Marriage, Heaven-Made or Not.
In an attempt to adjust its marriage canons to the existing conditions, and thus, to “take a more realistic approach to the subject of re-marriage”, Bishop J. Davis of the P. E. Church wants to decide the validity of marriages, at least of those that prove unhappy and unsuccessful, on the basis of the question whether it we a heaven-made marriage or not.
How fertile are men’s minds.
Eureka. (How simple that really was. Here we have been groping about for a solution to the knotty problem of marriage and the re-marriage of divorced people, and right here under our eyes, at our fingers’ tips, in fact, was a tailor made solution.
It only needs to be decided whether the marriage was heaven-made. And how shall that be determined. That too is simple. The very fact that this particular marriage was unhappy and unsuccessful proves that it was not heaven-made. The parties were not really married at all. Hence divorce and re-marriage is quite in order. Perhaps ‘if they find new mates, they can strike a heaven-made marriage. Just that easy.
But is it that easy?
Jesus said, “What therefore God hath, joined together, let not man put asunder”. And Jesus said something about the sin which divorced persons commit when they re-marry.
But, you must remember Jesus lived a full nineteen hundred years ago and today we have to take a “realistic stand.” Jesus’ approach evidently was not realistic enough.
Dear reader, did you ever presume to be wiser than Jesus? Wiser than God. When we see poor fellowmen attempt to be wiser than God, we ought not vainly to puff up ourselves, as though we would not do that. Perhaps we have often clone it in respect to various practical problems of life today. Whether the bishop of the P. E. Church or whether we presume to be wiser than God, God passes judgment, declares us to be fools and then God proceeds to let subsequent history and Final Judgment bear out that we are fools and that we know nothing. All we know is what Jesus taught us, whatever we contribute comes under the heading of “private interpretation” and therefore foolishness…
Alas for Denominationalism.
If one carefully observes religious trends in these days one easily feels that today’s religious world is on the move, away from narrow denominationalism to world-wide unity. Perusing a few religious magazines we find statements announcing an Alliance of Calvinistie Denominations whose purpose it is to bring churches of reformed persuasion into closer fraternal relationship. A little later we read about the Inn- posed Merger of the Congregational Christian and the Evangelical and Reformed.
Editor of the U.E.E., J. E. Wright, complained impatiently of “quibbling over small differences”. An editor of another reformed periodical tells us that the difference between many of today’s factions is as great as the difference between fiddle-dee-dee and fiddle-dee-dum.
Dr. Dan Poling, editor of Christian Herald, holds before us the example of a baptism, where, “A Catholic (he means a Roman Catholic evidently, M.G.) held the basin of water, a Jew assisted and Dr. Poling- baptized”. That’s unity, says the Dr. Dr. A. L. Warnshuis from New York tells us that “emphasis on denominationalism means out of step with the European Church”, What Europe needs from us is religious unity, not bigoted denominationalism; not more disunity but more unity.
Dr. Fosdick, speaking before the Protestant Council of the City of New York, after telling us that Protestantism has broken up into about two hundred and fifty sects and that our divided estate has become unbearable and an outrage to the intelligence, proceeds to ridicule this business by telling the story of Lloyd George. Lloyd George was riding with a friend. He said to his friend, “The Church to which I belong is torn with a fierce dispute. One section says that Baptism is IN the Name of the Father, the other that it is INTO the Name of the Father. I belong to one of these two parties. I feel most strongly about it, I would die for it, in fact. . . .but I forget which it is.”
Modern intelligence is outraged by emphasis on doctrinal differences. Mankind is impatient with it. The divided Europe cries for unity. The Atom Bomb threatens to blow us to smithereens of we do not hurry and decide to patch up our differences and unite.
Alas for denominationalism.
We naturally deplore the cults and Sects that, like so many boils and cancers on a body erupt upon the surface of the historical church.
But we ought to let none of these things deceive us into a unity which is no unity. If and when we hold the Truth as Christ and the Apostles have given it us, and if we can unite with others who do that same thing, well and good. That is ever our calling. Howbeit, such union does not make us any stronger for our strength is never in numbers. But if we unite with such, as have here or there departed from the Truth and the Traditions of Scripture, we only destroy ourselves against that rock upon which is written, “For we can do nothing against the truth”.
Antichrist shall sit in the Temple of God saying he is God, and what could be more convenient for him than to find in the temple a united church-world?
The clamor for unity tells us that on God’s clock it is already a late hour and its notes sound the warning, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”.
Horses or Tractors.
While we are on the subject of denominationalism anyway, I find something here about horses and tractors that ought to prove interesting.
It appears that there is in this country a Sect called the Amish. This sect again divided into two groups, one group is called the Church Amish the other is called the House Amish.
One of the differences between them is that the Church Amish are allowed to use tractors for their farm tillage, but the House Amish find this strictly forbidden. I cannot find out just why tractors are “verboten” but “verboten” they are.
Imagine it, if you can. The difference being horses and tractors. No doubt they are serious about these things. But when Protestantism is charged with breaking up into two hundred and fifty sects and denominations and the differences between some of them is no greater than the question of horses or tractors, we are reminded of the fiddle-dee-dee and fiddle-dee-dum. It is indeed sorry when antiquity, pride and imagination build high fences and enclose their followers within them.
So insistent moreover are these House Amish about their rules that when the Government urged them to use tractors in view of the labor shortage, they retorted that the government must release the sect’s sons held as conscientious objectors. . . .then, evidently, they could get more farm work done but still use only horses.
By the test of God’s Word either horses or tractors are all right. This has nothing to do with the Truth. Therefore it is vain strife about words and men’s ideas.
But we ought not to laugh at them. For if outsiders hear about a schism over Common Grace and Particular Grace, they would in turn perhaps laugh at us and count us foolish. Although we know that it is not foolish nor is it a strife about words.
What we wanted to say however is that if we do not diligently instruct our children in the difference between us and the others, these children will eventually see nothing’ greater between us than the difference between horses and tractors. And if we do not confess and practice our Reformed Truth before men, we will lead them to think that the difference between us and others is about as great as this, that we use horses only while others use tractors also. God save us from becoming such laughing stock in the eyes of men.