(Reading Assignments for S.1 cont.)
“Ann’s View on Divorce Saddens Pastor” (12/27/72)(Another example on Relativizing the Absolutes)
Dear Ann Landers,
I was sorry to hear you say on your NBC radio show that you’ve changed your mind/views on divorce. Granted, divorce no longer bears the stigma it once did, but such logic could be extended to other wrongs and brutalities so that even murder or child abuse could become so commonplace as to carry very little social stigma.
“. . . what therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (Jesus Christ, Mat. 19:6, KJV), is a moral precept to which we are still answerable, as also is, “Thou shalt not kill” (Deut. 5:17), or “Thou shalt not steal” (Deut. 5:19). I have often applauded your common sense and unyielding observations an marriage and family life, and I regret your switch on divorce. Your first book, entitled, “Since You Ask Me,” is recommended reading to my newlyweds. Thanks for your time, Ann. —
— The Rev. J. Barclay Brown
Mt. Hope Lutheran Church, Casper, Wyo.
Dear Rev. Brown,
Thank you for your good letter. I am sorry you and I are having a serious disagreement in principle, but the world is changing and those who refuse to reasses the issues will be sadly out of tune with the times. I no longer believe that marriage means forever, no matter how lousy it is — or “for the sake of the children.” I see too many people whom had a rotten first marriage and are truly happy with a second husband or wife. Our basic disagreement lies in the interpretation of “…what God has joined together…”. IF God made the selections, it would be simple. Unfortunately, the selections are mostly made by humans. And humans make mistakes.
— Ann Landers
“Absolutizing the Relatives”
By: Dr. Earl D. Radmacher, The.D
(The Communicator, Pres. Corner, Winter, 1972)
In the last “Communicator” I spoke on the matter of “Relativizing The Absolutes,” a practice which is epitomized formally in such a work as Fletcher’s “Situation Ethics,” where everything is declared relative to the situation in which it occurs.
There is another side to the matter, however, which is seen even more frequently, perhaps, among Bible believing Christians, and that is the practice of making absolute eternal principles out of relative, culturally conditioned practices.
There are, essentially, three great bodies of truth to be observed in Scripture: 1) First, there are things that are universally prohibited. These are wrong because they are inherently wrong. For example, it is always wrong to steal, whether it involves $10.00 from someone’s wallet, or taking a 30-min. break when you are only allowed a 15-min. break; 2) Secondly, there are things that are permitted because they are inherently right. For example, it is right for a woman to be in submission to her husband because God created the relationship thusly; but 3) Thirdly, there is a great gray area — neither black nor white — where the principle of relativity is in force (Romans, chp. 14).
Now, some things are either right or wrong according to their use, or according to the motive behind their use. This is the matter of motivation. Again, some things that are right in themselves, become wrong by association. This is the matter of discrimination. Again, some things are right to a point but wrong beyond that point. This is the matter of moderation. Finally, there are some things that are right to the conscience of ourselves and then wrong to the conscience of another. This is the matter of conviction (1Cor.10:29).
In these areas where there are not specifics enunciated (declared definitely), we must emphasize the need for a growing conscience that is corrected by the principles of Scripture, cleansed by prayer, and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Here’s where the doctrines of the Word and the Spirit really come into focus. Their are sufficient unchanging principles in the Word to cover every practice we encounter, and the Holy Spirit is BIG enough and personal enough to guide each of us into the proper application of the changeless principles in our changing culture. We must be careful to disguish, however, what exactly in the Word is a changeless principle and what is a changing practice.
For instance, there is no divine ‘hem length’, given in Yahweh’s Word, but there is the principle of modesty: “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel… not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (2Tim.2:9). In the pre-1920’s, modest teenaged women adorned dresses that were ankle length. Again, unless one is a Nazarene, there is no divine hair cut in Scripture, but there is the principle of distiguishment between men and women (short and long hair): “Judge for yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you that. if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: to her hair is given (to) her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such (thing as a) custom, neither the Churches of God” (1Cor.11:13-16).
The application of that principle in Paul’s culture meant that a woman not only would not cut her hair (short), if she was a respectable woman, but she would wear a veil in public, for that was the custom of respectable women. Only a loose woman of I’ll repute would have appeared in public without a veil. By contrast, however, this has nothing to do with hats worn today. The practice is only significant to the extent that it teaches the principle of modesty. in that culture, during that time period. Likewise, only ‘fairies’/’dandies’ (homosexual men) of that time and culture wore their hair long. (cont. in S.1.5, “bbb”)
Categories: Mark Blain