Dealing with Adultery
Thanks for this, Pastor Wilson. My wife is dealing with this same dilemma, though with a worse offense than simple adultery. I’m very blessed that she’s even considering retaining me in my “office” as husband. What she’s wrestling with, and has found few resources to help with, is this: What standards should she use to make that decision? Some are obvious, like contrition, godly repentance, and reasonable assurance the sin won’t be repeated, but those are only entering arguments. She knows that she doesn’t have to keep me, but she wants to, but conversely can’t imagine living in a marriage with this much hurt. Again, thank you for laying out this situation. I’m hoping there will be follow-on letters.
R, prayers for your wife, and prayers for you.
Lots of good in here for sure, but one thing I didn’t expect. Many see Christ’s word on divorce in Matthew as license to divorce upon adultery. I don’t buy that interpretation, considering everything else, but many do, so fine. But remarriage? Especially laid out as part of the deal the wronged woman is considering? Seems crass, at the very least. “Or you can see what’s behind for number two!” Plus there’s St. Mark’s take. How do you square it, Pastor? “Biblically speaking, you have grounds for divorce, which means that you can obtain a divorce, and at some future date, you would be free to marry someone else. A biblical church would not discipline you for either action, either the divorce or the remarriage.” Mark 10:11-12: “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. ?
Joey, Mark 10 is actually one of the passages I would lean on to build my case. We get the exception clause from Matthew (except for sexual uncleanness), which helps govern the first part of this passage. Since the second part, applying to the wife, is in parallel with the first part, I take the exception clause as applying here also. In other words, just as a man cannot divorce his wife for no good reason, so also a wife cannot divorce her husband on a whim. There must be cause.
Thank you for this. Is this applicable across the board relationally? For example, would you also give such counsel for those who have been significantly wronged by a parent (i.e. abuse, abandonment, negligence, etc.)? Forgiveness extended toward the person, but removal from the office of parent?
Chase, yes, I would. I would not allow for that for snowflake reasons, but yes, I would apply the principle. And I have seen that principle applied well—not out of malice and bitterness, and not for petty reasons either.
I hope it goes without saying that I greatly appreciate your ministry, but I find this position on divorce and remarriage to not only be wrong, but dangerous. To argue that a spouse can still divorce even after genuine and verifiable repentance reduces marriage to something far below the biblical scale. You actually try to make your case by comparing marriage to an employment relationship, church leadership and political office. None of those relationships are equivalent to biblical marriage. To reduce the marriage covenant to merely filling an office is wrong. Marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church, not a yarn shop employee. Sheesh. Moses authorized divorce to accommodate hardness of heart, not some Talmudic legal dance to give sinners excuse to destroy a lifelong covenant. True forgiveness will inevitably lead to true reconciliation, else our forgiveness in Christ would be insufficient. I simply cannot disagree with you more.
BJ, thanks for sticking with me despite such disagreements! But here is the situation. Once we say that true forgiveness erases the past in this regard, we run smack into the Lord’s teaching on 70 times 7. How many adulteries? As a pastor, I have seen genuine repentance after repeated falls, and genuine repentance in between repeated falls. If you insist that the wife (or husband) must accept that, and the sinner back into office, you have demoted her far below a yarn shop owner.
So. My Use of the C-Word
I was going to ask you to think about whether your word choice in the article, “That Lutheran Jezebel Lady,” was a wise one. I was in the middle of writing out an introductory disclaimer, in which I was assuring you that I understood the point, and that as it stands, your word choice made the point clearly enough. All that is required is an understanding of the context and some simple reading comprehension. Well . . . wouldn’t you know it, I went and disclaimered myself into not writing that letter. The point I was trying to make was that the use of that word may erect a barrier for some who would be otherwise inclined to at least hear you out. But as I thought through the wording of, and reasoning behind, my fevered and sincere disclaiming, I began to understand exactly why you wrote what you did. Nadia Bolz-Weber’s ham-fisted stab at clever subversiveness is the kind of idiocy that can only be born of white-hot hatred of one’s creator. It is a great, self-descriptive snapshot of our nation’s peak Romans 1 rebellion. Nadia Bolz-Weber IS what a reprobate mind looks like. As such it is the tepid response of the WHI authors which is truly obscene. You were, in essence, saying, “Okay ladies, you wanna be reduced to being identified with your genitals? I bet if I use language that reduces you to being identified with your genitals, you’re gonna get mad.” You were answering a fool according to her folly in the Proverbs 26:5 sense. The WHI article was doing so in the Proverbs 26:4 sense. The use of such raw language does make me uncomfortable. But I cannot find, “Thou shalt not make Andrew uncomfortable,” anywhere in divine writ. Maybe it’s in The Message somewhere. I don’t know. Anyway I am now writing to tell you that I get it. The raw language was used to make a point. As I racked my brain for how I would make exactly the same point with “nice” words, I came up with exactly nothing. Bupkis. I just hope you realize that the feminists aren’t going to like you anymore.
Andrew, thanks for thinking it through. And you got it exactly.
RE: That Lutheran Jezebel Lady—Hundreds of gallons of coffee, tea, and other beverages were just explosively spat onto computer screens, keyboards, and smartphones as unsuspecting readers of this post, leisurely sipping their libation, came to the sentence which begins: “They are shamelessly declaring . . .” Mercy-sakes-alive, Doug. I love ya, man, but sometimes being one of your followers is like going to a Tombstone AZ saloon with Johnny Ringo. I’m happy to ride in your gang and rob all the banks of godless post-modern culture, but sometimes your taste for verbal blood seems like it might get your co-belligerents into more trouble than they’d prefer. I’m grappling with what to make of your use of that less-than-clinical gynecological term. Perhaps a bit too much. Also, I might add that it is somewhat ambiguous as to whether you’re using that term to describe Bolz-Weber/Steinem or DeLong/Ventura. My level of outrage (which is tentatively negligible) hinges on that clarification. Nevertheless, I hope you signed the back of your driver’s license and elected to be an organ donor. God forbid something happen to you, but if it did, perhaps doctors could find a way to transplant your vertebrae into the frail backbones of as many American pastors as possible. Hope this makes the Tuesday mailbag. See you next Tuesday. In Christ,
Joe, my point was that in effect Steinem and Bolz-Weber had successfully reduced themselves to something that has a name, and that they wouldn’t like the name. I was not thinking of the WHI authors at all.
Other Parts of the Same Post
I love, love, love it when you write these little analogous satirical bits, where a consistent application is required for the humor to really rise to the top. Just excellent. When I read stuff like your “Golden Calf festival” or “Baal-Peor incident,” I break the 10th commandment for a nanosecond, only to remember that I can kick it on guitar, I can’t have it all, and practice make competent. I used to listen to their podcast on occasion, but “TWHI” has been abysmal for quite a while now. Now, we desperately need two easily-accessed phrases for description’s sake: One: for those internet combatants who come out swinging like Marciano, only to feign personal injury when countered, and Two: for those who marshal their troops expertly in order to engage no enemy at all (as the authors of this article did). “Passive/aggressive” doesn’t work for #1, and a mere “straw-man” doesn’t quite capture the essence of #2. I’ll wait . . . Blessings
Tim, thanks. And please remember, your guitar has helped me out on more than one occasion.
Great post. I and a few friends on Twitter refer to NBW et al. as “Impuritans.” Seems to capture their trajectory well.
Chestertonian Phinehas, with a strong undertone of C.S. Michelin star worthy. Thank you. “The attempt [to marry heaven and hell] is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable either-or; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain.” From the preface of The Great Divorce
Danielle, thanks. And thanks also for the pertinent quote.
Thank you! Thank you so much for being a straight-shooter. I have been going out of my mind on this one, including being dumbfounded by the article being lauded to the skies in Christianity Today by Tish Warren Harrison (which sounds very much in the same vein as this White Horse Inn piece you cite). I could say that common sense is dead, but it is one thing for it to be killed by a reality-defiant, God-loathing society, but a whole other thing for the church at large to be advancing its mortification. I myself grew up in very conservative Christian circles but never was subjected to any sort of “purity culture,” but was taught self-respect and grace-empowered chastity. However, to tackle the superficiality and triteness of certain church fads, that can be heavy on law and light on grace (like purity culture), by “sharing concerns” with the likes of Bloz-Weber is like “sharing concerns” with Karl Marx over “church consumerism.” You do no service to the family of God (or simple rationality for that matter) by embracing the perversion of the enemy in service of your “concerns.” I am astounded and continue to be astounded by the thoughtless and ambiguous analysis of Christian writers who seem to have abandoned logic and principle together, but then are lauded as innovative and intelligent cultural commentators. Madness. Madness cloaked in obfuscation. As CS Lewis writes, “the most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones that are being argued, but the ones that are assumed.” I’m afraid we have now reached the point where our most basic assumptions are the most dangerous because they are not debated. And as you point out, an assumption that a Jezebel is not acting antithetical to the law of God is a very seductive assumption. Crikey indeed.
Kristen, thank you for seeing so clearly.
Lutheran Jezebel: I stopped listening to, and supporting The White Horse Inn years ago. Michael Horton and his crew have been dipping deeper and deeper into the leftist trough.
Mark, yes. It turns out that convoluted theological reasoning is no protection against Robert Conquest’s second law of politics: “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”
Thank you for not buying into the premise that Bolz-Weber is a pastor. WHI was quick to call her such, and I don’t believe we should ever give her that title.
Timothy, exactly so.
Hilarious and laser-focused as usual. Only publish this if you think it contributes something meaningful. Like you, (I think), I wouldn’t use the occasion of a Lutheran “pastor” offering up a golden vagina shrine to Gloria Steinem as the best time to critique purity culture. (I actually wonder if the vagina shrine was actually “pure” purity ring gold, or if they had to compromise by melting down peace symbols, pentagrams, and mood rings.) But . . . perhaps on another occasion, without the Steinem baggage, I’m guessing that some of your audience may have wrestled with Gothard style legalisms on the purity front—a struggle that highlights an interesting challenge in teaching teenagers: how to distinguish between the damage of sexual sin and the beauty of a “man with a maid.” When we scold a glutton for his behavior, we don’t curse the bread, but for, some at least, purity standards blemished both the sin and the bliss at the same time. That was never the intent, of course, but that’s the way some describe their experience. You may have addressed this elsewhere in your canon, and I missed it.
James, thank you. And yes, Christians who are legalistic about sex have caused no small difficulties, particularly for young people growing up in such a climate. I just don’t want to hear about it from the orgy organizers.
Contrasting Views on Vaccines
Regarding Vaccines: Here is a link to a chart of vaccines made from the aborted fetal cell lines vs those made from other sources: https://cogforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/vaccineListOrigFormat.pdf The biggest problems are the MMR and MMR-V shots which are made by Merck, mandatory in public schools and many universities, and are only available as produced from the aborted fetal cell lines. Here is an organization trying to educate folks about the dangers of aborted fetal cell line products: http://soundchoice.org/aborted-fetal-products/ My son had a severe reaction to the MMR-V shot. He experienced a low grade fever, abdominal pain (around the area of the abdominal lymph nodes), and extreme fatigue that began about 7 days after the shot and lasted for 5-6 weeks. He basically laid around, didn’t talk and was in pain the whole period. We had him tested for everything under the sun and none of the tests (ultrasounds, Krohn’s,, etc.) came back positive. When we tried to report this as a reaction to the shot, we were told that it could not have been caused by the shot. I wonder how much “data” is discarded in this way, thus reinforcing the “studies” that tell us the shots are safe.
Ginny, thank you.
The concern many Christians have over how certain vaccines were developed using fetal tissue is genuine, and we should not repeat those mistakes. That said, the vaccines that were developed using fetal tissue (MMR, chickenpox, and Hep A primarily) were developed in the 1960’s, and the modern production of these vaccines does not use fetal tissue and has not for decades; in addition, no FDA-approved vaccines contain fetal tissue. I mostly see this concern raised by people who do not want to vaccinate at all. The history of these few vaccines gives them an excuse to throw out all vaccines, regardless of origin, which is disingenuous. This is behavior and thinking I do not think we should encourage.
Re: Vaccines and aborted fetal cells. It is not accurate to say that vaccines use aborted fetal cells as an ingredient. Cell lines WI-38 and MRC-5 were developed using fetal tissue from babies that were aborted in the 1960’s. These cell lines are used as growth mediums to grow viruses for use in producing vaccines for Hepatitis A, Rubella, Chicken pox, and shingles (among others). In particular, the idea of refusing to vaccinate against Rubella because of this is hard to reconcile with being pro-life. The Catholic church has done a lot of homework for us on this issue. Links here and here.
Adam, thanks for the links.
The passage you quote in the blog post titled “Which Is Why We Are Here on the Bottom” sounds an awful lot like Natural/Seminal Headship. I assume from other blog posts of yours (although I cannot produce a specific quote) that you also hold to the Federal Headship of Adam. Would you agree that both views of Adam’s headship (and the resulting imputation of guilt from his sin) are correct and we need not choose between the two when attempting to explain/defend Original Sin? Thanks,
Steve, yes, I hold to both federal and natural headship—which helps explain why Jesus was entirely sinless.
Social Justice Blood
After hearing the sermon on Colossians 3, I was listening to the Westminster Confession of Funk on the Fight, Laugh, Feast Network. The podcast I was listening to from 2/27 is titled Thwarting the Blood Avenger. I was struck with how much the social justice language actually sounds like vengeance. The description of the constant cycle of blood vengeance in the ancient world and how impossible it was to find an end to it and how Christ swallowed it up in His victory on the cross reminded me of your sermon. It made me think that what is currently desired is not racial reconciliation but vengeance because there seems to be no end and no way to satisfy it. It has brought me much grief to think that the victory of Christ is being thrown away by many in the church.
Anna, yes. All these things tie together. Our stark choice is the blood of Christ, which puts an end to the bloodletting, or the blood of man, which of necessity perpetuates it.