A guy headed for a world of hurt...While the hot topics tend to revolve around sexual issues, I think that we, as mature Christians, sometimes forget how hard it can be to completely extricate oneself from years of living outside the kingdom of God.  On one hand, we tell people that they don’t need to be perfect before they come to accept Christ, and on the other hand, the moment they “come up out of the water” we seem to have an expectation that their life will be quickly (if not immediately) put in order.  Two examples, one old and one new, come to mind:

The Old Example

Mark Driscoll has talked a couple of times about a lesbian couple who had been together many years, with at least two children in thier household, who started coming to the church he pastors (Mars Hill, Seattle).  After a short while, they came forward with a desire to join the church, and did so.  As a pastor, though, he had to try to help them sort their lives out in a way in which they could directionally head toward a holy life.  I’ve not heard the ending of the story, but I can see where – particularly in light of the family situation they were in – it was not a simple answer, and it would have to be one that they worked through, not a simple proscription from the pulpit.

The New Example

My own senior pastor just returned from a mission trip with a couple we sponsor in Africa, dealing with the AIDS crisis and planting churches in the local tribes.  One of the cultural customs of the area is polygamy.  The pastor of the local church frequently has to work with families where the husband and one or more wives come to accept Christ.  When you have a family in which a man has multiple wives and many children, and they come to accept Christ, there is no easy extrication from the previous life.  In fact, you end up having to balance at least two principles:

If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (I Timothy 5:8) 

And this:

‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Mark 10:7-9)

Answers

In both of these cases, for those involved – pastoral staff and the new Christian(s), the wisdom of Solomon is required.  For everyone else looking on, though, perhaps the best response to give is the one given to Peter by Jesus, when he was concerned about Jesus’ plans for John – “what is it to you?”

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 28th, 2007 at 11:53 am and is filed under Christian Living, Original Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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14 Comments(+Add)

1   Tim Reed    http://churchvoices.com
September 28th, 2007 at 12:02 pm

Is there a scriptural mandate for a polygamous marriage to become monogamous after becoming Christ followers? I just ask because Paul was dealing with that situation and doesn’t have any hard and fast rules, except for denying leadership (husband of but one wife and all).

I’m not sure if God is honored by having a wife kicked to the curb in the name of Christ.

2   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 12:21 pm

And if a husband has four wives and they all get saved, whose husband will he be in heaven?

Oh yea, Jesus already told us about that…

3   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
September 28th, 2007 at 12:24 pm

In the case of the polygamous relationship, when I was in Africa, there was a fairly young brother in church who had 2 wives. He was not a Christian when we met, but shortly after he joined the church. There is no way that God would require him to abandon one of his wives (and the children) in a case like this.

That being said, we all know that a polygamous relationship is against the principles of God. At one point one of the wives (both ended up joining the church for a while, one was baptized) actually came to church with a knife planning to kill the other. Not a nice situation, but it was ironed out at the time.

4   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 12:41 pm

Chris L.

I heard a story (supposedly true) of a missionary who converted an African chief to Jesus… the chief had many wives.

Yet, the missionary then told the chief that he cannot have more than one wife… the chief stated he wanted to please God and would take care of that.

The chief picked his favorite wife and had the rest executed…

The missionary was horrified and asked the Chief why he did such a horrible thing.

The chief explained that there was no divorce in his tribe. If a man decided, his wife was not what he wanted he executed her and then got a new one.

The moral is that we need to be aware of “culture” and if we do not know it and demand our way, some will get hurt and be lost in our wake.

Blessings,
iggy

5   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 12:44 pm

Yea, but were those wives saved?

6   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
September 28th, 2007 at 12:44 pm

So who wants to tackle the lesbian issue in the “Old example”?

7   Phil Miller    http://veritasfellowship.blogspot.com
September 28th, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Paul,
I think some of the answer would depend on the age of the children. Perhaps the women could start off with a relatively simple move of having their own rooms wherever they live. Perhaps a family in the church could come along side them and help them with the kids.

I guess another thing would depend on whether the women could live in the same house together without falling to temptation. Maybe some other single, Christian women who don’t struggle with homosexual temptation could move in with them to help out. I think there is room for creative answers to these types of issues.

8   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 1:05 pm

As Brian M. states and assumabley as Mark D. performed… pastorally…

I think one needs a lot of prayer and love… and patience. One need to also rely on the Holy Spirit to teach and lead them to understanding why God’s way is best. They need a true desire (given by God) to be changed by God through Jesus Christ.

It may take more than a quick, “shave you legs, put makeup on and you will feel more feminine” style to help these women.

Be Blessed,
iggy

9   Tim Reed    http://churchvoices.com
September 28th, 2007 at 1:11 pm

As Iggy and PHil has indicated solutions will vary on a case by case basis. Anyone who tries to prescribe a heavy handed, cookie cutter solution is a fool.

10   Darren Sapp    http://www.vaporministries.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 2:23 pm

I have none, nor is their any easy answer. Let’s consider divorce. Would the polygamist be committing further sin by divorcing some of the wives?

For the lesbian couple, they were never legally married. This is similar to a man and woman living together but are perhaps financially dependent on one another. They might work toward a biblical marriage but the lesbian couple could never be biblically married. Some sort of separation would have to happen, but with kids this is extremely complicated. As difficult as it sounds, for them to remain in a sinful relationship might be more harmful on the kids.

There are many sins that carry repercussions long after one becomes a new creation in Christ. The pastor’s job is to lovingly help them move toward a life of holiness.

11   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 2:56 pm

A man gets saved who is a hermaphrodite. If he is Arminian does he get a choice?

12   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 3:01 pm

In all seriousness the Driscoll thing about the two lesbians joining the church is a great example of what is wrong with having church membership. Like the RCC magisterium, the local church must declare the person “saved and baptized” as if they were God. How many people have been saved who were already church members?

That means they were not saved but the church had assured them they were. Not good. Let those two women come and grow without the problem of church membership.

13   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 3:14 pm

I recently saw a documentary on siamese twins connected in such a way as they shared some torso.

One controlled the right arm and leg the other the left… they literally are the two headed person… but are actually two people… no way to separate them without one dying.

Now, one gets married… is the other sinning on their wedding night?

You figure it out… myself, I will lean on grace!

be Blessed,
iggy

14   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
September 28th, 2007 at 3:15 pm

Which side tithed?