W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
We speak of witnessing. Perhaps like Paul you will be led to proceed without a mate (I Corinthians 7:23‑37‑ these verses repay careful study). Paul presents a case for non‑marriage, simply as an option; but makes perfectly clear that the other option is open, as indeed Christ made transparently clear it is
(Matthew 19:9‑12). The point is that marriage is not a necessity nor should it, as with anything else, be guessed, but rather governed by believing prayer, again, like anything else!
It may be well to note NOW that Paul in this passage is EXPLICITLY arguing a case, and clearly NOT binding anything. Thus he gives an inspired (I Corinthians 2:9‑13) account of one possibility, including his own perception, describing how he finds it for his part for his work, to be a bachelor.
Paul however neither here nor elsewhere is DISOWNING what he claims and what Peter confirms ( II Peter 3:18) - that is, the inspiration of his epistles. Quite the contrary is the case (I Corinthians 14:37). In this context, the reference to 'not I but the Lord' in I Corinthians 7:10 appears clearly to indicate simply that a special difference exists between this command and that in 7:12. In 7:10, the concept is that it is not for PAUL to declare a law when in fact it has already been given, and this by supreme authority: CHRIST! Hence "not I but the Lord" makes the command. It appears in Mark, no divorce, as the generic, but in Matthew 19 as no divorce may occur EXCEPT (of course) for adultery. The penalty for THAT used to be death! (Leviticus 20:10). It was Christ who gave this out directly, personally and for Himself before He rose.
On no account is there to be divorce between a wife and her husband, but for adultery: this He declared. THAT has power to sever it, if the party offended against so desire (Matthew 19:8-9). Of course, as you see in Hosea, the party who is not guilty of adultery has power to forgive, to pardon. It will perhaps depend on the repentance or otherwise of the guilty one; but love is forbearing, though not condoning reckless enthusiasm sustained for evil.
Then Paul takes up a point. Suppose the wife leaves the husband (not recommended), but if she does, what then ? This is not divorce but simple separation. If, then, she does leave, says Paul, let her remain unmarried. In sum: separation is possible, but undesirable, but divorce is out except for the obvious correlate of death case: adultery. That is "not I but the Lord". When in verse 12, he addresses another point, this is his own inspired addition concerning this, and hence "I, not the Lord." What is that point ? It is this. Suppose a wife should have an unbelieving husband, or vice versa: does the believing partner leave the unbeliever ?
No, you should not leave him for that reason. Rather, says Paul, realise this, that the believing partner (assuming marriage a fait accompli - for otherwise you should not marry an unbeliever, being yourself a believer - I Cor. 6:14) SANCTIFIES the household, so that the children are not 'unclean'. What does this mean ? Possibly it refers to baptism in terms of the believing parent, making the children to be set apart in terms of the covenant, as under the Lord who is ruler of the head of the household, and in this sense 'holy'. Certainly, it involves the presence of a Christian spirit and influence over them, but the term 'unclean' and 'holy' for children would seem to at least include baptism. We shall return to the former point shortly.
If the unbeliever, Paul pursues it, should leave ? Let it be, he is inspired to direct. You are not bound to proceed further. Let the unmatched partner go if this is the desire. Unmatched ? How much better if the marriage had been wrought by those who BOTH knew the Lord; but of course, sometimes ONE partner becomes a Christian AFTER marriage, and 'I, not the Lord', that is the apostle as inspired by the Lord, but not the Lord as speaking when formerly on this earth, declares this recherché point for the people now assembled and ready to find new developments, as truth is applied.
Thus we return to marriage: YOU must pray it through: it is open.
Let us summarise and extend a little, first prospectively and then following that.
You would do well to ensure, if you are going to marry:
i) that you marry a Christian (II Cor.6:14 would apply very harshly to any non‑Christian marriage;
and a Christian is not someone who does not know what he/she believes, but assuredly
knows in whom faith has been put!).
ii) You marry someone whom you love in the Lord, with whom you can share in the Lord,
co-operate in His work and ways, pray in the Lord... Consider here ...
Proverbs 5:15‑21, Acts 4:24 ff.: you are a band of disciples, on a small scale!
In this connection, strongly recommended is Catherine Marshall's A MAN CALLED PETER,
and JUNGLE PILOT, about Nate Saint.
iii) That you do NOT marry anyone previously married, except the earlier spouse was killed,
or died or was divorced from because of adultery, YOUR choice being the innocent party in the matter (Matthew 19:9).
iv) That you do NOT marry followers of sects or foolish teaching‑ though they may recover themselves from the snare, you are not free to marry while they are in it.
v) That you have brought the question in earnest and repeated prayer to God
preferably praying well before for the provision of God's own choice for your wife
(if marriage is HIS choice for you): Knowing God hears, and waiting and testing everything
with Him, before moving on. Get the green light, the inward peace and assurance,
as well as keeping principles: and remember that 'red' is always possible.
The appealing choice is not always the ultimate one, and God may have something far more apt if you wait: bear this in mind. On no account marry in desperation, frustration or with jaded heart.
LOVE the one you are to marry.
EXPECT wisdom, and asking for it in faith, wait humbly on the Lord.
"TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL YOUR HEART,
DO NOT LEAN TO YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING:
ACKNOWLEDGE HIM IN ALL THEY WAYS
AND HE WILL DIRECT THY STEPS ..." ( Proverbs 3:4‑5) here applies.
Remember James 1:5-8. ASK for it, TRUST for it and DO NOT be double-minded about this!
WHEN you are married:
i) Don't divorce except for adultery ( Matthew 19:9); and even in that case if the other party repents, consider mercy ( cf. the story in Hosea, concerning the prophet's marriage).
ii) Men, be gracious and tender to the wife: I Peter 3:7‑8 and have only one (Proverbs 5:18, Ephesians 5:31-33, TItus 1:6 where ONE wife is the prescription for the case where,
unlike that of Paul, marriage does occur). .
iii) Wives, note the presidency of the husband‑in Christ: I Peter 3:1, Ephesians 5:22.
This does not give the husband the power to lead you in anything contrary to Scripture, for God comes first; but it gives him authority within that. However, this authority is closely imprinted with love, for the one who exercises it is to so love his wife as Christ loved the church!
With that in mind, this double blessing works with brilliance, like a spiritual dance
It is ludicrous to cite one aspect and ignore others, as some do. You might as well have
an engine with cylinders but no pistons.
iv) Let us look at the male part further.
Husbands: a command quite equal to that to the wives comes to you in the very same place:
LOVE YOUR WIVES WITH THE SAME SELF‑SACRIFICIAL APPROACH, in one sense,
AS WAS IN CHRIST who "loved the Church and gave Himself for it". You cannot die for
your wife's sins, but you should live with love for her welfare in the Lord: such an authority
is a lot easier to regard, when it is disposed in THIS way! Men are not tin gods, but persons
of love; wives are not fractious rebels, but gracious and prudent: THIS is the theme .
See Proverbs 31 for a description of an ideal wife.
v) Wives, do not be infatuated with fashion ‑ 1 Peter 3:2‑4. Moffatt translates this beautifully:
Yours should be "THE UNFADING LOVELINESS OF A CALM AND GENTLE SPIRIT!"
Cultivate this perfume! You need not be dowdy; but put first matters first.
vi) A non‑Christian husband (alas) or wife, you do not just leave!
Your presence (if it is the case, and you married perhaps, before you realised
the need to be equally yoked with a fellow BELIEVER) can 'sanctify' the children.
In this context, it refers not least to a situational sanctity, a cover in the honour of your own profession of Christ, which extends to merciful graces available in Christ for your children.
That is, part of this point is that it gives to them a holy ground about them, a taste and savour
of Christ and of His kindnesses and an example; and this will help them to find God as you live and present Christ.
As to the 'unclean' aspect (I Cor. 7:14), see the treatment above which completes the matter.
What however if your husband should forbid reference to Christ ? Then such prohibition would need to be limited to stay outside whatever the commandments require, and the oppressed partner should actively be seeking (first from God) for liberty to bring them up in the ways of the Lord (I Peter 3: 1) . It would not be possible to obey such a command, therefore, but it would
be possible to show delicacy and restraint, knowing that you are 'fishing' and seeking to show a love which neither taunts the tainted, nor ignores his presidency, yet on the other hand, certainly does not capitulate to a pagan requirement at odds with the need to confess Christ (Luke
9:23ff., Colossians 4:6). You could never willingly consent to the voidance of instruction in
Christ, or other covenantal aspects of the situation (see COVENANT).
It must be always remembered that the basis of the rule of God, is GOD, and that you do not
put a husband in His place in anything, but take your place at his side, FIRST making sure that
with love and tact, but truth and savour, you follow the Lord.
To complete this
summarising: Remember that if
non‑Christian partner goes from you, so be it, says Paul. But you are not free
to marry again while such a one lives (except of course adultery be undeniably
committed, which would happen in a remarriage of the partner leaving the
Christian ... ) -
I Corinthians 7:10‑16.
MATCH, MISMATCH, LOVE AND THE MAKER
Courtship, Marriage and the Place of Sex
When courting, remember the prohibition (I Corinthians 6:15‑18,9).
Observe that the body for a Christian is a sort of temple for the Lord by the Spirit (see also Ephesians 5:1‑6).The body is for the Lord, not for loose use (I Corinthians 6:9) of any kind. It is constructed for a purpose Avoid its abuse in any form, but rather consecrate it ‑ Romans 12:1‑2,13:14.
What, says Paul, will you, as a member of the body of CHRIST, join THAT body to a harlot!
I Corinthians 6:15.
Sex is a highly specific and specialised way of expressing affection, joined with the potential for having, in the love it symbolises, a fruit in children to be loved with the same love. As the child is conceived in love, so it needs and should have love Insincerity in sex or marriage can thus blight the child, if the distortion of purity of any kind in spirit leads to a withholding from the child, or a division in the loves. The child, for its part, is at once a physical expression of love, a giver and a receiver. You see, if you go astray in your earlier parts, the child tends to be compromised in the end.
Indeed, sexual aberration, like stunt flights, is perilous, and in one moment of error can infect emotions, body and spirit. No one admires gluttony, and in marriage the restraint which love imposes. Imposes ? but is it in the last resort, an imposition to delight in the interests of what you cherish! Rather restraint as occasion requires, it graciously inspires... It should covenantally be a work of kindness (cf. I Corinthians 13). Love is irreplaceable, and no amount of laws and prescriptions can replace it; yet when it is there, these advices are as dew to the grass in the morning. They fit and complete what is already prepared.
How far off from all of this is perversion! This, whether its harlotry, its use or provision - like using flowers instead of tar on a road surface - or into the same sex actions in an extravaganza of disregard of the divinely made and manifest design, or with channeling to animals in a way perhaps less corruptive to the other party, but if possible, still more of a caricature of the image of your life - from God: this, through defilement, is asking for judgment. Its historical antecedents are seen abruptly in Jude 7!
All such things are to use equipment at the physical level, astutely designed and aided by protective devices, co-ordinated in a way a child can understand, with a wanton and vexatious disregard of its Creator, so vast, that the divinely decreed death penalty in the Old Testament, for theocratic Israel as it as at that time, does not surprise. This is to be found in Leviticus 18:22-30, 20:7-17. Indeed various gross acts of sexual disrgard, racially, ethically and personally are most rigorously condemned in these 2 chapters, just as sexual innovation and excess, abuse and misuse, is exposed and condemned in Ephesians 4:31-5:4, where it is justly associated with other passionate pre-occupations of the spirit.
There is a spiritual background, perhaps in the form of a vacancy, to much carnal action, whether it be a tempest of a moment, or of some length, and the causes of any indulgence, do not necessarily stem from a given basis, but may be simply an outlet for some other trouble. Whatever, however, the immediate cause, the result is the same in this, that it violates the word of God, and wisdom.
In fact, Romans 1:17-31 makes it clear that there is a whole co-ordinated system of sin which naturally follows from replacing the supernatural with the natural, the creation with the Creator, as the practical basis of belief, action or thought. Such aberration is equipped with a prognosis which readily includes tempestuous psychic sin as well as physical aberration, the unnaturalness of taking 'nature' for God, becoming the ruin of human nature.
Its essence ?
"Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God,
nor were thankful,
but became futile in their thoughts,
and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools...
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness in the lust of their hearts,
to dishonour their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie ...
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions ...
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,
God gave them over to a debased mind ...
backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things... "
Thus, it is not merely the physical, but the religious, the refined, the pure, the realistic assessment of holiness to God which is here invoked in the Bible, and this in the Old Testament no less than in the New, so that Israel as a nation is shown that its purpose is not itself, and that its call to serve God is not to be used, to be diverted to follow any lust which suibjugates the person to reckless passion, indifferent loving, or casual intemperance.
Whether this be in sex or some species of religious vagrancy, whether in worshipping what iws NOT the Designer, or a marring of the design which he made, it is mere abuse of privilege. God does not back such godlessness, although He is most kind to those who repent, and has gone to the uttermost to provide for a simple transference of guilt, yet this ONLY when there is an entire construction of the personality in the first place, or a cleansing, in the second (II Corinthians 5:17ff., John 1:7-8). Faith being what it is, there is no question of saying one thing and doing another, though as with King David, if a fall occur, there is a lift from the Lord to the ways of truth once more. It is no small matter which then occurs (Psalm 51 attests this most eloquently!). Even a child may fall, but we do not expect any child to make a practice of falling, as if it were a means of locomotion! (I John 3:9 declares that those born of God do not make a PRACTICE of sin (actual translation), and this is just as clear as is the announcement that any imagination that you are without sin is mere delusion (I John 1).
A GLANCE AT HISTORY
Let us pursue a little the case of Israel, since history in its simplicity of overview, can annul special pleading for the present, relatively easily!
In the prophets, God indicates that He brought Israel into the land as a model, an example to testity of God (Isaiah 43:21 for example), so that to descend, to accimatise itself to athe unsustainable abuses of spirit, body and mind to be found all too easily in the surrounding cultures to its new land, those indeed which were being judged BY GOD THROUGH ISRAEL in the day of Joshua, yes, and which had been foreseen from centuries before (cf. Genesis 15:15-17) would come close to constituting a religious fiasco (you see something of this element in Isaiah 1!). Indeed, it came according to these same prophets, to constitute a wantonry of prodigious proportions (Ezekiel 16, 13, Hosea 7, cf. Deuteronomy 32).
How prodigious was this desecration of divine design and intent, of holiness, this Israel was to find, as it went to its eventual climax of ruin, where invasive passion from godless nations were used to expose its inveterate moral nakedness (Deuteronomy 32:19ff.), and indeed this very imagery is used (Ezekiel 16:35ff.). Poor Israel: it got what it gave! and only by mercy did it continue at all (cf. Jeremiah 31:18ff.).
Such was God's comment, such was God's warning - and the warning in the prophets was long, but not for ever (cf. Hosea 7:6 - 8:7). Israel had some great times, great kings and great reigns, but in the end, folly divided the nation into two sections, and carted off the Northern segment altogether (II Kings 17), equipped officially with its chosen idols, and then called 'Israel', while the South, carrying the name 'Judah' (which was part of it), and which dwelt with Jerusalem in its midst, this had an exile of 70 years pre-announced by the prophet Jeremiah (25) and suffered extraordinarily (II Chronicles 36, Lamentations): and all this, long before Christ came, and was duly crucified with unchaste spiritual passions. Loving appeals, reminders, exhortations, rejected, and the grounds of their successive disciplines were cited repeatedly in Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micah to name only some, and indeed, the fact that it would be a series of aggravated penalties had been made clear from the time when Moses wrote Leviticus! (26).
How tender is the truculence, but how irrepressible is the holiness which, mercy despised by man, comes from God! Where all else fails, then judgment speaks its own language (cf. Ezekiel 12:21-28, 20:48-49, 21:1-17, where you see the people daring to mock God's patience, and the onset that must come to meet their clamant clamours of body, mind and spirit!).
An entire disregard of the fear of the Lord, which is clean (Psalm 19) and of His testimonies is cited, while in Hosea, the prophet is required to marry a harlot, who yet commits adultery and has to be redeemed, to show in terms of sexual licence, the religious follies of the land. These of course had issued not only in idolatrous disregard of the true God, but in callousness, injustice (Ezekiel 22, Micah 7:3-4, 5-9), greed, misuse of youth, moral blindness and spiritual apathy. Indeed, it looks very much like so many nations now, whether increasingly, USA, Australia, England, Europe, not to mention Asian countries, and of course, the wild profusion in Islam at the carnal level, in biblical terms, is inveterate, women often being multiple for one man, and frequently so circumscribed that it is a virtual assault on humanity at the domestic level (Proverbs 5:15-19, Ephesians 5, and see Beauty for Ashes... Ch. 7, More Marvels... Ch. 4, Cascade... Ch. 10, *1).
Alas, the condition of Israel was very like that to be found at present in much of the Gentile peoples, where even here in Australia, we have reported in the news, one body called a church, and one from considerable historical foundations, regressing from already having homosexual elders, as freely acknowledged, now laying the line for parallel preachers, perverted pastors in biblical terms, people who by the word of the living God are excluded from the kingdom of heaven - I Corinthians 6:9, in their present way, leading the people! where ?
Such a display of negligence towards the word of God is precisely what the prophets in Israel constantly exposed, and what a key King rigorously removed from the kingdom (II Kings 23:7), amongst the other expressions of carnal lust, be it in spirit, mind or body which he purged; yet they played the fool after his time, and met judgment with a force which paralleled their own former calumniation of the commandments for our good, and not for evil. Indeed, even this day as one writes, this fall of a church once held in considerable repute, at least as to its antecedents, has happened. Never, since formed by an amalgamation, fully committed to the Bible, it now leaves its text with the accelerations of a drag race.
Yet how tenderly the Lord entreated His people, as He does yet, and how graciously He shows the relief yet to come, but only in the case of Israel, after profound judgment and utter purgation (Hosea 11:1-8, Jeremiah 30:12-17, 31:27ff., 30:20). Meanwhile, for that nation in its historical exhibition in the prophets, what do we find ? It is this: that as perversity of spirit and body (Ezekiel 16:48ff.) became rampant - chronic, so judgment became inexorable, and ruin inveterate (Lamentations): mercy being spurned (Jeremiah 17:19ff.) with the same highmindedness that led to its initial need!
How Israel suffered, has suffered... Just as it first left the commands that implemented purity and peace (lamented so poignantly by the Lord as seen in Isaiah 48:17-20), so at least the nation killed its own Messiah, yes Him who was for all nations (Genesis 12): all bonds broken but the love of God who yet remains faithful to promise (Ezekiel 39:22ff., 37:5ff.). Thus has He brought back the nation to its own land as promised (SMR Appendix A, cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, Isaiah 42, Ezekiel 36-39), and thus does He wait until the time comes (as in Romans 11:25) for their awakening! The Gentiles (cf. Romans 11: 187ff.), when they likewise kill the word of the Lord, and dismiss the Christ from their hearts, His commands from their midst. Israel suffered for unbelief, and it does not cease to be such when in the hearts of Gentiles, with their own provocative passions and idols.
It is time, then, to look at the New Testament.
In the New Testament, the Church is no longer theocratically found in the nation, for the clientele is international. Yet the penalty of homosexuality, to take one prong of the dissolution, both spiritual and sexual promiscuity, in all its godless diversity, adultery both spiritual and physical, fornication both religious and sexual, that galaxy of sexual folly available: this is not there, any less severe.
The case is this, in the New Testament, that such practitioners are excluded from the kingdom of heaven. Sexual perversion in particular is lumped with kidnapping and other gross acts of violation (I Timothy 1) , indeed even with covetousness (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Such things are not included (cf. Revelation 21:8). Repent by all means, but that change of heart is immiscible with the misery of malediction, since it is a matter of faith which works, and working, has that fear of the Lord which is not craven, any more than is the fear of a huge log, bringing blessed warmth, should it fall out of the fire place craven. It is a matter of recognising reality, and being humble in the face of truth. Two into one will not go with integrity, and the way of the Lord is one: it does not suffer division and revision. It stands.
See in particular I TImothy 1:9010, I Cor. 5:11-12, 6:9-10, Romans 1:22-32 on these matters.
Wantonry of various species in such scriptures as thee, is seen in a descent of spirit into the pit of irregularity and ruin, in a coalescing climate of such rebellion against God, that its source and destiny look alike. (Cf. Jude 3-7 and refer to News 44, 88).
SEXUAL OBESITY, DEFORMED DESIRE, SPIRITUAL ANOREXIA
All these things - sexual obesity, deformed desire, spiritual anorexia, depleted love, sex, defiled mock marriage or relationships more broadly invented as a butt for push, a victim for self-expression or a sordid, self-willed substitute for actual love - are uniformly rejected in all the Bible, just as are other defilements of that magnificent image (Genesis 1:27) that man bears from God.
Physical expression of love, where its eventual outcome in procreation is designer-inbuilt, is worse than meaningless unless spiritual, personal love precedes it, like a midwife. Love so expressed, if indeed love be present, will naturally express itself in other ways as readily. The physical is but one of these, and sexual involvement is but one of the physical ways, for even the eyes can mate.
Thus in Ephesians 5, you see the divine prescription, which for love, is also a divine description! This is its way.
Let us take an illustration, then. If the husband is to be tempted to make final decisions since bafflement between two has no resolution mathematically, yet they are to be made with a sacrificial love which has its exemplar in the love of Christ for the Church! (Ephesians 5:24-28). There is no use of power to seduce, to abuse, to seek gratification, but rather to delight, to deliver and to care! As Christ took His orders as Messiah on earth, from His Father (cf. John 12:48-50, 7:16).
The rule of such love is incandescent with desire for the wife's joy and need, allowing for any weakness with solicitude, not pressing, not demanding but rejoicing in sincerity, integrity and grace. These two sides balance, her willingness, if need be, for a presidential vote being cast by the husband, and his insistence on sacrificial tenderness on her behalf. Such 'orders' are easy to obey, and in any case, what need is there of order when there is harmony, peace, agreed objectives and mutual intelligence shared. In any case, NOTHING contrary to the word of God may be bound by anyone in any Christian household.
Betrayal of either side, as in one clumsy dancer in a duo afflicts both, is simply ground for repentance. It is time to take the patters of the Lord seriously! You cannot teach love. I it is not present, it will not be understood! When it IS present, it tends to wonder what all the talk is about! Yet it appreciates instruction from the Lord, the ultimate source of all worthy of the name of love.
Thus for failure, law impinges - Do this, Avoid that! It is only when the word of God rules that the heavenly and enduring natue of love is discerned, for God is its definition (I John 4:7ff.), and dynamic. Divorce from Him leaves 'love' without vision, subject to the wheel of cultural change wrought on soft clay, the cycles of the untutored psyche and the mood that passes. To miss the reality for such nuances and nebulous profusions is like stuffing your stomach with fairy floss at some fair, and failing to know what a strengthening repast can do for living.
Thus some may be called not to marry or have sexual relations at all (Matthew 19:12), as was Paul; but this, so far from denaturing love, simply removes one branch of its expression for those called so to specialise in others of love's fields.
Fervent brotherly love, with a pure heart (I Peter 1:22) is the basic reality, after the love of God Himself (Psalm 73:25ff., Matthew 22:37); and these exhibit love in its source waters, which move to whatever expressive format of co-operation for Christ, friendship, teamwork, marriage, the marvels of motherhood, the meadows of paternity, that they find. Love flows with peace like a river, and even in rapids, it proceeds surely.
There is a beauty of holiness in love which mere sentiment, self-expression or self-seeking, with or without passion, never knows.
LOVE ON ITS WAY
Yet where is the one who fails to turn ? It is, as with all sin, to the Saviour, who has no limits to His power to cleanse, pardon and empower in purity.
Naturally, as with other sin, repentance and seeking the face of the Lord is a first pre‑requisite if you go, are going, or have gone astray here. The Lord is merciful and knows how to put your sins as far away as the East is from the West (Psalm 103): but repentance pre‑supposes sincerity of purpose and requires confidence in the saving power of the Lord; which is of course part of the natural birth‑right (I prefer here 'birth‑grace') of a Christian.
The misuse of sex, then, is to make a comedy of love. Since in His purity and as Scripture defines it, God IS love, this would indeed be a mockery.
Marriage for the Christian should be an answer to believing prayer, and comes thus as a part of a special plan for him/her, held by God. There is no need for rush or for anxiety one way or the other, but for a calm, deep, and abiding confidence. There IS no such Father as God: it is however necessary to KNOW Him ! Like everything else, the question of marriage should be spread before Him.
Think of the children, for example, and what you seek in the Lord for their service to Him -
BEFORE you marry. There may be long enough to SEE it afterwards; wisely consider it beforehand in prayer, and let it be sincere and sure ... Of course, you would wisely consider various physical tests to prevent needless difficulties to a child, through ignorance of medical conditions. Each matter should be prayed through with the consciousness that your heavenly Father, WHO IS LOVE, knows both you and the situation AND has the solution available. NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR THE LORD ( Luke 1:37, Jeremiah 32:17).
Heredity matters, racial matters, educational matters, capacities for service and mutuality in service: all these and many more should be pondered before the Lord. This does not demean the reality of the love: on the contrary, if you love, then you wish the best for your potential wife/husband and possible children, and LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND AND HEART.
Within the framework of a delicate and loving concern for each other, which Paul stresses, he gives further advice to married people (I Corinthians 7 :1‑6). This is general spiritual counselling from the Lord, and not an 'abrupt command'. In ALL things, consideration such as one accords to one's own members in one's own body, is called for. Marriage is not employment: it is deployment jointly of resources out of love, and because of it.
Gentleness, graciousness and the deepest concern should be conferred by each on the other as the wind confers freshness in Summer, and the rain its refreshing.
19 A DIVORCE FROM DOOM,
Sad things have to be faced. Divorce, for no cause but adultery, is not only possible, permissible, but specifically declared by Christ (Matthew 19:9ff.). It must be for sexual immorality. That of course did not constitute much of a problem in the Old Testament day, when it was a theocratic State, for the homosexual, the animal and the adulterous practice brought the death penalty. Such a wife or husband would not be alive! Nowadays that life is not removed since there is no such theocratic State: the penalty still remains, however, that such a practice excludes from the kingdom of heaven (I Cor. 6:9).
We have also seen that ANY sin,
if truly repented of,
if detested and cut off by faith, and so desisted from through the grace of God,
its guilt put on Christ crucified and life from His resurrected power used, as one is restored -
as was King David, can be pardoned. In that King's case, II Samuel 11-12, read with Psalm 51, show the fact and the repentance.
Pardon however is not another name for pollution: it is part of the way to purification.
I Corinthians 5:9ff., I Timothy 1, and Leviticus remain in awesome coupling showing the divine attitude to such impurity as a practice. The whole heart must be cleansed (I John 1:7ff.), and this is what faith enables, has enabled in countless cases from Paul's day on (I Corinthians 6:9-11).
What however when the pollution, the promiscuity, is not physical but spiritual ? We have noticed the strong scriptural emphasis on the parallel between adultery of flesh and of spirit, that indeed Hosea uses the parallel to promote the preaching of purity of spirit, in contrast to idolatrous preoccupations, other gods: so that Israel is LIKE an adulteress in its 'whoring' after other gods. Such was the judgment in Deuteronomy 32 moreover.
Is a lapse in flesh more significant than an 'affair' in the spirit ? Not at all! On the contrary, GOD IS A SPIRIT (John 4), and sanctification is to be in mind, body and spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23), and one is to avoid ALL uncleanness (Ephesians 5:3), and this in a context moving from wrath, bitterness, anger, to covetousness and all uncleanness. Moreover in II Corinthians 7:1, the church is exhort that we should "cleanse ourselves from from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." It could never be said that it is unclear!
What however is to be done when it is not just one's own body, mind and spirit, but that of the Church of which one is a member ?
Ephesians 5 tells us what the whole Old Testament had thundered for centuries, yes for millenia.
The thing has to be corrected, in which you so abide. Judgment is the only alternative. Patience is not another name for pollution. In I Kings 17 and II Chronicles 36 you see the cumulative impact of disobedience, brushing aside correction, ignoring expostulation from God, exhortation and appeal. It is simply judgment. Faith works. Fiction does not. God is not keeping children who are fictions. His children are transformed by His Spirit, cleansed in spirit and chosen in eternity. Imperfect to be sure, they yet love Him and His ways, and His word (Titus 3:5ff., Romans 5:5, John 14:21ff.). Sinners indeed, they are not in conscious rebellion; and if they do rebel, they are chastened as was Jonah in that classic case. God is a loving Father, not the runner of a spiritual brothel.
In Ephesians 5:7 we gain the command in the special and (for the New Testament commencement era) new situation where the organisation is not a nation, but a church. Membership in such a body is of course entirely voluntary: it is not a national, but a church matter. What is the command in Ephesians 5 then ? It is this: "DO NOT BE PARTAKERS WITH THEM." Do not share with them.
This means that you cannot pay for their pastor, partake of their fellowship or their communion, or their prayer meetings, for without any doubt, this would be sharing, even on an intimate scale! If you want, therefore, to disobey God, this is one sure-fire way to do it. Go on in the voluntary fellowship of your Church when it duly makes the decision to tolerate ANY kind of impurity. Sexual licence, such as having homosexual or lesbian pastors, or elders, or indeed members, is one such decree nisi against the commandments of God. If a church makes it, that is the end of that church for fellowship, by express command of the Bible. You then follow it, or the word of God. You CANNOT do both, since they are contrary, the one to the other. As Joshua put it, CHOOSE THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE! (Joshua 24:15).
Let us be especially clear here. It is not a matter of a lapse in some party, who like David, in the control of some foolish lust does this or that. We are talking of those who are characterisable in this way, as homosexuals, or adulterers, fornicators, covetous, and so on. This is the language both in Ephesians and in I Corinthians 5 and 6. What is to be said about sharing a communion with those who are by name expressly told they are NOT in the kingdom of heaven, in I Corinthians 6, because their LIFE STYLE is in a forbidden territory of this
kind ? It is rank formalism and specific disobedience. It mocks God.
What however is the case when some other impurity is in view: such as disbelieving the Bible, or making culture king, whether in masculinism or feminism, and reading to God the riot act, from this extreme or that, indicating to Him what is to be done ? That too is simply a special case of rebellion, of building your house on the sand so that, Christ predicts, when the tempest, the trial that finds out your strength and your basis comes, you fall in the sand (Matthew 7:15ff.). It is simply another way of showing that you do not love Him, for as He says, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word!" (John 14:23). "He who does not love Me does not keep My word," He declared. Paul in I Corinthians 16:22 shows the significance of such a situation: "If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus, let him be accursed!" the apostle declaims.
You cannot have it both ways. Man without God in the world, stranger to the covenant of promise, has no hope (Ephesians 2:12), and is a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). 'Flesh' as shown elsewhere is another name for acting as if one had made a declaration of independence from God, or simply lived that way without one! (cf. Romans 7:9ff., 18): covetousness in this sense, which trapped Paul, is a sin of the flesh. Fulfilling the "lusts of the flesh" can be in coveting as well as adultery, in pride as well as anger, in self-approval as well as in other delusions that take their call and talk from themselves, ignoring what God has to say. It can even reach the point where a person actually considers that any good God had better accept him or her, for such a deity would know such a good thing when He saw it! There is no evident limit to the pride of flesh.
If therefore, flesh parades its speech before God, instead of accepting what HE has to say, it is like a child ignoring the specialist, and deciding that after all he does not have epilepsy and need not follow the instructions. In this case, a doctor may err: with God, there is and never has been error. His word is truth (John 17:17), yes, even to the last jot and tittle of it (Matthew 5:17ff.), and this is merely exhibited in its transfer to man, through apostle and prophet, by Paul in I Corinthians 2:9-13, as by Peter, in I Peter 1:10ff. and II Peter 1:19ff.. As in the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 4 and 12, you were disenabled naturally enough! from adding or subtracting from the divine mind, from His word, so in the New (Revelation 22:18-19, Matthew 7:15ff., John 14:21ff.).
What however if your church DOES THIS! What if it removes this scripture, or ignores it on purpose, and INSISTS on doing so after you have duly protested and presented the matter as it should be ? Titus 3:10 is exceptionally simple and clear here. On the second admonition, in dealing with someone who diverges from the doctrine, REJECT! That is the instruction to Titus. This is the spiritual situation to be implemented by whoever is in charge in the church, and by the congregation as to its desire, as under the word of God, in the Bible.
It is the same as we have seen in Ephesians 5:7; and no other message is seen in I Timothy 6:1-6. If anyone does not acknowledge the word of God, in fact TEACHES OTHERWISE, then the pathology is profound, and the instruction in 6:5 is quite simple: FROM SUCH TURN AWAY. Romans 16:17 makes it clear that it is the due instruction from the apostles, which is based on the word of God, which indeed gives it the authority at all, which is to be heeded. If anyone teaches otherwise, AVOID such a person.
What then if your CHURCH teaches otherwise. This is merely a corporate entity, and from this you are to turn away, this you are to avoid, with this you are not to partake. The exclusion then is for all who are acting as breakers of the law of God, as rejecters of His word, or indeed makers of new Christs (as in II Corinthians 11), or new Gospels. It is all one: it is the word of God which rules, or it is the word of man. If the latter, WARN, EXHORT and if there is no response, then leave: otherwise this is your chosen course, milieu and church, in violation of God's command.
What if you want to stay, as we have found, perhaps thousands do, who yet ADMIT that the church, this one or that, is in rebellion against the word of God and HAS LONG BEEN SO ? Then if you DO stay, you simply rebel against the word of God, as in any other situation, be it adultery, theft, covetousness or other, as specified.
It is not really so hard. God has standards. Keep them. If your church does not do so, warn it, exhort it, and if it persists in error, leave it. You have no option here. It is called separation, and much is said in long treatises to escape the simplicity of the thing; but it is to be done. IF the body does not obey, and WILL NOT, then you having warned, exhorted, sought, pled if need be, leave it. You are not free to wait until revival comes. WHEN it does, you are free to rejoin; UNTIL it does, your instructions are categorical. Untold misery can thus be avoided, and great power and wisdom found, as you follow God in this, as in all things (cf. Acts 5:32, where we read that God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him: naturally, He specially endues what follows Him!). No Christian is without the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9), but when you grieve the Lord, there is a disempowering and a disgrace, which abides but ill with His flow of strength and wisdom! When however you wait upon Him, not in word only but in spirit, what strength is available, and so we read as we find, in Isaiah 40:29-31.
For further on this theme, see The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 7.
You have abilities or 'talents' which the Lord has given you. Your mental calibre and physical ability tend to come at birth, though their misuse can condition them far from their true level, and wise and loving care and involvement from your parents and others, as well as your own attitude and activities may stimulate them to their better levels, within their actual potential.
From such misuse, Christ can deliver us, when we are His. Making the best use of what has been accorded you, both from birth and in your early stages of parental care, this is the positive virtue. The sturdiest use of your talents is urged by Christ (Matthew 25:14‑26 and Luke 19:11). It is no accident that you possess something which makes the Twin Towers, recently destroyed in New York, to seem like child's building blocks by comparison. The intelligence in you is not merely an impress from the Maker, as in all programs using code and command, but an expression of Himself by your spirit. Through this you actually and actively, consciously and knowingly participate in intelligence's use! More, you have a spirit to dispose it this way or that, and an imagination through which you may voluntarily dwell in worlds of thought, enterprise and even creation, yes creation in which your values and vigour, understanding and delight in God may be shown. What a creation are you who read this!
In prayer you may tell God that you wish your talents to be used to the extreme point for Him, in gratitude for creating you and redeeming you: that you wish to be used in creating good things and presenting the love of God in word and deed, testifying of Christ and rejoicing with His saints, walking in the beauty of holiness, surrounded by His Spirit, indwelt by His life (Psalm 27, II Peter 1, II Corinthians 3:18ff. cf. II Timothy 4:6-8, 1:9-12, Philippians 1:20-21, I Thessalonians 5:12-28), living now in the life eternal which shall not cease because of the Redeemer. Faithful, says Paul in this last reference, is He who calls you WHO ALSO WILL DO IT!
ASK HIM to bring it to pass: give no orders, just offer and ask Romans 12:1-2. Indeed, ask it in faith and watch in prayer, for in this is assurance: I John 5:14‑15 with Romans 8:16, 5:1-11. It is always a wonderful privilege be able to pray at least the sort of prayer which is also a clear command TO you FROM God: then you know it is in the line of His will, stimulating faith, which in such a matter, will surely bring results.
Be willing for ANYTHING; be supple in spirit. Remember also the spiritual gifts which God gives: your whole load of gifts needs use, and God who gives, knows how to use the committed, consecrated and willing seeking servant. Do not parade gifts or seek them for psychological crutches. You need no crutch when the God of the universe, King of Eternity and Lord of Creation, the Redeemer of your life is with you (Matthew 28:19-20, Hebrews 13:5-6). Test everything (I Thessalonians 5:21), do not quench the Spirit (5:19), and "in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you." Whatever befalls (Psalm 1), when you are His, is carefully crafted and by faith you need to accept, adapt to it and have it moulded or modelled as He enables you to pray. The lot comes into your lap, but the disposing of it is from the Lord! (Proverbs 16:33). Therefore seek Him, in all things, like an expert batsman facing a skilled bowler, and it is He who will glorify His own name in your deliverance, disposition and dynamising for the task (Psalm 1:6).
Never make money the criterion: is not God able to ADD these things to you, WHEN you seek FIRST His kingdom and its righteousness. This is what Jesus SAYS, so trust Him and do so (Matthew 6:33). Is He not Lord, is He not God! so treat Him as such, knowing NOTHING is too hard for the Lord (Luke 1:37). Submit everything to the Lord; maintain spiritual aims. Consider the spiritual service which you can do, wherever you are placed, and whatever your daily work (Romans 12:4-21). Ministers minister; but not they only! 'Ministers' are servants of the Lord, usually full-time, and they minister the word of God and serve in His house (I Peter 5, I Timothy 5:17, Ephesians 4:11); but all minister in some measure to each other and for Him who calls each (Romans 8:29ff., Ephesians 4:14-17, I Corinthians 12).
It is with ministers and missionaries a specific form of service,but remeber service is spiritually disposed by the Lord in His own body, and ALL serve Him and one another, while many who are first will be last, the last first. Many are the modes of service mentioned in Romans 12:4‑8, Ephesians 4, I Corinthians 12. There is also seen here the spirit of mutuality, but also of individuality since He who is the Head is also resource, recourse and Creator, over all. Therefore be sure that you do His will and never confuse this with what the majority say. Where there is health in a particular local body, well, so be it (cf. Acts 13:1ff.), but where there is invasion, intrusion, contusion with false philosophy and the like, you must chart your own course, exhort and challenge if need be, ensuring that the Head is honoured.
It is not really too difficult: for after all, if the body does not receive all of the Bible (Isaiah 8:20), what are you doing there! (Romans 16:17). If it does, then bring the word of God to the meeting and insist on it, for this is your good service; only be sure it IS what is written and not your own misconception. That too is not very difficult if you are willing to follow it and watch in prayer and faithfulness (Proverbs 8:8, John 7:17, I John 2:27).
Laymen have done amazing things, for it is GOD who works in you both to will and to do (Philippians 2:12‑13, but combine this with 3:20‑21‑ this is that you 'rejoice with trembling'). But first you must be yielded absolutely to the strong Lord :Romans 12:1‑2. You must be ready to seek Him and to be chastened, challenged and led, yourself: Isaiah 55:5 ff.. Stephen was not a minister, but instead a deacon: it is not recorded that he was an elder, but rather one who was to attend to material needs for the people. However, what glowing and glorious testimony, lingers and dawns with a beautiful light, to this day, his service sealed with his death! Even there the very portals of eternal life opened and he shared as he left, the vision of what is to come, calling on the Lord both to forgive his oppressors and murderers and to receive his spirit, seeing Him at the right hand of the Father as he left for his rest in His presence (Acts 7, Philippians 1:20-21).
How keenly it would have been felt by those seeing it, and in particular by Saul, who was to become Paul, the apostle, who in Stephen saw before his own conversion an angelic-seeming example of purity, passion and compassion (Acts 7:51‑60)!
How many of the gracious attributes of FAITHFULNESS IN TESTIMONY, CLEAR EXHORTATION, SPIRITUAL UNDERSTANDING, COURAGE, CHARACTER, A FORGIVING SPIRIT, SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, PURITY OF HEART... which this deacon displayed. How beautiful his last words (vv.59‑60)...
Training can also help: you may go to a Bible Institute or do a course of Biblical studies, while always studying the word for yourself, finding n prayer and meditation in the presence of the Lord, HIS OWN opening up of spiritual things to you, helping you to be grounded and secure in the word.
A Bible Dictionary can be a great asset, but not all are faithful: ONE good one is that of J.D. Davis, 4th.Edition Revised, and on more recent ones consult a biblical pastor.
Modern Bible translations may also help, but care must be exercised. The A.V. is good indeed, but the language that of the time of its translation, in the time around 1600, near that of Shakespeare. Nevertheless in general, it is very reliable in touch and discernment, not taking liberties. The N.A.S.V. has good features, as has the N.I.V.. Unfortunately, in the New Testament both these versions use a corrupted text, following a theory of the last century which is now shown to be superficial and misleading. The great majority of the Greek texts are of the kind used in the A.V. and also in the New King James Bible. This with the Authorised Version (or King James) provides a good coupling, the former for refinement, the latter for clarity. J.B.Phillips' paraphrase is useful for preliminary survey. A Bible Atlas (also requiring care in its selection) is another help; and learning New Testament Greek is a further advantage, as a minimum for serious study. The Old Testament of course is mainly in Hebrew, and for the serious expositor, a knowledge of this is needed. Not all however are linguists, so that a judicious use of the translations is to the point.
For further detail, see Bible Translations. What then is a useful approach if you lack Hebrew and Greek to check translations ? It is this. Use the AV for accuracy, when this is the question, and the New King James for clarity, when this is the question. Some translations like the Berkeley Version, are excellent in general in the Old Testament, for clarity, but seem now unavailable. Using the AV, or the New KJ if the language is a problem, in harness together is in nearly all cases sufficient for normal use, and that with some reference say to the NASV for special stimulus can be a wise procedure.
Teaching in Sunday School is one way to learn, forcing the conscientious teacher to do research for which he/she may later be grateful. Various specialised studies could be discussed also, and useful magazines; but this will suffice at this point. On the topic of Creation, both Answers from Genesis and Creation Research provide useful material, both in Queensland, each with its Web presence, and various publications and provisions for obtaining specialised works.
21. DRINK and DRUGS
"Foods," says Paul, "are for the stomach and the stomach for foods: but God shall destroy both it and them." 1 Corinthians 6:13.So too: "The kingdom of God is not food and drink; but righteousness , and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." I Corinthians 7:13, Romans 14:17).
Paul appeals to a sense of proportion: if some act of ours makes a 'weaker' brother fall, it is wise for us to seek ways to avoid this. What is meant by this ? Some people for various reasons are not strong in understanding, troubled by various past experiences or deficiencies, and are truly sensitive, especially in some areas or domains. These need to be treated with respect and care; and perhaps the reader, looking back, will realise that he or she was also surprisingly naive and unversed, or super-sensitive on some point or other, early in Christian life.
What then do we do in such cases ? We do not pity or patronise, for who knows what weakness we have not found in our own deployment: rather we notice a difficulty, as one notices a limp, and seek to be both kindly and helpful, discreetly. We do not indulge our appetites with no respect for their consequences: because of love. We should love God who made our equipment, preserve it intact and vital for His sake, and delight in serving Him with it, out of love for Him, being at all times faithful to His word, but watchful in our personal living and practices, lest there be needless alienation in the unwary (Romans 14). In that way, the fullest life (John 10:10) results, though assuredly it is not under our own control, any more than is the movement of wind in the stratosphere. However, it is the yoke of God which far surpasses any liberty in the lusts of mind, body and spirit which so defile this earth! For examples, you may choose to consult Ancient Words, Modern Deeds Ch. 11.
What then of the special case of drinking ?
Consider the warning of Proverbs 20:1 and 23:20‑35. All that intoxicates, we find, must be used:
i) Warily ‑ as you would handle a snake (personally I would avoid it if possible,
barring coming upon it unawares!). Hence I avoid alcoholic beverages like the plague, treasuring each brain cell and wanting to lose NONE, nor for that matter, any wisdom which at any time might mercifully be given me, by interfering with my equipment in mind and spirit.
ii) Sparingly‑ an alcoholic stimulus can lead you to follies, which just like the misuse of sex,
can rust the strength of love and tend to do this to life itself: the acid of guilt can then pit the
beauty of the life that might have been.
iii) Without being mixed or dallied in (Proverbs 23). In handling alcoholic drinks at all, in a world of sin, you come exceedingly near to ASKING FOR TROUBLE. Many have trouble enough without sending to 'Trouble' the replied paid envelope marked RSPV, let alone ASAP!
iv) You should not drink a drop if this might add to the temptation of someone, who cannot take it
so slightly and occasionally as, prima facie, may appear allowable: Romans 14:7,15.Further,
if you do begin to drink such beverages, then under the stress of unforeseen temptation or catastrophe which may arise, YOU may yield either at once or at a future time. How many and how vast have been the ruins so made!
With such a practice in tow, there may also come the urge to drink more than you intended, even at the outset of some calamity, in your unwise initial reaction. SO you way start quickly in a time of trouble and drift towards disaster; some do more than drift ... Even drifting is not a healthy performance when there are currents! It is like leaving your shoe laces undone: perhaps you may often find little trouble; ONCE you may break your leg. THAT would be a significant fact for your life.
With all these cautions in view, and with no positive permission whatever to be found in Scripture (the 'wine.' as it is sometimes translated in the New Testament is possibly no more than concentrated grape juice, a most common drink often used as we might cordial), nothing that cannot be challenged as to its interpretation, you would do very well and wisely to omit alcoholic drink altogether from your life. Proverbs 20 and 23 make it quite clear how much you would take if you were prudent, careful, conscientious and determined to do your best! It is undifferentiable from ZERO!
If you make mistakes now, what may you make with this power‑assist from a mind attacking drug called alcohol! Common prudence would seem to command abstention; and the love which would not hurt others who, through a lack of application or understanding brought on by such a stimulus, might yield to some evil, merely adds force to this. Indeed, and further, you may well in such a practice, hurt others by hurting yourself, through the small understanding so easily stimulated by alcohol. If they love you or seek your good, or co-operate with you, it becomes rather like being an unclean syringe in a medical injection!
Again, the Reader's Digest gave a very interesting account of the extent to which social drinkers become involved in due course, in alcoholism. It was based on observations and a warning of peril in slack approaches to your own mind and body, revolving around real or imaginary business gains from social drinking. One famous tennis veteran player has recently described these things as bad habits, and intending to 'stay around' a while, he states that he is removing them from his agenda! Small wonder. Who wants to kill brain cells and impair clarity of thought when the world is already a-whirring! If you love life, conserve it, guard it for its best use, and then leave it with the Lord, as you utilise it for His glory and service. That way, you do not hand Him a ruined relic, but a living instrument, and an alert friend.
If the body is for the best use, why then adorn it with these marring products ! Make the best and the most of all you have. Poison doesn't help.
In particular, don't think you must take it lest you seem to condemn others. People usually respect your conscience here; and sometimes find it refreshing to have someone who is concerned to do his/her absolute best, and then acting accordingly. In a social setting, orange juice or lemonade are normally readily acceptable as a social option, some indeed having to act so, for medical reasons.
A realistic assessment of the total damage to life, personality, property, potentially to the nervous system, and the resultant dangers as one goes through periods of transition emotionally, physically or financially or domestically brought about by alcoholic drink may lead you, in humility to avoid it yourself.
For my part: I find that my body being the only one I shall have for some time, and the unique one for my pilgrimage, ANYTHING which is likely to be detrimental to it, is poisonous to it, is unnecessary, is needlessly costly, and especially when it has a tendency to mar my judgment, is unworthy of acceptance. It is too easy to make mistakes without giving them an aid program: it is IMPORTANT to minimise mistakes. It is crucial to act reasonably in such a situation, and conserve goodness, excluding what competes with Christ for your most judicious, abundant and serviceable living. When this life is over, why leave it with a wake of mixed character. Sufficient are the slips made unintentionally or without reflection. These, they need no company!
On the Bible and grape juice, and the Middle Eastern concentrates of delicious juices of studied character, yet without alcohol: see the fascinating: SIPPING SAINTS, by David Wilkerson.
On the topic of drugs, see SMR pp. 664ff., with 367, 578-579, 651, 660, 681, 699.
What defiles the only body and mind you have, is clearly an abortion of the child of grace within you, and is as desirable as a sort of partial suicide! (cf. I Corinthians 6:19-20). What is the case with sexual abuse, is not less so with material abuse, and indeed, in each case a considerable spiritual hinterland is likely to be very much the same: a failure to know God, when the case is chronic, a failure to realise something as far superior to mere excitation of this and that, as discovery is to seeing glitter, a withering of that life abundant which needs to recommendation, since it is authentic, and covers the case, and above all, the part of an absentee, whether in total or in passing foolishness, at the table of the Lord's grace, the presence of His wonderful Shepherd's skill at one's side.
How much better to meet Him with the crispness of devotion, the blessings of converse, the actual meeting in His own way, which inspires the soul, directs the mind, empowers the personality and enables His will and work to be done! (cf. Isaiah 64:5, John 15:21-23). For this, abide in His word, and seek His face (Psalm 27, John 15:7).
Indeed, the Song of Solomon in allegory format, presents something for which romantic love is merely an illustration. For this, see The Song.