Posted in theology

The sheets lasted longer than the marriage

By Elizabeth Prata

I have a favorite set of sheets. They have a green flowery ivy type pattern on them. I don’t really care about how sheets look. I’m asleep when I lay on them so…I never really see them! What I do care about is how they feel. These are soft and slightly silky. (No they’re not silk). Because they slide a tiny bit, it’s easier to turn over on them.

I just like these sheets a lot. I have other sets, and I put one of them on when I strip the bed and wash these faves of mine, but I can’t wait till the next week when I put these green ivy ones back on the bed again.

I got those sheets in 1979.

I was 18, a freshman in college. I was unsaved. Not a Christian. I’d lived in the dorm for the first semester. It was an off-campus dorm due to overcrowding on campus. Mixed in with us naïve newbies were returning students. Students who had flunked out, been in the Navy, worked a year or two before going to college. So a lot of the students in the dorm with me were older, like by 2 or three years.

I’d met a guy in my dorm and after a while we decided to move in together to an apartment adjacent to campus. That was the new thing to do. The sexual revolution of the 1960s had taken root and one of the dark fruits it bore was that young people didn’t think they needed “a piece of paper” – AKA a marriage certificate. W just moved in and cohabitated. Marriage was so old fashioned, you know!

The guy’s mom was a staunch Catholic and she objected to the move-in. LOUDLY. She actually chased my boyfriend down the hall of their home when we broke the news. With a wooden spoon. She was furious, yelling, “You’re going to live in sin?!?!?

We thought she was hopelessly old fashioned. We were young. We were free. We’re all right. We ignored her.

And…because the boyfriend was her last kid, because he was the only boy, because he was her baby, she caved in and gave us some things for the apartment. The sheets were one of the items.

Now, this was 1979. The sheets were old then, at least 10 or 15 years. So let’s say they were produced in 1965. Now it’s 2023. I still have the sheets. These are the favorite sheets I mentioned. They are a bit threadbare in the middle, but still in good shape for 58 year old sheets.

Every time I make the bed with them I think about that scene about the mother yelling “You’re going to live in sin?!’ I didn’t know what sin was. He was raised Catholic (though he obviously didn’t practice), but I wasn’t raised anything and had never heard the word sin, let alone know what it meant. But one of the things I think about is the fact that God is perfectly justified to punish sinners in the eternal fires of hell. Us living together (and engaging in the usual sexual activity as if we were married) IS a sin. It is called fornication, and the Bible condemns in the strongest terms. Many verses warn that fornicators will not inherit the kingdom. (AKA go to heaven).

1 Corinthians 6:18, Mark 7:21, 1 Corinthians 5:1, Hebrews 13:4, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, Acts 15:29, 1 Thessalonians 4:3…

And that is just a few. And only the New Testament. There are just as many in the Old Testament warning people to remain chaste.

We got married. Deep down I suppressed the niggles of my conscience for living together (in those days, such a new moral convention!) by telling myself it was OK because we intended to get married. The sex before marriage part was covered under the umbrella of pre-marriage. (I’d made up a new moral convention, see how sin works! See how we suppress the truth in unrighteousness?) And we did get married after we graduated from college.

Not only sexual immorality is a sin, but treating marriage as of no account is also a sin. Inevitably when people cohabitate without benefit of having taken the solemn vows of marriage, their casual treatment of marriage can often result in divorce. Unbiblical divorce is also a sin.

We were young. We were free. We weren’t all right. After 4 few years he found someone else, had an affair, and left me flat for this new woman.

In Richard Adams’ novel Watership Down, where anthropomorphized rabbits are the main characters, the rabbits have a proverb, “One cloud feels lonely”. I find this a true proverb, lol. When you see one cloud, soon there are more and the sky becomes overcast.

I often change that fictional proverb in my mind to this: ‘One sin feels lonely’. One sin never really is performed in isolation. If a person is an adulterer, he or she is lusting, being an adulterer, and lying- not to mention being a hypocrite. No one is “sent to hell” to endure a forever stretch of time in punishment because of ‘one little sin.’ All sins are big and there is always more than one. They are an affront to a holy God, who is just and right to punish them.

I look back on my time before salvation and I gasp with incredulity that a holy God put up with so much sinning in me. I’m grateful for my salvation and now have a right mind about marriage even though I’m still single. Marriage is more than ‘just a piece of paper’. Fornication is a sin. I still have the sheets, but not the marriage.

But that is what happens when people distill what is a holy union before God and making a lifetime commitment before Him, to just a piece of paper that can be ignored. Because what we were really doing was ignoring God in that piece of paper. He instituted the convention of marriage and structured it so the man is the head, the woman is the helper and the children obey both.

He said to her, Go, call your husband and come back here.The woman answered and said, “I have no husband. Jesus said to her, You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” (John 4:16-18 LSB)

Ladies, living together isn’t a new immoral situation any more. It rarely causes an eyebrow lift. It certainly doesn’t usually cause mothers to run down the hallway with a wooden spoon to bat some sense into their son. It is seen every day on TV and in movies and all around the world people are doing it. But it’s wrong. Sex before marriage is wrong. It’s called fornication. That sounds like an old-fashioned word but trust me, no, trust the Bible, it’s still a sin. And Chastity is still a virtue.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

Posted in theology


By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

From the Center for Christ and Culture, we read from the article published in 2006, “Why is Marriage Important?

“Marriage is far more profound than our contemporary culture would lead us to believe. It is a life-long commitment that restrains self-centeredness, self-indulgence and self-gratification. It is the one relationship that effectively prepares and conditions us for community. By restraining self-centeredness and promoting love of another, marriage becomes the foundation for social order. When this commitment labeled “marriage” is reduced to nothing more than a mere contract between two consenting persons, or worse just another option, it ceases to restrain our self-centered passions. Self-centeredness harms not only that relationship but also others as well until it spreads throughout society like ripples in a pond. Abandoning the “others before self” concept of marriage for the self-serving concept of contractual relationships between autonomous individuals makes us increasingly narcissistic, ultimately leading toward moral and social collapse. Across America the institution of marriage is being assailed, reduced to nothing more than a sentimental ceremony between consenting adults, radically redefined, or simply abandoned altogether.”

Yup. All that abandonment is contained in the article we read above and what we see enacted every day.

In the distant past, we were given biblical verses about how the world would be in the far future. There are specific prophecies about the coming perilous times, and there is no doubt we are living in those perilous times now. Conditions that we see all around us that did not exist at all or didn’t exist to the degree we see them today, such as the blatant and constant pressure to dispense with traditional marriage, are all around us. This disposal is a tragic and irreversible mistake.

That satanic urge to dispose of marriage the way God intended does not come only from the homosexual agenda but from all quarters, as we saw above. Once the foundational block of society is done away with then all else can crumble. Is this not happening now? Of course it is. The excessive narcissism that homosexual or triadic or polygamous or adulterous marriage definitions promote lead inevitably to societal collapse. And thus, society is collapsing. Paul wrote of the conditions we were to expect in the last days, and the last days are the time between Jesus’ ascension and His return.

“Godlessness in the Last Days”

1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

You notice the last part of verse 5 says “having an appearance of godliness”. The people perpetrating the perilous acts will be people who seem good, having a godly appearance, pious and sincere. Yet they will be in the inside, brutal, selfish, without-self control. Even people claiming to be within Christendom are muting the boundaries of the biblical standards for marriage.

The article about marriage I linked to above concludes:

“Marriage is simply the highest of all human relationships and therefore must never be entered into lightly. It is the means of procreating humanity, nurturing and training subsequent generations, producing social order and for the Christian, the best means for perpetuating the Gospel. … If marriage is allowed to die in America as it is in other Western nations our posterity will inherit a godless culture.”

I maintain that this generation is a strong candidate as the inheritor of the godless culture. The constant barrage of marriage redefinitions (among other horrifying conditions) hath wrought godlessness in the last days. The only good news to this statement is that as the culture becomes ever more like it was in the Days of Noah and the Days of Lot it means the Day of the Lord is even closer. We draw closer with each passing day. But for the sinner, The Day of the LORD is near, said Zephaniah! Consider his words, ye sinners!

The great day of the Lord is near,
near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;
the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the lofty battlements.
I will bring distress on mankind,
so that they shall walk like the blind,
because they have sinned against the Lord;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
and their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold
shall be able to deliver them
on the day of the wrath of the Lord.
In the fire of his jealousy,
all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:14-18)

Posted in theology

God can save your marriage!

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Marriage is hard. It takes a lot of work, denial of self, service to the spouse, and submission. (Ephesians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13:7, Having Jesus at the center is necessary for success and even then, some marriages between professing partners still fail. Without Christ, I am not sure how any marriage survives! You take two sinners and put them together as one flesh, and each must submit to the other and … well, without Christ the entire endeavor is harder than salmon swimming upstream. We swim against our sin which is hard enough, and then cover the spouse’s sin (1 Peter 4:8; Proverbs 17:9). We need Jesus in marriage, He is our All in All.

Continue reading “God can save your marriage!”
Posted in theology

Complaining about your spouse?

By Elizabeth Prata

I wasn’t saved until I was 42. Before that, I’d been married. I remember what it was like to complain about my spouse. It was the norm. It was a usual thing to gripe about him, to nitpick every fault and failure and deficit to my friends when we got together. We didn’t have the internet then, but we did complain about our spouses in public, even TO our spouses in public. All in good fun, we said. Just joshing.

Sure. Sure it was. What it actually was, was marital wars. It was putting salt on the jabs and pokes and little bitter wounds that pile up. It was a normal thing. Doing that meant we were trying to get an advantage in our constant undercurrent of passive-aggressive battle that unsaved marriages often are.

The unsaved’s marriage is a war, as Genesis 3:16 says the woman will constantly try to usurp her husband. In turn, the husband has to constantly suppress his wife. There is no common ground, as there is in a Christian marriage, the common ground being Jesus.

The Christian marriage is in fact a societal foundation block of intertwined flesh of two made one. It is a pair, united in purpose and walking together. Big difference from the ego-maniacal wars of the unsaved marriage.

When we are saved, we realize our utter depravity, our utter lostness before God, and our helpless estate. We need Jesus every moment to do what is right, and that includes loving our spouses well.

After salvation, I was not married any more but I watched Christian married couples closely. They loved each other. Their devotion seemed real and deep. They praised each other, lifted each other up, and spoke well of him or her.

This kind of behavior and their kind words about each other was startling in how much it contrasted with the darkness of non-Christian talk about spouses. It was like a warm glow of a candlelit table, comfortable and inviting, rather than the hot pricks and barbs of usual conversations about our spouse.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

I would like to reiterate what Dr. Strachan said in the tweet screen shot above. It IS radical to speak well of one’s spouse (or of anyone!) I don’t know if long-time Christians know HOW radical it is. Wholesome and uplifting speech about your wife or husband is countercultural and stands out like a lighthouse beacon on a stormy night.

The good news is that if you have fallen into the trap of downgrading your spouse in public in speech or gestures, you can repent to Jesus and He will forgive. The Holy Spirit is our very present help to aid us in resisting that kind of speech.

If you have been uplifting your spouse in conversation to others, then please know how such talk stands out in the swirl of talk by the unsaved that usually consists of complaints, gossip, and pettiness. Such speech stands out like warm rain on a sunny day.

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

Is your marriage as strong as Roman concrete?

By Elizabeth Prata

I love all things Italian. My father’s side of the family came from Italy. I have a fascination with the Roman empire because of its monumental achievements. Who wouldn’t be amazed at the discipline of the Roman legion? The straight and paved Roman roads? The soaring aqueducts, bridges, and buildings? The breakwaters?

Wait, wut? The breakwaters?

Yes, perhaps the most amazing achievement of all. Astonishing because they have lasted for 2000 years, and, modern engineers can’t figure out how.

Continue reading “Is your marriage as strong as Roman concrete?”
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, 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?”