"Let's All Agree To
Back in the
seventies, some among us warned that with the introduction and devoted promotion
of the new Ecumenical Movement that claimed to be the fulfillment of Jesus'
prayer for unity in John 17: 21, many within the Lord's church would be
persuaded and unity-in-diversity would become common, even the standard among
God's people. It has happened! As it was pointed out then, so we
echo the same truth today that the unity among God's people for which Jesus
prayed in the shadow of the cross was and is based on the mutual belief and
acceptance of the word (John 17: 14, 17-21, 2 John 9-11).
In my current polygamy/proper interpretive method debate, I was reminded of the above. In the below quotation, one of my disputants is addressing another who posted regarding polygamy being a sin. This man who posted to the list publishing the debate did use the word "opinion" in his post, in an apparent effort to be humble, and my disputant is addressing this matter. Notice his thinking, rational, and modus operandi and the, "Let's all agree to disagree" mentality:
"Considering the beginning of your post, after the definitions, it seems you put all of this in the realm of opinion about polygamy and marriage. When you put it that way, brother, you get me right in the same boat with you in most effective ways we would approach the polygamous man today.
I would not tell him he is sinning by having several wives because I could not... Some folks call a lot of things sin that are never addressed as sin, making up all sorts of rules to go along with their preferences, so as to bind their personal standards as law on others.... I can respect your opinion without taking it as my own, as you can do with mine. Still we are at peace and loving toward one another in the bonds of peace which are found in Christ Jesus."
I have been debating the marriage, divorce, and marriage to another matter almost assiduously for about ten years. We are now seeing another wave of graduated error emerging: Polygamy tolerance among those claiming to be preachers of the gospel. Well, why not? Some could not tell when a person was married or divorced, due to their floating and nebulous ideas about what constituted marriage and/or divorce.
Seven years ago, I debated
a respected preacher who maintained that two Christians conjugally living
together without what most think of as marriage was not sin and that the elders
where they were members had no right to say anything to them. He did not
even contend for a common law marriage circumstance. "A marriage license
has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not two people are married," said
he. I have debated a number who have no concept of when divorce occurs.
I recall one woman whom I was counseling who claimed her husband had committed
adultery, all of a sudden informed me that she had a date and had begun dating.
I emailed her back and asked her how she had fulfilled her state law
requirements pertaining to the civil dissolution of her marriage so fast (it had
only been about a month). Her reply was, "I failed to tell you that I have
also been talking to brethren....(all prominent preachers in the church) and
they told me, 'It is o.k. that you go ahead and start dating, the civil
divorcement has nothing to do with biblical divorcement. When you left his
house, you were biblically divorced at that point in time.'" (See the
One wave of divorce errors involved the multiple cause for divorce doctrine. I only knew of a few who taught multiple causes for divorce at the time and even one of them, Mike Willis, did not want his teaching publicly addressed (he taught it publicly, though). As a result of the deterioration of marriage in our society and the problems now seen in many local churches, more have come out of their closets, advocating multiple causes for divorce, even financial problems and emotional distress, which they interpret as "hindering one who is a Christian." Some of them are heard saying, "We are not advocating marriage to another, just different causes for divorce." These men know as well as I do that just about all of these people divorcing for causes other than fornication will marry another (Matt. 19: 9). What these men are not now telling is that many of them, if not all, have beliefs that will even allow these divorcing people to marry another later, while they have a living mate. Another preacher just recently announced his allegiance to the multiple causes for divorce movement, Steven J. Wallace.
While some men do not teach multiple causes for divorce, they mix and mingle with those who do. Connie Adams is a good example of this unity-in-diversity about which I am writing. Connie has become more and more involved in a working relationship with Mike Willis (now famous for his multiple causes for divorce doctrine) and others who also teach the same, all of them happily involved in the workings of the Guardian of Truth Foundation. I predicted some time ago that the Guardian of Truth Foundation would become a primary promoter of the multiple causes for divorce doctrine and such has happened. Such foundations in which Christians come together to corporately preach the gospel are believed "untouchable" and can basically teach and do what they desire because, "We are not a local church." Hence, such entities have historically been a major source of the injection of false doctrine into the Lord's church.
"Let's all agree to disagree," this is what my disputant in the polygamy debate says. I should not have any problems with him because he says that I must accept John and his five wives with whom John is conjugally living and because he accepts them (as long as civil law does not condemn them). He has no serious problem with John, his problem is with me because I maintain that polygamy is a sin and I cannot fellowship one in polygamy.
One of the first to openly voice strong opposition to my teaching on multiple causes for divorce was Joe Price. He was not openly advocating what his buddy Mike Willis was teaching, but, "Don, you are causing trouble by teaching against multiple causes for divorce and you must stop this," this was in the main his and other's thinking (see my exchange with Joe Price in the Polemic Exchange section). Joe later agreed with the multiple cause doctrine). No, we do not need to learn how to, "Let's all agree to disagree" not in matters of doctrine. What we need to learn is, "Let's all agree to agree on the teaching of God's word and to live and teach it without compromise!"
There is no end to the,
"Let's agree to disagree," it soon allows for all sorts of error on marriage and
divorce, as seen, even the allowance of polygamy and the existence of church
like organizations doing the work God has assigned to his church through their
own oversight and with their own treasury (I Tim. 3: 15).
Addendum: While I do not teach that in the case of marriage or the converse, divorce, applicable civil protocol is within and of itself marriage or divorce, respectively, I certainly teach that civil protocol is part of each. Society in general has had such civil procedure in place, one reason to establish intent, fact, and record. Without such, there is utter chaos. To charge as some have, "You teach the race to the court house doctrine" is totally false, prejudicial, and deflective.