Some time ago I relayed the account of a Facebook interaction I had with an individual I called “Trevor”. Trevor is a young man in his early twenties. I’ve had the privilege of having long conversations with him regarding theology and Biblical matters in general. Trevor goes to a local church and has made a profession of faith, so giving him the benefit of the doubt (since it is not my place to make a judgment otherwise) I regard him as a brother in Christ.
Last Friday, Trevor and I got into another discussion, this time about the Law and how it pertains to believers. Since he was pressed for time and our conversation was growing increasingly in depth, Trevor asked if he could pose some specific questions via a Facebook message to which I could then compose a more in-depth reply. What follows is my response to Trevor. His questions are included in the body of the response in bold italics. I hope that you find it edifying!
Here is another meme I saw floating around Facebook this morning:
First of all, the message of the gospel to UNBELIEVERS is “be ye reconciled to God”. Therefore, believers by definition are already reconciled to God.
Secondly, the believer is ALWAYS right with God because he is the born again righteous offspring of the Father. He may fail to show love by not being obedient, but it in no way affects his righteousness!
The latest gem courtesy of our buddy Paul David Tripp:
Protestantism is all about condemnation. To tell a believer to focus on sin is to keep him under condemnation. Condemnation is about death, judgment, and fear.
But Christ came to give LIFE and to give it more abundantly. The New Birth is characterized by obedience and love, not fear and condemnation.
The Protestant church is returning to its medieval orthodoxy. This transition is very subtle but causing controversy and conflict. The transition is extraordinarily efficient because Protestantism is already primed for it. A misguided (from a true Protestant perspective) historical-grammatical interpretation of the Bible created a Protestant hybrid for about 200 years, but the rediscovered true Protestant gospel has returned.
And that means Protestant pastors claim all authority on earth over salvation and people’s lives. That’s just plain black and white Protestant orthodoxy. Before Protestants became confused between 1776 and 1970, they were just another warring faction among all the other church-states and pagan-states that ruled the world. Part of the confusion was integrating Americanism with Protestantism, but in reality, the two are mutually exclusive.
So, this is what our ministry deals with; contentious Protestant marriages over the authority issue. One spouse subscribes to pastoral authority while the other doesn’t. This post primarily focuses on husbands—probably because three out of the four situations we are presently dealing with involve husbands that are seeking counsel.
In these situations, the wife has a problem with the husband because he “doesn’t respect the elders” or “refuses to submit to the elders.” If a husband is guilty of this grave sin, he has lost all credibility as a husband and the right to be one…while in most cases he is yet paying the bills.
Even though the wife has completely stripped the husband’s status as leader of the home and given it to the elders of the church, we hesitate to counsel any husband to file for divorce, but we do think that it is time for the “divorce conversation.”
Due to the fact that the wife has ignored the clear teachings of Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1Corinthians 11:3, and has chosen to listen to mere men instead, she may be treated as if she is an unbeliever. Her authority is men, not Christ. This is when the husband needs to have the “divorce conversation” to ascertain whether or not the wife is pleased to remain married to said husband. The conversation could go something like this:
Husband: Do you want a divorce?
Wife: No, why would I want a divorce?
Husband: Because you have taken away my role as a husband and given it to the elders of the church, that is, except for paying all of the bills. This is an unacceptable existence.
Wife: But you should be willing to submit to the authority of godly men.
Husband: No, I will submit to Christ and no other, so what do you want to do?
Based on the outcome of this conversation, the husband may encourage the wife to put feet on her beliefs and file for divorce (1Corintians 7:15). This is because she will never respect her husband as a husband until he obeys men rather than God. That’s a huge problem, and frankly, not reconcilable.
This puts the wife in a position where she has to verbalize a position instead of having it both ways. “yes, I totally disrespect you because you will not obey the elders, but I still want the financial security that you supply and occasional sex.” If she will not admit it, verbalize it for her and let her present a case of denial. But at any rate, it can be pointed out that the elders get to be the boss while not putting their money where their mouth is. They and the wife are picking and choosing what role the husband is allowed to execute. It’s an absurd state of affairs.
As a ministry, we are treading new territory in regard to utterly rejecting the authority of Protestant orthodoxy. Christ’s assembly is a body that operates via organized gifts, not via the glory of arrogant men. There is ONE head of the body…period. Perhaps this “divorce question” conversation is a sound beginning to needed solutions.