities to the point that his saliva was frothing from his mouth.

The pastor was only vaguely aware he had been attacked. He could feel the blows to his head and realized he was on the floor with someone on top of him. He kept thinking, “will someone help me?” But no one came to his aide. Then, to his surprise, he heard what he thought was chanting. The people were chanting, “Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!”

The chanting faded along with everything else.

It was quiet, like a quiet he had never experienced before, and he had complete peace. The worries that so plagued him were gone. He felt an inexpressible joy and he opened his eyes to a beauty and wonder that he had never experienced in life and someone spoke to him. “No,” he thought, “that isn’t someone. That is my LORD.”

Standing before him in radiant beauty was the LORD, who simply said, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

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Heidi’s Morning Prayer

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God[a] and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).

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Governor Greg Abbott of Texas Defends the First Amendment

From the office of the governor:

Governor Greg Abbott today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling:

“The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature. Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States.

“Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.

“The Texas Constitution guarantees that ‘[n]o human authority ought, in any case whatsoever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion.’ The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion; and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, combined with the newly enacted Pastor Protection Act, provide robust legal protections to Texans whose faith commands them to adhere to the traditional understanding of marriage.

“As I have done in the past, I will continue to defend the religious liberties of all Texans—including those whose conscience dictates that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. Later today, I will be issuing a directive to state agencies instructing them to prioritize the protection of Texans’ religious liberties.”

Dear Lord, expedite our move to Texas, please…

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We Now Live in Sodom…

I must write. I can’t help it. I see the travesty that has just come down from the U.S. Supreme Court and I’m grieved. SCOTUS has taken something that God has given to us, marriage, and turned it into something profane before the LORD. Just as Lot was grieved over the actions of his fellow citizens of Sodom, so too, should we be grieved at what SCOTUS has done today.

As Isaiah said:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

It is tragic that our country has completely turned its back on God and His word. Tragic in the sense that now an authoritative body has declared to those men and women in our country that struggle with the sin of homosexuality, “do what is right in your own eyes.”

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The Confederate Flag and the Cross (A Plea to Christians)

With the recent dust-up over the Confederate Flag and its use in South Carolina, I can only wonder how long it will be before the same elite liberals get their knickers in a knot over all the crosses across the country. It should not be too long, given that everyone and their dog was so quick to jump on the bandwagon for getting rid of the Confederate Flag in South Carolina. Never mind what the people of South Carolina believed about the flag, the flag must come down for the following reasons:

  1. The flag represented the Confederacy during the War of Northern Aggression. The Confederacy lost. The Confederacy had slaves before the war. Slavery is evil, therefore the flag that represented the Confederacy is evil… all who fly the flag are evil. (This is extremely bad logic, but hey, it works for liberals).
  2. Black people are offended by the flag. Therefore it must come down.

Never mind that we just went through an entire media blitz about Bruce Jenner, who thinks he is a woman and therefore we must call him a woman, even though scientific fact disputes such a claim. With the Jenner logic, it seems to me that all we have to do is ask the good people of South Carolina what they think about the flag? If they like the flag, then they should be able to fly the flag. It does not matter how many people are offended by the flag.

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Evidence That Demands a Verdict

I was recently asked what I thought of the book by Josh McDowell, especially the title, Evidence That Demands a Verdict I had to think about it for a few moments, but then realized that the title itself is problematic. The title suggests that we are to come to Scripture to determine if it is true or not true. We are to sit in judgment of God’s word.

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