Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Should Christians Marry Unbelievers?

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” -2 Corinthians 6:14

The decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord remains the most important decision of a person’s life. The second most important decision remains a believer’s choice for a spouse. A spouse will either aid your spiritual growth or become a detriment to it. In the above passage, Paul instructs believers to be careful who they are “yoked” within this life.  The challenges brought about by marriage remain difficult even for two dedicated believers, much less one as an unbeliever. Here are the most likely three possible outcomes if a believer marries an unbeliever:

1.      The most common outcome will be for the Christian to push Christ to the margins of his or her life. This may not involve renouncing our faith but in matters of practicing our faith. Examples of practicing our faith include: our devotional life, hospitality to believers (Sunday School events and small group meetings), missionary support, tithing, raising children in the faith, fellowship with other believers, church attendance- that thing will have to be minimized or avoided in order to preserve peace in the home.
2.      Alternatively, if the believer in the marriage holds on to a healthy Christian life and practice, the non-believing partner will have to be marginalized. If the unbelieving partner can’t understand the point of the Bible study, prayer, missions, hospitality, or church attendance, then he or she can’t or won’t participate alongside the believing spouse in those activities. The profound unity and oneness of a marriage cannot flourish when one partner cannot fully participate in the other person’s most significant commitments.
3.      Either the marriage experiences stress and break up; or it experiences stress and stays together, achieving some truce that involves one spouse or the other yielding in some areas, but which leaves both parties feeling lonely and unhappy.

Does this sound like the kind of marriage that you want? One that strangles your growth in Christ or chokes your growth as a couple, or both? Think back to 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being “unequally yoked.” Most of us no longer live in an agrarian culture, but try to visualize what would happen if a farmer yoked together an ox with a donkey. The heavy wooden yoke, designed to harness the strength of the team, would be askew, as the animals are of different heights, weights, walk at different speeds and with different styles. The yoke would rub and chafe both animals since the load would be distributed unequally. 

An unequal marriage is not just unwise and outside God's will for the Christian, it is also unfair to the non-Christian, and will end up being a trial for them both. Marriage carries enough challenges without extremely different exceptions for the marriage from each person involved.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Should Christians Drink Alcoholic Beverages?

"and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”" -John 2:10

The best book on these issues is God Gave Wine by Kenneth Gentry Jr.; Gentry describes three positions on alcohol prevalent among Bible-believing Christians. His work is helpful because while he argues for the biblical freedom of God’s people to consume alcohol in moderation, he does not drink alcohol, and therefore he is arguing from pure motives. We should only be concerned with the truth, not traditions, family teaching, nor personal experiences. Here are the positions:

1.    PROHIBITIONISTS: they teach that all drinking is a sin and that alcohol itself is evil. This teaching has roots in American feminism, more than Biblical Christianity. This position is untenable because the Bible teaches that God makes “wine that gladdens the heart” (Ps. 104:14-15). Also, Jesus’ first miracle involved creating over one hundred gallons of wine at a wedding party. It appears that Jesus ate enough food and drank enough alcohol to be falsely accused of gluttony and drunkenness (see John 2:1-11; Matthew 11:19). So if alcohol is inherently evil, then God is evil because he makes it, and Jesus is sinful because he drank it. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, are we trying to be holier than Jesus by not drinking?

2.    ABSTETIONISTS: teach that drinking is not sinful but that all Christians should avoid drinking out of love for others and a desire not to cause anyone to stumble. No doubt Christians should avoid drinking in the presence of others who are unable to practice moderation and self-control (see Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 10:31-32). The Bible teaches that God gave wine to his people despite the abuse of it in use to worship the pagan god Baal (see Hosea 2:8). Jesus drank alcohol even though there were undoubtedly people in his day who were alcoholics (see Matthew 11:19). Paul says that only a demon would compel Bible teachers to forbid things that God made good (see 1 Timothy 4:1-5) and that drinking alcohol can be done in a way that glorifies God. Can you think of a situation where abstaining from drinking would hinder your witness?

3.    MODERATIONISTS: teach that drinking is not a sin and that each person must let Christian conscience guide them without judging others. The position is both reasonable and biblical. Wine itself is neutral and can be used in both good and bad ways (see 1 Samuel 1:14, 24; 25:18, 37; Joel 1:9, 10). When used in the right and redeemed way, alcohol could be viewed as a gift from God, especially when feasting (see Psalm 104:14-15; Ecclesiastes 9:7; 10:19). Here are a few examples of when alcohol has been used by God’s people: celebration (Gen. 14:17-20), the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18), medicinal purposes (Proverbs 31:6; 1 Timothy 5:23), worship (Exod. 29:40; Num. 28:14; Matt. 26:27; 1 Cor. 11:25-26), thanksgiving to God (Proverbs 3:9-10), and happiness (Deut. 14:26). Can you think of a situation where drinking alcohol could cause a weaker brother to sin or fall?

We must consider our context and responsibility. It is always permissible, but is it always wise?