Thursday, September 16, 2010

Accepting Christ

Must we "accept Christ as our personal savior" in order to be saved?

If so, why doesn't the Bible just say that?

If not, then why do Christians assert it?

I have no tolerance for Christian jargon being passed off as doctrine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leading Others To Christ

What do people mean by "leading others to Christ"? Is this a Scriptural directive, command or principle? Does the Bible allude to such a concept? Anywhere?

But it sounds good. Sounds sort of "spiritual" doesn't it?


It is best to read the Bible without any preconceived notions about what it should be saying. I like how Doug Phillips says it in his Publisher's Introduction to How God Wants Us to Worship Him by Joe Moorecraft, III:

"Suppose you lived on a desert island, had never had contact with modern culture, and the only thing to guide you in your decision making or in formulating your worldview was the Bible. How would you live?"

In other words, lay aside everything you've been taught, disassemble the incorrect framework you've built on which you hang Bible teachings and just let the Bible speak for itself. Or, more correctly, let the Bible speak for God.

I agree with this. But I also believe that it isn't possible to entirely jettison doctrine, once it is acquired, and that proper doctrine can be an aid to understanding the Bible.

In terms of culture, Christian lingo, popular movements, yes, discard them all and start from scratch. But when it comes to doctrine, hold fast to the truth. Which brings me to my point. Reading the Psalms is so much more enjoyable, not to mention edifying, when read with proper understanding of the Kingdom. Not just the Psalms, of course, but that is what I was reading this morning when I had my "ah-ha" moment.

Before I embraced Reformed theology, before I was a Calvinist, back when I was a rabid dispensationalist, I could never get a grasp on the Psalms. As a matter of fact, so many things I read did not fit into my dispensations, as I had been taught to understand them. Some things in the Bible seem to transcend the dispensations, and this was very confusing for me. But now, I see that God has been at work since the beginning of time, building a Kingdom, choosing his people, preparing a bride. Of course! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Christian Liberty?

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galations 5:13

Recently I questioned a fellow believer about an activity in which she had engaged. In defense of her behavior she stated that her husband said they could do it because of "Christian f&#*!ing liberty."
His vulgarity in describing his position seems appropriate, considering his argument. There was no attempt to convince me that the activity was not prohibited by either command or principle in the Scripture. There was no attempt to convince me that the activity was edifying or loving or involved serving others. There was no attempt to convince me that the activity was done for any reason other than gratifying the flesh.
But, since they weren't going to hell for doing it, it was fine. Never mind any consideration of whether it might be inappropriate. Or as Paul put it, All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (I Corinthians 6:12) and again, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (I Corinthians 10:23) So, shouldn't the question have been, not "is it lawful?" for we know that it is, but more like "Is it expedient?" "Is it edifying?" Perhaps even "What is my purpose in doing this?"
I have noticed that when someone is engaging in an activity which may be construed as "good works" and is asked why, he NEVER answers, "Christian liberty." People only say that when they don't want to address the fleshliness, worldliness or even sinfulness of their behavior.

Nowhere in the Bible, that I can find, are we encouraged to do things solely because of our liberty to do so. But in at least 3 places we are expressly urged NOT to do things just because we have that liberty and also NOT to offer "liberty" as an excuse.

So, if you find yourself in the position of having to justify your behavior and the only possible argument you can imagine is "Christian liberty", do us all a favor and keep it to yourself. You don't sound spiritual or enlightened, you just sound stupid and ignorant of God's Word. I know you can do better.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The 5 Points of Calvinism

Sometimes the acronym "TULIP" is used as an aid in remembering the 5 points of Calvinism.

T - Total Inability (or Total Depravity)
U - Unconditional Election
L - Limited Atonement
I - Irresistible (Efficacious) Grace
P - Perseverance of the Saints

For more information and a comparison to Arminianism see:

The Reformed Faith

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 5 Points of Arminianism

The 5 Points of Arminianism

1. Free Will or Human Ability

2. Conditional Election

3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement

4. The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted

5. Falling From Grace

For an explanation of the above and a contrast with Calvinism see this:

The Reformed Faith

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I Kissed Courtship Goodbye

While I don't espouse the theory of evolution when it comes to origins, I must admit that "evolving" is the best word I can find to explain my understanding of marriage and the process used when a man takes a woman to wife. And honestly, I hope I'm close to arriving at some sort of truth on the matter, because the journey has been painful and exhausting. It is my sincerest hope that my youngest children will be able to have a simple and joyful understanding of this long before they are ready to use it and that it will be substantially unchanged throughout their lives and the lives of their children. In other words, I hope it will be something that transcends cultural practice and becomes a part of their biblical worldview.

This blog post cannot even begin to operate as some sort of tutorial on the subject. It will be more like a brief summation of where I'm at right now, with some glimpses into where I've been. I once purchased a book covering the topic of children in the worship service. I bought it because I desired for my own children to remain with me during the service and I was having a disagreement about it with the pastor. While I understood my reasoning, I'd hoped the book would offer some more scriptural backing for my position. As it turned out, the book contained many more reasons for keeping children in worship than I could even understand, and most of those reasons were based upon covenant theology. The problem was, it was a small book and it was presuming the reader already had a basic understanding of covenant theology, which I did not.

And so it is with betrothal. Without a truly biblical understanding of betrothal and how God went about choosing a bride for His Son, much of what I'm going to say about betrothal for us humans will seem foreign. At the same time, rejecting betrothal as being God designed, and failing to study it in the Bible results in bad theology, primarily the rejecting of reformed theology. (Loosely defined by the 5 main points outlined by Calvin.) In modern marriage we have the woman choosing the man as much as the man chooses the woman and so modern theology teaches that man chooses God as much as God chooses man. And we wonder why our churches and families are in shambles.

Let's look for a minute at modern coupling, starting with dating. Dating is a recreational activity, started as young as age 12. Assuming 12 year-olds are not looking for life partners, there can be no other purpose in dating for those not yet ready to marry. Of course, it turns out that dating is actually good preparation for modern marriage, which could be described as "serial monogamy." Dating consists of two people getting to know each other until they know enough to realize that they don't really like each other. Or until someone better comes along for one of the parties. This goes on, swapping one partner for another until getting to a partner who, after a reasonable amount of time, doesn't make a person want to puke, so he/she marries him/her. Or some people just go on dating different people because they enjoy the recreation and lack of commitment and never choose to marry at all.

Many in the Christian community have rejected dating as a means to finding a spouse and have substituted in its place "courtship". Like dating, courtship consists of a man and a woman spending time together for the purpose of getting to know one another, and, if it works out right, they get married. I have heard it said that the express purpose of a courtship relationship is marriage rather than just having fun. But, like dating, courtship can end at any time with either party declaring that they don't think the other is "the one God has for me." In other words, just like dating, they break up and move on to someone else. To me it seems exactly the same as dating with all the same pitfalls and dangers. The ONLY difference is that the parents of the man and woman are supposed to be guiding the couple and the couple is supposed to be avoiding hanky panky and keeping themselves "pure".

Both dating and courtship make the same fundamental mistake in relying on emotions and feelings to be the main determining factor in marriage. In other words, even if the couple are an otherwise perfect match, if she doesn't "like" him, there will be no marriage. And for some reason, whether or not she likes him can only be determined by her spending lots of time with him? As if we tend to like people more after we have spent lots and lots of time with them? Generally the opposite is true, people that we liked very much at first tend to lose their shine when we really get to know them.

Besides, if spending time together is the best way to know whether a couple will be compatible in marriage, then why not just shack up? Then each can be absolutely certain that the other isn't concealing anything. If you say that shacking up is off limits for Christians, then where should the arbitrary line be drawn? Is it ok to be alone together? To hold hands? To kiss? To be affectionate and talk mushy? How can it be determined that they know each other well enough to make a decision?

I can already hear the questions now. "But, but, but, if they don't get to know each other, then how can they decide whether they should marry?" That is the wrong question. The question should be, "How do we know if a couple should marry?" Should it be based at all on "getting to know each other"? I think not. At least not in the personality, do I like him, sort of way. Instead, let the father discover for himself whether the man is qualified to be a husband to his daughter. The man looking for a wife should have a pretty good idea that this young lady will work for him before he ever approaches her father, and a few pointed questions to the father can probably clear up any ambiguities.

And the young lady, what part does she play in this? Not much. The father comes to her and says, "So and so wants to marry you. I think he would be a good husband for you. What do you say?" She says either "yes" or "no". If she agrees, the father enters into a betrothal agreement with the man, which includes a recitation of the bride price, which goes to the bride whether they marry or not.

A transition to this system as "normal" will be difficult. It will require teaching our children from infancy that Daddy will take care of getting a husband for the girls and that the boys must not ever speak with a woman about marriage, but are to restrict themselves to speaking ONLY with the father of a women whom they are ready to marry. Maybe I'll even evolve to the point that the man's father should pick out a prospective bride for his son, too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Pro Choice Christians

What is wrong with the Church? Why is it that the children of the chosen go the way of the world nearly as frequently as the children of those not chosen? I would assert that it is because dispensationalists are Pro-Choice.

By "dispensationalist" I am referring to those whose theology is not reformed. Those who are not Calvinists. Primarily these folks believe that God saved his Old Testament people in one way, and his New Testament people in a different way. They believe that the Old Testament is useful, but not really authoritative in terms of God's justice or God's commands and that the New Testament somehow supersedes the Old. It's as if God suddenly did something completely different, disregarding everything He had said previously. The term itself comes from the idea that God has acted differently during different "dispensations" of time. I know and love the dispensationalists, for I, myself, was one of them. Thank God He delivered me from dispensationalism.

But my beef with dispensationalists is not so much their nonsensical beliefs about time but with their wrong-headed insistence that man chooses Christ rather than Christ choosing man. When it comes to salvation, they believe man is Pro-Choice.

I don't have the time or the theological training to launch into a full-blown defense of Calvinism here. If you are truly interested there are plenty of websites and books available on the subject. What I want to point out is one of the practical consequences of being Pro-Choice which is that their children leave the Church in droves. According to Barna Research Group, somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of teens who claim to be born again will not be practicing Christianity by their twenties.

What I can't find, is a statistic that compares the teens of evangelical reformed families versus those of evangelical non-reformed families. But from what I've seen personally, I'm pretty sure it's the non-reformed that are responsible for most of the 80% who fall away. The reason is simple, reformed families teach their children that they are chosen by God and have no choice about whether or not they want to follow Christ. Only God gets to choose and His choice is binding on the rest of us. The non-reformed, on the other hand, are hoping their children will see the benefits of being a Christian and choose to be saved, and then, hopefully, choose to obey God in order to get all the goodies that go to the obedient. Since when does a teen or young adult choose what is best for himself? Mostly they choose whatever is fun right now. These parents would never be so lax with the running of their households as they teach that God is about running His Kingdom! "Ok now Susie, it might be dangerous for you to be out all night, plus you'll feel so much better after a good night's sleep, but you just choose for yourself." I don't think so. And yet these same people believe and teach their children that God would REALLY, REALLY appreciate it if they would choose to serve Him, but if not, hey, that's their choice?

What kind of a God builds a Kingdom only with those having nothing better to do? The sovereign God of the universe chooses each one to add to the bride for His Son, He doesn't limit Himself to those who want to come. And once a person is chosen, obedience is required, it isn't an option. To disobey is to be chastened, as we know the Bible says that God chastens those whom He loves.

Let's teach this truth to our children and see if they don't fare better when we stop telling them they have a choice and instead start teaching them the commands of God. Stop telling them that Jesus is softly and gently begging them to come to Him. Stop telling them that God will be so grateful if they would grace the Kingdom with their souls. Stop telling them that they can choose to reject God now and change their minds at any time, God will never reject them. Nonsense!

Be like the parents who brought their children to Jesus so He could bless them. They didn't ask the children if they wanted to go to Jesus, they just took them. You say, "Here is the King. Love Him. Obey Him. Serve Him."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Entitlement Mentality

You might be tempted to assume, from the title of this post, that I'm going on a rant about welfare recipients. Normally, you would be correct. But today I am sharing what I experienced last night at an election event.

Background: Yesterday was Primary Election Day in Oregon. Our county hosts an event where the candidates from the various races can gather with their supporters to watch the returns come in and celebrate (or in the alternative - weep). Let me just emphasize that ALL of the candidates and their supporters, from all the political parties, are gathered together in the SAME room. I attended this event in support of a candidate for the Board of County Commissioners.

The event took place in a venue called, oddly enough, the _______ Events Center. Clever name, eh? It consisted of a large convention style room furnished with many round tables, each seating approximately 8 people. Earlier in the day, workers from each campaign arrived at the Events Center to stake out their claim. The tables were decorated with campaign signs and festive banners, etc. My candidate decorated just one table, as his was a small campaign.

Because the Events Center wasn't charging for the tables and because they were hoping to make some money from the election night event, it was prohibited to bring in any outside food or drink. Instead, the Events Center had its catering staff on hand to deliver to the candidates food, which had been previously ordered. In addition there was an pay-per-drink bar set up on one side of the room. My candidate, who took in no campaign donations, purchased for his partying supporters a large tray of layered mexican dip and a huge bowl of red, white and blue corn chips. It was supposed to be enough to feed 18 people and cost a whopping $45 dollars.

The festivities began around 8 p.m., which is when the polls close. As the results were tallied, they were projected onto a large screen on a stage at one end of the room. The supporters of the various candidates were milling around the room, visiting with friends and making new acquaintances when they weren't gathered around their favorite candidate and holding his hand as he chewed his fingernails nervously.

From the very beginning it became obvious to me that the most conservative candidates were the ones who had purchased food and set it out on their tables for their supporters. The most liberal candidates, on the other hand, had purchased none. As I sat there at my candidate's table, holding my baby and visiting with others, I became increasingly dumbfounded at the audacity, rudeness and arrogance with which the supporters of the liberal candidates helped themselves to my candidate's food!

At first, a couple of ladies came up and introduced themselves to my candidate and asked him about his candidacy, a pretense for commenting on the bean dip and begging an invitation to sup. After they had returned for seconds and thirds, their colleagues starting inching closer and closer to our table. Some of them had to walk all the way across the room to get to our table to raid the chips. I witnessed them sharing the good news with their friends and pointing to our location.

At one point I had pulled a package of graham crackers out of the diaper bag and set it on the table. I opened it and was removing the crackers one at a time and breaking them up into 4 sections to feed my baby. As I watched, some greedy old freeloader of a guy actually reached into the package and took one of the graham crackers on his way to the chip and dip. I said, "Excuse me, those are my baby's crackers." He thought that was hilarious and went around telling all his friends how he stole candy (I mean crackers) from a baby! Unbelievable.

And these people weren't starving or poverty stricken Nearly every one of them was holding an expensive drink in his/her hand.

I think I'm finally starting to get it. The liberal elite don't just use entitlement programs to buy votes and secure power for themselves, as I had previously believed. They actually have an entitlement mentality THEMSELVES! They believe everything in life is free - at least to them. Other people's hard work and the fruits of it belong to them by rights. If you have something, and a liberal wants it for himself or someone else, he's going to take it. And he's not going to ask permission or even announce his intentions.

Oh, and if you have the gall to protest, you're just selfish. Don't you want to be giving and charitable like the libs? Oh wait, they are giving and charitable with other people's money! Hardly a virtue. Sounds more like a crime.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

An Unassisted Childbirth

39 weeks and 6 days pregnant
At 3:58, Mom awakens to a contraction. Hmmmm… right at the cervix, definitely not the Braxton Hicks type. Mom gets up to use the restroom. There is some bloody show. This is encouraging. Mom goes back to bed.
4:58, Mom is awakened by another contraction. She snuggles her back up against Papa. They have a nice intimate time resulting in a couple more strong contractions. Remembering it is Saturday morning and no one has to get up, they settle down for some sleep.
6:58 (why does Mom keep waking up at 2 minutes before the top of the hour?) another contraction. Mom hears the 1 1/2 year-old crying in the other room and goes to get him. Bringing him into the bed, everyone goes back to sleep.
That doesn’t last long. By 8:15, others in the house are starting to stir. Mom has a lot of bloody show every time she visits the restroom. Contractions are spaced apart. Never more than about 3 per hour. They are strong, but short.
Papa has the girls get up and make room for the birth pool in the living room. They do an excellent job, moving furniture, running the vacuum, setting up the pool and the atmosphere. The blinds are closed and candles are set out. Mom’s favorite music is moved onto the computer near the birth pool.
Papa drains the first round of hot water into the pool. Big brother is set to work heating more water on the stove.
This labor is puttering. Movement such as going from lying down to standing will usually bring on a good contraction, but nothing steady.
Mommy and Papa decide to take a nap around 11:30. By this time, two rounds of hot water have gone into the birth pool. It is not quite full enough, but the next round should do the trick, so everyone is confident that it will be ready before the baby comes. The little kids and the boys head next door to Nana and Grandpa’s to await the birth.
The nap is very relaxing. If feels so good to just be together, enjoying the last day of having the baby inside. The last two births were more private, just Mommy and Papa. This time we have included the two big sisters, so Mommy and Papa have to stay in the bedroom in order to be alone. Mommy just read Spiritual Midwifery and was intrigued by the idea that the laboring woman should be “giving some” to those around her, and that she would “get” in return. Just like in the Bible where Jesus says “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38
So Mommy tried to focus on Papa during the labor. During the nap, she “gave” to him. He “gave” in return – a nice oral dose of prostaglandins. Mom had 3 contractions while she served Papa. They went back to sleep. Mom could use nipple stimulation to bring on a strong contraction, but they wouldn’t keep going without more stimulation.
But those contractions were powerful enough to require concentrated relaxation. Mom would focus on opening her hands and mouth during the contractions. A relaxed mouth translates into a relaxed bottom, an open bottom, an open cervix.
Around 3:00, Mom decided that it might be better to be upright for awhile and see if that didn’t bring a little more progress to the labor. It is hard to both welcome the contractions and be glad of their absence at the same time. She moved from the bedroom to the living room. This room provided various pieces of furniture which worked well for leaning during rushes. As she felt one coming on she would either lean on the end table by the recliner, resting her palms on the table top and bending at the waist, or lean on the tall bookcase near the hall, remaining completely upright with only a slight bend at the waist while swirling her hips.
It must have looked funny to the big sisters and Mom joked with them about things like belly dancing. The girls were careful not to talk during the contractions. In between they asked questions or made conversation. Being upright caused the contractions to be stronger and more frequent, probably because of the pressure of the baby’s head on the cervix while Mom was standing.
Between 3:00 and 4:00 the rushes were stronger. But at no time did they become unbearable. They were not very long, not “textbook” at all, because none of them lasted more than one minute and they never got very close together. It seems there was never any that were closer together than about 5 minutes during this time.
At 4:00 Mom decides that it is time to get into the birth pool. Settling herself at the far end, near the kitchen, she drapes her body over the edge while kneeling on the cushy pool bottom. The water feels great. The temperature is perfect. She spends a couple of contractions trying to figure out how far she has progressed. Her cervix doesn’t give as much information as the books would have us believe. It is very soft and the bag of waters can be felt. But the squishy cervix isn’t dilated more than about 5 or 6, and that is probably generous.
Yet Mom knows that the birth is close. The quality of the contractions is very familiar. She knows that when the uterus begins to push downward, the cervix will yield, even if it isn’t “complete”. No text book can dictate what a body will do. And that is exactly what happens. As the description of the rushes changes from the “opening” type to the “expulsion” type, the head pushes the cervix aside and descends into the birth canal.
Mom focuses on breathing and relaxing her bottom. She resists pushing as much as she can without resorting to clamping her legs closed. She wants to relax and maintain some control over the head as it moves downward. If possible, it would be highly desirable to allow the tissues at the outlet to stretch.
The water bag breaks and Mom, who is holding her hand at the outlet, feels the force of the fluid rushing into the pool and simultaneously feels the head move to crowning. She redoubles her efforts at making things slow and begins to talk to the baby. “That’s a good baby. Go slowly for mama. Let it stretch… let is stretch. Wait. Take your time.” (Mom finds out later that the girls found this matter of speaking to the unborn baby to be quite interesting and unexpected – although Mom does it every time, it was their first time to get to see/hear it)
Mom is able to use up four contractions birthing the head. Probably a record for her. Unknown to her at the time, but highly obvious to Papa who is sitting in the pool behind her, (when did he get in the pool?) the baby is facing Mom’s front. What the books call a posterior position. Now for the hardest part, the shoulders and body. As expected, they rush out at a high rate of speed in a single contraction as Mom gives a little yelp.
The baby tumbles out and Papa scoops him out of the water. He gives a cry nearly immediately. A conversation ensues between Mommy and Papa.
“The baby’s out” says Papa.
“Is it out of the water?” (Mama can’t see what is going on back there and she can’t move just yet, she is gathering her wits, still leaning over the side of the pool).
“Do you have enough cord?” (Mom is asking if the cord is long enough to hold the baby out of the water while she rests a minutes. Because she could stand up, but she would rather not at this point).
“Yes. It’s a little boy.” Proclaims the proud Papa.
From then on, it’s pretty anticlimactic. Mom gets turned around and sits in the pool. She nurses the baby and they begin to get to know each other. For the events that happen a couple of hours later, including the hemorrhage and transport by ambulance to the hospital, Mom is writing a separate account because the birth itself was so peaceful and “normal” they seemed like two completely different events.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

Before I was converted I never heard the word "witness" being used other than in a legal sense, as in a witness giving testimony at a trial. After my conversion, as I became immersed in the Christian culture and church-speak, I was introduced to another use of the word. Here is an example of its usage in a sentence, "Hey, are you going out witnessing on Thursday night?"

Loosely it means to share the gospel with people. Specifically it meant going "soul winning" or "knocking on doors" as it was called amongst my new brothers and sisters. One night (at least) every week the members of our local church were supposed to spend a couple of hours visiting the homes of people who were not believers and try to get them to convert. Sometimes this involved cold calls, where homes were chosen at random, and sometimes we worked from lists of people who had visited the church or were friends or relatives of church members who were concerned about their eternal souls.

In true dispensationalist fashion, we were taught that the souls of these people depended upon our harassing them into the Kingdom. If they never put their faith and trust in Jesus, it would be our fault for not going soul winning and witnessing to them. It was like being an encyclopedia salesman for Jesus. Not pleasant.

Now, years later, I have come to understand that the word "witness" when used in Scripture doesn't take on some special, different meaning just because it is in the Bible. The words in the Bible are just words and they are used because of their meanings, rather than having their meanings changed because they are biblical.

So, what is a witness and what did Jesus mean when He said we would be witnesses of Him?

Acts 1:8
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Somehow, it doesn't seem like He was saying that after He sends the Holy Ghost our task will be to knock on every door in the world and blast them with the gospel. After all, a witness is one who tells what he saw and heard. But he doesn't just go blabbing everywhere, there is an appropriate place to witness and an appropriate audience for the witness.

In the Old Testament, witnesses were used to verify the truth of something. Not only crimes, but also land sales and the works of God. Witnesses of a murder were to be the first to cast stones in the execution. No one else could toss a rock until the witnesses tossed theirs. Witnesses appeared before the one sitting in judgment. For the most part, a witness testifies when called upon to do so.

While we should be ready to give an answer to anyone that asks about the hope that lies within us, it doesn't seem that we need to be demanding an audience with those who don't want to hear. That is like casting pearls before swine.

But we also know that God can't stand a lying witness. Here's a familiar verse:

Exodus 20:16
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

So, if one is called to testify, he must testify truthfully.

I said all of that to say this: Why does going to weddings get me so irritated? Well, I know why, but why can't I just go along and get along like everyone else? Why can't I fawn and oooo and ahhhh and talk about how beautiful the bride was? Why must I find fault with nearly every aspect of the wedding ceremony? One reason, really. Truth. We should be truth tellers. We should not be false witnesses when called to testify. My personal opinion about most weddings, and I mean Christian weddings, is that they are blasphemous. I don't even know why I say "most", because I haven't been to one yet where the truth was spoken.

Marriage was instituted by God. But wedding ceremonies, filled with their lies, must come straight from the father of lies.

Wedding ceremonies are not essential for marriage. They are not even mentioned in the Bible. (Wedding feasts, yes, wedding ceremonies, no.) Therefore, if we must insist on performing them, shouldn't we be using them as a vehicle for delivering truth? Not every aspect of a wedding needs to be infused with sacred meaning, and for heavens sake please don't invent stuff to make you feel more holy for doing this or that during your wedding!

What is with the Unity Candle? From what in Scripture do people get the notion that lighting two candles then using them to light a third candle symbolizes a man and woman coming together as one flesh? It makes about as much sense as having the bride and groom each bring in a pint of ice cream and then mix them together. Or each bring in some mud from their parents' yards and mix that. The TRUTH is... God designed sex as the symbol and the means whereby two become one. But we are too squeamish for that, so we make up our own symbols and the truth be damned!

By the way, marriage is NOT a covenant. If it was, I'm pretty sure that the Bible would have mentioned it or alluded to it at least once, somewhere in those 66 books. It isn't there. Obviously, if I'm wrong on this, it will be easy enough to debunk my position.

But guess what? Betrothal IS a covenant. It is a covenant to marry! That's right, the groom promises, makes a covenant to return and take the bride to wife. When the groom comes and takes his bride, the covenant is fulfilled. It is complete. It is done.

It is wrong, and spreads untruth, to take the covenantal aspects of betrothal and apply them to marriage as if God meant to do it all along, but just forgot.

But the vows, those are from the Bible, right? Well, when Christ betrothed you to himself, what were your vows? When he comes for his bride, does she take vows? Does he? What is the consequence for breaking marriage vows? Are all of the vows the same? I've heard of people refer to a person who was unfaithful in marriage as having "broken the marriage vows." (I assume they refer to the vow to keep all affection only for the spouse) But if a wife fails to honor or obey her husband, I have NEVER heard someone say she has "broken the marriage vows." Why is that? I've even heard someone say that "breaking the marriage vows" is cause for divorce, but only in relation to one of the vows.

If the man and woman don't make vows, will they still be married? If so, then obviously the vows are not necessary, they are just one more added element to the ceremony to give it a more sanctified atmosphere. Unfortunately, God doesn't take the act of vowing vows lightly, so it really puts a burden on a couple that God does not require.

Numbers 30:2
If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5
When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

Additionally, it seems to me that vows in Scripture are to perform or not perform certain acts, so the vow can be fulfilled. They are not open-ended. The acts are specific, not general like "honor" and "obey". Our modern marriage vows don't coincide with anything seen in the Bible nor are they recommended or required by God.

Rings? Rings can be a token of anything of which we want to make them a token. They aren't necessary to marriage and aren't sacred. Marriage isn't a covenant, so they aren't tokens of the covenant.

Here we are, Christians, with a captive audience at a wedding. Tell the gospel! If the ceremony deviates from the gospel, then either change the ceremony or announce "This part of the ceremony has nothing to do with biblical marriage, we are just doing it because it makes us feel sanctimonious or gives us the warm fuzzies."

To do otherwise is bearing false witness, it is giving false testimony. Please don't do it.