And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
AP news recently carried a story about a coming reality show. “TLC has announced it will air a full series about a progressive polygamous family from Utah that starred in a one-hour pilot earlier this year.” It will star “Brady Williams and his five wives and 24 children.” Williams commented, “It’s a first step in the right direction toward the de-marginalization of polygamists.”1
A little background to this latest push toward public acceptance of polygamy will be helpful. Polygamy in our day is in a similar state that homosexuality once was. Though homosexuality has gained wide spread acceptance in our time and same-sex marriage has been accepted in many states, this has not always been the case. Until 1973 the American Psychiatric Association listed homosexuality as a mental disorder. Homosexuality was viewed as unacceptable by a majority of people. What brought about the great changes we have witnessed? David Cohen, a professor at Drexel University who specializes in family law, made the following comment about the possibilities for the legalization of polygamy. In so doing he reveals in a brief statement what was behind the change in attitudes toward gay marriage.
A political movement was behind gay marriage’s gains in our country. One need only study its history to see this. By definition politics are, “Activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government.”3 The politics behind the advances of homosexuality have a history and are, therefore, traceable. Will the same thing one day be said for polygamy?
God’s intentions in the New Testament regarding the number of wives or husbands one may have are clear. Each man is to have his “own wife,” not wives; each woman is to have her “own husband,” not husbands (1 Cor. 7:2). A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If, while he is alive, she is married to another man she shall be called an adulteress (Rom. 7:2,3). A man is to cleave to his “wife” not “wives” (Matt. 19:5). Prospective elders are to be the husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:2; Ti. 1:6). Regardless of the pressure given by other sources or arguments made from other angles (social, psychological, etc.) God’s people must stand for His teaching on this matter (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 4:2-4).
A movement (please remember use of this word in the above indented quote, sw) similar to that we have covered up to this point in this article can be traced among non-institutional churches of Christ. It concerns adulterous marriages. As such sinful unions increased in our society, so increased the number of preachers among God’s people who were willing to defend such marriages and call for the acceptance of couples in such marriages.
As preachers calling for the acceptance of those in adulterous marriages increased, so increased those who agreed that churches “rightly” decide to use such preachers to work with them.4 Christianity Magazine, a magazine that enjoyed wide circulation among brethren from the early 1980’s to the late 1990’s, led in this movement. All five of its editors would say that they will not tolerate an adulterous marriage in the church of which they are a member. Nonetheless, they commended men who called for the acceptance of those in such marriages. They did this in two ways. First, they did it by never specifically refuting the teaching that churches had acted “rightly” in using those who taught error on MDR, teaching that was done in that magazine, thus, treating it like a matter of unity-in-diversity. Second, they commended such teachers of error on MDR by allowing the publishing of articles they had contributed in the magazine, thus making brethren think such men were worthy of fellowship.5
Like the acceptance of homosexuality in our country, the politics behind the acceptance of those teaching clear error on MDR and, as a result, the acceptance of those in adulterous marriages among churches of Christ is traceable. As a result many churches are no longer governed by the teaching of our Lord and Savior on matters about which He has clearly spoken (Matt. 19:9; 28:18-20; Eph. 1:22,23; Acts 20:32). In the context of this article it is worth noting that, among the errors on MDR taught by some brethren among us, is the belief that polygamy is not sinful.
Though those who teach such errors continue to circulate among churches of Christ we do not hear very many sermons answering the errors of MDR anymore. After all, “we” have been told that those who teach such errors are acceptable. How long will it be before the current sermons against homosexuality are no longer heard in many churches of Christ? Please keep in mind, the politics of the acceptance of like sins of the flesh have already been effectively used among us.
1 “Move over Sister Wives! Utah polygamist with FIVE wives and 24 children to get his own TLC reality series,” author not given, 20/12/13, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2527202/Move-Sister-Wives-Utah-polygamist-FIVE-wives-24-children- TLC-reality-series.html (accessed 12/21/13; 11:54 pm)
2 “Polygamists find promise in Supreme Court decisions,” Molly Vorwerck, 6/28/13, http://www.usatoday.com/story/ news/nation/2013/06/28/polygamy-supreme-court/2473157/ (accessed 7/1/13)
3 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politics (accessed 12/25/13)
4 Ed Harrell argued this in his article, “Homer Hailey: False Teacher?”, Christianity Magazine, November, 1988; many brethren commended Ed’s article. Those who openly opposed Ed’s error were viciously attacked in ways similar to those used to tar sound brethren in their stand against institutionalism from the 1950’s to the present day.
5 Christianity Magazine used as contributors such teachers of rank error on MDR as, Don Bassett, Jerry Bassett, Harold Dowdy, Don Givens, Homer Hailey, Rolf L. Miller, L.A. Mott, Don Wilson. This practice continued during the entire run of the paper.
Scripture Reading: Hosea 4:6-10
“Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming
substance”; “The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with
or involved in something.” 2 Pet. 2:19
I. SIN IS ADDICTING BY NATURE, Rom. 1:29.
A. Sin Multiplies
when it is Left Unchecked, Isa. 30:1; Jer. 9:3; 2 Tim. 3:13.
II. THE ADDICTION OF SIN CAN BE BROKEN, Rom 6:6-7, 11-14; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; Titus 3:3-7.
A. Conversion to
Christ, Rom. 7:24-8:1; Lk. 15:17-21; 2 Cor. 7:9-10 (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
III. THE ADDICTION TO RIGHTEOUSNESS MUST BE ESTABLISHED, Phil. 4:8.
A. Develop and Make
New Habits, Eph. 4: 20-24; 2 Pet. 1:5-11.
Scripture Reading: Acts 24:1-9
1. Enemies of God’s
truth have always cast doubt on the messengers, 1 Ths. 2:13-16.
I. WHAT CHRISTIANS FACE TODAY IS NOT DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST.
A. Ahab to Elijah, 1
II. WHY ARE SUCH CHARGES MADE AGAINST FAITHFUL BRETHREN AND THE TRUTH THEY TEACH?
A. Because when the
Whole Counsel of God is Preached it does not Scratch Itching Ears, Acts
20:27; 2 Tim. 4:2-4.
III. WHAT ARE THE RIGHTEOUS TO DO IN THE FACE OF SUCH CHARGES?
A. Remember, there is
a Just Cause, 1 Sam. 17:29-30 (26); Gal. 4:16
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
I was searching through news pages on the Internet after being in India for almost three weeks – searching for something “noteworthy” for this column. I suppose I could have chosen one of the leading events – Unrest in the Ukraine and Russia, murder at home, political evasion… All these and more caused me to pause and think about how bad the news is these days. Or, so it seems.
But, there have been murders since Cain killed Abel. There has been political intrigue from the Pharaohs to the judges and kings of Israel to the Roman Empire to the present. National tensions are ever-present.
Christians should be interested in the news, but not consumed by it. (That is not easy for some of us; I confess to being a news junkie.) News reports on what is happening in this transient world in which we are pilgrims (Heb. 11:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:11-12). When we are more concerned about the kingdoms of men than the kingdom of God then we have lost our focus and balance (consider the principles stated in 1 Tim. 4:8 and Matt. 6:33-34). Yes, Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we should always use our influence to impact society for righteousness. That means being concerned about what is happening around us in the world. But we remember this world is not our home.
While doing so remember to keep your focus and priority on heaven. Do not allow all the “bad news” of life prevent you from seeing and rejoicing in the joys and blessings of life given you by our Heavenly Father. Life is a gift from God that should be used to fear Him and keep His commandments above all else (Eccl. 5:18-20; 12:13). Evil is in the world, and evil people do evil things that hurt others. Still, we must meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely and of good report (Phil. 4:8). We have the “good news”!
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/10/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA