Thursday, June 20, 2013

What does the Bible say about spousal abuse? Can a woman leave an abusive husband? Can she divorce him? How can we reach out to the abused?

The thought of a man mistreating and abusing a woman (especially his own wife) is something that makes even the most godly man’s blood boil. Sadly, it is a fact that every day there are many women who are intimidated, humiliated and harmed by abusive men. (If you can even call them “men”!) This post intends to answer some questions regarding abuse and what a wife can to do (according to the Bible) in those situations.

Abuse of any kind a Sin!
Although this post is dealing specifically with the question of a woman being abused by her husband, the principle applies in all situations. Maliciously abusing another person is sinful. One does not need to go any further than (Mark 12:30-31):
“AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
To abuse anyone (whether your spouse or not) would be in violation of the command to “love your neighbor”.

Husbands are commanded to treat their wives with gentleness!
(Ephesians 5:25) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her”
Jesus would never mistreat, harm or abuse the church, Christ views the church as His precious bride. Jesus loves the church. A husband that abuses his wife (despite what he may claim) is not demonstrating any love at all! Jesus willingly died for the church, sadly many wives die every year by the hands of abusive and controlling men.
(1 Peter 3:7) “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered”.
A real man, a godly man, understands that a woman is to be treated with gentleness and kindness. Men are naturally stronger than women, but at no time are they ever authorized by Scripture to use this strength in an abusive way. A man that mistreats his wife is a dishonorable man who dishonors his wife and his Lord!

It is not a sin to get away from danger!
There are those that would claim that it is noble to allow yourself to be abused, there are even those who try to place the blame on the victim. Even in times where violence is provoked, it is still not acceptable. There is nothing in the Bible that says you have to allow yourself to be harmed. A Christian should not be one to retaliate or seek revenge, but it is ok to seek help and get out of harm’s way. Wayne Jackson at Christian Courier writes:
No one is obligated to suffer abuse at the hand of an insensitive bully. A woman has the right to safety and security—both physically and emotionally. If her well-being is in jeopardy (by physical abuse), or her emotional stability is ravaged by constant verbal assault, she has a perfect right to find a haven of refuge and peace. (Jackson).
Can the victims of abuse leave their abuser?
Yes they can. It is important for the victim to get her and her family out of harms way. It is true that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). Understand that marriage is supposed to be a lifelong covenant, sadly there are those who break that covenant through adultery or those who use that covenant as an opportunity to imprison and abuse. When a woman is a victim of abuse and her safety or the safety of her children are at risk, she has a couple different options to get out of that dangerous relationship. 

First, the victim could just “separate” from the abuser, maybe she chooses to leave and live at the house of a family member in order to get away. This would probably be a wise first option especially during times abuse. This gives the victim a chance to seek help, get wise counsel and find safety. This time apart may allow counselors or law enforcement to intervene. During this time of intervention there is always the possiblity of repentance and reconciliation. The victim should be careful to make sure that she is not being manipulated to believe that a person has "changed" when they may have not. Be very cautious!

Second, if the victim leaves, the abuser may choose to not have a relationship with her ever again (this sometimes happens).The victim too, may asses the situation and determine that she would never be safe in a relationship with this individual ever again. In this situation both need to remain “unmarried/divorced”.  Note the teachings of (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) that apply in this situation.
But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
Although divorce is never a good thing, in these situations an abused wife might not have any other legal way to completely “get away” and receive complete separation from shared responsibilities without a legal divorce. God’s plan is for one man and one woman to be married for life, however, in a situation where a man is abusing his wife or children, common sense would dictate that it is ok to leave.

Still married “in God’s Eyes?”
God only allows fornication and death to sever the actual marriage covenant. So even if the victim separates, or if a divorce occurs, the covenant of marriage still stands (although they might not be living as husband and wife any more). Remember what is written in (Romans 7:2-3):
For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
Some may make a distinction between divorce and separation. Some say it is a better idea for the victim to just seek separation and not a legal divorce because “God hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). I am of the conclusion that divorce and continual separation are basically the same actions in God’s eyes. Paul calls the person who leaves “unmarried” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).

When a person leaves their spouse whether or not they seek legal means (through divorce) they are making a choice to remain “unmarried” and celibate  The Bible clearly teaches only fornication and death can actually sever the marriage covenant that was made. So whether or not the separation is done legally is a mute point. Neither parties, whether the victim or the abuser are completely freed in God’s eyes from the initial covenant that was made. Thus, they cannot remarry unless the divorce was because of infidelity. 

What about remarriage?
Although the previously quoted texts teach one may leave an abusive spouse, the Bible teaches that remarriage is not an option. God only allows a person to seek a new spouse after marital infidelity or death. A wife can leave a dangerous husband, she can choose to never talk to him again, she can seek legal protection through divorce, however, she may not choose to seek a new spouse (Romans 7:2-3; Matthew 19:9). A woman in this instance should choose to be unmarried, celibate, and devote her time in service to God and others.

What can I do to help abuse victims?
Do whatever you can to help victims have the confidence to get away, and the courage to speak out about what is happening. Often, abuse victims have low self-esteem and have been constantly told by their spouse that they are “at fault”. If a person confesses that they are being abused, DO NOT EVER make the person feel like it is their fault, do not ridicule them do not tell them to “suck it up” or “hang in there”. Help them, and look for ways to get the victim and their abuser the intervention they need.

The church needs to be there for those women who have had to leave abusive situations. Christians need to help meet the financial needs of these victims who my not be able to make ends meet on their own. Godly men need to step in and protect these people and provide positive male role models to any children who have been around such behavior. It will take many years of compassion to mend the pain and hurt that has occurred. 

If you are being abused by your husband.

Understand, that even in the midst of stress or an argument, a husband should never lay a hand on his wife (or a wife on her husband). If you are being abused there are people that will help you. I know that it is hard to let the world know what is going on behind closed doors, but you need to. Your safety depends on it, if you have children you need to consider their protection as well. Seek help and protection right now before it is too late! God loves you, and it hurts Him to see you hurt.

By Cliff Sabroe - (Quotes from NASB 95)
Work Cited: (Jackson, Wayne) https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1352-some-quesions-about-divorce-and-remarriage 
Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do people become angels when they die? What about Christians? What about children?

There has been an idea around for a long time that a Christian or a child when they die becomes an angel. Part of this thought may stem from our usage in English of the word “angel”. The word “angel” is a transliteration of the Greek word anggelos which in its basic sense just means messenger (although in the Bible it is usually referring to a special group of heavenly messengers). Today we use the word in a more broad way. 

An example of this broad usage may be when a parent refers to their child as their “little angel”. When a parent says this, they mean that their child is wonderful, special, innocent and pure. So when a person refers to one who dies as “becoming an angel”, they may or may not be thinking of the biblical usage of the term, but instead that their loved one has now received their special, pure, spiritual body.

Answer
No, humans do not become “angels” when they die. Angels are different from humans, they are are created by God for a specific purpose (usually to deliver a message or accomplish His will). Humans are a special part of God’s creation too, but are different from angels. Although Christians do not become “angels” when they die, they become something wonderful (maybe even better than angels!!).

What happens to a Christian or a child when they die?

They receive an imperishable and immortal body. 
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:52-53)
They will get to live with God, in His house, in a room prepared by Jesus.
He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God (Revelation 21:3)
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:1-2)
They will never have to suffer, cry or feel pain.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4)
They will not have to be around evil ever again.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 21:7)
Conclusion:

We often look at angels as special beings (which they are), however, God has something special planned in eternity for His human followers in heaven. 

CS- Quotes from ESV Bible

Can angels repent and be forgiven when or if they sin?

As humans, we are often intrigued by spiritual beings like angels. Our intrigue will often lead to questions that the Bible does not directly answer. Although the Bible does not deal directly with the topic of angels “repenting”, this post will intend to answer the question with as much information as the Bible provides.

What is sin?
Sin is going against the will of God.  John writes “All unrighteousness is sin...” (1 John 5:17). This means that any kind of “wrongdoing”(esv) is sinful. The Bible also teaches that sin is breaking God’s law “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). In its most basic sense, sin is doing what God says not to do and not doing what God wants us to do. Sin is rebellion against God.

What is repentance?
Repentance is often defined as a “change of heart that results in a change of action”. When a Christian gets caught up in sin, it is important to acknowledge the sin (often in prayer) and then stop engaging in it. This is called “repentance”. Repentance and confession will result in forgiveness for the believer through God’s grace. As long as a person keeps turning back to god and walking “in the light” they can be forgiven. John writes:
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-9)
Can angels sin?
Yes, the Bible does teach that angels can sin. The book of Jude discusses an instance or instances when angels sinned. 
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:5-8).
Jude uses the example of these angels sinning as evidence that a punishment awaits the ungodly. The point being; if God was not willing to spare angels when they sinned, why would He spare you?

Can angels repent and be forgiven?
As has been proven, angels can sin, but the Bible is silent on the possibility of angels repenting and being forgiven. There are no instances of a fallen angel trying to get back in a relationship with God. There are no passages that discuss the need to evangelize angels. All the passages that discuss why Jesus died on the cross say He died for mankind, not angels.

There are no sections of Scripture that give any hint of a possiblity of repentance and forgiveness for an angel. The passage in Jude states that they are “kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). These angels are shown to be “locked up” and waiting for their final punishment at judgment. It is because of this passage that this author is of the persuasion that angels cannot be forgiven. Can this conclusion be proven 100%, no, there are still some reasons to doubt. However, the evidence seems to show that once an angel rebells against God, all hope is lost.

Is an angel’s sin worse than a human’s sin?
Again, this question requires speculation. One may assume, that because an angel is in the actual physical presence of God, and is able to witness all of His glory and power, that an angel is held to a higher standard. An angel must have a very hard heart to actually be with God, see his power and still refuse to follow Him. One most likely can conclude that if an angel is willing to rebel while in the presence of God, that his heart is so hard that he will never repent or that such an action can never be forgiven. 

This may be similar to why “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit” is called “unforgivable” in the Bible. Jesus said in (Mark 3:29-30):
 “but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” 

These individuals were so hardheaded that even though they saw Jesus do a miracle, they attributed the miracle to the Devil. This action is “unforgivable”. A possible parallel may be found in the actions of an angel who see God in all His glory, see His amazing power and still choose not to follow Him.

By Cliff Sabroe - Scripture quotations unless otherwise noted are from the New American Standard Bible 1995.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Does the Bible support same-sex marriage?

Answer:
No, it does not. Same-sex sexual activity is condemned in the Bible (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Whether or not a couple is legally “married” does not seem to matter in regards to this sin. God’s plan for marriage is one man and one woman. 

Jesus said concerning marriage: “...“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Since homosexual sex acts are condemned in the Bible, and since marriage is defined by Jesus as being between a “man” and a “woman”, one can conclude that the Bible does not support same-sex marriage.

CS - NASB95

Does a person have to get married?

Answer:

No. Although marriage is a wonderful institution ordained by God, there are no passages of Scripture that require a person to get married. Marriage is the only place where sexual intimacy is to take place, however, there are those in the Bible who choose to remain celibate and unmarried. The Apostle Peter was married, but the Apostle Paul chose to remain unmarried in order to devote himself more fully to ministry. 

Paul wrote: “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:7-9)

Conclusion:
If one is willing to remain celibate for life, they may choose not to marry and still be very pleasing to God.

CS - Quotes from NASB95

Monday, June 3, 2013

Does the Bible have to command something 3 times for it to be a requirement for the Christian?

I had never heard this line of thinking until receiving this question yesterday. The individual who asked this question states that it is being taught by some that “God has to say something three times in the bible for it to be followed by Christians”. Is this true?

Answer: No, at times God only has to say something once for it to be a command. 
There are no passages of Scripture that state a command must be repeated in 3 places for it to be law. It is true that one should look at the entirety of Scripture to be sure that the conclusion they are drawing about a command is valid, however, if a command is clear, precise and easy to understand, why would it need to be repeated 2 more times? How many times does God have to say “Don’t steal” for one to understand that one should not steal?

As already mentioned, there are no passages of Scripture that require a command or teaching to be repeated 3 times. There are however, several passages that tell Christians to do what God says.
    • "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48).
    • “The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:24).
    • “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
    • "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21).

The Bible is more than just a book of “commands”. It contains great promises, wonderful examples and true guidance on how to live a godly life. It is true that God requires obedience and it is true that one must study Scripture in order to determine how God wants us to live. It is NOT true, that God must say something at least 3 times in order for it to be followed. In fact the command to “not forsake the assembly” (Hebrews 10:25) is only mentioned once. I would imagine that if a person is promoting this line of thinking, it is to avoid following a command of God, because this idea is not supported by Scripture.

By Cliff Sabroe - Quotations from NASB95

Does Revelation 19:16 teach that Jesus has a tattoo on His thigh?

The Text: 
And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:12-16)

Background:
In this section of Revelation you have Jesus being presented as coming in judgement with power greater than any king that has ever lived. One one the ways Jesus is presented with all power is with the phrase “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” on His thigh.  The question is often asked, “Is this phrase an actual marking or tattoo on the flesh of Jesus?”

Answer:
Most likely this is not a tattoo as we know them today. A person should not use this passage to make the claim that Jesus had one or more tattoos as some have tried to do. Consider these two points in order to better understand the meaning of this passage.

Point #1: The book of Revelation is highly figurative - In this same passage Jesus is portrayed as having eyes that are a “flame of fire”, on His head He has “many diadems”/crowns and from His mouth “comes a sharp sword”. This imagery is very symbolic in nature and one should use caution when trying to draw a specific dogmatic conclusion about the Lord’s appearance from a figurative passage.

Point #2: The text is possibly on His robe not on His skin - One should not assume that Jesus’ thigh is exposed, but instead, that this is a statement of authority woven into the robe itself. A ruler would often have embroidery on his garments or even an engraving on his armor. This author is of the conclusion that this writing is not on exposed flesh, but on an outer garment or armor as a powerful warrior would have. 

John Wesley writes: “That is, on the part of his vesture which is upon his thigh. A name written - It was usual of old, for great personages in the eastern countries, to have magnificent titles affixed to their garments”. 

There is no more magnificent title than “King of Kings and Lord of Lords”! It may be that the NLT represents this passage better, as it states “On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords”.

Conclusion:
It is within the realm of possibility that the symbolism here is of an actual exposed thigh (as one might have when riding a horse), with actual writing on it. The evidence, however, seems to be to the contrary. Also, one must remember that this passage is not intended to support or condemn tattoos in the same way as it is not intended to give an endorsement of having a “sharp sword” in your mouth (see 19:15). This is a symbolic passage designed to show a powerful Jesus coming in a scene of judgement upon the nations.

By Cliff Sabroe - quotes from NASU95 Bible and the NLT. Citation from John Wesley's Notes on the Bible and Scripture citations from biblehub.com.