Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Church Lie, The Gospel, Men, Marriage, and Millstones

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on May 4, 2020

ppt-jpeg42I would like to begin this post with ground zero on marriage. This is from the perspective of children. In a marriage with children, the children find all of their security and trust in the family unit. A child’s worldview is formed by what he or she sees and experiences regarding the parental marriage.

I speak from firsthand experience, and I believe my experience speaks to a common rule. A child’s security comes from seeing the love, commitment, and trust between their parents. When parents divorce, certainty collapses within the children. Nothing, and no one can be counted on when the chips are down. Children of divorce will see the world through the eyes of pessimism.

With that said, sometimes divorce is necessary. In those rare cases, the circumstances should be used to show the ideal contrast. An ideal second marriage can rebuild a proper worldview within the children and a contrast to the first.

Susan and I did a series on marriage some time ago and it didn’t focus on fixing a bad marriage, it focused heavily on doing marriage right the first time. A large and very important part of parenting is equipping your children with knowledge to do a marriage right the first time. We should know what marriage is, and why we get married. Few people know the real what and the real why of marriage. The wedding vows are mere words spoken for tradition like the part where we feed each other cake.

In our day, marriage has become almost irrelevant. Primarily, the church is at fault for this. I became a church member in 1983, and even that far back, “members in good standing” who lived together out of wedlock was commonplace. Our society has vested most of its marriage etiquette in the church and looked to the church for all of the important principles.

But, the church had other priorities. Good marriages do nothing to increase the control churches have over people. Indeed, what church emphasizes is the “Bride of Christ” doctrine. The church is supposedly the bride of Christ, so, your faithfulness to the church makes you a faithful spouse to Christ. Marriage between you and your spouse is merely a “picture of the church,” and golly gee, it’s a plus if you have a good one. But, if it doesn’t work out, oh well, after all, “we are all just sinners saved by grace.” The important marriage is your marriage to Christ judged by your commitment to the church. In vogue of late is divorcees pointing to their wedding rings as now symbolizing their marriage to Christ. That’s just another church lie.

While the Bible dismisses under-law marriages that are terrible, but somehow commendable because “God hates divorce,” the fact that the Bible strongly applies a legal element to marriage cannot be denied. And, why is that? We will apply another example  using children.

Growing up, my brother had a friend from a very dysfunctional family. He was always spending the night with us and eating at our house and he was always welcome. I am sure he appreciated our hospitality, but how much security could be found in it? You have heard of people overstaying their welcome, right? How often did this young man feel like he was imposing on us? But, let’s say our family had adopted him legally; that changes the  ballgame totally, no? Now, the parents come forward and offer to be committed to him as much as their own children. Now he is secure, but the security comes through a legal commitment. Officially, my brother’s friend becomes my brother; this changes everything. Before, our family was his friend, now he is our family. In that, he is now secure. In that, he knows his presence is not imposing on us.

It’s really about commitment. And what I described above is little different from the gospel. Being adopted into God’s family goes way past God supplying your needs out of compassion, God is now committed to you as a child. God is love, but his love must be qualified. “Adoption” encompasses God’s mercy, compassion, and COMMITTMENT. The doctrine of adoption makes you secure as God’s literal family member.

The apostle Paul had a primary objective in his ministry; to make the Gentiles understand they were not mere guests of Israel’s house, but family. Paul wrote, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Paul also Calls Him the “Spirit of adoption” because we (Jew and Gentile) are baptized into the one body of Christ by His power.

This doesn’t mean that salvation comes by the law. Salvation is issued by God through believing The Promise. The new birth saves you, but like in the world, when you are born into the world, it gives you certain legal rights. However, remember, birth in this world gives you legal right to the world’s laws, the new birth into God’s family gives you legal rights to the laws of heaven and the commonwealth of Israel.

That’s what the Old Testament is. It’s a will. The will didn’t save you, but you obtained it by believing The Promise. The Promise is the good news. The Promise is the gospel. Nevertheless, the details of your inheritance are documented therein. You are now a legal citizen of God’s kingdom. And God has not only showed His love towards you, He has adopted you into His family. You are secure, and your security is documented in the courts of heaven with the Holy Spirit testifying. He stands there with you before the throne of God.

God truly loves the world, but for those who would be part of His family, he adds the force of law. You are not merely a recipient of His love and mercy, He petitioned the courts of heaven to adopt you.

There is no family apart from a legal commitment. You may very well help a beggar and that is an honorable thing, but you have not committed your life and belongings to that beggar. When you die, he will not receive your inertance.

Loving words and loving acts are indeed sweet, but going past the words, and even the actions, and committing your whole life to others is a whole other matter. It is a signed confession that there is no exit when the going gets tough. It is also a commitment to that person when you find out you cannot control them. It’s a funny thing, people avoid marriage because they don’t want to be controlled, but marriage is about the opposite. You have committed to that person whether you can control them or not.

These are not the exact words my daughter said to me the other day, but in essence, “The whole family knows you are insufferable, but we also know who we can count on when the chips are down.” I’m totally ok with that. In fact, I would love that to be on my epitaph. Nevertheless, in my endeavor to be more wise when people do come to me, when they do, which means they are in some really deep stuff at that point, I listen very carefully to what they say, and also others who share what they have said.

Let me share a reoccurring theme that I hear: women seem to think, by virtue of being the birth mother of a child, that the absence of marriage leaves her in total control of the child’s welfare. In other words, the lack of a marriage commitment is all about being in control by not being in a legal commitment with the father. Lack of trust much? Am I saying that a person who doesn’t want to be legally committed to someone might have baggage that is a red flag? That’s exactly what I am saying. Granted, the experience of a childhood divorce may foster trust issues. That’s why, if divorce is necessary, there must be a strong emphasis on repairing the damage to children. But the point here follows: commitment is all about giving up control, not obtaining it.

On the other side of the coin, Susan and I have counseled many men who became fathers because they are clueless. They are even content with being part time fathers on the weekends. At any rate, in many cases, we have children growing up in an uncommitted relationship. They are guests in an uncertain household. Love is more about personal politics for an individual agenda than commitment.  You piss me off, and all I have to do is pick one of Simon and Garfunkel’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” You see, a lover is a much different thing than being a family member. Commitment is what makes love more than a convenient action to pad one’s self-esteem. True love isn’t always fun. True love can be very messy.

Though love always has demonstrably more benefits than the cheap versions, playing the love game without commitment invariably puts one on the wrong side of the law. In the Old Testament law, our will, all sin is imputed to that law. When we are adopted, the law is executed and all sin imputed to the will is cancelled. All condemnation under the law is eradicated, and the law is now our guidance for loving God and others. Of course, no one would say we can love God with no commitment. No one respects a “fair weather friend.”

Whether you are a true child of God or not, putting children in a volatile, unstable, and uncommitted environment is very ill-advised. Christ put it this way: it would be better to have someone tie a millstone around your neck securely, and then jump into a lake. Don’t mess with children, God will hold you accountable and it won’t be pretty. Having children is a matter of liberty; please be sure of this: choosing to not have children is NOT immoral and does not in any way cheapen the value of your life.

But also be sure of this: jumping into parenthood without wisdom is a death sentence. Please don’t confuse the slow death of a miserable life with some dramatic formal execution. If you find yourself in the former; fix it, like yesterday. It is fixable. If you find yourself way in over your head, it may mean adoption in some cases. And by the way, by no means do professing Christians have the market cornered on wise parenting for reasons previously discussed in this article. Does that offend you? Then the only other choice is to step up to the bar. You can do it; God will help you.

Commitment is about being all in with no exit door. Even God thinks it’s important to do that in writing among witnesses. Don’t be fooled…

…a family without marriage is NOT a family.

paul

 

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