Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Seen Through the Character of God and the Mind of Jesus

Jones Deerstand picFor the past 19 years Lynn and I have been conducting relationship and marriage conferences. Our work has taken us across this nation, into foreign countries, and into the lives of thousands of Christian men and women struggling with the issues of divorce and remarriage. Many had experienced the trauma of divorce yet many others were in places of leadership and were wrestling with the practical application of the biblical text. As a result, over fifteen years ago I determined to prayerfully restudy the topic.

MarriageDivorce2015Through the years I have read and researched reams of material written on this subject. I have studied with conservative rabbis to better understand the Hebrew Bible. I have spent hundreds of hours with numerous preachers and church leaders gleaning insight from their study and experiences. Most importantly I have studied and restudied the biblical text and have challenged many of my previously held conclusions. I was forced to examine how I looked at scripture and admit how little I really knew about the topic.

Undoubtedly my study is an ongoing process, but I finally decided to put into print what I had learned. The resulting manuscript, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage: Seen Through the Character of God and the Mind of Jesus is scheduled to be released by College Press in Joplin, Missouri, this fall. The heart of the book includes an in depth study of 1 Corinthians 7 and the divorce texts in the gospels. An accompanying study guide for classroom use will be available for download through our website. Certainly this volume is not the “final word” on this subject, but I pray it will spawn further conversation, research, and study on the topic.

My desire is that it will also provide guidance as the church attempts to reach out to a lost and broken world.

This book is now available from our online store at this link.

Roman Catholicism and Marriage

Jones Deerstand picThe influence of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) on views of marriage, divorce and remarriage has been profound. As one of the seven sacraments, marriage and its guidelines are based on scripture. However since the church produced the scripture, the church has the authority to interpret its meaning.Specifically, the following scriptures provide the framework for the Indissoluability of marriage:

  1. Broken RingsThe couple is united (glued) together and cannot be separated (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:6).
  2. A second marriage that follows a divorce for any reason is adulterous (Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).
  3. Only the death of a spouse dissolves a marriage (Rom 7:1-4).
  4. There are only two options after a divorce: reconciling or remaining unmarried (I Cor 7:10-11).

Even the ‘exception’ clause of Matt 19:9 and 5:32 does not break a marriage. While it may define the divorce, the clause does not allow a second marriage. While the couple may be divorced in “man’s eyes” they are still married in the “eyes of God”. If one of them does remarry after the divorce yet prior to the death of their previous spouse, the marriage is not recognized by the Catholic church and is considered adulterous. As such the couple is “living in adultery” and neither is eligible to take communion therefore placing their eternal salvation in jeopardy.

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Prayer for the New Year

Jones Deerstand picIn lieu of a new blog entry this week, I wanted to share a somewhat amended version of a prayer Billy Graham worded at the beginning of 2013.

Our Father and our God, as we stand on the threshold of 2014 we confess our need of your presence and guidance as we face an uncertain future. We each have our hopes, dreams and expectations for the coming year, but you alone know what it holds for us and only you can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. Please help us to put our hands into your hand and to trust you to seek your will for our lives in 2014.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties, assure us of the certainly of your unchanging love. In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to you for the stability and comfort we need. In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in your sight regardless the cost. In the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need.

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Roman Catholicism and The Lord’s Supper – Pt. 2

Jones Deerstand picOne of the best resources on the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in the early church is the book by John Mark Hicks, Come to the Table.  It is certainly a must read for anyone who wants to research the topic.  Some of the information in this blog can be credited to that source.

Come-to-the-TableIn the example of the observance of the Lord’s Supper in the gospels, we find the  following: (a) people reclined around one table (Matt 26:20);  (b) it was done in the upper room (Luke 21:12);  (c) it was taken in context with a common meal , the Passover, (Matt 26:21, 26);  (d) it was taken with thanksgiving (Matt. 26:26);   (e) it was observed on a Thursday night (Matt 26:17);  (f) it involved twelve people (Matt 26:20).

In the first century church the Lord’s Supper was celebrated within the context of a common meal,  however this celebration was not without problems.  Some of the Christians did not wait for others to share the meal (1 Cor 11:21, 33) and some drank too much (1 Cor 11:21).  The atmosphere was more celebrative than quiet and reverent. As the Passover celebrated the exodus from Egypt, the early church celebrated the life and ministry of Jesus (Acts 2:42) and their “exodus” from the world of darkness into the kingdom (Col 1:13).

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Roman Catholicism and The Lord’s Supper – Pt. 1

Jones Deerstand picIt holds true—we each see the world through our own mental glasses. Experiences, chronological age, physical and mental health, and even genetics interact to form our perceptions of the world. Perhaps the Talmud states it best, “We do not see things as they are. 
We see them as we are.”

As we begin this study on the influence the Roman Catholic Church has had on the theology and practices of the church of Christ, several observations need to be made.

  1. A combination of information and experiences form the mental filter through which we each interpret life.
  2. It is easy to equate what we have done, especially for a long period of time, as the right way or as the only way.
  3. It is not easy and sometimes impossible to determine the original context of scripture.
  4. The passage of time and influence have a way of altering the original intent and meaning of an event; e.g., Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter.

Even though it in inevitable that my comments will be influenced to some degree by my own perceptions, it is my prayerful intent to remain true to the text in content and meaning. [Read more…]

A Beginning

Jones Deerstand picJuly, 2013, marked my 60th year in Christ and what a journey it has been! The mountaintops and the valleys of my life have run concurrently alongside vast changes both culturally and in our community of faith. Perceptions that seemed so straightforward in my younger years have been tempered by time and experience. The study of scripture and the realities of life have provided continual avenues of learning.

JJonesDeerstandfinalEarly in my Christian life I determined two ‘non-negotiables’ would govern my choices: (1) the Bible is the word of God; (2) Jesus Christ is Lord. In an effort to remain true to that foundation, I have occasionally found myself challenging my own paradigms and have been forced to answer the question, “ What really drives my life—the fear of being ‘wrong’ or the pursuit of truth?” Having to admit that I have been mistaken in a number of areas has not been easy yet I feel I am a wiser and more humble man as a result. I realized long ago the fallacy of getting it all ‘right’. I was never intended to. Most importantly a God who is gracious in my life is gracious in my theology. The purpose of this blog is to explore some of the things that I have struggled with both in life and through scripture.

For the past 16 years Lynn and I have been involved in a ministry that has taken us into the trenches of 43 states, 4 foreign countries, and over 450 churches. About 13 years ago I began an intensive study of the marriage and divorce issue—the end result to be published in 2014. As part of that study I became intrigued with the significant influence the Roman Catholic Church has had on our fellowship. For that reason the influence of Catholicism on the churches of Christ since the first century will be the subject of the next several blog entries. Some of the topics I plan to explore are: the influence of Catholicism on marriage, divorce, the Lord’s supper, church buildings, priesthood, church membership, salvation, and baptism. I invite you to accept, reject or modify my thoughts, but I invite you to prayerfully journey with me.

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