Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Realtionship Issues

Ask a Bible Teacher
By Jack Kelley

Relationship Problems

Q. I have a serious problem in my life and I am unsure what to do about it. I am currently living with a man (we are not married). He doesn’t see what is happening in the world the way I do and he seems to do everything he can to prove me wrong about the End of Days approaching. I love this man but I don’t really want to marry him with the way his belief system is.

I feel far away from the Lord sometimes when he is at home and I feel like Satan is working through him to discourage me. I am constantly reading your website and the bible to keep a strong hold on my love for Christ. I feel such conviction for not being married but I don’t want to have to divorce for the second time. It never bothered me to not be married until I began my walk with Jesus. I feel that the Holy Spirit is making me feel convicted and I just don’t know what to do. Everything going on in the world is so clear to me and I am baffled that he doesn’t see it. I can almost feel Jesus in the room. I don’t want to be left behind!!!

A. I’m convinced that the Lord judges us according to the motives of our hearts. I’ve met couples who in their hearts are as married as anyone I know but have never formalized their relationships in the eyes of the law. They see themselves as married and I believe the Lord does too. But your statement that you “really don’t want to marry him the way his belief system is” indicates to me that this is not the case with you.

If you remain as you are, you risk being out of fellowship with the Lord, and fair game for our enemy who will gleefully use your partner to steal your joy. Being a believer, you won’t be jeopardizing your salvation and won’t be left behind, but the contention in your relationship will only get worse as you grow in your faith and you will live a defeated life as a Christian.

The conviction you’ve felt since becoming a believer is the Holy Spirit admonishing you to change the nature of your relationship. If you love this man, and want a life with him that’s also pleasing to the Lord, you have to bring it into compliance with Biblical standards for unmarried couples, and give him an opportunity to see you as a faithful Christian woman. To me this means living separately and remaining chaste.

If he truly loves you, this could lead to a new relationship that brings him to the Lord and achieves fulfillment in marriage. But it could also cause Him to move on. Either way, the Lord has promised to work everything out for your good, as one who loves Him.(Romans 8:28)

Feedback On "Relationship Problems"

Q. I am very surprised at your reply to “Relationship Problems” in Ask a Bible Teacher. As I understand the letter, this woman is not only in an unequally yoked relationship but she is living a sinful lifestyle by living with this man outside of marriage.

Gal 5:19-21 says that those who practice fornication, which is sex outside of marriage, will not inherit the kingdom of God. How does this woman’s situation differ from that of a homosexual couple who “in their hearts are married”? They are both sin, and willfully continuing in that sin will keep them from the kingdom of God as I understand the scripture.

While I agree with your counsel for her to live separately and remain chaste, I think you mislead her (and your audience) when you said that the Lord sees unmarried couples as married as long as their motives are right.

Also I don’t believe Rom 8:28 applies to this situation because of the last phrase, “…according to His purpose.” I don’t believe this woman is currently living according to God’s purpose or perfect plan for her life.

I really enjoy your site and have recommended it to others. I trust that you will receive my feedback as just that, feedback and not criticism. I encourage you to prayerfully reconsider your answer to this woman.

A. My first admonition was for the woman to live apart from her partner and in a chaste relationship. I did not condone them living together, especially when he’s not a believer, because she admittedly doesn’t feel married in her heart. My advice was, “If you love this man, and want a life with him that’s also pleasing to the Lord, you have to bring it into compliance with Biblical standards for unmarried couples, and give him an opportunity to see you as a faithful Christian woman. To me this means living separately and remaining chaste.”

In biblical times men and women were married by agreement between themselves to be so. Many times the family was involved in the decision, but never the state. What minister or priest married Abraham or Isaac or any other biblical figure? And where are their marriages licenses? God considered them married according to the motives of their hearts. And indeed 1 Corinthians 4:5 explains that God judges our actions according to the motives of our hearts.

Here’s a hypothetical example. Do you think that a woman who remains legally married to her husband, but denies him any marital rights, is emotionally unfaithful, and does everything she can to drive him out of the relationship including verbal and physical abuse, is married to him in the eyes of the Lord? Or has she divorced him in her heart?

This is the problem with any sort of legalism. A person can keep the letter of the law to maintain outward appearances but deny it in spirit. Is the Lord fooled by this? Will she be credited with keeping the prohibition against divorce? Would a man if the situation was reversed?

The “legalizing” of marriages was done by governments to resolve issues of parentage and inheritance, and to protect the parties in case of divorce, something else the Lord has prohibited. It became necessary because of humankind’s unwillingness to be responsible for their actions, not because of God’s requirements.

All this is stated in the context of a man / woman relationship. Homosexual unions were and still are forbidden by God under any circumstance.

Also, if the woman takes my advice, follows the prompting of the Holy Spirit and complies with the biblical standards for unmarried couples to see if the relationship will flourish under those circumstances or not (including the man coming to the Lord) she will be living according to God’s purpose for her life.

Here’s what I said. “If he truly loves you, this could lead to a new relationship that brings him to the Lord and achieves fulfillment in marriage. But it could also cause Him to move on. Either way, the Lord has promised to work everything out for your good, as one who loves Him.”

Am I Married In The Lord’s Sight?

Q. I came back to our Lord Jesus over 12 years ago. I tried my hardest to walk in the same path as the Jesus, but we all falter. I got married when I was in the service and we both commited adultery. I forgave her and wanted to remain married because I never stopped loving her. I Loved her from the beginning and through all the hard times. I believed in marriage, but because of the problems we were having I found myself slipping away to temptation and seeking affection elsewhere. Now we are going through a divorce because she requested it. I never wanted divorce and always felt once we have made vows to eachother we should always try our hardest to keep them. I didn’t want the divorce , but I know we both were at fault for it. We are still going through the divorce proceding and legally we are still married.

Now 2 years later I have fallen in Love with another woman and I am unable to marry her legally until my divorce is final. I have convince myself that we are married in the eyes of the Lord because I have committed myself to her and she has commited herself to me.

Is Marriage a ceremony which has to be performed in order for God to accept it? I prayed to the Lord many times about my situation and I am unsure what to do. We both are actively seeking Gods wonderful word and I’m hoping she will become spiritually up lifted as I am. We both are Christians, which was more than my last marriage was. My ex wasn’t thirsting for God’s word as much as I was and I feel that also was a reason our marriage falling apart. I still Love my ex but it’s impossible to reconcile if only one is willing to do so. So I learned to except it and move on with my life. Am I living in sin? Or does the will the Lord accept it because it’s what matters in his eyes and not based on a ceremony?

A. The Lord judges us by the intent of our heart. The marriage ceremony is intended more to meet legal requirements here on Earth than to inform the Lord of how we feel about our spouse. Our commitment before Him is verbal, and He takes us at our word.

Having said that, you’re still legally married to a woman you say you still love. The fact that it’s taken 2 years and you’re still not divorced tells me that at some level you really don’t want this. I wonder how you can be fully committed to another woman. The Bible warns us against double mindedness, saying that we shouldn’t expect anything from the Lord in those circumstances.

The question you have to ask yourself is this. If your current wife became interested in reconciliation, would you agree? If the answer is yes, then you’re premature in taking up with another woman and should continue asking the Lord to help you reconcile with your wife. In effect you’re using your new love to help you forget your old one, just like you’ve used unfaithfulness to help you get over marital problems before. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

Adultery is acceptable grounds for divorce in the Lord’s eyes. You’ve both been unfaithful so you both can justify dissolving the marriage if that’s what you really want. But if you do, entering into a new relationship before you’ve shed all your feelings for the old one is a recipe for another disaster.

Can’t We Just Sleep Together?

Q. I am a 47 year-old divorced woman saved about a year ago. My boyfriend is 51, divorced and also a believer. We have not enjoyed the physical intimacy of a happy marriage relationship until we met two years ago. Ever since, we have been living a wonderful, loving and passionate relationship. However, we both love the Lord and want to be obedient to His Word.

We both feel torn between the desire of the flesh and being obedient; we don’t quite know how to go about it. We love each other deeply and want to stay together. We live in separate homes, but my boyfriend stays with me on the weekends. I insist that we can sleep together without sex and still please the Lord. My boyfriend disagrees and believes that the only solution is to get married, but we are not ready yet. What is your opinion?

A. The Bible says that sex outside of marriage is a sin. If you’re not ready for marriage then you’re not ready for a sexual relationship. Maybe your boyfriend is afraid of the temptation of sleeping together, or maybe he’s afraid that it will signal a bigger commitment than he’s ready for. Or maybe he just wants you to marry him first. In any case, I think you should respect his wishes, just as you would want him to respect yours if the situation was reversed.

Married, or Not?

Q. I absolutely love your site and have told everyone I know about it. My question is, I know that Jesus died for us so that we may be forgiven. I have been with my fiance for 6 years and lived together for 4 and we have 2 children together. We basically feel married. We want to get married but I don’t want to rush down to the court house, that’s not really what every little girl dreams of.

So anyway we’re going to get married, we have 2 kids, and we live together. I now have turned my life around and came back to Christ but do not feel like I need to leave Him cause we’re not married yet. Do you think I would not make it in the rapture or go to heaven for this reason? I have a relationship with God and try to do everything else right. I also ask for forgiveness all the time. But will I be forgiven even if I know I will commit the same sin again(in my case sex before marriage). I do feel guilty all the time, but I know that that’s the devil trying to make me feel unworthy of God’s grace. Whats your perspective?

A. If the motive of your heart is pure, you consider yourself married, and are faithful to your man then in God’s sight you are married. A marriage license is a document that gives your relationship legal status in the eyes of man, but is not a Biblical requirement. God’s looking for a faithful heart. That said, I’m curious as to what is holding you back? You seem to have accepted all the responsibilities of a marriage, why not get the remaining benefits? If you feel guilty all the time, maybe the Holy Spirit is convicting you to make it official, not for His sake, but for your own peace of mind.

As far as the rapture is concerned, participation is not determined by behavior but by the belief that Jesus came to Earth and died for all your sins so that you could live in eternity with Him.

Website: www.gracethrufaith.com

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