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Pushing for Consistency on Marriage

The Chicago Tribune reported that John Marcotte is promoting an initiative to ban divorce in his home state of California. Marcotte is pushing for the ban on divorce in response to the passage of Proposition 8 by California voters in 2008. Proposition 8, otherwise named the California Marriage Protection Act, banned homosexual marriage in California by adding to the state constitution the words “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the state of California.” Marcotte voted against Proposition 8 and is described in the article as a “gay-rights supporter.” He is hardly a supporter of “traditional marriage.” Why then push for a ban on divorce? Is he joking? Some think so, but Marcotte says, “It does hurt my feelings when people doubt my sincerity.” Marcotte’s stated purpose is to show the inconsistency of claiming to uphold “traditional marriage” by banning homosexual marriage while at the same time allowing divorce. He says, “If you want to protect traditional marriage, don’t stop gay people from getting married, stop straight people from getting divorced.” His argument is that California voters who favored the ban on homosexual marriage should also favor a ban on divorce. He says, “to not vote (for the divorce ban) would be a little hypocritical.”

Interestingly, the article reveals that Andy Pugno, identified as “the protectmarriage.com campaign’s general counsel who propelled Proposition 8 to victory,” is not in favor of the divorce ban. He called Marcotte’s initiative a “stunt.” Yet, Marcotte has obtained the necessary signatures on his initiative to receive certification from the California Secretary of State in order to spread the initiative across the state in hopes it will receive enough signatures to be placed on next year’s ballot. He claims support from “members of the gay and lesbian communities [and] some…from the ultraconservative religious right that opposes divorce.”

Misguided though he may be, by pushing this initiative Marcotte is drawing attention to the truth that “traditional marriage” has been and continues to be destroyed by divorce, despite the fact that homosexual marriage has been held at bay in many states such as California. Marcotte is also exposing the hypocrisy of many “conservatives” who oppose gay marriage while tolerating divorce for almost any reason. As long as the divorce rates in the United States remain between 40-50% any claims of victory for “traditional marriage” by prohibiting homosexual marriage ring hollow. When we keep in mind, in addition to the frequency of divorce, that many in North the inconsistency of claiming to uphold “traditional marriage” by banning homosexual marriage while at the same time allowing divorce. He says, “If you want to protect traditional marriage, don’t stop gay people from getting married, stop straight people from getting divorced.” His argument is that California voters who favored the ban on homosexual marriage should also favor a ban on divorce. He says, “to not vote (for the divorce ban) would be a little hypocritical.”

Interestingly, the article reveals that Andy Pugno, identified as “the protectmarriage.com campaign’s general counsel who propelled Proposition 8 to victory,” is not in favor of the divorce ban. He called Marcotte’s initiative a “stunt.” Yet, Marcotte has obtained the necessary signatures on his initiative to receive certification from the California Secretary of State in order to spread the initiative across the state in hopes it will receive enough signatures to be placed on next year’s ballot. He claims support from “members of the gay and lesbian communities [and] some…from the ultraconservative religious right that opposes divorce.”

Misguided though he may be, by pushing this initiative Marcotte is drawing attention to the truth that “traditional marriage” has been and continues to be destroyed by divorce, despite the fact that homosexual marriage has been held at bay in many states such as California. Marcotte is also exposing the hypocrisy of many “conservatives” who oppose gay marriage while tolerating divorce for almost any reason. As long as the divorce rates in the United States remain between 40-50% any claims of victory for “traditional marriage” by prohibiting homosexual marriage ring hollow. When we keep in mind, in addition to the frequency of divorce, that many experiences many evils that are directly related to the breakdown of the family. Churches also are experiencing the devastating consequences of divorce, consequences that flow from the curse of God.

The Protestant Reformed Churches must learn a valuable lesson from Marcotte’s initiative. Only by the grace of God are we blessed as we remain faithful to His word concerning marriage. Let us remember that, though we must battle against homosexual marriage, the battle for biblical marriage begins with divorce. The danger is that in the current climate we focus on the gross evil of homosexuality and forget the gross evil of divorce. Let us remember that God hates “putting away,” but He loves it when His church honors the permanency of marriage as a reflection of the permanency of Christ’s union with the church. May God in His grace give us the strength to be consistent on biblical marriage, and in that way may God bless us.

Tiger Woods Counseled to Turn to Christianity

Much attention has turned to the comments of FoxNews contributor Brit Hume about Tiger Woods. Hume suggested that Woods, the world’s number one golfer, who is now better known for his adulterous affairs, should repudiate Buddhism and turn to Christianity. It is reported that on January 3 Hume said to a national TV audience, “I don’t think that faith (Buddhism) offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'” Hume has come under fire for his suggestion, but he reiterated it the next day again on the FoxNews Channel stating, “My sense about Tiger is that he needs something that Christianity, especially, provides and gives and offers. And that is redemption and forgiveness.”1

Predictably Hume’s suggestion is drawing harsh criticism. Buddhists are arguing that he has mischaracterized their religion. Members of the media who are not Buddhist, but nevertheless despise Christianity, are criticizing Hume for unnecessarily injecting Christianity into a news story.

An AP article reporting the indignation of Buddhists actually substantiates Hume’s point that forgiveness and redemption are not found in that false religion.2 Robert Thurman, a professor of Tibetan studies at Columbia University, is quoted as saying, “It is insulting to Buddhism to indicate that Buddhism doesn’t take care of its own believers and followers.” Will Buddhism take care of Woods and give him forgiveness and redemption? Yes, the article explains, Buddhism teaches that Tiger can find redemption by looking to himself rather than to God. The article reports there is no “creator god (sic) to bestow redemption” nor is there an “accountant in the sky wiping sins off your balance sheet as in Christianity.” Tiger must save himself by turning to “an ethical way of life.” So Buddhism says, save yourself. We know in the light of Scripture that Woods, like all men except Jesus, cannot live an ethically perfect life because he is by nature dead in sin. Therefore no one can find forgiveness or redemption in Buddhism.

Hume is correct in his assessment that Woods needs to turn to the Christian religion. However, it must be pointed out that forgiveness and redemption are not found “especially” in Christianity; they are found only in Christianity. And it must be emphasized that forgiveness and redemption are based only upon the work of Jesus Christ. I am not sure why Hume did not mention Jesus’ name, but I am afraid that if His name is not mentioned, the impression can be left that Christianity also offers salvation to those who simply change their lives and do good. Woods, like all sinners, does not need to do anything to earn forgiveness, he simply needs to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

This is not to say that Woods could find forgiveness and redemption by believing in Jesus and then returning to “life as usual.” Oh no, true repentance includes both trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and a change from sin, or life as usual, to a life of obedience to God. If Woods were truly to turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, evidence of this would be seen in a radical change of life. Not only would he discontinue all adulterous affairs and devote himself to his wife (if she will accept reconciliation), but he would also discontinue his wicked practice of golfing on the Lord’s Day.

Readers of the Standard Bearer with long memories will recall that Woods’ golfing prowess, especially his putting abilities, were a subject of interest in the debate between Dr. Richard Mouw and Prof. Engelsma concerning the doctrine of Common Grace. In his book He Shines In All That’s Fair, Dr. Mouw infamously expressed his belief that, along with the accomplishments of other unbelievers, God delights “in Tiger Woods’ putts” (p. 36). Now that Woods’ multitude of adulterous affairs have come to light, that belief has been further discredited. Before, the question could be put to Dr. Mouw, “Does God really delight in Woods’ ability to putt while he is desecrating the Sabbath Day?” Now we can add this question: “Did God really take delight in Woods’ ability to putt, while he was carrying on adulterous affairs and violating his marriage vows?”

The answer of Scripture is that God “delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of man” (Ps. 147). God does not delight in any of man’s accomplishments. He delights in the broken spirit and the contrite heart. He delights in obedience, not sacrifice. To please God, Woods must turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and with a heart filled with love for God through the power of that forgiveness he must radically change his life. There is no common love of God for all the works of man; there is only a special love of God for His people in Jesus Christ and a special delight that He takes in seeing their lives transformed by the power of His grace. So the Woods’ scandal exposes the superficiality of the doctrine of common grace.

However, I am not interested in merely scoring points in the debate on common grace. The Tiger Woods’ scandal and Hume’s suggestion that he turn to Christ serves as an important reminder for us to have the proper perspective on life. How many of us were impressed with Woods’ ability to hit a golf ball? How many of us are impressed with the ability of other men to shoot a basketball or to throw or catch a football? How many of us are impressed with women who have the abilities of a Martha Stewart? Is it the case that we too tend to overemphasize the accomplishments of these men and women who deny Jesus Christ, while we overlook the importance of living a life of faith and devotion to Jesus Christ? Many of God’s people do not have amazing physical talents and do not lead lives filled with worldly excitement. They simply live their daily lives as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. That is impressive! Let us as Christians imitate God and delight in those who delight in Him through Jesus Christ.


1 Information on Hume’s comments can be found at http://www.foxnews.com

2 Tamara Lush, “Comments by Fox’s Brit Hume Upset Some Buddhists,” found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34745053/