Newsletter 75 April 2004
The Importance of Marriage | Avoiding Unclean Meat | Opportunity to Help Others | | Seventh-day Adventist Teaching on Divorce & Remarriage | Children’s Bible Activities | Christian Education | A Church of Non-Givers? | Are You a Follower of Herbert W. Armstrong? | Sex Abuse Cases Reflect Theological Problems | Was Michael the Archangel Jesus? | Mel Gibson’s Slaughter of Christ | Benefits of the Sabbath | Funeral Services | Gopherwood and Construction of the Ark
Marriage is the theme of the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, the Eternal teaches us the importance and spiritual significance of marriage. In Eden, God taught mankind two doctrines: the Sabbath and Marriage. These are related, for the Sabbath is the avenue for our relationship with God, and human Marriage is a God-like relationship with another human being, to help us build our relationship with God.
At the institution of marriage, there was no provision for divorce. However, mankind quickly departed from God. Sin made the marriage relationship more difficult, Genesis 3:16-19. Cain departed from the presence of the Lord, Genesis 4:16, married, had a son named Enoch, and built a city named after Enoch. Cain’s descendant Lamech was the first recorded polygamist. The line of Cain continued to be divorced from God’s presence.
Genesis 6 shows wrong marriages, wrong sexual relationships, which led to God’s judgment of the Flood. The word translated “violence” is Strong’s #2555, chamas, the same word for Abraham and Sarah’s sin involving Hagar, Genesis 16:5. See also Malachi 2:16. Marriage is not a contract, but a covenant, verse 14. As in the days of Noah, sexual sins will abound just prior to our Lord’s return, Matthew 24:37-38.
At Sinai, God spiritually married Israel, Exodus 19:7-8, Jeremiah 3:1-22. At least three of the Ten Commandments directly relate to marriage and family. Several Old Testament statutes regulated marriage, including Exodus 21:7-11, 22:16-17, 19, 34:14-17; Deuteronomy 22:13-30, 24:1-4.
God did not condemn Lamech, Abraham, and Jacob, for their polygamy, but it was wrong, contrary to Genesis 2:21-24. God also did not condemn Abraham for lying about Sarah. Isaac, a type of Christ, had only one wife, Rebecca. God teaches us by examples, I Corinthians 10:1-12.
Marriage is a covenant; without a force majeure provision for fraud. See the story of the Gibeonites, Joshua 9:1-27, noting verse 14. The Israelites did not seek God’s counsel, and they went ahead and were duped, yet they were still bound by their oath. The example of Joseph and Mary (Matthew 1:18-25) shows how to apply Deuteronomy 24. General “fraud” is no grounds for divorce with the right to remarry.
In the New Testament, Jesus’ teaching made laws of marriage more binding, Matthew 5:32, 19:1-12. In speaking to the carnal Pharisees, Jesus amazed his audience, not siding with the Hillel or Shammai schools, who allowed divorce and remarriage for adultery or any reason whatsoever. Jesus said that only for fornication (sexual sins before marriage) can there be divorce with the right to remarry.
The Apostle Paul did not water down the Savior’s teaching on marriage. Paul upheld the Bible teaching that marriage is for life, Romans 7:1-3, I Corinthians 7:39. As believers, we look forward to the coming marriage of the Church to Christ, Revelation 19:7-9, 21:2, 9, the eternal marriage from which there will be no divorce. Our marriages today should prepare us for the divine eternal marriage to Christ, Ephesians 5:21-33.
In 1974, the Worldwide Church of God departed from its former teaching on marriage. Marriages were thenceforth held to be valid only as long as both parties are “pleased to dwell” with one another. I Corinthians 7:12-15 does not provide an escape clause for marriages, which are bound for life, verse 39. “Not under bondage” means not obligated to provide support, sexual relations, etc. It does not mean “free to remarry someone else.” Man-made marriage loopholes are so big that you can drive a semi-truck through them! The period of 1974-2004 has been thirty years of infamy in the Church of God. Let us return to the Truth of God, teaching and practicing the importance of life-long marriage relationships.
For further explanation of this vital topic, request the free audio cassette, “The Importance of Marriage,” C120, by Richard C. Nickels, from Giving & Sharing.
Holy Days — 2004
Passover, April 5 (observed the evening before, after sundown)
Feast of Unleavened Bread, April 6-12
Pentecost, May 31
Day of Trumpets, September 16
Day of Atonement, September 25
Feast of Tabernacles, September 30-October 6; Last Great Day, October 7
It is not easy to avoid eating unclean meat. Pork is more prevalent than most people realize. The popular Olive Garden restaurant commonly has pork hidden in many of their menu items. Their website says: “Does Olive Garden use pork in its recipes? Pork is primarily used as a flavor enhancer and traditionally is a common ingredient in Italian cooking. Pork is included in our meat sauce. With some advance notice, our managers would be happy to accommodate your diet by specially making a ground beef meat sauce to accompany your choice of pasta.”
We recently received a letter from a vision-impaired prisoner in Texas. He wanted to read material about Babylon, and how false gods originated. I printed out a copy of our Bible Study 185, “All Roads Lead to Babylon,” in large 14-point type. That got me to thinking….
Is there a need to supply our literature to the visually impaired? Please let us know if you know someone who would like our literature in large print. Is there someone willing to help us by printing our articles off the Internet in large type size, and mailing them to those who are visually impaired? All your expenses will be reimbursed.
If interested, please contact Richard Nickels by telephone on weekends, 307-686-5191 or Rich.Nickels@giveshare.org.
“No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
That chilling commentary comes from fem-socialist Simone de Beauvoir, in her famous 1974 interview in The Saturday Review.
So what happens when the radical feminist agenda becomes the law of the land?
That is not a mere hypothetical question. It can be answered by turning the pages of history back to the tragic early days of Soviet Russia.
When Lenin’s Bolsheviks seized the levers of power in 1917, Lenin faced the daunting challenge of jump-starting agricultural and industrial production. So he cast his eye on a vast, untapped workforce: peasant women.
Parroting the Marxist line on female oppression, Lenin incited women to action at the First All-Russia Congress of Working Women: “The status of women up to now has been compared to that of a slave; women have been tied to the home, and only socialism can save them from this.”
In short order, Lenin pushed through laws assuring women equal pay for equal work and the right to hold property.
But as Simone de Beauvoir pointed out, many women would be tempted to go back to the old ways to tend to hearth and home. So the traditional family would need to be abolished. Lenin understood that fact, as well.
So in 1918, Lenin introduced a new marriage code that outlawed church ceremonies. Lenin opened state-run nurseries, dining halls, laundries, and sewing centers. Abortion was legalized in 1920, and divorce simplified.
In a few short years, most of the functions of the family had been expropriated by the state. By 1921, Lenin could brag that “in Soviet Russia, no trace is left of any inequality between men and women under the law.”
But Lenin’s dream of gender emancipation soon dissolved into a cruel nightmare of social chaos.
First, the decline of marriage gave rise to rampant sexual debauchery. Party loyalists complained that comrades were spending too much time in love affairs, so they could not fulfill their revolutionary duties.
Not surprisingly, women who were sent out to labor in the fields and the factories stopped having babies. In 1917, the average Russian woman had borne six children. By 1991, that number had fallen to two. This fertility free-fall is unprecedented in modern history.
But it was the children who were the greatest victims. As a result of the break-up of families, combined with civil war and famine, countless numbers of Russian children found themselves without family or home. Many ended up as common thieves or prostitutes.
In his recent book, Perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev reflected on 70 years of Russian turmoil: “We have discovered that many of our problems — in children’s and young people’s behavior, in our morals, culture, and in production — are partially caused by the weakening of family ties.”
Fem-socialists, hell-bent on achieving a genderless society, are now scheming to repeat the same disastrous experiment in Western society. Naturally, they are hoping that you not hear the story of family destruction in Soviet Russia.
But the truth is there, waiting to be grasped by anyone who cares to see.
© 2004 by Carey Roberts, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission, from the January 18, 2004, www.NewsWithViews.com.
The Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement is more conservative than mainline SDA’s. They cite the historical SDA position on the permanence of marriage, including several statements from Ellen G. White.
“Till Death Do Us Part”
“And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh,” Mark 10:8. “This [marriage] vow links the destinies of the two individuals with bonds which nought but the hand of death should sever,” Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 507. Cited in The Family Circle, Lesson 9.
A Lifelong Tie
1. What is the only proper setting for physical intimacy? Hebrews 13:4. How did Christ endorse the marriage relation? John 2:1-11. “Only where Christ reigns, can there be deep, true, unselfish love. Then soul will be knit with soul, and the two lives will blend in harmony. Angels of God will be guests in the home, and their holy vigils will hallow the marriage chamber. Debasing sensuality will be banished. Upward to God will the thoughts be directed; to Him will the heart’s devotion ascend,” Messages to Young People, p. 440.
“Marriage has received Christ’s blessing, and is to be regarded as a sacred institution. True religion is not to counterwork the Lord’s plans. God ordained that man and woman should be united in holy wedlock, to raise up families that, crowned with honor, would be symbols of the family in heaven. And at the beginning of His public ministry Christ gave His decided sanction to the institution that had been sanctioned in Eden. Thus He declared to all that He will not refuse His presence on marriage occasions, and that marriage, when joined with purity and holiness, truth and righteousness, is one of the greatest blessings ever given to the human family,” The Signs of the Times, August 30, 1899.
2. What must we always remember regarding marriage? Mark 10:6-8. Why is this relationship so sacred? Ephesians 5:31, 32. “Marriage, a union for life, is a symbol of the union between Christ and His Church. The spirit that Christ manifests toward His Church is the spirit that the husband and wife are to manifest toward each other. If they love God supremely, they will love each other in the Lord, ever treating each other courteously, drawing in even cords. In their mutual self-denial and self-sacrifice they will be a blessing to each other,” The Adventist Home, p. 95.
The Nature of Vows
3. What must we understand about the seriousness of making a vow before God? Matthew 5:37; Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5; Psalm 15:1-4. “The obligation to which one’s word is pledged — if it does not bind him to perform a wrong act — should be held sacred. No consideration of gain, of revenge, or of self-interest can in any way affect the inviolability of an oath or pledge. ‘Lying lips are abomination to the Lord’ (Proverbs 12:22). He that ‘shall ascend into the hill of the Lord,’ and ‘stand in His holy place,’ is ‘he that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not’ (Psalms 24:3, 15:4),” Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 506.
4. What should keep us from underestimating the depth of the promises and commitments we have made — including our marriage vow “till death do us part”? Exodus 20:16; Malachi 2:13, 14. “If in any matter you make a statement as to what you will do, and afterward find that you have favored others to your own loss, do not vary a hairsbreadth from principle. Carry out your agreement. By seeking to change your plans you would show that you could not be depended on. And should you draw back in little transactions, you would draw back in larger ones. Under such circumstances some are tempted to deceive, saying, I was not understood. My words have been taken to mean more than I intended. The fact is, they meant just what they said, but lost the good impulse, and then wanted to draw back from their agreement, lest it prove a loss to them,” Child Guidance, p. 154.
The Seventh Commandment
5. How are all warned against the violation of the marriage bed? Exodus 20:14; Proverbs 6:32, 33. Why should we be especially guarded on this point? Luke 16:17, 18; I Thessalonians 5:22. “The most solemn message ever committed to mortals has been entrusted to this people, and they can have a powerful influence if they will be sanctified by it. They profess to be standing upon the elevated platform of eternal truth, keeping all of God’s commandments; therefore, if they indulge in sin, if they commit fornication and adultery, their crime is of tenfold greater magnitude than is that of the classes I have named, who do not acknowledge the law of God as binding upon them,” Testimonies, vol. 2, pp. 450, 451.
“All frivolity, all undue attention of men and women, must be condemned and discontinued. Some, even married men, who have indulged in this trifling familiarity, have endeavored to excuse themselves, and escape censure by claiming that they have done no moral wrong. . . . What record is made in the books of heaven by the divine Watcher? Was there no moral wrong done to the souls of those with whom you were so familiar? Indeed there was,” Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 16, p. 6.
6. What does God require of His Church in all cases where the seventh commandment has been violated? I Corinthians 5:9-13. “The seventh commandment has been violated by some who are now held in fellowship by the church. This has brought God’s frown upon them. This sin is awful in these last days, but the church [members] have brought God’s frown and curse upon them by regarding the sin so lightly. I saw it was an enormous sin and there have not been as vigilant efforts made as there should have been to satisfy the displeasure of God and remove His frown by taking a strict, thorough course with the offender.
“It has had an awful, corrupting influence upon the young. They see how lightly the sin of breaking the seventh commandment is regarded, and the one who commits this horrid sin thinks that all he has to do is to confess that he was wrong and is sorry, and he is then to have all the privileges of the house of God and be held in [the] embrace or fellowship of the church.
“They have thought it was not so great a sin, but have lightly esteemed the breaking of the seventh commandment. This has been sufficient to remove the Ark of God from the camp, if there were no other sins to cause the ark to be taken away and weaken Israel. Those who break the seventh commandment should be suspended from the church, and not have its fellowship nor the privileges of the house of God. Said the angel, ‘This is not a sin of ignorance. It is a knowing sin and will receive the awful visitation of God, whether he who commits it be old or young,” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, pp. 248, 249.
A Pernicious Trend
7. How does God view divorce? Malachi 2:16. How did the erroneous view of marriage as a mere civil contract trigger modern society’s indulgence in remarriage after divorce? “France presented . . . the characteristics which especially distinguished Sodom. During the Revolution there was manifest a state of moral debasement and corruption similar to that which brought destruction upon the cities of the plain. And the historian presents together the atheism and the licentiousness of France, as given in the prophecy: ‘Intimately connected with these laws affecting religion, was that which reduced the union of marriage — the most sacred engagement which human beings can form, and the permanence of which leads most strongly to the consolidation of society — to the state of a mere civil contract of a transitory character, which any two persons might engage in and cast loose at pleasure. . . . If fiends had set themselves to work to discover a mode of most effectually destroying whatever is venerable, graceful, or permanent in domestic life, and of obtaining at the same time an assurance that the mischief which it was their object to create should be perpetuated from one generation to another, they could not have invented a more effectual plan that the degradation of marriage’. . . . Sophie Arnoult, an actress famous forw the witty things she said, described the republican marriage as ‘the sacrament of adultery,” Great Controversy, pp. 270, 271.
8. How does the current trend toward divorce and remarriage reveal a sign of the times? Matthew 24:37-39. Name one area in which our message is to reflect that of John the Baptist — and why. Acts 3:19-21. “Herod was affected as he listened to the powerful, pointed testimonies of John, and with deep interest he inquired what he must do to become his disciple. John was acquainted with the fact that he was about to marry his brother’s wife, while her husband was yet living, and faithfully told Herod that this was not lawful,” Early Writings, p. 154. “What of the marriage relation today? Is it not perverted and defiled, made even as it was in Noah’s day? Divorce after divorce is recorded in the daily papers. This is the marriage of which Christ speaks when He says that before the Flood they were ‘marrying and giving in marriage’.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 56. “As it was in the days of Noah, every kind of evil is on the increase. Divorce and marriage is the order of the time,” ibid., vol. 10, p. 261. “In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored,” Prophets and Kings, p. 678.
“One Flesh” For A Lifetime
9. How does inspiration emphasize the enduring nature of the marital bond? Romans 7:1-3; I Corinthians 7:39. “Marriage, a union for life, is a symbol of the union between Christ and His church,” Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 46. “My heart is sick when I see the loose way that the marriage vows are held. We are nearing the judgment. I ask you to consider carefully, candidly, your position. There is, perhaps, upon more thorough acquaintance, a dislike of your husband’s ways and manners. Will not many people find the same, after the marriage novelty has passed? But when you made your vow before God and holy angels, you knew you were not perfect and your husband was not perfect; but this is no excuse for breaking your marriage vow. There is a need of training your mind and heart that you shall bear with one another, to be kind to one another, and not to allow distrust and hatred to come in,” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, p. 55.
10. If the “oneness” of the marital bond is shattered, what counsel is given? I Corinthians 7:10, 11. Whichever of these two options is chosen, what must always be borne in mind? Hebrews 12:14-16; Matthew 6:14, 15, 18:21, 22. “One of the most common sins, and one that is attended with most pernicious results, is the indulgence of an unforgiving spirit. How many will cherish animosity or revenge and then bow before God and ask to be forgiven as they forgive. Surely they can have no true sense of the import of this prayer or they would not dare to take it upon their lips. We are dependent upon the pardoning mercy of God every day and every hour; how then can we cherish bitterness and malice toward our fellow sinners! If, in all their daily intercourse, Christians would carry out the principles of this prayer, what a blessed change would be wrought in the church and in the world! This would be the most convincing testimony that could be given to the reality of Bible religion,” Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 170, 171.
Review And Thought Questions
1. What vow do we make before God at our wedding ceremony? 2. How does Scripture emphasize the sacredness of vows? 3. In what ways is the seventh commandment often violated? 4. Why was Herod’s marriage unlawful? 5. What is a major key to marital happiness? For Further Study Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 45-50. In Heavenly Places, p. 202.
If you conduct a Sabbath School class at Church, or just for your own children, you probably already know about Children’s Bible Activities. If not, you are in for a real treat. What are Children’s Bible Activity sheets? They are puzzles, mazes, dot-to-dots, word codes, and more, based on various Bible Stories for children. Many of the activity sheets are colorable. There are three versions for each Bible Story: for younger children, older ones, and a teacher study guide with answers.
There are two ways to obtain these excellent resources:
(1) Children’s Bible Activities on CD has 300 easy to access, reproducible activity sheets, half for younger ages and half for older ages. Order for $29.95 from www.comresources.com.
(2) For an annual fee, you can join Children’s Bible Activities online at www.bibleactivities.com, which has over 300 Bible stories and over 600 activity sheets for downloading. There is one for younger ages, one for older ages, as well as a Story Guide and Outline for each Bible story. New Bible stories are added every month to the Web site. Also, you can give access to teachers or volunteers in your church to use the site with your account number so they can access it any time from anywhere.
You are allowed to reproduce these activities for all the children in your local church, but not for other churches in your group.
Children’s Bible Activity Sheets are doctrinally neutral, just telling Bible facts, so you will not have problems with false doctrines.
Children’s Bible Activity Sheets are ready to go. Your children, younger or older, will enjoy these Bible-based activities that will add to their Sabbath delight.
I have given examples of the sheets for younger and older children for the story of Noah’s Flood. Actual size of sheets is standard 8.5 x 11 inch. The Teacher sheet has the answers.
This world’s educational system is based on the philosophy of pagan Greeks such as Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates. Socrates’ theory of education, was based on a profound and consistent skepticism. In other words, it is believed that “doubt is the way to knowledge.” In reality, doubt is an open door to ignorance. The serpent convinced Adam and Eve to doubt the veracity of what God had told them about not partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. All human misery and suffering resulted from doubting God. On the other hand, truth and faith are essential to understanding knowledge, and truth is a revelation from God.
Alonzo T. Jones (1850 – 1923), famous Seventh-day Adventist leader and scholar who eventually became an independent Sabbath-keeper, wrote an excellent treatise, “Christian Education.” He describes how pagan educational philosophy infiltrated the early professing Christian Church and led to the great apostasy. Jones shows how the Bible should be the foundation of true Christian education, how Daniel was educated, and what was taught in the Old Testament “schools of the prophets.” Unfortunately, even many so-called “Christian schools” have adopted the educational philosophy of skepticism, from the pagan Greeks. Christian educators and home school teachers and students should read “Christian Education” as a guide for true educational principles. See our website, www.giveshare.org/family/christian-education.html, or for a printed copy, send $3 to Giving & Sharing for a 28-page reprint.
Some kind folks told us about a Church of God group in India that needs financial help. They need a male goat and several female goats to begin a herd so they can be self-supporting. Former members of the Worldwide Church of God are sometimes loath to contribute to charitable causes, because they feel they were bilked by their former association, and their contributions often squandered. As a result, it is difficult to convince them that any cause is worth supporting.
Too many ex-Worldwiders are not givers anymore — they all say the same thing: “How do we know where it goes? — we have been burned before.” So, we have become a church of “non-givers.” We will be judged on our “giving and sharing,” and recipients will be judged on what they do with our contributions. What is your attitude? “The measure you give is the measure you receive” is what we live by, and God has never let us down. — adapted from Karen and Tom Schluter, Duluth, MN.
It is not popular to support Tithing, but we care more about what the Bible says, than what people think. You should be tithing. For proofs, see our free book, The Tithe in Scripture, Order Code 012, 60 pages, from Giving & Sharing.
Why are so many people turned off about tithing? Because of the “just send money” pitches of religious hucksters. Recently, a large Church of God group instructed its elders and hosts to “IF AT ALL POSSIBLE — please mail the HDO [Holy Day Offerings] between morning and afternoon services. . . .” In the eyes of some, resting on the Sabbath and the Holy Days must be superceded when headquarters wants money.
Mueller, the Apostle of Faith, trusted God to provide funds for his orphanages. God never let him down. A “work of faith” does not need to beg its followers for contributions.
We recently received a letter from someone who claims to be a follower of Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986). I replied that this didn’t tell me very much, because Armstrong taught opposing views over his 55 years of ministry. Here is a table showing some of the stark comparisons:
Hierarchical Church Government is the Image of the Beast, should NOT be practiced.
Hierarchical Church Government MUST be practiced, as it is “God’s Government.”
Pentecost is on Monday.
Pentecost is on Sunday.
Marriage is for life.
Divorce and remarriage allowed for almost any reason.
Peter was not the chief Apostle; Petrine Doctrine is of the Devil.
Peter was the Chief Apostle; Petrine Doctrine should be practiced today; HWA was the Chief Apostle of our day.
Sabbath-keeping includes not hiring workers to work for you on the Sabbath.
It is all right to hire contract workers to labor on your premises on the Sabbath.
World political leaders are inspired by Satan.
Armstrong gave expensive Steuben crystal gifts to dictators, lauded them as great leaders.
Ministry should be humble and live simply.
Ministry lived in opulence; Armstrong’s luxurious living would make a President or Corporate Executive blush.
Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of Tabernacles observed in simple, natural surroundings by all the brethren for eight days each festival; emphasis on spiritual activities, Bible Study, fellowship of the brethren.
Feast of Unleavened Bread observed only first and last holy days; Feast of Tabernacles observed at expensive resorts, often in worldly atmosphere; emphasis on physical.
Where exactly do you fit in, following Herbert W. Armstrong? I lean toward the earlier teachings, because they are more Biblically sound. Please see our book, Early Writings of Herbert W. Armstrong, $9 from Giving & Sharing, or on the Internet at www.giveshare.org/library/hwa.
I read with concern and dismay a recent article stating that the Archdiocese of Boston asked a judge to dismiss all sexual abuse lawsuits against it, claiming that “the First Amendment . . . does not permit courts to tell churches how to conduct their internal affairs.” My first reaction was to ask, what about the First Amendment rights of the victims? Not only is this a weak legal argument, which is unlikely to prevail; it is downright insulting to common sense and moral decency to suggest that the Bill of Rights offers any organization, let alone a religious organization, the right to harbor criminals. Nor does the Bible offer such protection. Romans 13 teaches that civil authority is ordained by God and is for our good. Only in cases where man’s law conflicts with God’s law, does the Bible tell us, “We ought to obey God rather than men,” Acts 5:29.
Another article on the same page cited a New Hampshire bishop as having “suggested that it is less serious for a priest to have sex with someone from outside the parish than with a parishioner.” Do you suppose the victim or his or her parents would agree with, or take comfort from this assessment? His point seemed to be that the former is a private matter that would not fall within the jurisdiction of the church. This reasoning also does not hold up in the light of Scripture.
I Timothy 3:2 says a bishop “must be above suspicion, must be a faithful, married man, must be sensible, must have self-control,” (Simple English version). This passage does not imply any restriction on conduct within the congregation. In fact verse 7 says, “Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.” The Living Bible vividly paraphrases, “so that Satan can’t trap him with many accusations, and leave him without freedom to lead his flock.” We are seeing this warning coming back to haunt many religious leaders who have violated these principles.
The longstanding theological concept of celibacy should be reconsidered in the aftermath of the sordid sexual deeds that are now being brought to light. I would call attention to the requirement that a bishop “must be a faithful, married man.” Paul emphasizes the importance of a bishop being the head of a happy, successful family. Otherwise, he asks, “How shall he take care of the church of God?” I Timothy 3:5.
Celibacy has a long history rooted in the dualistic concept that the epitome of righteousness is to forego physical pleasure in order to attend wholeheartedly to “spiritual” matters. Celibacy was advocated by some early “church fathers” who held distorted views of sex and marriage. Augustine considered marriage as “a covenant with death.” (Confessions, book 6). He regarded celibacy as a more holy state than marriage. Thomas Aquinas considered that a woman “is defective and misbegotten” (Aquinas, Summa, Q. 92, art. 1). Clement of Alexandria emphasized Jesus’ example of celibacy and regarded marriage as a form of prostitution and a practice introduced by the devil.
Many misinterpret I Corinthians 7 to claim that Paul advocated celibacy. However, Paul’s advice to remain single should be understood as a temporary measure — not to make major life changes because of a time of “present distress,” verses 25-31. A recently married person devoting the time and attention to building his marriage could interfere with a maximum effort to endure this temporary time of “distress.”
When Paul wrote, “I wish all men were even as I myself” (verse 7), he was referring to the gift of self-control (verse 9), not being unmarried. Paul did not advocate celibacy. On the contrary, it was Corinthian members (in a letter to him) who suggested this as a solution to the immorality of the world around them (verse 1). Paul countered that a healthy sexual relationship within marriage was the best antidote to immorality (verses 2-5). Paul boldly proclaimed that forbidding to marry is “a doctrine of demons,” I Timothy 4:1-3. God created mankind male and female because he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” Genesis 2:18. The bitter fruits of clergy sexual abuse document this vital truth.— by Larry J. Walker, Pastor, United Church of God, Bend, Oregon.
This article was published in the Bend Bulletin newspaper.
Some say the meaning of the name, Michael, is, “one who is like God.” But Strong’s has, “Who is like God,” as the meaning of the name, Michael. The name is a rhetorical question asked in Exodus 15:11, “Who is like thee, O LORD, among the gods?” Also, in Hebrews 1:5, another question is asked: “. . .unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou are my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” Had God said that to Michael, would not Paul have so informed us? — by Jimmie Parr
Mel’s Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” has generated considerable controversy. Perhaps some good will come from this movie if people realize more deeply the awesome sacrifice of their Savior, Jesus Christ. The movie may lead some people to read their Bibles and repent of their sins. That would be good.
However, those who have seen the movie point out a number of negative aspects of “The Passion of the Christ.” It distorts many incidents relating the last hours leading up to the Crucifixion of Christ. It adds Catholic fables, and creates a false image of Christ.
If you are thinking of viewing this movie, consider first: are images portraying the Messiah a violation of the Second Commandment? The answer is yes. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God . . .” Exodus 20:4-5. Pagans make images of their gods, as aides to worship. They do not believe the image is their god, but it is a representation of their God. Jesus, the Son of God, is eternal. He is God. Pictures of Jesus and impersonations of Jesus, break the spirit of the Second Commandment. Don’t participate in this sin!
When the Almighty led the Israelites into the Promised Land, He told them, “Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places,” Numbers 33:52. Carnal mankind wants images, pictures, or some other physical representation of their god. Instead, we worship an invisible God who tells us not to worship Him through pictures.
The religion of the Bible is based on the written Word, not passion plays, movies, or pictures of Jesus and God. The Gospel narrative of Christ devotes more time to Jesus talking with the thief on the cross next to Him, more to the Roman soldiers parting His garments, more to Jesus providing for the care of Mary, than the scourging or suffering He endured. Mel Gibson loves brutality. “The Passion” movie is a Catholic mass in action. If you have not yet seen this move, don’t. Instead, read the Book.
Read more comments about the movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” on our website, www.giveshare.org/newsletter/bookreview/mel-gibson-passion-christ.html. Or, watch the “Tomorrow TV” program, “The Hollywood Jesus,” produced by the Portland United Church of God, at www.tomorrowonline.org/tv/p427.htm.
— by Richard C. Nickels
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In This Issue:
Children’s Bible Activities
Benefits of the Sabbath
Gopherwood, More . . .