Whom can you marry? An exhaustive list of Biblical rules.

wedding-rings2.jpgA favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

According to the Bible, a Christian should only marry a person who is:

  1. A Christian
  2. Able to be married (i.e., of legal age, not married already, etc.)
  3. Of the opposite sex

Item 3 used to be self-evident (and still is, for most of us), but we had to add it to the list a few years back.

That’s it. Despite the stereotype that the Bible is just a giant rule book, many things are very simple.

The key constraint is usually item 1: The future spouse must be a Christian.  Ignoring God’s clear direction on this is a bad idea.  Just because God might ultimately bless it doesn’t mean He is obligated to.  That’s why it is called grace.  (Full disclosure: It is possible that my wife violated guideline #1 in marrying me.  Fortunately, she lost the receipt so she can’t return me now.)

“Missionary dating” (that is, dating someone in hopes of converting them) is un-Biblical, as it is based on false pretenses.  God might bless your relationship and your spouse might become a Christian, but there are no guarantees of that in scripture.  You just don’t want to start your marriage in clear violation of one of God’s commands.

Marrying someone outside your faith is problematic.  You will have vastly different views on what should be the most important part of your life.  It will send a horrible message to your children, namely that you and your spouse thought it was important to agree on where to live, how many kids to have, where to vacation, what to eat, etc., but it wasn’t important for you to have even a general agreement on who God is and how that should impact your lives.

A good Christian friend realized the error of his ways and broke off a relationship with a non-Christian.  It was pretty painful, but certain things validated why he needed to make the break: She specifically tempted him to deny his God, “Just this once” – proof enough as to why such relationships are a bad idea.

Sadly, I know countless church-going parents who don’t teach their kids to only date Christians, and who think little or nothing of their kids marrying non-Christians.  And countless pastors officiate at these ceremonies without ever counseling people about what God says.

Of course, just because it is moral to marry someone doesn’t mean it it wise.  There is a lot of wisdom and advice about how and whether to marry in the book of Proverbs and in 1 Corinthians 7, among other places.  These passages were directed to Solomon’s son but they apply to both sexes.

Proverbs 12:4 A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

Proverbs 21:19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.

Proverbs 27:15 A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day;

Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

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“The Lord says . . .”

bible3.jpgIs the Bible the Word of God?

The Bible directly quotes God roughly 3,000 times and the New Testament writers quote the Old Testament as the word of God 320 times.  Keep in mind that some of those references covered passages of scripture and not just one verse.

Also, Jesus claimed to be God, so all the “red letters” would be Biblical claims to be the Word of God.  And roughly 10% of the red letters quote the black letters.  As noted in “What did Jesus think of the Old Testament,” the references Jesus made to the Old Testament were varied and often cited the most controversial parts – Satan, Noah, Jonah, Sodom, etc.  Jesus made zero corrections to the Old Testament, and He quoted from the Pentateuch (the first five books), Psalms, Jonah and others.  He even said:

Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

I did some searches in my Bible software on a few phrases to see how many times they occurred.  There were so many that I got tired after a while.  Watch for them when you read the Bible.  It is really quite amazing.

  • The Lord says 198
  • The Lord said 301
  • The word of the Lord 239
  •  . . . declares the Lord 266
  •  . . . oracle 47
  • I am the Lord 158
  • Lord instructed 3
  • Lord commanded 117
  • Lord had commanded 24
  • the Lord gave this command 1
  • Lord gave 42
  • Lord told 10
  • Lord has told 4
  • Says the Lord 103
  • The Lord almighty says 47
  • Says the Lord almighty 31
  • The Lord almighty, the God of Israel says 1
  • Lord spoke 25
  • Lord revealed 1
  • Lord then said 1
  • Lord answered 23
  • God said 54
  • Lord had said 31
  • Lord replied 11
  • Holy one of Israel says 2
  • Lord called 14

Then, of course, there is 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (Yes, I know some people think that doesn’t apply to the New Testament.  I’ll address that in another post.)  And Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.

So the Bible makes an extraordinary amount of claims to be the Word of God and that it was transmitted to us accurately.

What’s the point?

Now before any skeptics or Liberal Theologians choke on their own rage yelling, “circular reference!,” let me point out that I’m not referring to these as my only proof that the Bible is God’s Word.  I understand that claiming that the Bible is God’s Word because it says it is God’s Word wouldn’t be an adequate argument.  We have other evidence for it being God’s Word.

Still, there are a couple important points one can draw from this huge amount of references.

If the Bible is God’s Word then wouldn’t you expect it to make that claim?  In fact, if it didn’t make that claim wouldn’t you view that as a reason for it not being God’s word?  And if it said it wasn’t God’s word then it obviously wouldn’t be God’s word.  So the claims to be God’s word are a sort of necessary occurrence.

The second and main point of this post is only for Christians who claim the Bible isn’t all inspired by God, or that it was just what the Jews and Christians thought God was saying, or that it is somehow incomplete.

If you really think the Bible has upwards of 3,000 errors / lies in it, why pick it up?

How do you discern which parts belong there and which do not?  You appear to believe in Leopard Theology, where the Bible is only inspired in spots and that you are inspired to spot the spots, or Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding/removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.

Why should I trust your “inspiration” more than I trust the writings of the Apostles or their close companions, especially considering that every word they wrote has been scrutinized by believers and non-believers for 2,000 years?  Why should I trust your views when you deny many of the essentials of the faith and often claim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection aren’t necessary for people to be reconciled to God or to go to Heaven?

The Gospels and the rest of the New Testament make multiple warnings about sound doctrine and Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their false doctrines.  And sound doctrine is found in the Word of God.  Otherwise, what doctrines were the writers referring to?

From beginning to end, the Bible claims to be the Word of God.  Is believing that a requirement for salvation?  No.  The criminal on the cross wasn’t a Bible scholar but he went to Heaven because he put his faith in Jesus.

But how even marginally educated Christians can hold a view other than the Bible being the Word of God is beyond me.  The educated theological liberals who deny God’s word tip their hands that their beliefs are really just politics disguised as religion.  I love Charles Spurgeon’s comment about these types and how he has “no more faith in their mercy than in their accuracy.”

Authentic believers are expected to trust that it is the word of God:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

Read it and enjoy it, knowing that the original writings turned out just as God and the human writers desired and that they have been accurately transmitted to us.  It will accomplish all that God promised it would.

Isaiah 55:10-11 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

False teachers and converts and the parable of the sower

There is a reason you won’t hear theological Liberals preach on this passage — or at least not accurately.  The message is clear:

  • The seed is the word of God.
  • Only those who accept the word of God are genuine believers.

Therefore, if your “pastor” is telling you that the Bible is not the word of God, or if in Leopard Theology style he only considers the parts he agrees with to be inspired by God, then you should find another church.  False teachers are notorious for attacking the authority and accuracy of the Bible.

Mark 4:1–20 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

Why the Left really wants immigration “reform”

*False teachers like Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis have a steady stream of pro-amnesty pieces pretending that illegal immigration is a good thing (they tip their hands by never acknowledging that the immigration they are advancing is indeed illegal).  They even try to prop it up by saying that the church needs it.  But the Holy Spirit does not require illegal immigration to do his work.

The article in bold conflated legal and illegal immigration. I shouldn’t have to point out the difference. The immigration “reform” is basically an open borders policy deliberately pushed by the Left to create what they hope will be a permanent Democrat voting block. Don’t take my word for it, listen to what the former head of ACORN and an SIEU union executive have to say via Left-Wingers Push Immigration Reform to Create Permanent Voting Block & ‘Boost Black Power’

Many in the media and the left claim that it is absurd when people say that the only reason Democrats care about amnesty is so that they can get millions of instant Democrat voters, but not every leftist tries to hide behind that lie. Some leftists, Like ACORN’s Bertha Lewis, are telling the truth.

Lewis spoke to last week’s Congressional Black Caucus conference and noted that immigration reform should be used to “boost black power.”

Lewis, the former head of the criminal group ACORN, told her audience that all the new minorities that will be sudden citizens with amnesty will become a new, permanent governing majority that she and the black power structure can control.

“[Minorities] need to get together because if we’re going to be [part of the non-white] majority, it makes sense for black people in this country to get down with immigration reform,” Lewis insisted keeping her attention only on non-white Americans.

“Everyone, even all white folks in this country, acknowledge that in a minute, [the] United States of America will be a new majority, will be majority minority, a brand-new thing,” she said.

Working up her best hatemongering, race baiting, Lewis went on saying, “for the first time ever in history, African-Americans outvoted white Americans. Oooh. That’s the fear of the white man. That could change everything. That’s why [immigration] should matter to us…”

There is something a bit self-delusional about this elation from Lewis. The millions of sudden new American voters that will be created by amnesty are Latinos. Lewis imagines that her black caucus will be able to control those new millions.

I think she may find that her black “leaders” will be eclipsed by new leaders from the Latino community. Why does she think they will all just file in behind the moribund black leadership? I think she’s fooling herself.

. . .

Don’t let anyone lie to you folks. Immigration “reform” means a permanent Democrat majority.

It is hard to believe that the Congressional Black Caucus would look at black unemployment rates — which have gotten disproportionately worse under Obama’s policies — and think that bringing in millions of Mexicans to consume jobs and benefits will help blacks.  Of course, if they really wanted to help blacks they wouldn’t vote for Democrats.

You’ve read John 3:16. Why not finish the chapter?

Really, it will only take a few minutes.

John 3:16 is a great verse, of course (aren’t they all?), but sadly too many people read it in a universalistic sense:  “Hey, if God loves the world, and world sometimes means everybody in it, then it must mean He loves me and would never punish me.  That’s all I need to hear!”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

But even reading that verse carefully shows the obvious inference: Those who don’t believe in Jesus will not have eternal life.  It is symptomatic of spiritually dead people that they read the verse and miss that.

If people would just read the next couple verses it would be more clear:

John 3:17–18 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Better yet, read to the end of the chapter and think about this truth, which restates much of verse 16.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

What?!  The wrath of God is already on those who don’t believe?!  Now why don’t the false teachers ever mention that?  Oh, right, because they’re false teachers.

As my most excellent Sunday School teacher likes to say, you won’t see that verse on many coffee mugs or t-shirts.  Maybe people should start holding up John 3:36 signs at football games . . . or at least preaching it in church.

Men wrote the Bible, so it must have mistakes?

bible.jpgThe original writings of the Bible turned out exactly as God and the human writers wanted them to, and, as the Dead Sea Scrolls and other evidences have shown, have been transmitted to us in a highly reliable fashion.

But a common objection to the assertion that God inspired the writings of the Bible is that men wrote it, so it must have mistakes.  Sadly, I have often heard this from committed Christians.

The argument usually goes like this:

Premise 1: Men wrote the Bible.

Premise 2: Men make mistakes.

Conclusion: God didn’t write the Bible.

But note that premise 1 is just another way of stating the conclusion.  If you are trying to determine who ultimately authored the Bible, your first premise can’t be that men were the sole authors.  So this “argument” doesn’t prove that God didn’t write the Bible, it assumes it.

Here is another syllogism you may have heard:

Premise 1: Men wrote the Bible.

Premise 2: Men make mistakes.

Conclusion: The Bible has mistakes.

This one has a major problem as well.  It assumes that just because people can make mistakes that they will always make mistakes.  But lots of things get done without mistakes – perfect scores on tests, 300 games in bowling, diseases cured, etc.  If God was the author then an error-free Bible would be expected. And if they always make mistakes, then the statement that the Bible has errors must also be a mistake.

Of course, this doesn’t prove that God did inspire the Biblical writings, just that these are bad arguments to use against the inspiration of the Bible.  We have separate, robust reasoning for why we can trust that it is God’s Word.  More on that another day, or just peruse the Apologetics links to the right.

Keep in mind that claims of inerrancy relate to the original writings, not to copies or translations.  If making a copy error invalidated the inerrancy claim, then any atheist could make a deliberate “mistake” and claim that it disproved the Bible.

And note that those claiming the name of Christ and insisting that it wasn’t all inspired by God have made a large claim that they must back up.  They adhere to Leopard Theology, where they claim that the Bible is only inspired in spots and that they are inspired to spot the spots, or Advanced Leopard Theology, where God is also changing spots and adding and removing spots, and, oddly enough, He is only telling theological liberals and progressives.

This is one of the more common but easier objections to refute, so please watch for it!

Hat tip: Stand to Reason

Your job description as a Christian

Well, at least part of your job description.  As I like to remind Christians, some, but not all, are called to be evangelists.

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers . . .

So you may or may not be an evangelist.  But all are called to be ambassadors . . .

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

. . . and all are called to be defenders of the faith (“apologists”).

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

So if you claim the name of Christ you may or may not be an evangelist, but you are definitely an apologist and an ambassador.  The only question is whether you are doing a good job.  You will be very glad when God uses your efforts to be able to share his truths with someone who is seeking them.

As the Wintery Knight asks, Can you dispense with apologetics and just preach the gospel when evangelizing?  I think they are intertwined, especially in our culture.  If you don’t subscribe to his blog you should start.

See the Apologetics links to the right for some great resources.  If I could only recommend one site it would be Stand to Reason.  Scour the site, listen to the Podcast and read Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions and you’ll be in great shape.  CARM.org is, great, too.

Also see these PowerPoint slides that I have used for a class at church called Defending Your Faith.  You are welcome to use or adapt them.  Now get to work!