30 May 2010 (Rishon/Pesach)|
Day #76, 5934 AM
Mixed Marriage Dilemmas
Discerning First and Second Order Truth
One of our family's favourite TV series is Little House on the Prairie which has so many good Gospel teaching illustrations. But in some matters it seriously falls short of the biblical mark and reflects something of a humanistic spirit.
In one episode a young Christian woman and a young Jewish man fall in love and get married. As human beings, both of them have very admirable qualities. The point of the story is to show how love conquers all and how compromise can resolve a potentially explosive situation for as you can guess the respective Christian and Jewish families quarrel over which religion the children are to be raised in. In the end the hero of the series comes up with the 'perfect' compromise: the girls will be raised Christians (Episcopalian, in fact) and the boys will be raised Jewish. The anti-Jewish Christian mother is revealed to be a biggot (she happens to have many unsavoury character flaws), the moderate Christian father who is all for the union becomes a star, and everyone lives happily every after. The message of the movie: 'love' is the most important thing and eventually triumphs - human love.
I am sure you have heard similar stories. It looks good, it feels good, so it must be good. But when the human heart becomes the arbiter of truth, it sets itself up as God. You see, we all know what Yahweh thinks about this so why pretend otherwise? Throughout the Bible, in both major Covenants, mixed religious or inter-faith marriages are forbidden because the issue is not first and foremost human emotional love but Yahweh's love which is firmly rooted in Emet or Truth:
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness (torahlessness)? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Messiah with Belial (the devil)? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of Elohim with idols? For you are the temple of the living Elohim. As Elohim has said:
At this point the Bible-faithful believer is in danger of being accused of being a heartless cad, as in certain circumstances he might well possibly be, but not in the matter of loving Yahweh first and obeying His commandments which are bathed in eternal Ahavah or Agapé love, and not the fleeting moment-for-monent 'love' of the flesh. For what does Yahweh say in this passage of Scripture? Does He says that inter-faith marriage is kosher? No, he says it is idolatry. It is unclean (unkosher). He says it is Lawlessness (anarchy, disobedience). It is darkness. If we believe the Bible then we have to agree with this judgment. If we disagree with the Bible, we are disagreeing with God and making ourselves to be God. It's that simple. Then we become blasphemers too.
"I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people."
"Come out from among them and be separate, says Yahweh. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, aays Yahweh-Elohim" (2 Cor.6:14-18, NKJV).
The parents of the young woman made a serious mistake - many mistakes, in fact. The father could have taken a Biblical position but chose to be liberal. The mother acted not out of Biblical truth but out of racial prejudice toward Jews so both were at fault. They actually set her up for a fall. The 'justification' for this match was based on the fact that the young Jewish man, by standing up to her and the negative traits she had inherited from her mother, managed to change the young woman from being selfish snob and into a decent human being. (Her Episcopalian faith and bad parental example hadn't helped her much). Her falling in-love with the man played an important part to be sure but is character reformation more important than abiding in Truth? The trickiness of the situation is that is looks as though the inter-faith marriage 'worked', and on one level - the human - it absolutely did. But at what cost? Did the Jewish husband ever convert? Not as far as we know. Did the woman retain her Episcopalian faith? As far as we know but doubtless compromises were made. How else would you run a household with a Christian daughter and a Jewish son? No doubt a very successful humanistic marriage resulted but what is far more important is the eternities? Here two types of believer separate out - the humanistic Christians (who put human love first) and the Yahwist Christians (those who put Yahweh first - loving Him before all else). It demonstrates clearly that all those who agreed to this idolatrous union did not really trust Yahweh before their own finite and fallible judgments. There was something better for that young woman but they judged on the basis of the moment instread of prophetic hindsight. They all messed up, without a doubt.
In the Scriptures there are different orders of love. The first is First Order Love - the Highest Love - which puts Yahweh's Emet and love for Him above the limits of human reason and the lack of prophetic breadth of human feelings. As humans, with a fleshy nature, we tend to defer to momentary 'wisdom' and 'feeling' rather than the wisdom and feeling that sueprnaturally traverses time and spaces and which can only come from Yahweh. Ecstacy in the short-term may end up as hell in the long-term. What we think is awfully clever today may turn out to be totally idiotic once some experience of life and Yahweh's ways have been gained which is why the New Testament admonishes the youth to bridle their passions. Energy and wisdom are not synonymous, I'm afraid. We should not waste a whole life through foolish choices.
What of Second Order love? Unlike that of the First Order, which operates in Yahweh's absolute will and truth, Second Order love operates in His permissive will because of grace. You find yourself in a bad situation because of bad choices so you are permitted to continue operating within that sphere you have chosen. For example, you are an unbeliever married to an unbeliever. You convert to Christ. Should you separate? No, the New Covenant requires that you be true to your spouse in the hope of converting him or her. You are only released from the unequal yoking if the unbelieving spouse - husband or wife - deserts the marriage (or dies), otherwise you are bound.
A believer who chooses to marry a non-believer is setting him- or herself up for big trouble. Sons usually imitate their fathers, and daughters their mothers; so if one spouse is an unbeliever, then the children of the same gender of that spouse will almost certainly end up imitating their unbelieving parent. This is a statistical fact. There is no possibility of echad in a marriage other than in a purely humanistic sense. Believing wives not infrequently end up abandoning their faith and adopting the faith of their unbelieving husbands (whether an atheist or of another religion) to maintain peace and diminish pressure on them to adapt to the husband's ways, which is the true order of marriage. So if you don't want to be like your husband, don't marry him! One of my sisters-in-law made the fateful choice to marry an atheist...and became an atheist. It didn't do her any good because he abandoned her anyway, as he indeed honestly said he might if the 'magic' stopped working between them. Marriage is the second most important choice you make in life after choosing Yah'shua. If the marriage isn't centred on Yah'shua then the pressure to make it more important than Yah'shua can become an unbearable strain. Of course there are 'bad' believers too...who turn out not to be believers at all and who can be absolutely tyrants. But then they may turn out to have been symbolic or nominal believers only. You have to watch out for them too and watch them in action over time to be absolutely sure you're getting the genuine item.
Marriage sets the course of your whole life. If it isn't running in a firm second place behind Yah'shua it is doomed to destroy you spiritually and invariably more. In which case, remaining single and devoting yourself to Yahweh is the better option. Paul had this in mind when he said:
This Second Order counsel has been taken out of context by Catholics and others to imply that marriage is second rate and singleness is better by making it a First Order truth. It isn't. This counsel is based on local conditions or circumstances which were not conducive for raising families. This may possibly have been Noah's thought also for not marrying until later in life. The Torah absolutely makes marriage a priority after Yahweh Himself and only in exceptional situations (e.g. Jeremiah) was marriage proscribed.
"Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman [because of the present persecution*]. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from Elohim, one in this manner and another in that. But I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Master: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest I, not the Master, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" (1 Cor 7:1-16, NKJV).
I urge young people to not rush into relationships and allow Yahweh to be in charge of your search for a spouse. Use time. You don't spend all of your money in a rash adventure. Don't throw your life away rashly either. Above all, see beyond any humanistic or materialistic short-term advantages that leave Yahweh's Torah out of the equation. There is grace if you mess up for sure but these messes can take a lifetime to tidy up and there is always damage that can't be fixed. Parents above all must set a good example and not play the compromise game. And if you don't have believing parents, attach yourself to a family which is tried and proven who follow sound Biblical counsel and imitate that.
A final word - watch our for divorcees! For Yah'shua said:
Do it Yahweh's way. Be safe. Be happy.
"'Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery'" (Matt 19:9, NKJV).