Category Archives: Bible

Never again!

My oldest daughter, Elliana, and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Israel (February, 2017). While there we learned some amazingly beneficial bits of context for the Holy Scriptures, and we experienced many meaningful moments.

In one of those meaningful moments, we were atop Masada, where, in ancient times, Jewish families in a besieged mountain fortress chose to end their lives rather than suffer rape/abuse/slavery/murder at the hands of Roman soldiers. Josephus, a Jewish historian, described the incident (see chapter 8, here).

I was moved to tears all over again (I had heard him say so before) as I listened to our Jewish guide, Ralph Lewinsohn, explain how the Masada incident has become part of the Jewish national ethos, and how that, in light of the determined efforts of the Nazis in WWII to wipe out every Jew in existence, now the Jewish people are determined that, “Never again will we allow ourselves to be put in a position where our only choice is death or slavery. Never again.”

“Never again” is not just a heart-cry of Jewish people everywhere. It’s actually a prophecy about them, made by God Himself:

{14}  and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.

“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. {15} I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,”

says the Lord your God.

Amos 9:14-15 (NIV)

Some Christian believers have succumbed to a false doctrine known as Replacement Theology, which claims that collectively, adherents to Christianity have supposedly completely replaced natural Israel in the mind of God. Those who hold to that notion may think that earlier ancient Jewish returns from exile would qualify as concluded fulfillment of various prophecies that God would bring the Jewish people back to the Land He promised them. However, take note:

  • God foretold a return of the Jews to their land that would be completely permanent (see Amos 9:14-15, shown above). Regarding the Jewish ethnicity of those prophesied to be returned, see also Ezekiel 34:13 (note “their own land”).
     
    God Himself indicated that the same nationality of people that was exiled would be brought back by God’s own hand to the same Land from which they were exiled, and that from thence forward, they would never again be uprooted!
     
  • God foretold a return of the Jews to their land that would be come from every direction, north, south, east, and west, i.e. “from the ends of the earth” (see Isaiah 43:5-6).
     
    Earlier ancient returns from exile that were localized (such as from Babylon) cannot qualify as fulfillment of such a prophecy. By contrast, the astounding, ongoing return of Jews from all around the world to the State of Israel reestablished in 1948, certainly could qualify.
     
  • God foretold a return of the Jews to their land that would be accomplished by God’s own hand (see Ezekiel 20:34, and other verses already cited).
     
    For anyone to resist such a “return migration,” and/or the accompanying necessary right of Jewish people to dwell securely in their own ancestral homeland is to resist God Himself.

As Christian I support and defend the Jewish national declaration that never again will any situation be permitted in which Jewish people are denied their right to exist securely within their ancestral homeland. As a Bible believer, it is the only logical choice.

Freedom of choice, but not without restrictions

Freedom-to-Choose-Pastor-Doug-Joseph

Tithing: 5 Key Answers | Interview with IBC Perspectives Magazine

Read more helpful content at IBC Perspectives Magazine.

IBC: Why is it so important for Apostolic Christians to tithe?

DJ: The Bible is clear that believers are to dedicate every aspect of their lives to the Lord. Dedicating all except the financial aspect is not all; it’s excluding something. While Christians disagree on what submission in this aspect may look like, the most common error by those who are against tithing is to mistake New Testament passages about “Emergency Relief Effort” type giving as supposedly being how all giving should be done by Christians, yet that type of giving is but one layer in a biblically modeled approach. One cannot ignore tithing and have a truly complete biblically modeled approach.

IBC: What happens if a Christian fails to tithe? Are they lost?

DJ: To presume to declare all such people as either saved or lost is to place oneself in the Lord’s place as judge. We can envision situations in which a believer knows better and willfully disobeys, and in which they don’t know better and are not willfully disobeying. The default position of fallen humanity is lost and cursed. If a believer is himself redeemed, yet he allows an existing curse to abide on his personal finances, might God allow that level of granularity? Save their soul even while their financial life is still cursed? He may well allow it in some and disallow it in others. He’s the Lord who knows the heart and judges rightly.

IBC: Should we tithe on our gross income or net income? Why?

DJ: The biblical answer, which is that tithing is to give 1/10 of all my “increase,” leads to a lot of sticky questions that various believers approach differently. In addition to gross v. net, what about inheritances, insurance settlements, birthday and anniversary gifts, or a litany of other windfalls? Consider Luke 6:38. Generally, the more I include as realized increase, the more room I grant in the “bucket” that God uses when causing future increase to come. Based on Romans 14, I grant fellow believers liberty in how they decide such matters, but I personally tithe on my gross. God has blessed us for it. In our assembly, saints tithe on their home garden’s produce. Our family enjoys every bite. Bottom line: tithing is to be based on all “increase.”

IBC: Offerings are given in addition to the tithe. What should a faithful Christian consider giving for offerings?

DJ: Since the needs vary, the amount or percentage could also vary. The New Testament indicates saints were called upon for longterm sacrificial giving due to needs as a result of emergencies, such as fellow believers starving in another region due to famine. Yet how much is too much? Each believer is free to make up their own mind on their gift (2 Corinthians 9:7). Both willingness and abundance are prerequisites for acceptance of offerings (2 Corinthians 8:12). One should avoid going into debt to give to other believers’ needs. A believer should not reduce himself to being in need while trying to meet another believer’s need.

IBC: How has tithing blessed you?

DJ: From my youth up I have always been as faithful as possible regarding tithing. God has honored His promise and has blessed me and my family abundantly. I am a genuine “testimonial” advertisement for the success that comes when adhering to a biblical model from God’s word for submitting the financial aspect of my life to Him.

A Pastor’s Statement Regarding Kim Davis

Kim Davis has done an admirable job of executing the portion of her job she could do, and respectfully declining on the part she cannot do, due to the legal chaos of the moment. The flawed and lawless decision of the SCOTUS in June has caused chaos. Between that lawless ruling, and the lawless command of the Kentucky governor to the state’s county clerks, and the lawless command of federal judge Bunning directly to Kim, she is between a rock and a hard place, yet she has taken a principled stand that is to be commended.

The Kentucky laws she is sworn to uphold have not been changed, and she is still upholding them. It would require a legislative response to the SCOTUS ruling to revise any Kentucky laws.

Furthermore, of the Kentucky laws that apply to clerks regarding marriage licenses, none of them pronounce any penalty for refusing to give out a license, but they do provide a misdemeanor penalty for giving a license to a couple who may not, per Kentucky law, constitute a marriage, and that includes a misdemeanor penalty for giving a license to partners of the same sex. Since the Kentucky legislature has not revised those codes, and no revisions or new laws by the Kentucky General Assembly have been signed into law by the Kentucky governor, it is simply too early in the process for same-sex couples to be demanding any licenses there, and it is wrong (see below) for either the governor or the judge to command such, given the current situation.

The state governor is sworn to uphold Kentucky law, which directs him (not just in some ruling, but in written, duly legislated and signed law — see the KY state Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or KY RFRA) to seek out a method of enacting the government’s goals in a way that is “least restrictive” of Kim Davis’ religious freedom. Ordering her to violate existing Kentucky laws and at the same time ordering her to violate her conscience, is not the least restrictive means to enact what he is presenting as a governmental goal.

Similarly, the federal judge is bound to abide by federal law, which requires him (not just in some ruling, but in written, duly legislated and signed law — see the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or federal RFRA) to seek out a method of enacting the government’s goals in a way that is “least restrictive” of Kim Davis’ religious freedom. Ordering her to violate existing Kentucky laws and at the same time ordering her to violate her conscience, is not the least restrictive means to enact what he is presenting as a governmental goal. Jailing her is certainly not the least restrictive way.

Given the comparative ease of simply revising the marriage licenses by removing all clerks’ names from them, the accommodation she requested is quite reasonable, and both the governor and the judge violated existing laws in their actions and inactions. Since both were willing to abide by her being wrongfully incarcerated rather than accommodating her, I advocate for them to be impeached. I certainly urge protest over their violations against Kim Davis. In spite of calling for their impeachment, I have been fervently praying for them, and will continue. If you are not praying for them, you should be.

Ultimately, a pastor’s advice is of most value to fellow believers. Regarding believers, as per Romans 14, we are not to judge or condemn another believer regarding matters of conscience, even if, or rather especially when, his or her conviction of conscience differs from your own. The whole point of religious freedom is that not everyone’s religious convictions will match with yours, and we need to allow other believers, who may have stricter views than ours, to hold those views. That said, I don’t disagree with Sister Kim Davis on this. Even if I disagreed, I would still support her 100%.  Even if you don’t agree with her views and position, I implore you to study Romans 14, and grant her the liberty to have a conviction you don’t share. Don’t bash her on social media. Support and pray for her, as well as praying for her state, her governor, her legislature, the judge, and the SCOTUS whose ruling caused the chaos we’re all enduring.

Rebuttal to “How To Silence Idiotic Kim Davis Supporters”

I support Kim Davis 100%. Below is a video that proposes to teach how to “silence” me (and the title calls me an idiot, to boot, which is an ad hominem argument). First, watch the clip, then read my reply.

Warning: Some crude language.

Well, I’m a Kim Davis supporter, and it does not silence me. The clip is woefully wrong on so many levels. Let’s name just a few:

  1. One need not agree with, endorse, or even understand someone else’s religious belief in order to afford them accommodation for conscience sake.
  2. The clip’s implied notion of “it is wrong to live by part of the Bible if we don’t keep all of it” is a clever deception. There are multiple covenants in the Bible. The previous ones are often lumped together in a singular phrase: “Old Covenant.” Christians are enjoined to the “New Covenant.” If someone has not agreed to a certain covenant, then we don’t hold them accountable to its precepts. The fictional characters here act as though all the world are signatories to the Mt. Sinai Covenant (also known as the Mosaic Covenant). Christians don’t demand of unbelievers an obedience to our own covenant, let alone obedience to one we don’t even belong to. If you don’t want to take part in a certain covenant, then, yes, you can ignore its precepts, but you also won’t get its rewards, either. Remember that last part when the Day of Judgment arrives.
  3. It is nearly-universal Christian teaching that the Mosaic Covenant’s ceremonial codes and judicial penalties are not binding on non-Jews, i.e. those who are not part of that covenant (although the Old Testament has some broadly-applicable, explicit commands and some clear, timeless moral judgments of God, and all its content, however minor, harbors principles worthy of study). While we are on this, if we cannot believe in the Bible unless we live by all its covenants, then liberals cannot invoke the Supreme Court in Obergefell unless they also abide by all SCOTUS rulings, such as that black people are not persons, etc, and liberals cannot invoke “rule of law” over Kim Davis, while they ignore all the laws on the books protecting natural marriage (as done, for instance, by President Obama and many states’ attorneys general).
  4. The Bible’s overall message regarding sexuality has moral aspects that are clear in both the Old and New Testaments. One need not be a Jewish “Old Covenant” believer to know homosexuality is sexual sin; the “New Covenant” believer gets this knowledge from the New Testament as well. Furthermore, the Old Testament’s descriptions of what behaviors constitute the sexual sins, which all fall under a blanket term (fornication) are binding upon non-Jewish believers, as this matter falls within a limited set of Old Testament requirements declared binding on Gentile believers (see Acts 15).
  5. The TV script writer foolishly presumes that all transgressions are equal in nature, i.e. “all sins are equally severe; there is no big sin and no little sin,” which is blatantly false. Our Western judicial system is based in a significant way on the Mosaic Law’s “Lex Talionis” — the principle or law of retaliation, that “the punishment should fit the crime” (i.e. a penalty inflicted should correspond in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer). This is based on a bedrock truth that not all sins are equal. The TV script writer betrays both their faulty view of “equality of all sins” and their glaring ignorance of the Bible by inserting into the script two falsehoods—that mixing crops/seeds and mixing thread types in clothes were both to be worthy of death under the Mosaic Law (the Bible nowhere called for such a penalty)—and implying that all minor infractions against the Mosaic Law are equal to, and as severe as, homosexuality, which is a concept that is indisputably not biblical.
  6. Bible passages that regulate/restrict bad behavior, including  slavery, rape, polygamy, and wrongful divorce, etc, are not endorsements of said behavior, and the overall message of the Bible has always led true believers away from such behavior.
  7. Finally, the TV clip “creates” the very bigotry it seeks to rebuke, in two ways: by fictitiously and intentionally portraying a callous, arrogant Christian it creates a false preconception of Christians, and in modeling a horrendous, flawed “how to silence the Christians” approach, it teaches anti-Christian bigotry to biblically illiterate unbelievers who “buy the lie” hook, line, and sinker. That fosters hatred toward believers and ensconces ignorance and bigotry as noble attributes.

How To Tell the Difference Between a Blessing and Dumb Luck

I received this excellent question from a friend:

“How can I tell the difference between a blessing and dumb luck? A series of events [that occurred] over the past three months has me questioning my understanding of how things work. These were events for which I have no rational explanation.”

My answer:

There are various theories, ranging wildly from those that claim there is no such thing as a “blessing” all the way to those that hold there is no such thing as “luck” or a “happy coincidence.” The truth seems to be somewhere in between those extremes.

We tend to lack the proper context to even evaluate whether something is a blessing or not, because we lack certain knowledge of the future and we view things from a limited, human, carnal perspective. However, one verse we can trust (if we can understand it) is James 1:17

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

So, if we mistake our luck for being a “perfect gift,” yet it later turns out to our detriment, we can finally assess that it was not from God. Conversely, if we mistake our perfect gift as something bad, when it later turns out to have been perfect, we can assume it was from God.

Mistaking a gift from God as “luck” would seem to simply illustrate a lack of faith. I don’t think there is any lasting harm in trying to give God credit and praise for whatever seems at the time to be a genuine blessing. If we later find out we misjudged things, I don’t think God holds that against us. I try to “err” on the side of giving Him praise as opposed to withholding it.

How Old Is Our Planet?

The age of the earth is hotly debated among Christians today. This issue is not really whether God created Adam but whether our planet is as old as most secular scientists insist. The conflict is that the text of Scripture does not appear to allow for anything like millions or billions of years—and if the scientific dating techniques are as accurate as portrayed, then it is difficult to take the book of Genesis at face value.

Institute for Creation Research (ICR) teams have conducted thorough technical research on the dating processes, and there is plenty of scientific evidence indicating our planet is much younger than the supposed 4.6 billion years secular naturalism suggests.

The focus of this article is to challenge Christians to trust the integrity and accuracy of God’s revealed Word over the interpretative suggestions of secular scholars and scientists…. [Read more]

5 Tips on Strengthening Your Marriage

Recently (not long after my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary), I was interviewed by Perspectives magazine (the official publication of Indiana Bible College) on the topic of strengthening marriage. There were five key areas in the interview:

IBC: Current research shows that divorce is at an all time high—about the same for Christians as non-Christians.  What does your church do proactively to strengthen marriages and families?

Joseph: Trying to keep proper focus on everything that needs attention is a bit like trying to keep 50 plates spinning atop 50 poles. Every church must needs have “a lot of irons in the fire.” At Christian Apostolic Church, we have a Marriage Ministry Dept, with an elected couple leading it. We schedule marriage retreats from time to time (Dr. David Norris and Sister Nancy Norris are tremendous at this; highly recommended) and other marriage events. We teach on marriage-related topics in Sunday School—both in the adult class for those already married, and preparatory lessons in the college & career class and high school-age class. Marriage topics often enter into preaching and teaching in other services besides Sunday School. To help families with their financial wisdom, we host a campus of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (highly recommended). We celebrate National Marriage Week annually, and basically do all we can to move forward in this vital area of understanding.

IBC: Do you recommend or require premarital counseling?  Do you do this yourself?

Joseph: Yes, I do premarital counseling, teaching from a curriculum I culled from various sources and corroborated with Scriptures. It takes quite a few hours to teach and usually requires three to four sessions to accomplish it. For first-time young couples planning to get married, I insist on it before agreeing to officiate their wedding. We have occasionally abbreviated or waived this for older folks who were entering into a biblically-allowable subsequent marriage.

IBC: In your opinion, what are the three or four most important elements for building a strong marriage?

Joseph: I would summarize these three as 1. Prayer, 2. Preparation, and 3. Priorities:

  1. Prayer: The most important element is to pray from your youth up for God’s help in preventing you from marrying the wrong person, and for His help in choosing the right mate. Then, don’t settle for anything less than God’s best choice for you. This means saying no when other people falter and say yes. Don’t even date someone who does not seem worthy as a potential marriage partner! One must prayerfully, carefully choose a mate for life only after securing a certain word from God that they are right for you. Caution must be used because while one is infatuated with a “love interest” it’s all too easy for our heart to deceptively fool us into thinking we’ve heard from God, when He has not spoken.
  2. Prepare yourself for marriage emotionally and financially. Avoid the “Hollywood” lies, myths, and stereotypes, and realize you won’t be able to change your partner’s annoying habits and hangups. Many old-timers assure us all that it’s a terrible mistake to think (before you marry) that you can change someone after the wedding. Work hard (by budgeting, and being frugal and careful) to make sure you go into your marriage debt-free, hating debt, and already having either a nest egg toward a downpayment for a home, or a plan already worked out for a home. Dave Ramsey recommends waiting for at least a year after marriage before buying your first home, just to give time to get settled into marriage and good money-management habits, and, as he puts it, to learn just how close to your in-laws you can afford to live! (Smile.)
  3. Prioritize by building your marriage on a solid, biblical foundation of commitment to God first, your partner second (as a higher priority than one’s children—that’s important), family third, and then church, work, and all else coming afterward. Keeping God number one is a foundation both partners should share in common. Making a marriage work without that is very tough.

IBC: What is the greatest enemy of marriage and families today?

Joseph: The Bible addresses each gender’s area of weakness. For example, while both genders are taught by the Scriptures to love, respect, and submit to each other, men, in particular, are told to “love your wives, even as Christ loved the church” (see Ephesians 5:22-33). This points to a weakness; often we men don’t love our spouses as we should. After we “get the prize” (having gotten her married to us), we often stop treating her with affection and tender love as we did while courting. Women crave emotional intimacy more than men. They really need that from us. Men, on the whole, ought to give more attention to doing better in this area.

Likewise women, in particular, are told to “respect and obey” their husbands  (again, see Ephesians 5:22-33). This points to an area of weakness. Many women don’t realize how powerful their words and treatment are in either building up their man, or tearing him down and destroying his sense of self-worth. And while women usually crave emotional intimacy more than physical intimacy, for guys it’s the other way around. We usually crave bedroom action and have need of it more often, while, regarding emotional intimacy, we’re like camels are with water. We can seemingly drink a little emotional intimacy and then go for years in the “desert” without any more. That’s no trouble for us men. In either case, where the man is not actively “loving” his wife, or the woman is not carefully “respecting and submitting” to her husband, there will be serious problems, often resulting in the destruction of the marriage. The final blow is often dealt by infidelity (either emotional or physical), but the underlying issue was there long before the infidelity began.

IBC: What book(s) (other than the Bible) do you recommend a couple read if they are struggling in their marriage?

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com

Joseph: Without a doubt, the book on this topic I’ve recommended more than any other, next to the Bible, is Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible by Jay E. Adams. It’s only a 100 pages long, but it’s so powerful because it points readers back to the Scriptures, giving them an in-depth, guided look into how very much the Bible has to say about these important areas. (In fact, I blogged about this very book recently.) The Word of God is powerful, and not only is it not silent about these topics, but it says much more than many people realize—even more than most preachers realize. This is a must read book. Get it. You won’t be sorry. Every preacher should have to read it, especially pastors.

A few thoughts about A&E and their treatment of Phil Robertson

IStandWithPh

By now you’ve no doubt heard that A&E, the company that produces “Duck Dynasty,” is trying to censor Phil Robertson, a patriarch in the show’s central family. A&E took exception to some comments Phil made in an interview with a men’s magazine (a completely separate company), about what constitutes sin, and whether homosexuality is a sin. A&E seems to be talking out of both sides of its mouth. On one hand, they are trying to act as though they side with homosexual activist groups, by placing Phil on an indefinite hiatus because he gave honest answers to baited questions posed by people who doubtless already knew what he believed before they asked. In essence, A&E kicked Phil off his own show because he has the courage and commitment to say in public that what the Bible teaches is what he believes. On the other hand, however, A&E has not cancelled the show. They seem to think they can have their cake and eat it too. They want the money the show’s viewers bring to them via advertising dollars, but they don’t want to be seen as even tolerating the fact that Phil has publicly made a statement of faith that is biblically based. So not only is Phil supposed to speak only what A&E tolerates while he is being filmed for their show, but he is also supposed to speak only what A&E tolerates even while he is elsewhere, minding his own business with regard to what he chooses to say in public.

First, let me say that A&E is certainly within their rights to kick him off. They are free to side with the homosexual agenda. They are even free to try to continue airing the show, if their contract allows and the family members are unable to legally stop it. However, viewers and all other people in the American society are also free to make some choices as well. Below is a petition you may choose to sign. While I am not personally a consumer (viewer) of cable network programming, I agree in principle with the content of the petition, and support the message it sends to A&E.


Here’s the full petition:

PETITION TO THE A&E NETWORK DEMANDING THE IMMEDIATE REINSTATEMENT OF DUCK DYNASTY’S PHIL ROBERTSON — #ISTANDWITHPHIL

Dear A&E Network,

I am writing to you regarding your network’s intolerant, discriminatory, and punitive treatment of Mr. Phil Robertson, star of A&E’s #1 hit show, Duck Dynasty.

Mr. Robertson’s comments in GQ Magazine are simply reflective of a biblical view of sexuality, marriage, and family—a view that has stood the test of time for thousands of years and continues to be held by the majority of Americans and today’s world as a whole.

Many members of the LGBT community may not agree with this view, but the notion that a free-thinking American should be discriminated against simply for expressing a perspective that is in conflict with another is patently un-American and flies in the face of true tolerance and civility. A&E’s position, which in your own words is “championing” the gay and lesbian community—which I believe you have the freedom to do—excludes the views of Faith Driven Consumers and effectively censors a legitimate viewpoint held by the majority of Americans.

As a Faith Driven Consumer, I am signing this petition to demand that my views be treated with equality and respect in America’s rich rainbow of diversity.

I am asking your network to immediately reinstate Mr. Robertson to Duck Dynasty, and to formally apologize to him, his family, and the millions of viewers who tune in every week, stand by him, and share his worldview. While the LGBT community may be offended by his opposing viewpoint, your rash, discriminatory, and unfair treatment toward Mr. Robertson—a recognized symbol of the faith community—is a slap in the face to Faith Driven Consumers and everyday Americans alike.

There are 46 million Faith Driven Consumers in America today who spend 1.75 trillion dollars annually. Should you refuse to equally respect and welcome our legitimately held views, we will gladly stop watching this and all other A&E programming and turn to any reformulation of Duck Dynasty on another network—while simultaneously supporting brands that stand with the show and the Robertson family.

Signed,
John Q. Public
#IStandwithPhil

Sign here: http://www.faithdrivenconsumer.com/istandwithphil?recruiter_id=53877

Faith Driven Consumer
http://www.faithdrivenconsumer.com/

Are you mistaken on the meaning of important biblical words?

Of all the words in the Bible, perhaps one of the most misunderstood in modern times is “adultery”—and if we had to list other misunderstood Bible words, “fornication” would probably rank right up there.

People in our modern society have a different meaning in mind for “adultery” than what the word meant to the Bible’s writers and to its original readers. Also, the meaning of “fornication” is pretty much just as “muddy” in modern minds as well.

Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, by Jay E. Adams, available on Amazon.com

In an excellent book titled Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible author and scholar Jay E. Adams shows the original meanings of these words, and sheds light on Scripture verses that are often misunderstood because our modern meanings of the words don’t match the original ones.

The book is only 100 pages long, and well worth its weight in gold. Every Christian should read the book, and especially every minister and/or pastor should read it.

In biblical use and meaning, “fornication” refers to any and all sexual sins (not just “unmarried people having sex” – which is the modern misunderstanding of the term). “Fornication” refers to and includes all types of sexual sin: incest, rape, homosexual acts, lesbian acts, bestiality, any sex act by a person who is not married, and, of course, any sex act by a married person to/with someone other than their spouse.

Also, in biblical use and meaning, “adultery” refers to a sin against a marriage vow (that which violates it, or damages, undermines, or weakens it). Such sins can be “lighter” or “heavier” in the nature of the transgression. Jesus taught that a man simply looking with lust upon a woman who is not his wife, is committing a sin against the marriage vow – Jesus said that lust is adultery. He did not say it was “like” adultery. He said it is adultery. (See Matthew 5:27-28.) For a married person to even flirt suggestively with someone other than their spouse is an act of adultery. Even simply becoming emotionally entangled with someone of the opposite sex other than your spouse is a violation that undermines your vow.

There are many, many ways to sin against a marriage vow. Just to name a few: lying, abuse, abandonment, mind games, inciting jealousy, etc. You get the idea. There are lighter attacks and heavier attacks. However, of all the ways a person can sin against their wedding vow, the worst would be to include the sin of fornication (sexual sin) in the “cheating,” which is actually two sins: adultery by fornication. This is the worst kind of adultery. And it is the only kind that Jesus said could qualify as proper grounds for one believer to divorce another. To wit:

In Matthew 5:32, Jesus said, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of _____________, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

If you recite this verse and ask someone to fill in the blank, most people will say “adultery.” But that is not what Jesus said! He said “fornication”!

“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

By our Lord requiring fornication as grounds, that means not just any act of adultery (such as lusting in the heart, or flirting with someone else, or inciting jealousy, or instances of dishonesty) warrants two believers severing their marriage vow. It has to be that worst kind. However, just because the lighter kinds of adultery are not grounds for divorce does not mean they are not wrong and harmful. Over time, repeated instances of the lighter violations of the marriage vow can slowly destroy a marriage relationship.

While we are at it, another misconception in modern society is that an unmarried person cannot commit adultery (since they are not married). That is simply not true. If an unmarried person has sexual relations with a married person, the unmarried person is sinning against the marriage vow of the other two people who are lawfully married to each other. Both the cheating spouse and the sexually involved unmarried person are committing two sins: adultery and fornication.

As you can imagine, the book contains much more than just these words explained. It is a wonderful resource about marriage and the complicated topics of divorce and remarriage, which are covered in Scripture in much greater detail than many people realize.

Again, I heartily recommend that you get and read this book!

PS: Below is a description of the book from Amazon.com:

“If the church is going to use the Bible to decide whether divorce is legitimate in certain cases and whether divorced couples have the right to remarry with the approval and blessing of God’s people, then the Bible must be studied without prejudice toward a particular answer. The author examines the relevant passages in both the Old and New Testaments so that his readers can consider the many issues and interpretations that arise in trying to establish a consistently biblical position. As a result, readers can see more clearly and accept more firmly the truth of Scripture. The book succeeds at being exactly what the author wanted it to be: ‘a comprehensive, lucid, accurate study presented in a readable and practical style. . . .’ It is a valuable resource for the pastor, counselor, church leader, and others who are struggling to understand and apply scriptural principles to the problems of divorce and remarriage.”