SERIES ARCHIVES - CLICK ON LINK
Learn to Trust Unfaithful Husband (1) Responses to "Can I ever learn to trust again?" (2) Writings
on building trust (3) Stop adultery before it starts (4) To the unfaithful spouse (5) To the woman who divorced her unfaithful
husband (6) Letters to the other woman and to the betrayed woman. (7) Various added comments
- When the
Vow Breaks by Wilson Adams
- When a Spouse Has Cheated on You Repetitively
(from Mail) Response from Pat Gates
- Prints of Elbows on My Bed (poem)
- Return of the Prodigal by Ron
- Seeking the Lost
- Translating Teen's Cell Phone Text Messages
- How Some Teens Are Using Their
- Is "Lust" the Equivalent to "Fornicaton"? by Wayne Jackson
to One Addicted to Porn by Kevin Cauley
- Winning the Battle Against Pornography by Mark Larson
- Is Pornography
Grounds for Divorce? by Mark Larson
- The Prodigal by Micky Galloway
- How to Raise Children by Randy Blackaby
Loved You Enough (poem)
- 5 Smooth Stones of Parenting
- The Responsibility of a Parent Towards an Adult Child
Who is Unfaithful by Pat Gates
- Q & A concerning a daughter with a live-in boyfriend
- Yet Do Not Count Him
As An Enemy
- "I Think God Would Want Me to be Happy!" by Andy Diestelkamp
- God wants us happy according
to His will
When the Vow Breaks
by Wilson Adams
I am divorced. Like the alcoholic who finds the courage
to stand at his first A.A. meeting and admit what he would rather hide and deny, well, that's me. It's not easy writing those
words or even admitting them to myself.
You may wonder why it
is that big of a deal. After all, many marriages end in divorce and it is a common thing for people to talk in flippant tones
about an ex-husband or wife as if they were speaking about a once-loved vehicle they have traded in on a newer model. I hate
that. My view of marriage is one of permanency—one man and one woman "until death do you part" (Romans 7:2-3). I learned, however, a valuable lesson along the road of life—you
cannot make some-one else remain committed nor can you make him / her do what is right. You can, however, control yourself.
It has been a long and difficult struggle. Divorce always is. It has been described
as the "gift that keeps on giving" and anyone on the receiving end of a judge's gavel knows exactly what that means.
It never just "goes away."
I will tell you that as
a gospel preacher there have been days when I wished I wasn't. There have been days when I have felt the extra burden that
accompanies the glass house in which most of us who fill pulpits are forced to live. And there were days when, even though
I knew my innocence, I wondered if others would have confidence in my work. It was an added burden and certainly not an imaginary
Seventeen years after the fact, it is still hard to admit.
There comes with that word a sense of failure and, although God does not hold one accountable for the sins of another,sometimes
people aren't as merciful. But I can't do anything about that. And neither can you.
I write these difficult words in the
hope that they will help another. Divorce is, in fact, life's greatest tragedy. It has been said that death is easier than
divorce and in some ways it is. By no means does that minimize the grief that accompanies death nor do we do anyone any favors
by comparing tragedies. But in death, as horrible as it can be, there is some semblance of closure. In divorce, the innocent
ones live daily in the wake of someone's sin, and closure is seldom found.
Debbie Lanphear of Bowling Green, Kentucky got it right when she wrote, "Divorce is like a Civil War triage
where you feel a limb had been amputated without anesthesia." Some of you know what she means.
Children of divorce
struggle with emotional baggage beyond words — words they can neither express or understand. In death they will eventually
comprehend that mom or dad did not have a choice; in divorce, they will always struggle because mom or dad did have a choice.
It is essential in all of this, however, that you rely upon your faith. If your
faith counts for anything, it now must count for everything. The answer is not in denial (I am concerned about those people
the most). The answer is not in busyness — which only masks the real problem. The bottom-Iine answer lies in an inseparable
link to the Living Lord.
Relying upon your faith is not only
essential for you but for your children. Little eyes will be watching. It is important that you do more than teach them about
faith — you must show them faith in daily action. This is critical because you are making deposits into their memory
bank from which they will draw in later years. One day they will go through the hardest of times and one thing that will enable
them to survive is the memory of a parent who faced the whirling clouds of upheaval with tremendous faith in the power of
Yes, our God can do more than we ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). He will enable you to find the faith to endure. The trauma of divorce
will make you either bitter or better — and it is your willingness to entrust such a heavy burden into Heaven's hands
that will enable you not only to survive but also to become better as a result.
It is important at some point that you
move ahead—although some people never do. Stuck in a time warp, they relive the tragic events over and over. Just as
it is not healthy to bypass the natural grieving process, it is equally unhealthy to continue to grieve. As David "arose
from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes ... and came into the house of the Lord and worshiped ..."
after grieving over his son (II Samuel 12:20) and ... as Ezra encouraged his people to move on from grief and turn tears
into joy (Nehemiah 8:11), it is essential that we do the same.
Do you need help to move on? Seek it. For some reason Christians fear turning to others. Doesn't Proverbs speak of
the need to "acquire wisdom?" One source of wisdom is found in the advice of qualified people who can instruct with
objectivity regarding human behavior. Too often when faced with the emotional trauma of divorce, people turn for support only
to those who are emotionally involved — family and friends. That is a mistake. While you need the support of those people
on one level, they may not be the ones who will help you move ahead. Family and friends tend to fuel pity and you don't need
that. Find someone who can be objective — who will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear.
Or seek advice from a qualified professional who comes recommended by someone you trust.
A word of clarification: nothing written here is intended to provide safe haven for the guilty. I write with no intent
to say, "All is well, all is well" (Jeremiah 8:11) when it is not. God's word is clear when it comes to the consequences of
marital infidelity (Matthew 5:32). Just as natural law comes with attached consequences, so does God's law
for human behavior. If you are living in an adulterous relationship, you, too, can move ahead but only after you take the
necessary steps to walk away from sin. As hard as that may be, it is the only way you will find the freedom of conscience
that will enable you to capture the essence of life — a hand-in-hand walk with God.
Neither the passing of years nor public approval will make wrongs turn into rights. It may mean that you have to
live alone without the joy of earthly marital companionship, but in so doing you will know an inner peace like never before.
And you won't be the first to so live. Hard? Yes. Impossible? No. Jesus said, "If your right hand makes you stumble,
cut it off ... for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell"
(Matthew 5:30). If you need to sever a relationship that is standing between you and eternal
life—find the courage to do it. Life is too short to live in the backwash of a guilty conscience and eternity is toolong
not to be in the presence of God and His people.
For the innocent, however, there are times in the midst
of a storm when it is not "Lord, help me through this day ..." but "Lord, help me through this minute!"
The strength of God, the support of family, and the encouragement of Christians will lift you up.
Two verses gave me hope: "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10b), and "We know that God causes all things to work together for
good to those who love God" (Romans 8:28). Just knowing that God had not forsaken me gave me the blessed assurance
to keep going.
I couldn't bring myself to preach or write about
home and family, relationships and marriage for years. But I do now. I have been blessed with opportunities to speak about
the sanctity of marriage and the tragedy of divorce and, even though it remains painful to discuss, I am willing to do it
because of the help it brings to others. When God says, "I hate divorce!" (Malachi 2:16), I think I understand. If couples only knew the heartache of what seems
like a quick and simple solution to hurting homes, they would rethink their decision.
"God cannot use you greatly until He has broken you completely." It's true. It made Haggai a better preacher.
It gave Peter the credibility to write a letter of hope — because his words came from one who had lost his hope only
to find it again. No one helps another more than someone who has "been there." Maybe you are there. Whatever you
do, do not cave in to pity. By the grace of God, rise up! Who knows, there may be others who could benefit from your experience
A topic I would like discussed on this
page is: Having a spouse who has cheated on you repetitively.
Thank you for writing.
I may get too generalized in my response because there are so many circumstances and personalities that can
be involved in this, so if I don't cover something particular you wish talked about, please let me know.
Out of the many trials and negative circumstances that may happen between a husband and wife, God only allows
divorce due to fornication, “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give
her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality
causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery." Matt. 5:31. Why?
Because, in marriage, God created man and woman to become one and to cleave to each other. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:
and they shall be one flesh," Gen 2:24. When
a 3rd person enters and fornication takes place it a perversion of the bond between the male and female. Adultery means the
greatest of pain, distrust, and grief. With true repentance, forgiveness, and time, healing can take place and the marriage
can be built on love and trust once again. See the series of articles, "Can I Totally Trust My Unfaithful Husband Again."
However, there are marriages when adultery has been committed, not once, but many
times and perhaps with several different women. Not always, but in most cases, if the husband commits adultery over and over,
he lacks remorse or perhaps there is some remorse, but most likely no self-control; therefore adultery will most likely continue.
With these men it won't matter how many times they confess and say they are sorry because it won't be their words the wives
need to be concerned with - they must see action, they must see true repentance. Without change, their words are empty lies.
"Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world
produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what
clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you
proved yourselves to be clear in this matter," 2 Cor. 7:10-11.
has given the faithful spouse the option of divorcing for fornication. He didn't command this, but He provided a choice. In
the case of a good man or woman allowing temptation to overcome them and commit the sin of adultery, God also provides the
choice for the guilty party to repent and be forgiven by the faithful spouse. God's word provides the counseling for both
the guilty and the innocent spouse by telling how a husband and wife should treat each other, as well as how Christians should
treat all. With time (and the guilty party needs to be patient and understand it takes time to overcome the hurt) the marriage
In the case of a spouse who continues to commit adultery without
any sign of repentance (true sorrow that leads to change), the wife can divorce her husband for fornication and marry again.
The article on the left side of this page, written by Wilson Adams, states no divorce is easy and there is much
to deal with at the time, and with some, throughout their lifetime. But, how easy is it to live with a spouse who
is continually unfaithful? It is possible for these people to change, but in most
cases, I would guess it's not probable.
CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE
This is an excellent article on the subject of a spouse having more than one affair:
This website, Beyond Affairs, is run by a couple
who survived an affair.
Prints of elbows on my bed
I was but a youth and thoughtless, As all youths are apt to be;
Though I had a Christian
mother Who had taught me carefully.
There came a time when pleasure Of the world came to allure,
I no more sought the guidance Of her love so good and pure.
Her tender admonitions fell But lightly on my
And for the gentle warnings I felt an inward sneer.
But Mother would not yield her boy To Satan's
And though I spurned her counsel She knew a better way.
She made my room an altar, A place
of secret prayer,
And there she took her burden And left it in His care.
And morning, noon and evening
By that humble bedside low,
She sought the aid of Him who Understands a mother's woe.
And I went my
way unheeding, Careless of the life I led,
Until one day I noticed Prints of elbows on my bed.
I saw that she had been there Praying for her wayward boy,
Who for love of worldly pleasure Would her peace of mind destroy.
Long the conflict raged within me, Sin against my Mother's prayers,
Sin must yield - for Mother never While
she daily met Him there.
And her constant love and patience Were like coals upon my head,
the imprints Of her elbows on my bed.
And so at last the fight was won, And I to Christ was led,
Mother's prayers were answered By her elbows on my bed.
Return of the Prodigal
Parable: Luke 15:11-32
Things the father did not say when the prodigal son returned:
What are you doing back here?
you want now?
What happened to your inheritance?
I can't forgive you for what you have done.
me big time.
Do you realize just how much you hurt me?
You have no idea just how many sleepless
nights you caused me.
Do you realize how hard it has been explaining to others what happened to you?
your bed, so lie in it.
When an penitent, erring child (or brother or sister in Christ) returns
what should I say?
Read Luke 15:20-24
(c) 2003-2007 Thursday Thoughts by Ron Adams http://thursdaythought.homestead.com
Seeking the Lost
A golfer, playing a round by himself, is about to tee off, and a greasy little
salesman runs up to him, and yells, "Wait! Before you tee off, I have something really amazing to show you!"
The golfer, annoyed, says, "What is it?"
"It's a special golf ball," says the salesman.
"You can never lose it!"
"Whattaya mean," scoffs the golfer, "you can never lose it? What
if you hit it into the water?"
"No problem," says the salesman. "It floats, and it detects
where the shore is, and spins towards it."
"Well, what if you hit it into the woods?"
says the salesman. "It emits a beeping sound, and you can find it with your eyes closed."
says the golfer, impressed. "But what if your round goes late and it gets dark?"
"No problem, sir,
this golf ball glows in the dark! I'm telling you, you can never lose this golf ball!"
The golfer buys it
at once. "Just one question," he says to the salesman. "Where did you get it?"
Maybe someday someone will invent a golf ball that can never be lost, but until then we will all have
to deal with losing things -- golf balls, car keys, glasses, etc. We also have to deal with a lost humanity. I find it interesting
that the one term Jesus used most often to describe those who are outside of Christ is the word "lost".
In Luke 15, Jesus elaborated on this idea by telling three parables -- the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the
lost coin, and the parable of the lost (prodigal) son. The point has often been made that those three parables demonstrate
three different ways of being lost -- through unintentional wandering (the sheep), through the negligence of someone else
(the coin), or through willful disobedience (the son).
However, the point of those three parables is not so much
about our lostness as they are about the fact that our God is willing to search for us and bring us back into a relationship
with Him. If we will truly see the world around us as "lost", it will change our perspective as well. Think about
the last time you knew of a child that was missing. When a child is lost, we don't ask what race the child is. It doesn't
matter -- the child is lost! We don't ask the child's economic status. It doesn't matter -- the child is lost! We don't ask
what the child may or may not have done wrong. It doesn't matter -- the child is lost! All that matters is that we find that
child and bring him/her home safely.
Seeing a world around us as "lost" will change the way we see them.
The scribes and Pharisees looked at the tax collectors and sinners and saw terrible, ugly people. Jesus saw people who were
lost. All that mattered to him was that he bring them home safely.
"For the Son of man has come to seek and
to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)
Father, thank you for diligently searching for me and for bringing
me home to you. Fill me with your love so that I may care enough to seek out those around me who are lost. In Jesus' name,
Have a great day!
Translating Teen's Cell Phone Text Messages
Here is a quick guide to help you translate
what teens are saying online and in their cell phone text messages. Keep in mind that, as with street names for drugs, these
symbols and acronyms are subject to frequent change, particularly when those who use them suspect that others have figured
out what they mean.
||Parent In Room|
|PAW||Parents Are Watching|
|PAL||Parents Are Listening|
You Call Me?|
|MorF||Male or Female|
|KFY||Kiss For You|
|MOOS||Member(s) Of the Opposite Sex|
|LMIRL ||Let's Meet In Real Life|
|HAK||Hugs And Kisses |
|ILU or ILY||I Love You|
|KOTL||Kiss On The Lips|
Me an Instant Message|
Me an E-Mail|
|WUF||Where Are You From? |
|WYRN||What's Your Real Name?|
|#-)||Wiped out, partied all night|
|:-><||Puckered up to kiss|
How are some teens using their cell phones?
Teens are using their cell phones in very creative ways. Instead of passing
notes in class, they sometimes send text messages. In addition to text messaging, teens can also access the Internet
and download pictures, videos, and music with their cell phones. It’s an instant source of information, from finding
out about the latest parties to contacting the closest drug dealer.
They can also receive messages from anyone, friend or not, as long as the other person has the cell phone number.
This can include spammers, scammers, identity thieves, online predators, and cyberbullies.
Teens can also be alerted to a text in very discrete ways,
either by downloading a ring tone that is out of pitch range of most adults or by putting their phones on vibrate. Newer cell phones enable teens to capture the moment with photos, ring
tones or short video clips – a fun and mostly harmless feature – except when inappropriate images are captured
and shared for all to see.
Some teens have even gone as far as creating a ring of contacts through text messaging to make and alert friends
of where parties with alcohol and drugs are being held.
What are the dangers and advantages that parents should be aware of?
It’s hard to monitor teens when you can’t hear or
understand what they’re saying or who they’re making plans with. Text messaging allows teens more discretion than
you might be comfortable with, and more opportunity for them to leave you in the dark about their plans.
Too often, teens mix cell phone use and driving, a dangerous,
deadly and often illegal combination.
photos/videos taken with a cell phone by or of your teen can quickly and easily be posted to a Web site for anyone to see.
phones offer a convenient method for parents to stay connected and check in with their teens at any time of day.
Text messaging is great for dropping quick, short notes, especially
when there’s a lot of surrounding noise.
What are the warning signs of cell phone misuse?
As a parent, you’ll be able to tell if your teen is overusing his/her cell phone by the amount of time they
are spending text messaging their friends. Do they run to answer the phone/text, then hide out to respond to it? Do you catch
them talking or texting late at night or at times when they said they would be doing something else?
What can you do? Check your phone bill. Most companies can provide an itemized
list of incoming and outgoing calls and text messages on your monthly statements. Make sure you recognize the numbers on your
statement, and if you don’t, ask your teen to identify them.
What should you do to curb the cell phone misuse?
Set ground rules with your teens about who can have their cell phone number and what to do when they receive an incoming
call or message from someone they don’t know. If they break the rules, consider taking the phone away for a period of
Know what the cell phone rules
are at your teen’s school and enforce them with your teen. Are they banned? Can they be used between classes?
Negotiate an agreement with your teen that if they use more
than a certain number of cell phone minutes (which includes text messages), they have to pay for the overages. If this is
written and you both sign it then you are both protected from pleading, “I forgot.”
Let your teen know that, on occasion, you’ll be checking
the text message outbox (review your cell phone manual for instructions on how to do that), and the monthly bill for any unknown
incoming and outgoing numbers. It won’t seem like an invasion of privacy if you state upfront that you’ll be monitoring
Make sure you are
well-versed in net lingo and are capable of interpreting their text messages and abbreviations to keep them safe.
Make sure your teen is completely aware of safety issues, like
NEVER driving and using the cell phone at the same time. Remind them often and be a good role model yourself.
There is a ring tone on their cell
phone that some teenagers are using to receive messages in the classroom. They download it off the internet. This
ring tone is too high-pitched for most adults to hear.
Students are using a new ring tone to receive messages in class — and many teachers can't even hear the ring.
Some students are downloading a ring tone off the Internet that is too high-pitched to be heard by most adults. With it, high
schoolers can receive text message alerts on their cell phones without the teacher knowing. A teacher in Manhattan played
the ring in a first grade class and all the children could hear it, while the adults couldn't hear anything.
When one is heavily
into pornography is this not adultery?
Thank you for submitting your question.
Because pornography is so easily accessible over the internet, it
has become a great problem in not only our society, but also in the church. And how easily for children to find it and fill
their minds with filth at a very early age. Parents, don't be ignorant of the temptation of pornography with your child -
they could excuse themselves for looking by saying they are curious and need to learn about sex. Don't just learn how to put
parental controls on your computer but also teach how evil pornography is (but also remember to teach them the beauty of God's
plan of the relationship of men and women in marriage and the purity outside marriage). When your children are at friend's
houses they need to have the strength to walk away if that friend decides to search pornography on his computer.
The question that was submitted is important when the subject
of scriptural marriage and divorce is discussed. I don't know if that was the reason for the question or not, but the following
article answers the question as well as its application concerning divorce. I've also placed a few more articles on a second
page that discusses the sin of pornography and one article again addressing the subject of divorce.
One thing I do want to point out about the question is the word heavily, "When one is heavily
into pornography is this not adultery?" What if the person is not heavily into pornography, but
occasional? What if for only one day? My point is, would degrees of pornography change whether it is adultery or not?
Is “Lust” the Equivalent of “Fornication”?
By WAYNE JACKSON
The word “fornication”
derives from the Greek term porneia, one of a cognate group of five words that together occur fifty-five times in the New
Testament. The noun form is found twenty-five times, predominately in the letters of Paul. The word is generic in scope in
that it refers to a variety of physical sexual acts between persons who are not married legitimately. It will be the goal
of this article to establish that when fornication, and a related term, “adultery” (moicheia), are used literally,
they are physical acts that constitute the exclusive rationale for divorce and possible remarriage.
In the Greek version of the Old Testament (LXX), a form
of porneia is used of Tamar, with whom Judah had engaged in intercourse, having assumed that she was a “harlot”
(Genesis 38:15; cf. v. 24). In ancient Babylon it was believed that sexual intercourse ensured crop fertility. Herodotus,
the Greek historian, tells of the yearly requirement of all women to sacrifice their bodies in “fornication” to
a stranger in the temple of the goddess Mylitta (Rawlinson 1952, 1.199).
Mostly in the Old Testament, however, the terms “fornication” and “adultery” are employed
symbolically of the actions of the Israelite people who broke their “marriage covenant” with Jehovah by worshipping
idols (cf. Ezekiel 16:26,29; Hosea 1:2).
Sexual union with a
married person (with whom one has no right to intimacy) is both fornication and adultery (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1). All adultery
is also fornication; not all fornication is adultery (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:2). The technical difference between fornication
and adultery is implied in sin lists, in which both terms are included (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9).
Specifically then, fornication is any “unlawful sexual intercourse” (Danker and Bauer
2000, 854), whether such is a man-woman liaison, a homosexual action (cf. Jude 7), pedophilia, or sex-for-hire, as in prostitution
(Brown 1975, 497). The plural form, “fornications” (1 Corinthians 7:2), hints of the various venues by which this
horrible sin may be committed.
I must add this point. Bible
translations that render porneia more generically (e.g., “sexual immorality”) are misleading. There are various
forms of sexual immorality (e.g., exposing one’s body in seductive clothing) that do not fall under the definition of
fornication, though clearly they are sinful.
Rather recently, some have alleged that “lust”
falls into the category of fornication/adultery. If, therefore, a married person should discover that a spouse has read a
book or viewed pictures/films containing explicit sexual activity, the assumption is that the offender has lusted, hence has
committed adultery—even if there has been no physical contact with another person. Therefore, the transgressor
may be justly divorced according to Matthew 5:27-28; the innocent victim would then have the option to remarry. The text reads
You have heard that it was said, “You
shall not commit adultery”: but I say unto you, that every one who looks on a woman to lust after her has committed
adultery with her already in his heart.
analysis of the passage is in order.
Christ quoted from the
Ten Commandments, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Clearly this refers to a physical sex act by
which one violates a marriage relationship. But the Savior expands the moral lapse by addressing the mental disposition that
lends itself to the overt physical act.
He speaks of the man
who longingly looks (the verb is a present tense form) at someone other than his spouse — with a sustained desire for
intercourse. This is no passing glance. The lusting person is doing mentally what he (or she) almost certainly would do physically,
if given the opportunity. One scholar notes:
must recognize those thoughts and actions which, long before any overt sexual sin, make the possibility of
giving in to temptation more likely, and they must take dramatic action to avoid them (Blomberg 1992, 109; emphasis added).
A “heart” sin is serious, but it does not have the equivalent temporal
consequence the physical act does. Professor Robert Mounce observed that “the act of adultery” has “far
more serious social consequences” (e.g., death under the Mosaic system — Leviticus 20:10) than lust, though both
the desire and the act are sinful (1991, 46). Lust is of “the same nature” as the act, but it is not the act itself
(Nixon 1970, 823). F.F. Bruce expressed the obvious, when he noted that “unchaste thought” is “enforceable
by no earthly code or court” (1977, 25).
note is worthy of consideration. Some scholars contend that it is grammatically possible that the phrase usually rendered
“to lust after her” might carry the sense of “so as to get her to lust” (Carson 1984, 151; Blomberg
1992, 108-109). This would place a heavy responsibility upon one who provokes lust, as well as the person who indulges in
such. Where does this leave the woman who seeks a divorce on the ground of lust, yet she herself flaunts her semi-nude body
on the beach? Certainly without credibility, to say nothing of a flawed exegesis.
In view of the foregoing factors, we raise the crucial question again. Is the “lust” of Matthew 5:28
the consequential equivalent of the physical act of adultery, thus a cause for divorce and remarriage on
the part of an innocent victim? We believe the answer is a firm “No.” The fallacy of this position can be demonstrated
The Consequence of the “Lust = Fornication”
1) In the immediate context Christ made a comparison
between anger and murder (5:21-22), just as he did with lust and adultery. J.A. Alexander noted that the principles involved
in the two situations are “identical” (1861, 141). If the reasoning reflected in the theory sketched above were
valid, would it not be the case that both the murderer and the one merely angry with his brother should be subjected to the
same temporal penalty (e.g., execution or imprisonment) by the legal authorities? Elsewhere the New Testament also declares
that “hate” of one’s brother, in some sense, is the equivalent of “murder” (1 John 3:15), but
no one contends that hate has the same legal ramification.
If the term “adultery” is to be pressed literally in Matthew 5:28, should the remedy that is
subsequently imposed (i.e., the plucking out of the eye and the amputation of one’s hand) likewise be pressed literally?
Clearly Christ is dealing with mental acts that, as evil as they are, do not yet rise to the level of physical murder or adultery,
but are, in principle, serious sins. Certainly there is a nexus between what goes on in the heart, and what becomes manifest
in physical actions (cf. Mark 7:21-23). Lust, when it “conceives,” bears sin (James 1:15), i.e., sin of a greater
3) If one of the persons in this lust/adultery
scenario entertains impure thoughts, and the object of that lust acted in such a way as to cause the lust,
would not logic suggest that the mates of both parties — the one lusting, and the accessory to the
act — would have the right of divorce and remarriage? Can the serious Bible student not see that this throws the divorce/marriage
controversy into a maze of confusion as folks attempt to decipher the mental states and levels of culpability of the alleged
The use of salacious literature/films, etc., within any context is evil. But this type of perversion most likely
falls under the category of lasciviousness, a “comprehensive term” that can embrace various sexual aberrations
(see Thayer 1958, 79-80; Balz and Schneider 1990, 169). The use of pornography certainly can constitute “adultery”
in the heart. However, that is not what Jesus had in view as a basis for divorce in Matthew 19:9. In that context Christ unquestionably
had in mind the physical act of sexual intercourse as evidenced by the fact: (a) that he had just spoken of the man and woman
becoming “one flesh” in marriage; and (b) he subsequently spoke of the “eunuch” status.
A fundamental principle of Bible interpretation is that words must be interpreted
literally unless there is a compelling reason for assigning to them a figurative meaning.
The term “adultery” is not employed in a metaphorical sense in Matthew 19:9. In Matthew 5:28, however, “heart”
adultery is a metaphor for evil desire (Danker et al. 2000, 509; cf. Romans 1:24).
Here is another example. “Friendship” with the world, in one sense, can be viewed as “adultery”
(cf. James 4:4), but mere worldliness is not a cause for divorce and remarriage. Suppose a woman should claim: “My husband
is a very worldly man. He gets drunk and gambles away his money. Friendship with the world is ‘adultery.’ Therefore,
I have just grounds for a divorce and remarriage.” Can we not see that the lady has pressed “adultery” into
a mold never intended by the sacred writer? It is a mistake to take a figurative use of the word “adultery,”
and import it into a text that discusses a literal relationship.
If one were to frame the type of argument as that just under review with reference to Matthew 5:28,
and press metaphorical language into literalism, he would be forced to contend that the person who fornicates with a prostitute,
and thus has become “one” with her in that act (1 Corinthians 6:16), is “married to” the immoral person,
and must remain in that union. Incredibly, a few inept students have attempted to sustain this ludicrous position! But such
is absolutely untenable.
It is a serious interpretative
mistake to force a literal meaning upon an expression that obviously is used figuratively. I have discussed and demonstrated
this fallacy extensively in my book, Biblical Figures of Speech.
Alexander, J.A. 1861. The Gospel
According to Matthew. London, England: James Nisbet.
Horst and Schneider, Gerhard. 1990. Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Blomberg, Craig L. 1992. Matthew – The New American Commentary.
Nashville, TN: Broadman.
Brown, Colin, ed. 1975. The New
International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Bruce, F.F. 1977. Matthew – Daily Devotional Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Arthur Cundall, ed. Nashville,
Carson, D.A. 1984. Matthew – The Expositor’s
Bible Commentary. Frank Gaebelein, ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Danker, F.W. et al. 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
Mounce, Robert H. 1991. Matthew – New International Biblical Commentary.
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
Nixon, R.E. 1970. Matthew –
The New Bible Commentary. D. Guthrie & J.A. Moryer, eds. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
Rawlinson, George, translator. 1952. The History of Herodotus. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
Thayer, J.H. 1958. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Edinburgh,
Scotland: T.&T. Clark.
Advice to One Addicted to Porn
(The following article is based on a letter written to a person who asked for help
on how to escape the addiction of pornography. I am not a certified counselor nor a psychologist. Individuals with serious
addiction problems may need to get professional help. However, the following information is provided as steps that an individual
may take in his own personal life to try to deal with the problem. I set it forth here in an effort to help those who have
such a problem to escape this insidious sin.)
The first thing you need to do is to get some software that will block your computer
from getting access to it on the Internet. If you really want to stop doing this, then this is absolutely the first thing
that must be done. Have someone else that you personally know install it with a password that you don’t know so that
you can’t uninstall it. I would recommend the American Family Association software. Once that is installed, it is very
difficult to remove and the user cannot control what is or isn’t blocked. That is done from the AFA’s databases.
Second, don’t stop confessing your sin to God (1 John 1:9). You need continue to confess to God each time
you stumble and fall and ask God’s forgiveness. If you fail to acknowledge your fault to God, then you will find it
easier and easier to do it again and again, but if you know that you have been forgiven for it, that will give you strength
to fight committing this sin. Prayer and confession are powerful tools in the arsenal against addiction to porn.
Third, you’ve got to resolve in your mind that you are not going to to do
this. Don’t look at any web sites that have to do with girls at all. Don’t rationalize in your own head that you
can look at bikinis or underwear models and stop there. Don’t even start. You can’t look at those things anymore.
You have to get this through your head and have the self discipline that is necessary to move beyond this. When you experience
a strong desire to look at porn, go for a walk, run, or get some exercise and wear yourself out. This will help you get your
mind off these things for a while and you can renew the battle afresh. These things will also help you with self discipline
Fourth, if you are not married, then you need to find
a mate (1 Corinthians 7:2). If you are married, then you need to talk to your mate about this problem and have her help you with it. Marriage
is God’s solution for the avoidance of fornication. Here is where such passions may be pursued with God’s blessing.
Take care to get married appropriately, however, and not MERELY for the purpose of trying to avoid porn. There’s more
to marriage than sex.
Fifth, I would also recommend that you
talk to someone personally about this problem so that you have some direct to deal with it. If someone else knows about your
problem, that is great motivation for you not to do it. But so long as no one else knows, then you will continue to be strongly
tempted. James 5:16 tells us to confess our faults one to another and pray for one another. This is VERY important in the life of the
Christian in overcoming sin. While it may be embarrassing and difficult to do, you will find relief in following this simple
There is no guarantee that if you do these things that
you will no longer be addicted to porn. You may need to get professional help in order to overcome it. But, here are five
things that you can start doing to work on this problem. Now, get with it.
Sincerely in Christ, Kevin Cauley
Winning the Battle Against Pornography
by Mark Larson
Pornography is a very real problem in our society that will not go away any time
soon. In fact, statistics show that it will only get worse. There is more pornography available than ever before with the
advent of the Internet and pay-per-view movies by remote control. The moral standard of the entertainment industry continues
to decline that it is now a great challenge to find a TV show or a movie that does not entertain through the use of pornography
in some form. Studies show that pornography addiction is now a big problem with more addicts in the U.S. than alcoholics!
The forms of pornography are many (See article: The Deception of Pornography). It can be found almost anywhere.
How is it possible, therefore,
to win the battle against this monstrous foe? The word of God provides the answers and gives us the help we need to gain the
No One Is Immune.
let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12, NASB). From the start, it is
important for each person to accept the possibility that he or she could get entangled with this sin. If we are too proud
to admit this, then we set ourselves up for a fall. Whether a person is an elder, a deacon, a preacher, a Bible class teacher,
a new convert or a long time member of the Lord’s body, young or old, every person should “take heed lest he fall.”
The progressive nature of sin (James 1:14-15; e.g., Gen. 4:3-8) demonstrates that we may find ourselves committing
a sin that we never dreamed we would ever commit, all because we did not take heed!
“Cut Out” Unholy Activities
“But I say to you,
that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right
eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish,
than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you;
for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matt
Through the use of figurative language, Jesus gets His point across in a very powerful way. Cut it out! What sacrifices
are you willing to make to ensure that pornography does not ensnare you or a member of your family? Rather than just “talk
the talk,” we must also be willing to “walk the walk” and take whatever action that is necessary to reduce
temptations and eliminate sin. Would discarding your cable or Satellite service or even your TV be too extreme? Would throwing
away movies and suggestive music be too costly? Would canceling all magazines and catalogs that deliver moral filth
to your door be too much to ask? Or how about getting rid of your Internet service or at the very least purchasing the best
filtering software or service possible? If these suggestions seem too radical, put things into perspective: “You
have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4).
Replace Bad with Good
When you get rid of the bad, be
sure to replace it with that which is good. Don’t leave your “house empty” like the man who got rid of the
one demon, only to be inhabited by seven more (Mat. 12:43-45). The saying is true: “Idle hands are
the devil’s workshop.” Without something positive and helpful to do, you may find yourself right back where you
started or worse, committing even more sin. Good activities are to take the place of the bad such as wholesome recreation,
service to those in need, time spent with spiritual people, and prayer. Bad thoughts can be replaced with good thoughts (Phil.
4:8) through Bible study and the singing of spiritual songs, for example (Col. 3:16).
(1 Cor. 6:18a; cf. Mat. 5:28). Ever heard the old saying: “Curiosity killed the cat”? The
same is true when one gets involved in pornography. How many times have you found yourself taking “just a peek”
at pornography in the name of “curiosity” only to get burned? “Can a man take fire in his bosom
and his clothes not be burned?” (Prov. 6:27). How much fire would you allow to touch the clothes
you are wearing? Even a little flame can easily set a house on fire. When pornography in any form confronts you, don’t
stop and stare, don’t linger or stick around, flee! God will provide the way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13)
so look for it and make your exit. “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”
for the Purpose of Godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7b)
Be honest. How is your prayer life? How would you
describe your commitment to personal Bible study? Both of these activities are essential to remaining strong in the
Lord (1 Pet. 2:2; Mat. 4:4; 2 Tim. 2:15 / Rom. 12:12; Ps. 34:8-10; 42:1-2). Without a commitment to both,
we are like “sitting ducks” that are easy targets of the devil who is just waiting to devour us (1 Pet.
When we come to recognize the spiritual war that takes place everyday of our lives, we will make the time to pray
and read Scripture on a daily basis (Eph. 6:10-17). To walk in faith and keep our focus upon God, daily prayer
and Bible study is essential. Such discipline is critical for success in the battle against pornography. “Keep watching
and praying, that you may not enter into temptation...” (Mat. 26:41a). “Thy word I have
treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11).
Be Quick to Confess and Seek Forgiveness from God.
If and when you commit any sin,
but in particular the sin of partaking of pornography, don’t delay to get your life right with God again. The worse
thing you can do is make excuses or try to rationalize your behavior away. Instead, make haste to confess your sin to the
Lord: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Sometimes Christians find it difficult to forgive
themselves of the sin they committed, perhaps especially those types of sins that are seemingly more shameful (e.g., partaking
of pornography). If we can’t forgive ourselves, we may also doubt God’s forgiveness of us. This will lead to much
discouragement and may cause us to give up altogether and go back into the sin (“What’s the use!”). Yet,
we must count the Lord’s promises as true if we hope to move forward and start anew. Believe in God’s grace (Eph.
1:6) and the assurance of His complete forgiveness. “For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more” (Heb 8:12).
Face Up to Your Addiction
As important as confessing our sins are, confession
alone is not enough. We must also repent of our sins (i.e., change our mind and course of direction) to be forgiven
(Acts 8:22; cf. 2:38). While a person may struggle with a particular sin all of his or her life, God knows
the difference between the person who is fighting against sin and the person who is just “paying lip service”
when he confesses his sins. To confess our sin to God, only to turn around and commit it again (without any fight or resistance
against it) is not true repentance. We must “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke
3:8). Grace is not to be regarded as a license to sin (Jude 4; Rom. 6:1-2; cf. Titus 2:11-12).
Does the above paragraph describe you? If your tendency after confession is to swiftly go back into pornography, then chances
are you are addicted. The practice of sin is slavery (John 8:34; cf. 2 Pet. 2:18-19) and pornography can
indeed become a real addiction in a person’s life. To win the battle against pornography, honesty and humility are required.
Don’t look into “the mirror of God’s word” and just walk away because you don’t like what you
see (James 1:23-24). Yes, it can be hard to allow the light of His word to expose our faults, yet it is critical
that we let it if we want to walk with God again. “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come
to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested
as having been wrought in God” (John 3:20-21).
Not So Secret
Pornography addiction is usually not a public addiction, like alcoholism
is in which the problem is out in the open for others to see. Most often, pornography addiction is a secret that no one may
be aware of except the person who has the problem. For this reason, pornography addicts may persist in their destructive behavior,
reasoning that no one is watching nor holding them accountable.
“And there is no creature
hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb
4:13). No matter how secretive a person may be the eyes of the Lord behold it all. There is a tendency to dismiss
God because He is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17). Yet, His witness is very real and always present. His judgment
is very real also and may occur at any hour of any day (Mat. 24:42, 44).
Transform Your Way of Thinking
Essential to winning the battle against pornography
is to retrain our minds in the way we regard it. We are commanded: “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
(Rom. 12:2). We need to learn to view all forms of pornography as evil (1 Thes. 5:22).
To develop the same hatred and disgust for it that God has (Ezek. 22:11; cf. Mat. 5:28 / Heb. 13:4; Gal. 5:19)
and be nauseated by the thought of returning to it (2 Pet. 2:22).
Such a transformation may seem
impossible to the one who has struggled against pornography. Yet, such change is most definitely possible through Jesus Christ.
Although the change will not take place overnight, by our faith in Jesus and by the power of the gospel, our way of thinking
can be transformed! (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 1:16).
Major in the Fruit of Self-Control (Gal. 5:23)
It is highly probable that those
who struggle with pornography will never completely eliminate their desire for it. It may always have a certain amount of
appeal for the pleasure it brings. Yet, this does not mean that the battle against it has been lost. Victory is still possible,
in part, through the practice of self-control. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one
receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control
in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a
way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave,
lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27).
who has self-control has mastered his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites. He has strength, power, or dominion
over himself. This relates to the call that Jesus gave to be one of His disciples: “... If anyone wishes to come
after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34).
Since Jesus requires it, it is therefore quite possible for anyone to have self-control!
Though sometimes it may
feel that you are “out of control,” rest assured that you can gain control over yourself and your life.
Those who are in Christ (Gal. 3:27), who are partakers of the divine nature, are people who can
have self-control with the help of God. “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness...”
(2 Pet. 1:3a; cf. 1:6).
Seek Help from Those Who Are Spiritual.
your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can
accomplish much” (James 5:16). There is so much that your brethren can do for you if you would
only ask for help! As embarrassing as this particular type of sin may be to confess to another, the spiritual benefit in doing
so is well worth it. For when brethren who are righteous or spiritual (James 5:16b; Gal. 6:1),
not immature (1 Cor. 3:1-3), pray for you, much can be accomplished on your behalf. Specifically, spiritual
healing will be given in which you will be able to recover from your sin and receive strength by the Lord and His people.
Don’t Give Up!
just as your problem with pornography did not develop overnight, neither will you conquer it overnight. Understandably, it
can be very frustrating to go for several weeks without a problem, only to be caught in the trespass again. Yet, don’t
give up! Don’t destroy what you have built so far and not finish what you have started (Luke 14:27-30).
Learn to rejoice in small victories. Take it one day at a time. Persevere!
“And you shall say to them, 'Thus
says the LORD, "Do men fall and not get up again? Does one turn away and not repent?” (Jer. 8:4).
Do You Want to Love Life and See Good Days Again?
‘let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And
let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:10-12).
robs a person of the wonderful life we are meant to have with the Lord. There is no fellowship with God for those who partake
of it (Isa. 59:2). While pornography may provide pleasure, it will never fully satisfy (Heb. 11:25b)
and will always leave you hungry for more. Meanwhile, true fulfillment will always escape you (Mat. 5:6).
Do you desire
to love life and see good days again? Do you desire freedom from the bondage of your sin? A marriage that is strong, happy,
and loving again? A right relationship with God that is meaningful and fulfilling? Then draw near to the Lord. Purify yourself.
Seek God’s forgiveness. Humble yourself in His sight and He will lift you up. “Draw near to God and He will
draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let
your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you
up” (James 4:8-10, NKJV).
Is Pornography Grounds for Divorce?
by Mark Larson
Pornography can cause major destruction to a marriage. The temptation to cheat
on one’s spouse becomes ever stronger for those who partake of it (The use of online porn is involved in two-thirds
of all divorces!). Yet, even when pornography does not lead to extra-martial affairs, the effects of porn can be quite devastating
emotionally, financially, and spiritually to the marriage and family.
Understandably, when a man or woman (usually the woman)
to her horror, discovers that her spouse has been partaking of pornography, she experiences a tremendous amount of emotional
distress. She feels shocked, hurt, rejected, angry, and betrayed. Feelings of inadequacy arise and the confidence and security
in the marriage is replaced with fears and doubts. Pornography use not only takes a major toll in a marriage, it can also
bring much harm and anguish to the children, influencing them toward moral corruption.
It is for these reasons why more
and more brethren are viewing pornography as scriptural grounds for a divorce, otherwise referred to as “Mental
Adultery.” This doctrine asserts that when one’s spouse lusts after another, has thoughts of adultery,
he or she may then put away his mate for “unfaithfulness” or “fornication” (Mat. 19:9).
The proof that is offered for this position is Matthew 5:28. While we can all concede to the fact that “adultery
in the heart” (i.e., thoughts of adultery) is no “small” sin to make light of, is it in truth a lawful
cause for divorce?
The Context of Matthew 5:28
have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust
for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt 5:27-28, NASB).
A major theme
in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Mat. 5-7), evident throughout His preaching, is the importance of paying
attention to the heart. At the time of Christ, religious leaders were notorious for giving too much emphasis to the externals
or outward appearances to the neglect of the inward thoughts of the mind or heart. Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees
for such hypocrisy (Mat. 23:25-28). Concerning the sin of adultery, many were convinced that as long as a
person did not commit the actual, physical act, that he or she remained right before God (Mat. 5:27). Jesus
shattered such an erroneous misconception through His teaching (See Mat. 5:28 above). Clearly, adultery (or
fornication) starts in the heart where sin is first committed: “For from within, out of the heart
of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting
and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. "All these evil things proceed from
within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23). Those who think such evil thoughts are already unclean
or offensive to God and must seek His forgiveness (e.g., Acts 8:22).
Is Mental Adultery Equal to Physical Adultery in Every Way?
own words, “mental adultery” is equally sinful before God as actual, physical adultery: “... everyone
who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mat.
5:28). Jesus goes on to warn us of the Eternal consequences of lusting (Mat. 5:29-30). Thus, either
mental or physical adultery can condemn our souls to Hell if not repented of (Heb. 10:26-27). We are no better
off in the sight of God when we commit sin in the heart than when we physically commit the sin.
Unmistakably, there is a sense
of “equality” between the two. Does it, therefore, follow that if a person catches his or her spouse lusting after
another person (e.g., flirting) or viewing pornography that he or she has grounds for divorce? After all, adultery is
a form of fornication and fornication is the cause that Jesus allows for a person to put his or her spouse away (divorce)
(Mat. 5:32; 19:9).
“Adultery in the Heart”
Is Figurative, not Literal Adultery.
Immediately following Jesus’ warning against adultery in the heart (Mat.
5:28), Jesus explains just how seriously we should fight against it: "And if your right eye makes you stumble,
tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole
body to be thrown into hell. "And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is
better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Mat.
5:29-30). In both passages, Jesus uses figurative language to get His point across more vividly. In verses 29-30,
hyperboles are used. A hyperbole is an “obvious and intentional exaggeration; an extravagant statement or figure
of speech, not intended to be taken literally, as in “to wait an eternity” (From www.dictionary.com ). Jesus is not advocating self-mutilation. If we pluck out the right eye,
we still have the left one that remains and even a blinded man may exercise his imagination and lust in his heart. Instead,
what Jesus is teaching us, through figurative language, is that we must make whatever sacrifices which are necessary in order
to resist sin, no matter what the price (e.g., TV, Internet, certain friends, career, etc.).
The “adultery in the heart”
of Matthew 5:28 is no more literal than Jesus’ discourse of plucking out the eye or cutting off the hand that causes
a person to stumble! Adultery (moicheuo), by definition, is unlawful sexual intercourse, specifically with
another person’s spouse (See Thayer & Vine definitions). “Adultery in the heart” does not involve the
physical act of adultery, for it takes place in the heart, not the body. The adultery committed in
Matthew 5:28 is figurative, not real or physical, yet nevertheless a sin, an offense to God.
Both Are Sins, Yet Have Different Consequences.
is committed in the heart only (Mat. 5:28) or with the body also (Rom. 13:9), sin has been
committed. However, each type of sin does not result in the same exact consequences. While both kinds of sin can
condemn a person eternally, there are significant differences in the consequences or results that each one brings.
makes one morally unclean before God (Mark 7:21), yet it is not a sin against the body like physical adultery
is: “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against
his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). Moreover, adultery in the heart is a private or individual
act that does not require the joint participation of another person and his or her body like actual adultery does: “Or
do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, "The two
will become one flesh” (1 Cor 6:16). Adultery in the heart simply does not result in the same
kind of consequences (e.g., unholy sexual relations, pregnancy, disease, etc.). Of course, adultery in the heart can eventually
lead to acting on those thoughts (James 1:14-15), but this is not always the case.
One of the possible consequences
for committing adultery (not mental adultery) is to be put away (divorced) by your spouse for fornication and thereafter have
no right to remarry another (Mat. 5:32; 19:9). When Jesus taught that fornication is the only just cause
for divorce, He used the word literally, not figuratively. A person cannot lawfully (scripturally) put away
his mate for viewing pornography any more than an angry person can rightfully be put to death for his temper by the state!
(Mat. 5:21-22; cf. Rom. 13:1-5). Pornography and wrath, for example, are both wrong (Gal. 5:19-21),
yet they do not lead to the same exact consequences as actual adultery or murder does. Both can condemn our souls
to Hell (if we fail to repent), yet each has different consequences for us while on earth.
“Unfaithfulness” Does not Always Mean Actual Adultery.
try to be discreet when speaking of the problem of adultery by saying: “He was unfaithful to his wife.” Yet, when
we do so, we are not being specific as to the nature of the unfaithfulness. This leads to generalizations and misunderstandings.
Furthermore, this gives the impression that any type of “unfaithfulness” (as defined by us, not
God) is grounds for divorce, when in fact Jesus specifically taught that there is only one kind of unfaithfulness
which is just cause for divorce – the cause of fornication (Mat. 5:32; 19).
In the Old
Testament (in the NASB), to commit physical adultery is to be “unfaithful” to one’s spouse (Num.
5:12, 27). However, unfaithfulness is not restricted to such a narrow definition in the Scriptures. A case and point
is the idolatrous behavior of the Israelites. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God declared to them: “... they have
committed adultery with their idols...” (Ezek 23:37). Their idolatry was unfaithfulness to God
(Ezek. 20:27-28). By failing to put God first and obey Him (e.g., put away idols), they were unfaithful.
whenever a husband or wife displaces his or her loyalty and is no longer committed to the marriage, then it can rightly be
said that he or she is being “unfaithful.” Failure to love (Eph. 5:25; Titus 2:4) and the shunning
of martial responsibilities (e.g., 1 Cor. 7:3-5; Eph. 5:22-31; 1 Tim. 5:8, 14) is a demonstration of unfaithfulness.
Certainly, “adultery of the heart” such as flirting with others or the partaking of pornography would be acts
of unfaithfulness (Mat. 5:28). However, such does not constitute grounds for divorce. Only the cause of fornication
does (Mat. 5:32; 19:9).
Is Definitive, Mental Adultery is not.
If mental adultery is allowed to stand as a “just and lawful” cause
for divorce, by what standard will it be decided that “mental adultery” has been committed? How will
a person know, for certain, that he or she has a right to put away his or her spouse?
Adultery” as a Cause for Divorce Is Too Subjective: Suppose you catch your spouse looking at a pornographic
web site or magazine just one time, would you then feel justified to put him away? No? How about twice, maybe three times,
or four? Suppose you catch him or her flirting with another, will you then file for divorce? Maybe him watching a sensual
TV show or browsing a women’s lingerie catalog will be enough to provide just cause. Such examples demonstrate that
mental adultery as a cause for divorce is left up to the whim and opinion of the individual, rather than the authority of
Scripture. Such a standard will be based not on the Word of God, but on the degree of emotional hurt of an offended spouse.
Furthermore, this puts the husband or wife in the inappropriate and impossible position of “searching the heart”
of his or her spouse. To the church at Thyatira, the Lord Jesus declared: “I am He who searches the minds and hearts”
(Rev. 2:23). Indeed, only God has the power, the special ability to search a person’s
heart and know exactly what it contains (1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chron. 28:9; Jer. 17:10; 20:12).
Adultery Provides Actual, Scriptural Proof: In contrast, physical adultery is not determined by the subjective estimation
of a spouse whose feelings have been hurt. With physical adultery, there is much more certainty. Either he (or she) committed
adultery (a form of fornication) or he did not. There is no in between or middle ground about it (Unlike trying to determine
if your spouse has committed mental adultery - Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t!).
Jesus tells us plainly what the
only lawful cause for divorce is: “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for
fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery”
(Mat. 19:9, KJV). Jesus also said: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has
one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48,
NASB). Jesus specified what the acceptable cause for divorce is, thereby excluding all other causes a person
can name (e.g., pornography, “mental divorce,” emotional abuse, etc.). Only by standing upon the word of Christ
will we have full assurance before the Lord on that last day.
Proverbs 17:21 and 25 speaks of the pain
felt by a parent whose child leaves the Lord. “He that begetteth a fool (doeth it) to his sorrow; and the father of
a fool hath no joy... A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him.” Some of the greatest
pain must be that felt by the parent whose child is away from the Lord. The parent doesn’t know where the child is,
or what it may be doing.
There is no more graphic expression of the prodigal who does not return
home than that found in 2 Samuel 18. David's son Absalom competed with his father for the throne. He built a following, pronounced
himself king in Hebron, and marched on Jerusalem. David, not willing to see Jerusalem destroyed, and its people killed, fled
over the Mount of Olives, with people throwing rocks, spiting, and cursing at him. He and his friends crossed the river Jordan
over to Mahanaim. When the battle ensued, David told his captains, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even
with Absalom” (vs. 5). David knew he needed to win. Some had to die, but his heart went out to his son Absalom who led
the rebellion against him. When the battle ended, word came that David's forces had won; but David was not really concerned
about the battle or even about his army’s victory. He asked, "What about my son? (Cf. 2 Samuel 18:31ff.) David
grieved over his son’s death, "Would God, I had died for thee, Oh Absalom, my son." Perhaps you have unfaithful
children, and you, like David, say, "Would I had died for thee, my son, my son.”
reasons why young people go astray, rebel, and leave home:
- Sometimes, their homes are
so bad they can’t stay. Inconsistent or unreasonable discipline may cause them to leave. Parents must learn the difference
between abuse and the rod of correction (Proverbs 22:15; Cf. Proverbs 29:15, 17).
children leave because of chaos and confusion, bitterness between husband and wife, between children, between parents and
- Perhaps the home is a good home that will not tolerate drugs and alcohol, immorality,
homosexuality, pregnancy, or other unacceptable choices the children make.
is the parents’ fault; sometimes it is not. In David’s case, the fault was partially his. David's sin with Bathsheba
weakened him and destroyed the respect, not only of the heathen, but also of his family. This hindered him from exercising
the proper kind of discipline over his family.
Common, often-immediate, reactions felt when
children leave home.
- Anxiety-Where is he? What is he doing? Is he in danger?
- Anger-Anger toward the child when the parent realizes how ungrateful he is. Perhaps anger is directed toward a companion
who has influenced the child to leave home.
- Despair-There is no hope that the situation will
- Embarrassment-What will I say when others ask? Guy Greenfield in his book, The
Wounded Parent, says, “You may experience a variety of emotions when your child seriously disappoints you by his
or her behavior: anger, disgust, sadness, fear, surprise, grief, remorse, resentment, aggressiveness, embarrassment, shame,
guilt, self pity and hurt."
There may even be long-range reactions. One may withdraw
into a shell, while others develop resentment toward other parents whose children are faithful, and toward children who are
obedient. Strain often develops between parents; each tends to blame the other for the child's departure. Often, the other
children are neglected; and they may wonder if the parents really love them.
What can I do if
my child goes astray? Accept the fact that you may not be responsible. If my child goes astray, it will be in spite
of me, not because of me! (David was, at least, partly responsible!) Some of the best people in the Bible had rebellious children:
- Adam and Eve had a Cain, as well as an Abel and a Seth.
- Isaac had Esau who was a grief
to his father and mother.
- Hezekiah, one of the best kings in Judah’s history, had a son
who was the very worst king.
- Josiah, a good king, had three sons and a grandson who rebelled
Remember, our children often face other influences over which we have no control
(1 Corinthians 15: 33). Also, every individual has a free will (Cf. Ezekiel 18:20). Parents cannot program their children.
"Not the very best training of the very wisest parents in the world can possibly secure goodness and wisdom in their
children." (Pulpit Commentary) There remains the element of individuality, individual choice of one’s own course.
The Scriptures teach, “A wise son (heareth) his father's instruction; But a scoffer heareth not rebuke... A fool despiseth
his father's correction; But he that regardeth reproof getteth prudence... A wise son maketh a glad father; But a foolish
man despiseth his mother (Proverbs 13:1; 15:5,20). Parents may lead children to the truth, but children must choose whether
What about Proverbs 22:6? “Train up a child in the way he should go and even when
he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is a proverb, a general truth, not an absolute. There are exceptions to
proverbs. Consider these:
- Proverbs 10:4 “He becometh poor that worketh with a slack
hand; But the hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Was Jesus rich or poor? Did he have a slack hand?
- Proverbs 10:27 “The fear of Jehovah prolongeth days; But the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”
Jesus' days were short. Was he wicked?
- Proverbs 16:7 “When a man's ways please Jehovah,
He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Jesus’ enemies were not at peace with him. Did he please
What else can you do? Don't despair and don't give up. There are many forces
at work in that child's life; one of them might bring him home. His early training does mean something (Cf. Proverbs 22:6).
Do not discount prayer (James. 5:16). Give place to God’s providence. Remember, the pigpen did not bring the prodigal
son home (Luke 15); it was his memory of his father's house. This father was firm. He didn’t beg his son to stay. Tough
love seeks the child’s well-being. He allowed his son to suffer the consequences of his own decisions. But, when the
prodigal returned home in repentance, his father received him. He was unselfish and meek. He could have set rigid conditions
upon which he would receive him. This father made himself vulnerable. Who knew whether or not the boy would steal his possessions?
He was willing to forgive. Sometimes, whether or not a prodigal returns home depends on what he expects if he does.
What can I do when the prodigal won’t return? Some do not. Absalom never came home. Don't allow your sorrow
to hinder your service to God. There is a time to weep; there is a time to laugh; a time to mourn (Cf. Ecclesiastes3:1ff).
We can dwell on our sorrow to the extent that we hurt others (Cf. 2 Samuel 19:5ff). Continual complaining drives people away.
Others--other children, the church, those who have similar experiences, the lost--need you. God grieves (cf. Isaiah 1:2ff)
when prodigals go astray, but he does not give up. We must remain active. There is no place to quit! There is work to do.
Some say, “I can’t do that. I can’t face other people.” Now, you’ve become the prodigal. What
your child did to you, you are doing to God. God wants us all to serve him. By sacrificing His Son, He made it possible for
us to return to Him. God loves us. Let us not spurn that love.
How to Raise Children
Compare God’s way to the typical way—then
Most of us recognize that many children aren't raised
properly. The evidence is all around us in the juvenile crime, rebellion, and disdain for authority that often is the "norm."
But few people, especially parents, see how and why children aren't being raised properly.
The Bible, contrary to what most people believe, lays the primary responsibility for child training at the feet of
fathers. "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition
of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4) But most men abdicate this duty to their wives.
God commanded children to "obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”
(Colossians 3:20) This obedience, however, must be taught, and training must accompany the teaching. It is the training
concept that many parents fail to understand. We learn from Proverbs 22:6 a general truth: "Train up a child
in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." But what does it mean to "train"
a child. Some parents wrongfully assume that training is the same thing as "teaching" or "instructing."
Certainly, teaching occurs in conjunction with training, but they are not the same.
Training involves practice, repetition, and habituation. Once a parent teaches a principle, that parent must see
to it that the child practices the principle until it becomes a habit in his life. It is only at this point that the truth
in Proverbs 22:6 is achieved.
We ignore these principles
to our own peril. "Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction,"
says Proverbs 19:18. And Proverbs 22:15 declares, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
the rod of correction will drive it far from him." So, training sometimes involves more than instruction.
All that we have written so far comes from God's word. But even the worldly wise
know much the same things. The Houston, Texas Police Department once offered some insight into how not to raise children.
Newspaper columnist Ann Landers published their words in her column. Twelve rules for raising delinquent children:
- Begin in infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way, he will grow
up to believe the world owes him a living.
- When he picks up
bad words, laugh at him. This will make him think he's cute. It will also encourage him to pick up "cuter" phrases
that will blow off the top of your head later.
- Never give
him any spiritual training. Wait till he is 21, and then let him "decide for himself."
- Avoid use of the word "wrong." It may cause him to develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to
believe, later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
- Pick up everything--books, shoes and clothing--he leaves lying around. Do everything
for him so he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others.
- Let him read any printed matter on which he can get his hands. Be careful that the silverware and drinking glasses
are sterilized, but let his mind feast on garbage.
frequently in your child’s presence. In this way, he will not be too shocked when the home breaks up later.
- Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should
he have things as tough as you did?
- Satisfy his every craving
for food, drink, and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.
- Take his part against neighbors, teachers, and policemen. They are all prejudiced
against your child.
- When he gets into real trouble, apologize
for yourself by saying, "I never could do anything with him."
- Prepare for a life of grief. You’re apt to have it.
So, you see, the choice is ours. We can train our children the Lord's way, or as the police (tongue in cheek) have
suggested. The only thing at stake is your children's future, and maybe yours.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them
from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works
that He has done. Psalm 78:2-4
(I inserted the words, "the bible,"
for more meaning. pg)
may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never
I had a mother who read (the bible) to me.
to ask where you were going,
with whom, and what time you would be home.
I Loved You
to insist that you save
your money and buy a bike for yourself
even though we could afford to
buy one for you.
I Loved You Enough....
to make you take a Milky Way
back to the drugstore (with a
bite out of it)
and tell the clerk,
"I stole this yesterday and want to pay for it."
to stand over you for two hours
while you cleaned your room,
a job that would have taken
I Loved You Enough....
to let you see anger, disappointment
and tears in my eyes.
Children must learn that their
parents aren't perfect.
I Loved You Enough....
to let you assume
responsibility for your actions
even when the penalties
were so harsh they almost
broke my heart.
But most of all,
I Loved You Enough....
to say NO
when I knew you
would hate me for it.
Those were the most
difficult battles of all.
I'm glad I won them,
because in the end,
Five Smooth Stones of Parenting
21 January 2009 Sewell Hall
In Goliath, David
faced what seemed an indomitable foe. David’s goal was not so much to kill the giant as to protect the children
and honor of God. He took five smooth stones from the brook to achieve his purpose.
In the pervasive humanism of our society, parents face what appears to be an equally
unconquerable giant who is determined to destroy their children. They have five stones with which to protect them.
child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Proverbs 29:15). Consequently, Wisdom says, “Train up a child in the way he should
go…” (Proverbs 22:6). This requires first determining “the way he should go,” then
pointing the child in that direction. For Christians one direction supersedes all others: eternal life in heaven via Christlikeness
on earth. Scores of agencies with different goals challenge us for control of our children. My father used to say, “I
will not let the schools take my children away from me.” Today there are many additional threats: TV, internet, video
games, ipods, scouts, sports, neighbors, etc. These must be constantly monitored and controlled. A mother of two fine children,
one a teenager, said, “Every day of the lives of our children, their spiritual welfare has been in the forefront of
their father’s mind.” Parents of good children are often told, “You are just lucky.” No, good children
are not the product of luck, but of purpose—relentlessly, sacrificially and pro-actively pursued.
Training: “Bring them
up in the training…of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Training a plant requires knowing where you want it to go and then patiently
bending it, pruning it, and perhaps even tying it. Training an animal involves knowing what you want it to do, using force
at first, then patiently guiding, correcting, and finally rewarding and punishing. In both instances, training means establishing
authority and maintaining control. Training children begins with example and sometime physical force, then guidance, correction,
and eventually reward and punishment when the child understands what is expected. Above all, it means establishing the parents’
authority and letting the child know who is in control. This must begin very early. Once willful rebellion is tolerated, a
wrong direction is established and the necessary “bending, pruning, and tying” become all the more difficult.
The mother of John and Charles Wesley described good discipline as “shaping the will without breaking the spirit.”
This agrees with the Spirit’s counsel: “Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up…”
Instruction: “Bring them up in the…admonition (instruction - NASB) of the Lord”
(Ephesians 6:4). Unlike plants and animals children can be admonished and instructed. This,
also, parents must do. The very intellect that enables children to be instructed also enables them to exercise their free
will as they grow older. Parental control constantly diminishes, and unless God’s control is established, their lives
will be out of control. God’s control is established by teaching them the scriptures. Long after Timothy was beyond
the control of mother and grandmother, their faith dwelt in him (II Timothy 1:5). How was this accomplished? Paul reminded Timothy, “From childhood
you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus”
(II Timothy 3:15). Faith in older children is the result of early instruction in righteousness.
Parents should take advantage of the classes offered by the church, but this is not enough—they must teach their children
personally. A mother once told me of overhearing her husband saying to their young infant in the crib, “Let me tell
you about Jesus.” Not surprisingly, that young infant is now a godly young teenager.
Affection: Training and instruction
must be administered with love—a love that “suffers long and is kind,” that “does not behave rudely,”
and above all, “does not seek its own” (I Corinthians 13:4-5). Children will forgive many mistakes if they can always be sure of their
parents’ love. “Love will cover a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8). Affection without firmness is disastrous, but equally disastrous is firmness
Prayer: David did not attribute his defeat of Goliath to the stone, to his sling or to
his skill. “The battle,” he said, “is the Lord’s” (I Samuel 17:47). So it is with the training of our children. God is concerned with the
outcome and we are servants whom He has entrusted with our little ones. We must pray daily for the wisdom that He has promised
to supply (James 1:5) and for His providence to overrule our inevitable mistakes. And when our
children have become what we hoped for, we have no ground for boasting, only for the humble exclamation, “to God be
using only one stone; parents will need all five.
The responsibility of a parent to an
adult child who is unfaithful
FROM THE MAIL: What
is the responsibility of a parent to an adult child who is unfaithful? Do you not eat with them? Do you not get
together socially? Do you need to mention their need to repent every time you are together? -anonymous
you for submitting these questions. The responsibility of a parent in disciplining an unfaithful adult child is a very difficult
question to answer, not because we don't have instruction, but because it is such an emotional situation. First of all, my heart goes out to any parent whose child has turned away from the Lord and His will. It is a
deep agonizing pain and the parent must rely on a strong faith that God hears and answers prayers and He has
promised He will strengthen and comfort His people. Our heavenly Father understands the parent's grief, as He also has lost
this child to the Tempter and He too desires His child to come back to Him. In His great wisdom and love for His
wayward children, He provides a way to try and bring them home. However, God's way to help bring the unfaithful
back is to have cooperation from the church and from the parents in disciplining the adult child through admonition, teaching,
and finally withdrawal, should the child refuse correction.
Rather than giving
my opinion in answering the question, I would like to discuss the importance of withdrawing and why it must be done.
I believe if we come to a better understanding of withdrawal it will help us know how to treat those who we must withdraw
from, whether it is a family member, close friend, and/or someone in our local congregation.
not a shunning that is done to show how superior we are to the sinner, nor should it ever be an excuse to get out of the responsibility
to encourage and admonish the wayward Christian. It is not an act of vengeance, neither should any feeling of joy be felt,
except for the comfort in trusting in God's wisdom and obeying His commandment to help the one who has turned back into the
world. Love for God, for the church, and for the sinner is a MUST when it comes to discipline.
Concerning children, I am discussing adult children who are old
enough and have their health to where they are not dependent on their parent's help. Parents have responsibilities to younger
and ill children that would need to be met and we must apply all commands and
balance all responsibilities.
Withdrawal - An Act of Love
- As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19).
- And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “
My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves
He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with
sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers,
then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect.
Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened
us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be
joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have
been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)
A real-life example
of withdrawing from an adult child:
I knew an adult child who had turned away from the Lord and was living an ungodly life. This child's parents tried all they
knew to do to help him repent, but nothing they said or did helped. After a great deal of thought, prayer and agonizing, they
decided to take their child to the elders, knowing full well once the child's lifestyle was out in the open, there was a chance
the church would withdraw from their child, if he remained stubborn and refused to repent. It was one of the most difficult
decisions these parents ever had to make, but their son's soul was the most important thing to them and they could not bear
the thought of him being lost eternally. This was ultimate love.
turned out the elders talked to the son for a little while, but they never said any more to the child after the initial
conversation and never brought his sin before the church, much less disciplined him in any way. They never asked
the parents how he was doing and if the parents needed help. Was this love? Did they love that child? The parents, however,
continued to love. They would not allow the child to live the lifestyle he wanted while living in their home (the child was
of age) and he left home. When he returned to visit, the parents would hear what he had to say, encourage him, sometimes
just hugged him, when they had exhausted everything they knew to say. He was not invited for meals, nor did the parents
just hang out with him and have fun. They refused giving him money when he needed it, but they did offer food from their pantry
when he looked like he had not been eating very well. And they reassured him that he was welcome to come home anytime, but
only when he gave up his worldly life. They knew if their son could have his ungodly lifestyle and have
his family on his terms, there would be a much greater chance he would never come back to the Lord.
Their obedience to God's wisdom in discipline and love paid off. The child returned, willing
to submit to his parents. While it took some time to heal spiritually, heal he did. He is now one of the "pillars"
of the church. When asked what helped him turn back to the Lord, his answer is, "My parents being consistent in
their discipline." He tells other parents to discipline their child, even though it's heartbreaking to do so,
and not to give in to them. He also adds that the child knows his parents are doing what's right and that they are obeying
God's command, and they know the parents are doing it out of love, even though they may try their best to manipulate their
parent's emotions in order to live the lifestyle they choose and have their parent's acceptance at the same time.
The discipline of our children in withdrawal is not only to help our children return to the Lord,
but we must love the Lord's church enough to where we are concerned about our child's example to the flock ("a little
leaven leavens the whole lump" 1 Cor. 5:6). If we refuse to follow God's teaching in the discipline of our child, how
can we tell the church we need to withdraw from anyone? How can we tell others to discipline when we refuse to do it
ourselves? After all, everyone is someone's child, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin etc. There are more souls at stake
than just our child's; the church needs to remain pure and any leavening agent that remains may spread to the entire
church and wreck havoc. Do we want our child to be the one to lead others astray? Do we want to refuse discipline and
get angry with the church to where the congregation ends up taking sides and the church splits? I've witnessed this and it
We must love our child enough to do whatever
it takes to save his soul. We must love God enough to trust in His wisdom and obey His commandments no matter how difficult
they may be in our earthly relationships. We must love the Lord's body, the church, enough to want to keep it pure, even
to the point of putting the church before us and our desires. Our spiritual relationship with our Lord and His body is our
ultimate bond in this life and and we need to develop a love for God's word and His people to where we put our self
aside and do what is best for the salvation of souls.
We need to realize
that God never makes laws in order to torture us emotionally and mentally, but rather to bring the sweet peace
and comfort in remaining in unity with our Lord. Our Father cares for our soul and wants all men to be saved. Our child
is His child and He desires the return of His sheep that are lost. If discipline is practiced in accordance with
our Father's will, there is hope. God is not cruel in His commands and neither are we in obeying them. Howbeit, putting
ourselves aside is sometimes painful when we have to do what's best for another's soul, but we will never have to
give up what the Father and the Son gave up in order for all of us and our children to have eternal life.
."Think about this. If disfellowship ultimately is for the purposes
of: (a) saving the wayward person’s soul (1 Cor. 5:5); and, (b) protecting other saints from evil influences (1 Cor.
5:6), then a formal “putting away” (1 Cor. 5:13) may be the very procedure that is needed to restore the neglectful
person, and to safeguard the church from a bad example. It must be recognized that disfellowship is more than just punishment
(cf. 2 Cor. 2:6). It is an act of love designed to reclaim the rebellious (cf. Heb. 12:6), and enhance the welfare of others."
What is the design or purpose of corrective discipline (withdrawal of fellowship)?
A. To Save Their Soul (1Co.5:5)
“That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1Co.5:5)
“For the destruction of the flesh” (1Co.5:5)
The works, deeds and desires of the flesh (Ga.5:19-21) (He.12:14-15) (2Co.7:1)
“That he may be ashamed” (2Th.3:14)Ashamed: to turn one upon
himself and so produce a feeling of shame, a wholesome shame which
involves a change of conduct. (W.E. Vine)
“That they may learn…” (1Ti.1:20)
Learn not to sin
Learn to repent
(1Co.5:5) Delivering One
To Satan Means…
“…that he who
has done this deed might be taken away from among you…”
“…purge out the old
to keep company with…” (vv.9,11)
away from yourselves the evil person”(v.13)
B. To Save The Church (1Cor.5:7)
“That you may be a new lump” (1Cor.5:7)
“the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1Co.5:8)
“…that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ep.5:27)
C. To Establish Fear (1Tim.5:20)
“That the rest also may fear” (1Ti.5:20)
Such action causes us to examine our own lives. If all knew to expect discipline,
very little would be necessary
To Magnify, Exalt And Maintain The Honor Of Christ And His Authority
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co.5:4) (cf. 2Th.3:6; Mt.28:18;
Are family members required to withdraw?
(Contd. from Brett Hogland's outline)
A. “Church” is a collective word involving
1. “shepherd the church” includes “all the flock”
2. All included unless specifically excluded (Co.3:20) (Ep.6:1-2)
evangelists or deacons excluded?…Then they are included!
B. The church is
commanded to withdraw
1. “…the church” (Mt.18:17)
“gathered together…put away from yourselves”(1Co.5:4,13)
3. Are evangelists, elders,
deacons or family members excluded?
C. Husband to Wife or Wife to Husband
1. Specifically excluded by Necessary Inference (Mt.5:32;19:3,9) (1Co.7:1-5)
Parent to child
1. Are they members of the church? - Then they are included
2. Are they Specifically excluded?
By Command? No.
By Necessary Inference? No.
Some say yes?? - By special relationship
relationship to children:
Mothers - Love children & manage the home (Titus 2:4-5)
- Love and discipline (Ep.6:4) Provide for (1Ti.5:8)
3. Same relationship from the beginning
- no change
4. This relationship did not prevent discipline under the Old Law (De.21:18-21)
5. Child not living at home (Independent)
What relationship would prohibit withdrawal
of social interaction?
6. Child living at home (dependant)
too young to live alone then young enough to correct by force (Pr.22:15) (Pr.23:13-14) (Pr.20:30)
If you won’t restrain the child then you are guilty (Pr.13:24)
too old to correct then old enough to be independent and withdrawn from.
Child to Parent
1. Obey (Co.3:20)
prohibit withdrawal because their obedience to the parent is to be “…in the Lord” (Ep.6:1)
2. Honor (Ep.6:2) (Mt.15:4)
Honor: (5091) “Primarily
a valuing” (W. E.
“To prize, i.e. fix a valuation upon;
by implication to revere (Strong)
3. Can you “value” or “esteem” and
still withdraw? Yes! (1Ti.5:1,17,19-20)
The motive of discipline is the “value”
of the soul!
4. Would “honor” prohibit a child from arresting a parent and sending
them to jail for a crime which would obviously end their social relationship with that parent? NO!
does not prohibit a child from withdrawing fellowship
6. A social relationship (i.e. shopping together,
football games, hunting, Thanksgiving dinner, etc.) is not required of a parent and child in order to be righteous.
If my father was drunk every time my family was around him, I could choose to end a social relationship with
him in order to protect my family from his influence.
If a young couple gets transferred
to another country with their job and does not have the money to travel back to spend social time with their parents, they
have not sinned.
F. Principal concerning parents and children
1. (Mt.10:34-37) (Lk.12:51-53) (Mk.3:31-35)
G. Special Relationships
carry special obligations
1. These obligations are not a matter of choice
If there is a special relationship that prohibits withdrawal then it is a sin to do it!
3. If there is
not a special relationship then it is required!
But What About Family
Again, in withdrawing from a family member we
must apply all commands and balance all responsibilities. Is there a physical responsibility given to a parent by
God that must be met with an adult child? If so, do it, if not then God's word must be obeyed in spiritual
responsibility. In actuality, even if physical responsibilities need to be met, the spiritual discipline in admonishment can
still be obeyed.
In today's lifestyle and economy the adult child and his/her
family may be living with the parent or the parent may be taking care of the child's children while they are at work;
the parent may even be living with the child, or there may be illness involved where the two must come together and untold
circumstances that may have to be addressed. In these situations, we must do the best we can in taking care of responsibilities
and in obeying God's will in discipline. As an example, if a faithful mother is living with an unfaithful child because she
can not care for herself, she may have to eat with her daughter and son and partake in other activities where she has no choice,
but she can let the child and the church know she is in agreement with the withdrawal and she can continue to show her love
for her wayward child by encouragement and admonishment. It would be unwise to harp on it all day long, but with wisdom and
self-control she can speak and act in such a way as the child knows he/she is loved and that their action is displeasing.
Can we eat with our unfaithful
as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person
and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother"
(2 Thess. 3:13-15). The reason for discipline is to make the one who is in sin to recognize how shameful
it is for him/her to turn away from the Lord and go back into the world. Chastisement is meant to be painful, otherwise it
wouldn't be discipline, but when done properly, with love, it brings the sweet reward of peace. The feelings of shame
and guilt in awareness of sin in the unfaithful is a necessity to bring them back to Christ, just as it was to bring
all of us to Christ to begin with. "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No!
They were not at all ashamed, Nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; In
the time of their punishment They shall be cast down,” says the LORD. Jer. 8:12
Let's look at 1 Cor. 5
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as
is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2
And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.
3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were
present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered
together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one
to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.6 Your glorying is not
good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old
leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened
bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I
certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners,
or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to
you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or
a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
12 For what
have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13
But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
Things to think about in 1 Cor. 5:
doesn't say if the father was a Christian and a part of the church there, but what if he was? Was he to join in the putting
away of the son or was he exempt? If there is no passage to say he was exempt, then did he have to obey the rest of Paul's
instruction, "not to keep company - not even to eat with such a person"?
said this applies to "anyone who is named a brother." Are our Christian children our "brothers in Christ"?
- Eating is usually a social time even when it's only our immediate family. Sometimes
during a hospital situation or another family circumstance all may be thrown together and eating may be a necessity that was
not planned as a regular meal or social time, or as I mentioned, it may be possible the parent is dependent on the child for
food as she/he may be living with the child due to old age or illness. Keeping company and eating, in the passage, is meant
as times of accepting one another in joyful companionship and unity. If an unfaithful child is accepted at times like this,
where is the discipline? Is there any discipline? Is there any shame (spiritually healthy shame) that will bring them
back to the Lord?
Do we need to discuss repentance every time we speak
with the child?
Wisdom must be used. Are there times, like illness, when physical
needs have to be discussed and should we feel guilty if we end the conversation without mentioning repentance? Are there times
when our child calls and we can carry on a conversation about what's going on in their lives of a physical nature and share
our daily activities without any mention of Christ? Instead of always telling them they need to repent, is it a good idea
to let them know how much we miss our relationship and how much we love them? Are there times when we need to be straightforward
and with loving, yet firm words, and admonish them to return for their soul's sake?
than answering a yes or no to this question, I'm going to say we must handle our child with love, wisdom, and carrying out
God's commandments to help them come back. There is not a time limit on this, but rather a continual striving to save their
soul in admonishing them "as a brother" and never treating them "as an enemy." Our fervent prayers
need to continue and we need to never give up our hope and our love for our child's soul.
None of this is written lightly; it is a serious matter in both our children's soul and in trusting and obeying God's
commandments and wisdom. Use your best judgment that will be the right balance in obedience to God in discipline and parental
responsibility that is mentioned in the word of God. To be short of or go beyond what God instructs us to do will not only
be disobedient to God, but may be detrimental to the soul of the child. Overt anger, sorrow, and fear, may cause the child
to pull away from you seeing they can't communicate with you or your hopelessness will tempt him to believe the situation
is hopeless. Overt sympathy, protection, and excusing may cause the child never to return to the Lord as he
will feel no shame because he and his lifestyle are viewed as acceptable; there will be no feeling of loss. My
heart goes out to all parents in this situation; they need our encouragement and support.
FROM THE MAIL: "When Christian parents
refuse to withdraw from children who continue in sexual immorality, substance abuse, or other irresponsible, sinful living,
they put a terrible burden upon their believing children, and they confuse any younger children who have not yet committed
their hearts to Christ. Sometimes grandparents compromise for the sake of access to and influence on grandchildren,
but the best lesson for those little souls is to see their grandparents standing firm for truth. "He has told you,
o man, what is good..." Let us do what He instructs, without inserting our human reasoning and justifications."
Question from Lavista church of Christ website:
Based on the article
you wrote regarding cohabitation, what then should our relationship with our daughter be now that she has had her boyfriend move into her home
in spite of hours of biblical counsel by her father? She had already made her decision and went ahead with her plans. We
do not want to compromise our biblical values before our other child. Thanks and God Bless!
"I wrote to you in my epistle not to
keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or
with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written
to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler,
or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person" (I Corinthians 5:9-11).
Like all other punishments, doing what needs to be done in
order to show a child that what she is doing is wrong is never pleasant. "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for
the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained
by it" (Hebrews 12:11). Many parents compromise on their principles and as a result, no training is accomplished.
Your daughter needs to be told that she has chosen to live
in sin. Until she repents and changes her way, you will not give any encouragement to this life. Financially, she thinks she
is an adult so she has taken on all adult responsibilities for her life. She pays her own way through life, including schooling.
Let her know that you want to see her married because that is what God approves, but since she has chosen to go against God's
laws and your desires, you won't be financing the wedding, so don't even ask. If she wants to play adult, she has to go all
Depending on her
actual age, you may still have some obligations to her if she is a minor. Beyond those, you are required to cut off all social
ties that in anyway give indication that you accept or approve of what she is doing. If she eventually does get married, go
to the wedding because she is then doing what is right. But until she stops committing fornication, she is basically no different
than all the other sinners in the world. "Let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector" (Matthew 18:17).
I can't sugar coat it. What God requires
is hard to do, but it works.
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a
sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against
her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father
or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who
does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his
life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
Jesus did not mean
his purpose in coming to earth was to disrupt families. That would make no sense as the family is a blessing created by God.
Jesus is saying He is the Word of God and Truth will cause division in families as some will accept Truth and some will not.
Jesus is warning that this division will come and it may even bring a time of choice between following God or following man.
We are admonished by our Lord that we must always "take up our cross and follow Him" in order to be worthy of Him.
If we prefer our family over our Lord and save our physical life whether that be reality or figuratively, we will lose our
spiritual relationship with our Lord. We will be without peace and without hope in this world and eternally. However, if we
follow our Lord and put Him first in our lives, no matter what "crosses" we have to bear, we will find our spiritual
life and have peace and hope and this will be the best gift we can give our family, friends, and the world in general. How
can we love them if we don't love and follow our Lord? -Pat
“Yet, do not count him as an enemy"
Does the time ever come when we can feel that we have taken the final action to save the soul of a brother or sister?
Sometime the decision to withdraw and the action involved are so emotional and even bitter that we may heave a sigh of relief
and simply be thankful it is over. But this is not what the Lord intends. “Yet, do not count him as an enemy, but admonish
him as a brother” (II Thessalonians 3:15). How seldom is this done!
we give may be explicit or implicit. We should try to reason with such people from the scriptures. But “even if some
do not obey the word, they, without a word may be won by [our] conduct…” (I Peter 3:1). We must be careful not to suggest acceptance
of their sin or give them comfort in their rebellion. However, a birthday card, a get-well note, a sympathy card, or just
a note that says “we still love you and miss you” may be what is needed to bring them back. Remember, they are
still our brothers and sisters and such expressions of love will make it easier for them to return. Someone has said that
it was not the experience in the pig pen that brought the prodigal home so much as memory of his father’s house.
“It’s not over till it’s over” may not be a scripture quotation,
but it should be remembered as we deal with one from whom we have withdrawn. “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders
from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a
soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
Think God Would Want Me to Be Happy!"
- By Andy Diestelkamp
man walked away from his marriage and his two children. A year later he found another woman who made him feel "alive."
His first marriage had been a struggle from the beginning, and it had only gotten worse. He wasn't happy; neither was she.
He had always viewed divorce as wrong, but his situation was unique. When questioned from a biblical perspective about his
plans to marry again, he acknowledged that he had no right, but he said, "I think God would want me to be happy."
The girl was just sixteen. She came from a broken home. Her father had divorced
her mother ten years previously. Although outgoing and popular at school, she still struggled with insecurities. She craved
the attention the boys gave her. She knew fornication was wrong, but her situation was unique. She was lonely and being with
"him" made her feel happy and secure. When questioned from a biblical perspective about her immoral intimacy, she
acknowledged it wasn't right, but she said, "I think God would want me to be happy." She never imagined that she
would get pregnant after just one time. She was scared. A baby would change all of her plans for the future. She became depressed.
She went to the clinic and poured out her heart to a counselor. She couldn't consider abortion. God wouldn't like that. The
counselor said, "I think God would want you to be happy."
woman, divorced for sixteen years, had had a hard life. Her "ex" was remarried and happy. Her oldest daughter had
left home five years ago; they had not spoken since the abortion. Her son had just graduated from high school. Neither of
her children had ever obeyed the gospel. Bitterness and discouragement crept into her heart. The church she was part of was
small and aging. She wasn't happy. Her friends from work invited her to their church. She went. She found people her own age
in her own circumstances. They bonded. The small and aging church got smaller and aged some more. When the woman was approached
about her exchange of the truth of God for a lie, she acknowledged that her new church did some things she was uncomfortable
with, but she said, "I think God would want me to be happy."
The, "I think God would want me to be happy" line has been used by many to justify their immorality and
apostasy. The rationale is based on a self-centered definition of happiness and the assumption that God wants that kind of
happiness for us. This rationalization ignores or is blind to all the unhappiness in its wake. The man divorces to be happy
but leaves behind an unhappy family. The girl fornicates to be happy and increases her unhappiness. She aborts to be happy
and deprives her child of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The mother abandons her faith to be happy. All of this
is done because people presume that God wants them to be happy.
you imagine? Eve observes the potential of the forbidden fruit to make her happy and reasons, "I know that God said,
'you shall not eat,' but I think God would want me to be happy," (Gen. 3:6). We ought to consider that God's boundaries
are established for our happiness.
Ahab couldn't be happy unless
he had a certain vineyard. "I know that God said, 'you shall not kill,' but I think God would want me to be happy."
Did Ahab and Jezebel give any consideration to Naboth's happiness (1 Ki. 21:4-7)?
Demas may have reasoned, "I know I should stay and work with Paul, but I think God would want me to be happy,"
(2 Tim. 4:10). This may hit a little close to home if our personal happiness is determined by how well things happen to be
going for us in this present world. Many rationalize and excuse themselves from sacrificial spiritual service because, ultimately,
we think God would want us to be happy!
In our affluence we
have become obsessed with the importance of being happy. Solomon had been there and done that and concluded that it is vanity
(Eccl. 2:1-11). George Bernard Shaw quipped, "The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether
you are happy or not." Indeed, for many the quest for "happiness" has only brought greater misery.
People are looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Most recall Solomon's
conclusion to "Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man," (Eccl. 12:13), but miss that
this conclusion is also the key to true and abiding happiness. "Happy are the people whose God is Jehovah," (Psa.
144:15) and whose hope is in Him (Psa. 146:5). Fearing Jehovah and walking in His ways bring happiness to everything from
the food you eat to the family with whom you share it (Psa. 128:1-4). Blessing comes to those who revere, trust, and obey
Jehovah God (Prov. 16:20; 28:14; 29:18). It is not the pursuit of happiness that brings happiness but the pursuit of God's
The exemplary models of faith are not found pursuing
happiness. What kind of example would Job have been if he had just given up to be happier? It is his endurance through extreme
unhappiness that makes him noteworthy (Jas. 5:10,11). What if Mary had decided she would be happier if she aborted her Child?
Ultimately, Mary found her happiness in being able to serve the will of God (Lk. 1:38).
If Jesus had decided He would have been happier in heaven we would be lost! We are called to imitate Jesus' selfless
attitude (Phil. 2:5-8). When a man divorces his wife for personal happiness, he is not esteeming others better than himself
(vs. 3). When a woman aborts her child to achieve happiness, she is looking out for her own interests and not the interests
of her baby (vs. 4). These attitudes do not reflect the mind of Christ.
God has not called us to happiness as we define happiness. On the contrary, we have been called to suffer, if need
be, for the cause of Christ (1 Pet. 2:19-21). It is better to suffer for doing good than to do evil in a misguided effort
to be happy (3:17). There is no value in suffering as an evildoer, yet if any suffers as a Christian there is no shame, but
an occasion to rejoice and be glad (4:12-16).
Does God want
you to be happy? Indeed he does! Yet, the scriptures that inform you that God desires your eternal happiness also say that
He hates divorce (Mal. 2:16), and that we must flee fornication (1 Cor. 6:18), and that God hates hands that shed innocent
blood (Prov. 6:17), and that we must be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10).
None of God's word can be ignored or compromised to secure the happiness that God offers. Yes, God wants us to be
happy, and that is why we must hate what He hates and love what He loves. Jesus said, "If you know these things, happy
are you if you do them," (Jn. 13:17). If you do not have the happiness that God offers, then either you don't know the
things of God or you aren't doing them.
Our Lord wants us to be happy
and He tells us in His word what will bring true happiness in humble
1 And seeing the multitudes,
he went up into the mountain: and when he had sat down, his disciples came unto him:
2 and he opened his mouth and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall
5 Blessed are
the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted
for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against
you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.
- Happy is he who has the God of
Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God, Psalm 146:5
- Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding; Proverbs
- He who despises his neighbor sins;
who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. Proverbs 14:21
who heeds the word wisely will find good,
And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20
- Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart
will fall into calamity. Prov 28:14
- For the kingdom of God
is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Rom. 14:17
- Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of
the Holy Spirit. Rom. 15:13
- But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Gal. 5:22
- My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the
testing of your faith produces patience. Jam. 1:2-3
- That the
genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be
found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now
you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your
faith—the salvation of your souls. 1 Pet. 1:7-8
to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence
of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion
and power, both now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25