Posted in theology

Marriage is intended to be solely one man and one woman

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday I wrote about polygamy in the Bible. God does not accept polygamy as an appropriate marital configuration. His standard is seen in Genesis 2:24, where he brought one man to one woman and made them as one flesh for life.

This standard is emphasized both positively and negatively throughout the Bible. In the New Testament Jesus re-taught that standard, quoting the Old Testament. The negative examples of what happens to a family when they stray from it is clearly seen whenever polygamy is practiced. Abraham, Solomon, David, Elkanah, Jacob, and others suffered terribly whenever it’s shown they took on plural wives or concubines.

Despite that, there are religions that practice polygamy, which is one person married to multiple other spouses. Usually it’s the man who has many wives, which is technically called polygyny. We rarely see a culture that adopts polyandry, which is women taking on multiple husbands.

There is one cult that claims the God of the Bible and practices polygamy. That cult is Mormonism, or as they refer to themselves, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Many of their historical elders were polygamists, usually in secret, from almost the start of the founding of the cult. Founder Joseph Smith claimed to have had a revelation from Jesus to take plural wives. (Source). Smith did so, and taught the practice to close associates. In public however, they denied the existence of polygamy for a few of those beginning years. One wonders why, if this teaching truly was from God – who is good, holy, and pure – it needed to be a secret…

In fact, the Mormons’ 1835 founding and guiding document, Doctrine and Covenants (D&C), banned polygamy and said that monogamy was the only acceptable form of marriage. But men continued to take plural wives, and the practice spread. In 1852 polygamy was announced publicly and finally published in the 1876 version of the LDS Church’s Doctrine and Covenants, the practice became openly public. This caused much controversy between the LDS church and the United States government, which vehemently opposed the practice. Mormons called it having ‘spiritual wives’ or “plural marriage.” The government called it polygamy and against the law.

Recently the LDS church posted documents on their website admitting their early history was rife with “plural marriages”. Joseph Smith had up to 40 wives, the youngest of age 14.

Where do Mormons get that polygamy is biblical? First, this is their reasoning, aside from basing legitimacy on the alleged extra-biblical, direct revelation Joseph Smith allegedly received, Smith then wrote down the revelation and codified it into the documents they vault to equal stature as scripture, for example, their Doctrine & Covenants 132:34 says that God commanded polygamy.

34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises. 35 Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.

So, a direct command via revelation, plus an argument from silence. Their argument from silence explains that when Abraham took wives and concubines, since there was no explicit condemnation from God for doing that, it must be OK.

Further, they say that since the Prophet (Smith) was told to do it, and there was NO condemnation to Abraham for taking multiple wives, and further proof of the practice’s acceptability is that he was blessed with children. They say in paragraph 37, “Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him,“.

Fourth, they say that when there is an apparent contradiction between what the LORD had said before in scripture, and the instructions now, obedience is key. The D & C use the example in 132:36 that God commanded Abraham to kill Isaac. We know the 5th Commandment says Thou Shalt Not Kill. It is interpreted that Abraham’s obedience to the voice of God commanding him to kill Isaac even though the Commandments forbid it, was accounted to him as righteousness. Similarly was Abraham’s acceptance of plural wives despite an apparent contradiction in Genesis 2:24, and that also was accounted. This interpretation is taught at the churchofjesuschrist.org, the legitimate Mormon website. We read, “It is important to remember that if God were to command His people to do something contrary to current commandments, such direction would come through His living prophet.” So, essentially the living prophet designated by the Mormons as the one to receive revelation, could say anything, claim it was “God told me”, and the Mormons would have to obey. This is so dangerous.

Yet scripture is clear that marriage is one man and one woman. We also read that, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8). And to watch out, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds“. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

We see how easy it is for satan to twist the scriptures. All the most famous false teachers and false prophets we read about in the Bible or hear about in the news, start off with a hefty blend of truth mixed in with lies. That proportion changes as the false prophet’s following grows. His teachings become less truth and more lies. By then, people are hooked, as the frogs in ever-warming water, perhaps not noticing the drift from sacred scripture. Satan deceived Eve simply by insinuations and questions. The Judaizers made sense to the confused Jews coming out of the old covenant and emerging into the new. Cults always begin with truth and lies mixed, expertly proportioned so as to make sense to the people the false teacher or false prophet is trying to deceive.

Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:14-18,

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found spotless and blameless by Him, at peace, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which there are some things that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unscrupulous people and lose your own firm commitment, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

From this we learn that:
1. Some biblical concepts are hard to understand,
2. We must be diligent to interpret correctly so as to understand according to the Spirit and not to the flesh,
3. There are unscrupulous teachers coming in the name of Christ. The word unscrupulous means lawless, licentious, and unrestrained,
4. Scripture can be distorted.

Whenever a ‘biblical’ teaching appeals to the flesh, it’s false. And who is unstable? The double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8). Again, if a teaching appeals to the flesh, it is false.

The beauty of the institute of marriage is that it’s a picture of Jesus and His Bride (the Church). The Church global is one body, (not plural bodies) whom Jesus gave His life for and will be presented to Him by His Father, Yahweh at the heavenly supper as spotless. Marriage is supposed to be instructive to us, where the man is head of the house, women are to submit to His leadership, He is to love his wife even unto death, and as a unit of one man and one woman, go forth to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus while striving for holiness. Just as it was intended in the Garden by God for Adam and Eve.

Posted in theology

Marriage: Polygamy in the Bible

By Elizabeth Prata

Last week I’d written a short series on Marriage for wives. The essays in the series were:

Persevering in Marriage: A True Story
Culture Calls this a Dirty Word
Recommending Confidently Called Homemakers
What are the biblical qualities God desires in a woman teacher? Not the ones Beth Moore exhibits
What if my marriage is to a difficult man?
Unequally yoked (or yoked to a minimal believer) but still need to submit?

A dear sister contacted me and asked me to write about polygamy. In my series, I’d only mentioned polygamy, noting that Abraham had multiple wives. So did, David, Solomon, Elkanah, and that even the institute of marriage crumbled as early as Genesis 4:19, when we read that Lamech took two wives.

As I was writing the series I briefly considered writing more about polygamy (multiple spouses supposedly married to one person) but discarded the idea since polygamy isn’t a huge concern in the US.

I was wrong.

Continue reading “Marriage: Polygamy in the Bible”
Posted in theology

Unequally yoked (or yoked to a minimal believer) but still need to submit?

By Elizabeth Prata

The Bible calls married women to submit to their husbands, as they submit to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22-25). But when your husband isn’t a believer in Christ, or is a minimal believer showing little interest in spiritual things, how does one navigate the minefields that pop up? Yesterday we saw young Abigail in that situation, and she used tact and diplomacy.

The question is, how to submit to husband without sinning against Jesus. Let’s start with a negative example of what NOT to do. I’d said on the first essay in this series that submission means you do not have to follow your husband into sin. In the days of the early church shown in Acts, everyone was selling their land and laying the proceeds at the apostles’ feet, so that there was not a needy person among them. (Acts 4:32-35). So Ananias and Sapphira decided they would do the same.

Continue reading “Unequally yoked (or yoked to a minimal believer) but still need to submit?”
Posted in theology

What if my marriage is to a difficult man?

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

This week I’ve been looking at marriage. I wrote about what submission is and isn’t, I posted a sweet testimony about persevering in marriage, and I recommended a site called Confidently Called Homemakers that has a lot of encouragements and resources for the women who work at home.

Today we’ll look at marriage to a difficult man. I know what you’re thinking, lol, ‘They’re ALL difficult!’ And they are! And so are we women. As part of the curse, God said that the desire for women would be for their husbands, and the husbands in turn would have a tendency to rule over us. This is ripe ground for conflict. Before the fall, Adam and Eve’s was the only perfect marriage. All of them since have had difficulty. In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve started blame-shifting and bickering. (Where do I get the bickering from? I am supposing…the leaf-sewing went something like this: “You’re not doing it right! That leaf isn’t big enough! Just give it here!”)

Continue reading “What if my marriage is to a difficult man?”
Posted in Uncategorized

Persevering in Marriage: A True Story

By Elizabeth Prata

Marriage is hard. It takes a lot of work, denial of self, service to the spouse, and submission. Having Jesus at the center is necessary for success and even then, some Christian marriages still fail. Without Christ, I am not sure how any marriage survives! I am not married now, but I was before I was saved. It was difficult and I wish now that I’d had Jesus to rely upon for help. Christians are truly blessed to have the Groom to whom we can bring our marital cares, joys, and petitions.

This week I’ll look at Christian marriage in a upcoming few essays.

Here is a heartfelt, true story about marriage from someone who knows. May you be encouraged as I was by this sweet testimony of my friend Pastor James Bell. He posted this in 2016. He’ll now have been married for 54 years next month. Here’s Pastor Bell:

Continue reading “Persevering in Marriage: A True Story”
Posted in theology

The first thing satan did was corrupt gender roles

By Elizabeth Prata

Recently I’ve watched a growing wave of corruption of gender biology and more push-back about it than I’ve ever seen. In the secular world, the madness of trans-gender has become a pitched frenzy. The church isn’t unaffected. Even inside ‘Christian’ circles, sassy or angry or ignorant women are howling themselves into usurping madcaps more each day.

How do strong Christian women fight against this? First, by remembering this verse from Ephesians 6:12,

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

We combat this tsunami of falsehood secondly by staying in the word of God, wielding the word of God (Ephesians 6:13-17), and quoting the word of God.

Continue reading “The first thing satan did was corrupt gender roles”
Posted in theology

Michal: She despised her husband in her heart

By Elizabeth Prata

Michal was wife of king David. Her name “describes an admiring acknowledgment of the transcendent unapproachable majesty of the divine nature” according to “All the Women of the Bible” (which is a very handy reference at Bible Gateway, for free).

Sadly, she did not live up to her name. Let’s see what happened.

Michal was daughter of King Saul, and she fell in love with David. Hard. David was handsome, accomplished, and beloved by many. Michal was entranced. David was going to be king, so that meant she would be queen. She even defied her father, King Saul, when she learned that King Saul plotted to kill David. She was married to him by now, and she informed David of the plot, and made a dummy to put in the bed so David could escape, and lied, saying David had threatened to kill her if she didn’t let him go.

Continue reading “Michal: She despised her husband in her heart”
Posted in encouragement, theology

Theology Gals: Encouragement for Singles

By Elizabeth Prata

I don’t “struggle with singleness.” There are lots of things I do struggle with, but living single isn’t one of them.

My parents’ marriage was not the best, and other marriages I’d observed weren’t glowing with love and gentleness either. Divorce was rampant in my growing up years. The US was changing from strict divorce laws to less restrictive, or no-fault.

I was saved at age 43 so that meant for a long time I was a heathen, living for myself. I had an idol, and that was marriage. I wanted to be married, to be a wife. The guy the idol of marriage came with didn’t matter so much as me longing to be in the state of marriage. I felt marriage was important, offered security, and I wanted to be somebody’s number one. Not being saved, I had no clue about the state of marriage being a picture of Jesus with His Bride. I got married. But the Lord showed me the error of my thinking. Painfully.

But in my 20s when I so badly wanted to “be married” I remember the yearning, the wondering, the silence of the empty house, the aching of time passing. I know that being single is an issue that many women deal with. In order to learn more, I listened to Theology Gals’ podcast on the subject. Angela Whitehorn, Coleen Sharp, and Ashley Glassick are co-hosts. The blurb for the podcast states,

Theology Gals is a podcast by women on Reformed theology. The podcast addresses a variety of topics on the study of God’s Word, sound theology and the Christian life.

The co-hosts talked with their friend Jean Keeley about singleness. Jean offers encouragement to other singles through sharing of her journey and also scripture. The hosts also discussed singles and the Church.

What I appreciated about the interview was that when one of the co-hosts asked a question, they allowed the interviewee to answer at length, without interruption, diversion, or laughing/joking/giggling (as so many podcasters are wont to do). I learn more when I can listen to a reply unbroken and with no rabbit trails or personal anecdotes from the hosts.

In this interview Jean Keeley made some insightful statements about her reconciliation with being single. She said she has remained in her church for decades, the first one she joined. From that vantage point, she said she remembers when her church was small with few members. There were one or two women who were older (to her at that time older was mid-thirties) who weren’t married. She thought to herself, “That won’t be me. I’ll find somebody.” Then suddenly she was in her late 40s and still not married and thought, “Gee, that IS me!” It was then she had a long struggle with her status as a single woman. She said whether you’re a woman in your 20s and seeing all your friends get married, or you’re as she was, awakening one day to find you’re on the shadow side of the hill and still not hitched, I found her thoughts and journey for both/all demographics to be helpful.

The quote I remember best from the interview was,

“Ladies, this isn’t God’s Plan B for your life. This is God’s best for you.”

Jean Keeley described how she came to the Lord, which was an encouraging portion of the podcast. Then Keeley revealed some aspects she delights in with the single life and some things that for her aren’t so delightful. She discusses the difference between aloneness and loneliness. She offers practical advice on resting on God’s word in these matters. The hosts and Kelley discussed the verse from 1 Corinthians 7:34 and how it applies to each of them in the different states in which God has provided for them, married and single.

The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

The conversation progressed with grace, in grace, with neither status -married or single- being elevated nor disparaged.

For me, my singleness forces me to trust wholly in Jesus, and to lean totally on Him. He knows best. The remnants of making my husband the savior are still roaming around in me, I suppose, as well as the distraction of serving husband and abandoning my Lord is still likely being a risk. The Lord does know best for each one of us. I enjoy being in a narrow chute, like a horse with blinders, having to look only to Jesus. When struggles come, and they do- I was in one just yesterday- I pray to Him, read about Him, and look only to Him, and that in the end is sweet to me.

If this topic interests you, Ladies, for whatever reason, I commend the podcast. I hope you enjoy it as I did.

Encouragement for Singles

rings

Posted in theology

Overheard in the Coffee Shop

By Elizabeth Prata

Picture the scene. It’s a festive coffee shop at your favorite spot. You’re there sitting and sipping and savoring being alone for a few minutes before heading home. You have your hand curled around a warm cup of coffee and you’re enjoying the hum and din of the throng, the twinkling lights, and the strong beverage warming its way down to the bottom of your toes.

As you settle and your body relaxes and your mind clears, you begin to pick up snippets of conversation around you. The guys over there mention the Super Bowl. The teen at the table by the window is on her phone. And next to you there’s a table of four women, laughing and talking rapidly, as women do. They have scarves artfully arranged on their necks, slim fingers play with their mugs, dancing along the rim, and a couple of them twiddle their shiny new wedding rings. They laugh full body, open mouth, showing all their teeth. They are relaxed with each other, friends for a long time, even if some of them are newly married. They’re young.

They’re talking about boyfriends and husbands. As you smile to yourself and glance away, you hear one of the young women with a new looking ring on her finger say this:

“I always do what pleases him.”

The other women still, and look at her mouths agape. You don’t know what preceded this half sentence, but clearly the other three women are startled. One of them furrows her brow, and suddenly the entire room seems to quiet, the table in the middle of the coffee shop becomes and island, though the rest of the customers don’t seem to notice. You do, though.

“Laura!” exclaims one of the women loudly. “You can’t mean that!” The lady by her side chimes in, “You’ve never been a doormat!”

Blushing and looking down, ‘Laura’ says, “Well…I do nothing on my own authority, but only what I’ve heard from him. He is the authority in our home.”

The conversation now twists on a dime, pivoting on her words, and suddenly there is a gang of three against a lone woman of one. They argue and fuss and exclaim, insisting that marriage is 50-50, that she is her own woman, that women’s liberation has come a long way, baby, and all that. The relaxed atmosphere at that table is gone, and an adversarial one has swept in. The tide is against the woman they called Laura.

You decide it’s time to go, sadly and creakily arising from the table. You leave the din behind as the door swings shut behind you, shaking your head, pondering the lives of the young, which to you was so long ago.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What the imaginary woman in the hypothetical scene was talking about was submission. It’s a dirty word these days, and by these days I mean since about 1966 when the second wave of women’s liberation, or the feminist movement, came to the fore. The S-word. Today it’s a synonym for doormat, mouse, enslavement, even.

But submission is simply a yielding to a higher authority. Men and women do it every day in other spheres. We yield to the Boss, the Lieutenant, the President of the Company. We yield to the Officer, to the Judge, to the Guard. We yield to the velvet rope, to the law, to the policy. We para-professionals yield to the teacher, the teacher to the assistant principal, the assistant principal to the principal, the principal to the superintendent, and the superintendent to the school board. Hierarchy exists, and women submit to their place within it every day.

It’s the notion of female submission in the home that galls. It galls the unsaved to the degree that they are willing to march, yell, overthrow in aggressive and passive-aggressive ways. It even galls the new Christian, perhaps raised in a storm tossed bowl of feminism, waves upon waves nearly choking and drowning them but the struggle to stay afloat in it remains after conversion, hopefully for only a short while.

It is IN us to rebel. Genesis 3:1-7 shows it and Genesis 3:15 declares it:

To the woman he said, I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.

John MacArthur explains it this way

Just as the woman and her seed will engage in a war with the serpent, i.e. Satan and his seed, (v 15), because of sin and the curse, the man and the woman will face struggles in their own relationship. Sin has turned the harmonious system of God-ordained roles into  distasteful struggles of self-will. Lifelong companions, husbands and wives, will need God’s help in getting along as a result. ~MacArthur Study Bible, Gen 3:15

Our marriages are patterned after the relationship Jesus had with His Father. Jesus emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, as Philippians 2:7 says.

We submit every day to everyone else, except when it comes to the husband. Then, we rebel against the thought of submitting to him. Yet the Bible says,

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24).

That’s the pattern. Oh, and the woman in the hypothetical coffee shop that said the provoking words…’for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him’? That was from John 8:29b, and it’s what Jesus said that HE does.

And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.

It seems OK when we read that same phrase in the Bible, that Jesus only does what pleases the Father. If we put those words into a woman’s mouth, though, it seems incendiary. But that’s only because we might have lost the awe that Jesus chose to remain submissive to His Father.

He as God-the-Son in the Trinity emptied Himself and was submissive to His Father in all things. God in the form of Jesus is submissive! Jesus was not a doormat. Of course Jesus while in His incarnation on earth had his own thoughts, ideas, opinions. For example, in the Garden He shared those in prayer with God, ‘please take this cup from me’ but followed that plea with ‘thy will be done’. So in all things He submitted his own will by placing the Father’s first.

If it is good enough for our King/Savior/God-the-Son, it is good enough for us in our relationship with our husbands. We have thoughts, ideas, opinions, and our husbands are our partner, and in safety we shae them. But ultimately he is our authority in the home and out goal should be to do all things that are pleasing to him. In the end, this pleases Him.