Missionary dating in the good Book

Missionary Dating

A defense of mixed marriage:

Christian to nonchristian

I want to look at missionary dating without missing the forest for the trees. In one Sunday school class I was in, a brother went on about not being unequally yoked with an unbeliever, especially in marriage (and presumably in dating). I mentioned that the passage in II Cor. was talking about Christian ministry, not marriage per se, and the teacher changed the subject saying that question could be answered by the exhortation to marry "only in the Lord."

I since sent the teacher some material on the subject where I pointed out, among other things, that "only in the Lord" had to be interpreted within its own context and was not of itself going to settle what something else means, especially something from a different context.

More recently an older sister quoted the marrying "only in the Lord" passage to clearly put the kibosh on missionary dating. I countered by saying we had to understand "only in the Lord" within its own context, by which I understand it to be an adverbial phrase modifying how the widow goes about marrying, not adjectival modifying the guy she marries. The brother then said we can interpret "only in the Lord" by the command not to be unequally yoked.

Seems like we have ended up with a tautology, a circular argument: "not unequally yoked" means what "only in the Lord" says, and "only in the Lord" means what "not unequally yoked" tells us. Great!

I answered that brother by saying that being "not unequally yoked" is a commandment regarding Christian ministry, and since Paul says he is not handling the word of God deceitfully (2 Cor. 4:2), and we have an OT example (Gen. 34:13) of the deceitful answer a couple of Jacob's sons gave in the matter of their sister Dinah—saying they could intermarry when they ended up demonstrating that they couldn't—, Paul could not have changed his mind in 2nd Corinthians from what he had said in 1st. If we find in 1st Cor. that he did indeed allow mixed marriage, we cannot apply the "unequally yoked" (in ministry) passage in 2nd to first saying it's not okay after all.

At this point the brother wanted to point out that I wouldn't enter a contract with an unbeliever. But we do enter those all the time, which is necessary to live still in the world and is a different subject from uniting in Christian ministry. (I could understand, though, how the brother might not be too keen on the idea after not being allowed by the city to cut the trees on his own property.)

Then the teacher interjected that an "expert" had declared that Paul had meant only that if a Christian were married to a nonchristian he should stay that way, but he shouldn't enter into such a marriage if he is not married yet.

I answered by saying I apply Paul's permission to dating unbelievers, and it has worked out okay with me, witness a couple girls I've dated and got to go to church and a couple girlfriends converting. Somebody said that most Christians don't hold with mixed marriages. But then if missionary dating were more popular, I wouldn't be wasting my time promoting it. We're going around in circles.

What does that remind you of? When Luther presented his theses, he said that he would recant if he could be shown from scripture his error. King Charles took him up on his offer and had a renowned theologian named Eck look into it to see where Luther was amiss. Well, Eck pored over the scriptures for weeks but couldn't find anything in scripture to refute Luther, but he did find where Luther went contrary to a lot of church law. He returned these findings to King Charles who tried to get Luther to recant. But Luther would have none of it. He would only recant if some error were found by scripture, not church law.

I'm thinking that the subject of mixed-marriage/missionary-dating has been mentioned in class long enough ago that if someone had a problem with it, he should find scriptural support rather than a tautology, an "expert," and a mistranslation (NIV™).

Let's start off with some doctrine we agree on. There is an eminent example in scripture and in Paul of a married pair gospel team, Priscilla and Aquila, who we could all agree are equally yoked. (Acts 18:1-3,18) "After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. ... And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow." (Acts 18:24-26) "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." (Rom. 16:3-5a) "Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house." I am quite impressed by how this married gospel team from Corinth was used. They provided a place for Paul to stay and someone to work with, they accompanied him in his travels, and they had an effective teaching ministry of their own.

Next, the following statement is in the Bible: (I Cor. 3:21-22) "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's." If "all things are ours; Whether ...the world," then I am allowed to possess things of the world. Say, I can wear a good pair of shoes to church.

My shoes were getting old, so I bought a new pair. Nobody would argue that or a thousand things. "Whether things present, or things to come." I not only can possess shoes—things present—, I can also buy a new pair—things to come.

There are some special rules applicable to marriage which don't apply to shoes. I may buy new shoes if I prefer a different style or if the other ones are getting old. Doesn't work that way with a spouse. We would all agree with that.

Then there are places I seem to disagree with some, or they with me. Since the Chinese church had a disproportionate number of students, of the age to be thinking about marriage, questions of whom to marry got addressed a lot. The preacher was asked by some brothers at a conference how to end up with a wife. He told them to seek first the kingdom of God, and they'd have one.

Then he expounded in a sermon. He told the story of a brother and sister in Christ whose job it was to make ready the fellowship nights. They did this together week after week. Then one day the guy looked at the girl and thought it would be a good idea to marry her. He asked her and she agreed. They had sought first the kingdom of God and ended up married. Bravo!

Irrespective of their good fortune, it's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. The commandment to seek first the kingdom of God was directed at food and raiment (shoes)—which a lot of Christians would do well to remember—, not at marriage partners. The parallel sentiment with respect to marriage would be from the psalm:

     (Psalm 128)
          Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that
     walketh in his ways.

          For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands:
     happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

          Thy wife shalt be as a fruitful vine by the
     sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants
     round about thy table.

          Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that
     feareth the LORD.

          The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou
     shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

          Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children,
     and peace upon Israel.

This is similar to the thought expressed in the sermon on the mount, where Jesus told his disciples not to be forever worrying about food and clothing, but to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things would be added to them.

Here the first priority is to fear God and walk in his ways. Then the blessings of eating the labor of one's hands and having a fulfilling home life will follow.

But if stopping ones fretful worry in order to better seek God's kingdom does not preclude laboring with one's hands to eat the fruit thereof, then fearing God to walk in his ways does not rule out putting an effort into courtship to make it work out. One might want to take a dance class, for instance, or buy some becoming clothes. One prepares for ones job, after all, and dresses for it too.

The story is told of a farmer visited by a preacher, showing him around. The preacher kept commenting, "The Lord sure gave you a good field of corn there... Lord's beans sure look good."

Finally, the farmer took him to a weed-overgrown field. "See", he said, "I worked on all those other fields and the Lord indeed blessed them. But this one, the Lord had all to himself."

Part of a scriptural strategy to approach marriage is found in Esther. First is that the king, and so we following his example, may meet a large variety of available women. They come from all over and the emphasis is on quantity, to regularly meet new ones. To the degree one has control over various aspects of his life, he may see to it he is available for such socializing. One may settle on a certain geographical location, or belong to certain social groups, or go to various dances with a legitimate motive for such socializing.

The second part is (Esther 2:14), "In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king's chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name."

In other words, the ones the king liked, he called up for a date. The idea here is quality. If one wants to meet a very broad selection of women, forming a limited acquaintance with each of them, then the ones who are especially appealing are the ones he should seek to date. That is why you get the phone numbers of some, to be able to call them for dates.

And the third phase is (Esther 2:14), "And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti...", (Esther 2:17), "And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti."

There is going to eventually be one girl a man is pleased to marry. It will be the one he loves above all women, and she will obtain grace and favor in his eyes more than all the rest. So he marries her.

Thus out of all the women available in the world, from as large a selection as he can manage, he has found the one he loves the most, from as much dating as he had time for. At the very least he is hardly likely to want to leave her for someone else, and it sounds like they live happily ever after, as indeed Esther did with the king.

That seems to me the better approach. Even Adam had to go through all the animals before finding his true mate, and we may deduce from it that from an animal level of selection, one is not going to achieve the satisfaction in marriage God intended in making a woman special for the man.

I mean, say I were really singleheartedly seeking God's kingdom, and I looked over and saw a sister of marriageable age doing the same in a similar ministry. Why, we might be excellent yokefellows as a gospel team, but is the animal compatibility of finding a healthy female of appropriate age going to cut it? I doubt it. Instead of a large pool to select from, I would have to make my selection from a mere puddle. Even if I were to include all Christian women of my acquaintance, there aren't that many of them single and of marriageable age. And if I started dating a working partner in the Lord, we could have a fight and ruin our working relations. So I expand my pool to include nonchristians too.

But at the Chinese church they were very big on Christians dating only other Christians. The pastor preached whole sermons on the fall of Solomon. Couples got up and gave their testimonies on how the first factor in their mate selection was to pick another Christian.

After my association with such an emphasis for years, I turn to 1st Corinthians and am expecting Paul to be making similar remarks on marriage issues, as they were so important to this church ministering to its many members of marriageable age. I mean, Paul is specifically addressing like issues.

One thing the older sister and brother were both set on was that Paul issued some clear statements on the subject. No argument there. (II Cor. 3:12) "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech."

Okay, suppose I were to find 1st Corinthians saying mixed marriages are okay. Sometime after I've read Paul's First Corinthian letter I would be reading Paul's second letter to the Corinthians.  I've got it under my belt that a Christian is allowed to intermarry with the unsaved.  I read that Paul is (ch. 4:2) "not handling the word of God deceitfully." I remember from the OT where (Gen. 34:13-16) "And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister, ... If ye be as we be, that every male of you be circumcised; then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will become one people." They went back on their word which is why they were deceitful.  I don't expect Paul to suddenly reverse himself, and when I read about not being unequally yoked in Christian ministry, I don't suddenly think to myself that I need to go back to First Corinthians and modify my understanding of mixed marriage which Paul isn't even addressing here. That's because Paul already addressed it. If I need the "not unequally yoked" passage to tell me "only in the Lord" means only to another Christian, that means the first command was not clear to begin with. But Paul was using "great plainness of speech," and any command that isn't clear can hardly be binding. If I am not bound by 1st Cor.—which addresses the issue—to marry only to another Christian, then 2nd Cor. is not going to do it, because then Paul would have been deceitful.

A similar sentiment is expressed in (I Thes. 2:3) "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile." That is, he did not deceive them as did the sons of Jacob Shechem, nor did he give them an unclean exhortation saying mixed Christian couples were okay to abide but they could not be entered into, nor was it guile saying one thing in present tense but different in future. But he handled the word of God legitimately, as indeed his exhortation was "in truth the word of God" (I Thes. 2:13).

What it comes down to is we are not allowed to use the "not unequally yoked" passage to try to understand "only in the Lord." So let's try to understand "only in the Lord" within its own context, and then later read what 2nd Cor. says in its. What is permissible, though, is to use the example we already have of an equally yoked couple, Priscilla and Aquila, to see what part they play in Paul's exhortation.

Okay, in First Corinthians 7 Paul seriously addresses marriage issues and other matters relating to Christian life. He starts off by saying it's okay to marry but there are some obligations (no mention of marrying only to a Christian). Then he says he's only allowing it, not telling them to. He explains, (I Cor. 7:7) "For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that."

I am aghast! Didn't he mean to say, "For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after my manner, and another after Priscilla & Aquila."? I mean, he earlier showed no hesitation in using himself and Apollos. (I Cor. 1:12) "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." (I Cor. 3:5-9) "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." (I Cor. 3:21-22) "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's." (I Cor. 4:6) "And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." And the churches who actively address the issues of marriage seem to have no hesitation in bringing in examples of equally yoked couples serving the Lord together. And brethren ignorant of the deceitfulness of Jacob's sons have no trouble bringing the "not unequally yoked" passage to bear in 1 Cor. So why does not Paul here, where he is not discussing teaming up with an unbeliever in Christian ministry, say something about the preeminent gospel-laboring couple that the Corinthians were familiar with? The only place they are mentioned is in the greeting at the end of the letter, (I Cor. 16:19) "The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house." Wow!

In First Corinthians 7, verses 8 and 9, Paul recommends singlehood for the unmarried and widows but permits them to marry, with no mention of restriction to Christian partners. Then he goes on to speak against divorce. Finally he addresses the topic of mixed marriage prefacing his remarks with, (I Cor. 7:12a) "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: ..."

The brother made a big deal about how this is just Paul speaking. Just Paul? But then after the brother minimized Paul, we ended up with the teacher speaking up for his "expert." Let's look at Paul.

St. Paul 312

After Jesus himself, one Saul, a Hellenized Jew from Tarsus, is the most important figure in the history of Christianity and is remembered as St Paul. Many gentiles were already interested in the new teaching, but it was Paul's missionary work in a series of voyages and journeys over most of the eastern Mediterranean, and the decision of the Jerusalem Council at his urging that gentiles should not be asked to conform to the Jewish law—that is, accept the full rigour of the Jewish religion, and show it by undergoing circumcision and practising dietary restraints—which released what was to become the most successful of world religions from the Jewish cradle which sheltered its infancy.

... He outraged orthodox Jews by seeing in Jesus a manifestation of God himself; such an idea could have no place within Judaism. But this was the doctrine which would be preached to the world by the Christian churches. It can be argued that Paul was the first of the conscious makers of Christianity. Most of the theology of the Christian Church has its roots in his interpretation of Jesus' teaching. The Acts of the Apostles provides ample evidence of the uproar it could cause.

As Paul is "the second most important figure in the history of Christianity," and Jesus is the first, the teacher's "expert" would have to fall somewhere further down the list. Let's see what Paul says here and in 2nd Corinthians, and then later see what the most important figure in Christianity says. After that we can query the "expert." (Actually, there are more than one expert and they disagree with each other.) I am going to diagram Paul's teaching for parallels so we don't miss anything.
     (I Cor 7:12-14) "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord:
      |If ||any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and
      |   ||she be pleased to dwell with him,
      |   |                             |let him not put her away. And
      |   ||the woman which hath an hus-|
      |   || band that believeth not, & |
      |If ||he be pleased to dwell w/her|,let her not leave him.
     For |the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and
         |the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband:
      else   |were your children unclean;
      but    |now are they holy."
"Parallelism means that elements that have the same relation to the statement(s) are expressed by words in the same grammatical construction."313 We're trying to see what Paul plainly says, so let's also review some grammar.
4. Coordination and subordination314

Since a majority of sentences contain more than one clause, the means by which relation between clauses is shown is an important part of grammar. The relation should be clear to the reader and it should represent the writer's intention, that is, the relation that exists in his thought and that another can be led to see. In traditional English grammar there are two levels of relation between clauses: they are of equal importance, that is, coordinate, or one is less important than the other, that is, subordinate to it. We usually identify the kind of clause by the connective which introduces it.

4a. Conjunctions.

  1. Coordinate clauses are joined by:
    • COORDINATING CONJUNCTIONS: and, but, for, nor (and not), or, yet
    • CORRELATIVE CONJUNCTIONS: both...and, either...or, neither... nor, not only ...but [but also], whether...or
    • CONJUNCTIVE ADVERBS: accordingly, also, besides, consequently, hence, however, indeed, namely, nevertheless, so, and some others.
  2. Subordinate clauses are related to the main clause of the sentence by a number of connectives:
    • SUBORDINATE CONJUNCTIONS: The most common are:
      after            because          since            when
      although         before           so that          where
      as               how              though           while
      as if            if               till             why
      as long as       in order that    unless
         * RELATIVE PRONOUNS: who, which, that, what

4b. Relations between clauses.

The most important fact is that connectives represent the relations between ideas; the exact meaning of the connective (cause, time, contrast, condition, and so on) is more important than subordination or coordination. Incidentally the type of clause shows by its grammar level the relative importance of the statements as the writer regards them.

The general principle is that the more important, the principal statements should be in independent clauses, and the less important should be in subordinate clauses or phrases. When a main statement is made subordinate or a less important one made into a main clause, we have "upside-down subordination." ...

4c. Subordination and sentence movement.

The use of subordinate clauses is a mark of an accurate and mature style. Children are said to subordinate about fifteen per cent of their statements, while mature writers subordinate about half of theirs. Sentences with subordinate elements are not only more accurate; they give greater variety and more exact emphasis than a series of coordinate statements.
Paul is a mature writer, so we see parallel statements employing subordinate clauses. If you've got an old-lady or old-man unsaved and she or he is cool with you, hang in there. The more important compound phrasing—that if you've got an unsaved woman or man who is cool with you—is the independent phrase(s), and the one of lesser importance—that you stay—is the dependent one.

Then comes the coordinating conjunction for. For the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believing spouse. Wonderful! After so much exhortation in the OT not to marry into one of the seven forbidden nations, although there were exceptions, suddenly in the NT, it's okay. And it's sanctified, the unbeliever by the believer. After Paul has called into question the sanctity of marriage, it's good to hear him talk about it being sanctified. But note even with his liberal application of parallels, he has not managed to fit the equally yoked marriage of Aquila and Priscilla into this scheme. Just the mixed marriage.

Now, as explained in a long learned article, Jewish thought at the time the problem with mixed marriages, Jew to Gentile, was that it corrupted holy seed. Paul cements his teaching by saying the offspring of a mixed marriage, Christian and nonchristian, are holy, therefore so is the marriage. He used correlative conjunctions, else ... but. Holy offspring implies holy marriage.

Now, the independent clause had three parts: you've got a spouse, your spouse is unsaved, and your spouse is content to stay with you. One, two, three. The answer is given in the dependent clause: don't leave your spouse. Okay, let's start manipulating that independent variable to follow Paul. (I Cor. 7:15) "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace." There we start out with a coordinating conjunction but, and one point of the independent clause is changed, so now you've got a spouse, your spouse is unsaved, and your spouse is not content to stay with you. The answer from the dependent clause is to let the unbeliever depart, whereupon the believer is not under bondage to remain single and attempt a reconciliation, but God has called us to peace. The reasoning, I suppose, is that the unbeliever is in the Mosaic realm of hardness-of-heart and must be suffered a bill of divorcement. However, this is not the point of debate here.

God having 'called us to peace' is probably derived from the last verse of Psalm 128 quoted earlier, "Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel." I get from the psalm that it's a manifold blessing: abundant fruit of one's labor, healthy and happy wife and children, numerous progeny (grandchildren) "and peace upon Israel"—"but God hath called us to peace."

Next we try changing one of the other of the three factors.

       (I Cor. 7:16) "For
       |what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?
       |or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?"
Again a coordinating conjunction, For, followed by a change in a second of the three factors in the independent clause, so it would say you've got a spouse, your spouse is saved, and your spouse wants to stay with you. The dependent clause had been stated earlier, that Christian couples are not to divorce each other. Even that brother who spoke up in class will understand that without having it repeated.

And finally we end up with Paul's answer to the third remaining variation on the independent clause: you don't have a wife—only a girlfriend, fiancée, or whatever—who does want to stay with (marry) you, but is not a Christian. This situation could well be perfectly obvious if we had the original letter from the Corinthians to Paul with their questions, but we don't, so we have to use deduction and hope that brother can follow. Here is the dependent clause in answer: (1 Cor. 7:17) "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches."

We stay engaged, or going-together, or whatever it is, which is ordained so by Paul in all churches. Of course, if the unbeliever suddenly doesn't like it, the believer lets him depart per the earlier saying. Sometimes unmarried couples break up anyway for any of a number of reasons, and also to be free to serve the Lord could enter into ones plans when or if to marry. I have carefully followed a foundation which admits this explanation inasmuch as Paul has not been pushing for equally-yoked couples but allows for different manners of gifts, and earlier has explicitly stated that all things are ours, be it the world, present or to come. The spouse-to-come from the world is ours if that is our proper gift of God.

Couples who date before settling on marriage sometimes use the analogy of "You wouldn't buy a pair of shoes before trying them on, would you." When I bought my new pair of shoes, I first tried walking in them a bit, in circles. I didn't wear them all the way home to try them out.

The idea is that couples should not "go all the way" before they buy the marriage package, but there is a limited sphere of physical relations beforehand. My point is that if Christian girls are being prepared to love up their husbands, where their body is not theirs but his, then they will have to not be covetous of that limited sphere during dating, and that if they circulate, playing the field with nonchristian men too, then the nonchristian girlfriends of these lucky guys will find themselves in competition with properly instructed Christian girls. The nonchristians would soon learn to say their body—up to a point—is not their own either, but his. And it is just one short step from that to say their body—in part—belongs to their unborn child during their pregnancy.

And there wouldn't be so many pregnancies out of wedlock because the girls they are competing with have re-established the concept of the good girl. And on top of that, once Christians have acknowledged the remainder of the permission list—mixed dating—, they will have re-established credibility in denying that homosexuals are on it. Our Christian prohibitions against mixed dating have resulted in a triple whammy that I'm trying to undo:

  1. An avenue for witnessing and conversion is denied when Christians are not allowed to date and/or marry unbelievers.
  2. If the Christian influence on the dating scene of unbelievers is removed, they are free to pursue their sexual agenda without restraint. And Christians who date other Christians without worldly competition could overspiritualize courtship.
  3. By denying a legitimate expression of human sexuality—marriage of a Christian to a nonbeliever—we lessen our credibility when we rightly condemn other expressions which are not legitimate (e.g. homosexuality).
So let's go back to mixed dating where a Christian goes out with someone—they are not married but moving towards that possibility—, who is not a Christian but who reciprocates. It fits right in with the parallel structure Paul uses.
 (reciprocating nonchristian
               love interest)|{understood independent phrase}
              (1 Cor. 7:17) "|But |as God hath distributed to every man,
                             |    |as the Lord hath called every one,
                             |         |so let him walk. And
                             |         |so ordain I in all churches."
       (I Cor. 7:18-24)      |
       |"Is any man called   |
       | being circumcised?  |
       |  |let him not become|
       |  | uncircumcised.   |
       |Is!any called        |
       |in!uncircumcision?   |
       |  |let him not be    |
       |  |circumcised.      +============+
         |Circumcision is nothing, and    |
         |uncircumcision is nothing, but  |
         |the keeping of the commandments |
                 of God [is something].   |
                                          | Let every man abide in the
                                          | same calling wherein he was
                                          | called.
       |Art thou called being a servant?  |
       |  care not for it:                |
       |but if thou mayest be made free,  |
       |  use it rather.                  |
         |For he that is called           |
         |   in the Lord, being a servant,|
         |   is the Lord's freeman:       |
         |likewise also he that is called,|
         | being free, is Christ's servant|
       Ye are bought with a price;        |
       be not ye the servants of men.     | Brethren, let every man,
                                          | wherein he is called,
                                          | therein abide with God."
The subject of this chapter (7) is marriage and its relatives—celibacy, divorce, widowhood, courtship, virginity, etc. The understood question at this point is what to do about relations with the opposite sex that one has some investment in that could lead to marriage with the unsaved. The advice is "as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches." Paul draws parallels to the investment one has in his denomination—circumcision vs. uncircumcision—, and in his occupation—slave vs. free—, where in both those cases also "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called ... let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God."

As for becoming circumcised or uncircumcised, those would be very painful experiences for an adult male. Look what happened to Shechem's tribe in Genesis. When they got circumcised, they were slaughtered out of weakness. Reversing circumcision is even more painful. Not seeing it in the Bible, I quote a secular source:

"What are you trying to say?"

Tarphon brushed the sweat from his forehead and continued, "I'm saying that we all want you to go to Antioch ... and win."

"I also," Menelaus replied, preparing himself for bad news."

"But Antiochus has decreed that no contestant may stand before him who is circumcised. It would be offensive to the spirit of the games."

In the steamy room there was silence, and the two athletes were forced to look down at the visible proof of Menelaus' covenant with YHWH. In his first days in the gymnasium Menelaus had been conspicuous because of this sign, and other boys had taunted him, for he was the only Jew who came to the place, and he had fought alone; but with his later victories had come self-respect, and the other athletes now looked upon his circumcision with the impersonal interest they might have directed toward a boy who had lost a toe. To them Menelaus was three things: a Greek, a champion, a circumcised Jew—and the first two outweighed the last. But the Seleucid capital of Antioch had seen no Jewish athletes, and there the fact of circumcision would be scandalous as a profanation of the human temple. Menelaus understood all this even more clearly than Tarphon and it was he who suggested the solution: "In Ptolemais isn't there a doctor who can cover the sign?"

"There is, but it's terribly painful."

"If I were able to bear the pain?"

"Then it could be done."


Ptolemais in those days contained some sixty thousand people, including businessmen from Rome, who sent secret reports back to their senate, and as the young athletes from Makor watched these rich and varied persons at their work they came to understand how precious Greek citizenship could be and what a treasure they would gain for themselves could they become citizens, too. Of the sixty thousand, only five thousand were citizens, some thirty thousand were slaves, and the remaining twenty-five thousand were residents possessing no rights of voting or claims to consideration by the city-state. Jews fell mostly into the latter category, but as Tarphon explained to Menelaus, "This is the essential reason why it's prudent for you to visit the doctor. For if you win at Antioch, you will be made a full citizen of Ptolemais. Only citizens can compete in the Olympics at Greece."

"Are you a citizen?" Menelaus asked.

"I won my citizenship in the wrestling arena," Tarphon said with pride.

"I shall be a citizen of this city," the youth vowed and he asked the gymnasiarch to lead him to the doctor.

In a side street, not far from the theater, an Egyptian doctor accepted the two strangers, listened as Tarphon explained, then said, "Gymnasiarch, now you shall go, for this must be a matter between the boy and me." Tarphon nodded, gripped his protégé by the shoulder and whispered, "This is the path to citizenship," and he was gone.

As soon as the door closed the Egyptian startled Menelaus by ripping aside a curtain to disclose the marble statue of an athlete, naked and powerful. Grabbing a knife the doctor took the statue's penis in his left hand and pretended to slice it with four sharp, deep cuts, crying, "This is what we do." He was watching not the statue but the patient and saw with satisfaction that although Menelaus flinched, and blood left his face, he did not look away but kept watching the marble penis so as to judge whether he could bear the pain. Satisfied that he could, he bit his lip and waited. "Under this pain," the doctor explained, "a Jew older than you, from Jaffe, committed suicide."

"He was not seeking the prize I seek," Menelaus retorted, whereupon the Egyptian moved swiftly at him with the knife, seeking to terrify him, but the young Jew did not flinch.

"I think you are ready," the doctor said, "and you may scream as much as you will, for it will exhaust the pain." And he made ready a table upon which the young man would lie, and called three slaves to hold him.

—James A. Michener, The Source315
I once knew a recent convert who was forced by the ministry she attended to break up with her fiancé of nine years. Of course that traumatized her. As the song says, "Breaking up is hard to do." Paul has ordained in all the churches that we do not have to break up with our unsaved girlfriends and boyfriends upon our own conversions but may abide as we are called. The important issue is not circumcision/uncircumcision or whether one is going with a Christian or not. "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God."

There is a similar parallel drawn to the slave/free issue. Paul ordained in the churches that slaves were to be content in their lot, being Christ's freemen, but if they had opportunity to be free to use it rather, as they could then better serve the Lord—Christ's servants. So as one has various attachments with unsaved of the opposite sex upon his conversion, he is not to let it worry him but to continue in the relations as he has the liberty to do so—Christ's freeman. However if in the course of developments there comes a time to break up with an unbeliever and perhaps take up with a believer, he is to use that rather, giving him more liberty to serve the Lord.

At this point I am wondering how teacher's "expert" interprets that passage, "Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." We cannot give high authority to a man who doesn't rule well his own house, and I am wondering if there would not be certain criteria here to hold the expert to understanding before we allow him to advise the translators of the NIV™.

Let's look at the movie "Gigli," now [October 20, 2003] showing, and see how someone with an ordinary understanding of m-f relations might understand Paul vis-à-vis the plot. This is not a very high standard.

In the movie a small-potatoes enforcer, Gigli, for a criminal element is given the job of kidnapping the retarded brother of a federal prosecutor and then sitting on him. He finds him in a recreational area at the home but is unable to snatch him by force as the kid will make a scene. But the retard has it in his mind that he wants to go see "Baywatch" (not on TV, in person), so Gigli says he'll take him there and gets him to leave with him voluntarily. Then he explains to the kid that "Baywatch" is closed today so the kid will have to stay in Gigli's apartment until the next day.

All well and good, but his boss doesn't trust him to handle the job alone, so he sends a woman along to help him and so they can keep an eye on each other. Well, the woman settles in too. He explains to her that she doesn't have to sleep on a mat on the floor but can have half the bed, professional, side by side. After she settles in bed, he tries to put the moves on her, but she informs him she is a lesbian. The plot thickens.

He tries to tell her that he has something that no woman can give her, and she tells him that a penis is overrated being just an appendage like a thumb. He is getting nowhere.

The next day the lesbian lover of the female enforcer crashes the apartment and makes a scene thinking her lover has taken up with a man. She tells the crasher, no, it's just business, but she won't believe her. Finally, she has to break up with the intruder to get her to leave.

The lesbian's response? Why, she storms into the kitchen, takes a sharp knife, and begins slashing her wrist.

So they rush her to the hospital, which helps them with their job as they were supposed to mail the kid's thumb to his brother. They can't bring themselves to do that, so they steal a thumb from the morgue.

Meanwhile "Baywatch" is still "closed" and the kid is tolerating his situation okay. He is driving his captors nuts because he loves to dance, bothering the neighbors with loud music in the morning. He has also been running up the phone bill calling the weather report woman in Australia because he likes the sound of her voice. What do you expect from a retard?

Well, the two enforcers start liking each other but it's kind of weird. Anyway, she tells him it cannot last past their job.

Meanwhile the mob wastes the boss of these two for his stupid idea of trying to extort a federal prosecutor as that brought all his friends in to help him, and the mob is about to waste the two enforcers for sending the wrong thumb with the wrong fingerprint. The enforcers promise to kill the boy so he can't talk about it, but actually they are planning to get out of town and just drop the boy off somewhere.

So they are driving out of town and Gigli is coaching the retard on how to strike up a conversation with a woman, talking about the weather, etc. It's a major challenge with him, but he practices on Gigli.

The woman tells him to just leave her off when they get to the coast highway and she will make her own way as she doesn't think she can be the kind of woman he needs.

They arrive at the ocean and what do they encounter? Baywatch! The retard is so excited, they drop him off to head down to the filming, Gigli gives the woman his car telling her to come to him should she decide to "jump the fence," and he phones the prosecutor to let him know where his brother is.

As the retard is walking down to the shooting, there is an announcement for the dancers to congregate over somewhere, and he joins them walking over. Then the announcer tells them to pair up as the song said, "Love the one you're with," that they are not mating for life. Couples begin dancing and the retard uses his new skill to discuss the weather with the blonde babe next to him. She answers with an Australian accent, and he gives her the weather report for Australia. Then they start dancing together the kid beaming from ear to ear.

Meanwhile the lesbian returns for Gigli, and he gets in the car. He asks her if that means she has jumped the fence, and she replies that she won't say she has but she is willing to take it one step at a time.

Now a teacher asks the expert who is familiar with the teachings of Paul to review the movie, and he is likely to quote a verse from the children's hymn by Mrs. Alexander—"All Things Bright and Beautiful": "The Rich man in his castle,/ The poor man at his gate;/ God made them high and lowly,/ Each in his own estate." He would point out that the boy is the beggar in his lowly estate looking for any attention from women, and Gigli is a rich man in his high estate embarking on an experimental relationship. God made them each in his own estate and to try to force the boy in his Baywatch mode into the rich man's apartment is kidnapping. Each should remain in his own estate, according to Paul.

The scriptural reference might be, (Psalm 136:23-24) "Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever: And hath redeemed us from our enemies: for his mercy endureth for ever." The retard's low estate is at "Baywatch," and the two enforcers have just escaped their enemies.

Of course, the teacher might point out that the verse about the rich man and poor man is not in that children's song. But the expert would reply that it is in the British version, just not the American one. That's why he's the expert and the teacher is just the music director. An expert knows stuff like that.

He would explain about pain, that cutting off a thumb is really quite painful, which is why the enforcers couldn't bring themselves to do it. He might support his contention:

"See, my job was to ride along the fence line. When I come to a break or a cut, I'd get down, get some wire and maybe a extra post from where ol' Valdez had dropped 'em here and there, and then make a splice. Well, I reached down for a fresh post one afternoon, and there was this big ol' mama rattler curled up next to it. Never saw her. Never heard her. 'Fore I knew what had happened, she'd bit me. Just like that." He made a set of fangs with the twisted digits of his right hand and clamped down on the thin air where the forefingers of his left should have been.

"That snake took to setting up a rattle then, and 'fore I could kill her with my ax-hammer, my pony shied and took off. There I was, more'n ten miles from the house, dying from snake bite."

Hugh knew what was coming, and he felt a shiver run through his body. He cast his eyes into the weeds in the bar ditch alongside the road.

"I didn't know what to do. Had no more'n a swaller of water, no bandages, just a knife and my ax-hammer. But I was going to die, clear as creek water, if I didn't do something. Found me a rock with a flat top, lay them two bit fingers out like carrot tops, and whacked 'em off clean as a whistle."

Hugh felt his stomach churn, and cold sweat broke out on his forehead while his eyes danced between Wilson's serious glare and the twisted stubs. He had had little to eat that day.


He contemplated Wilson's disfigured fingers again and felt bile rise in his throat. Only with effort did he swallow it back. "Must have hurt," he choked out.

"Hurt!" Wilson threw back his head and laughed at the emerging stars. "Like thunder! You never seen such hurt! I don't know whether I was more scared of snake poison, bleeding to death, or the blaspheming I was shouting up to the sky."

—Clay Reynolds, Monuments316

Of course, chopping off the kid's thumb was going to hurt. Slicing up your dick hurts, cutting off your thumb hurts, slicing your wrist hurts, and leaving your lover or having one leave you hurts too. That's why the lover sliced her wrist to demonstrate how much breaking up hurt her. She didn't have to explain. She didn't have to tell us she was going to demonstrate her hurt. Her honey understood it well enough.

Why else would Paul in a plain teaching about mixed marriage suddenly talk about circumcision and uncircumcision right at the place he should have been addressing mixed m-f liaisons that hadn't reached fruition in marriage yet? Only if his audience would understand its direct application to the hurts breaking up could cause, by which he was telling them to remain in whatever state they found themselves, just obeying the commandments of God.

Or take another example of pain to be expected.

A former Civil War fort, Leavenworth is a maximum-security federal prison. This means it receives only those offenders who break federal laws—a class of individuals that variously includes violent criminals, foreign spies or terrorists, organized crime bosses, and members of the U.S. armed forces who sell secrets, commit crimes or desert.

It is also perhaps the most brutal penitentiary in America.

But in that peculiar way of prisons the world over, its inhabitants—men who have themselves killed or raped—have, over the years, developed a strange sense of justice.

Serial rapists are themselves violated on a daily basis. Army deserters are beaten regularly, or worse, branded on their foreheads with the letter "D." Foreign spies, such as the four Middle Eastern terrorists convicted of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, have been known to lose body parts.

—Matthew Reilly, Area 7317
Just as sure as the kidnapped brother of a federal prosecutor will end up losing a thumb because of his holdout brother, as sure as a convicted foreign spy in Leavenworth is likely to lose a body part or two, so is a boyfriend, girlfriend or lover of the newly converted Christian going to be terribly hurt, and perhaps that Christian also, when he has to break up so as not to be "unequally yoked." Do we really need an expert to tell us that?

The slavery/free teaching can probably be explained by our expert using the movie and the device of an application to the righteous even more so than to the wicked in the story. The mob when they set up a team of a man and a woman to watch the kidnapped retard were only concerned with their professional competence, not their physical compatibility. They didn't stop and say, "Oh no, this pair couldn't work together because the man is heterosexual and the woman is lesbian." Therefore when they did start to fall for each other, they had to count the cost, whether the lesbian could be the kind of woman the man needed.

Likewise, when God sets the members of the body in ministry together, the Holy Spirit does not specifically set them up so they will be physically compatible, the kind of man and woman the other needs should they decide to marry. No, they are brought together as most useful to serve the ministry with each other. If they develop an interest in each other, they might just have to count the cost whether they can put up with whatever incompatibilities they hold for each other where they are not the perfect mate for each other.

Thus Paul says God's grace will work according to ones situation: liberty in Christ to the one who is married to an unbeliever and so less available to the ministry, and Christian servitude to the one married to another in a complementary ministry. One is not to be overly concerned about the less free state, but if he can swing the other option okay, to go for it.

These two devices—the marring of ones penis, and the slave/free issue—are the very ones scripture has used in the past in the determining of whom to marry. When the kinsman told Boaz (Ruth 4:6) that he couldn't purchase the parcel of land "lest I mar mine own inheritance," he was actually saying he couldn't marry Ruth (vs. 5). In Genesis 24 when the servant of Abraham looks to find a wife for Isaac, the damsel who accepted the servitude of drawing water for him and his camels was to be the one. The metaphors had scriptural precedent and they were being so used.

Moving along, Paul goes on to talk about virgins and married life vs. single life. He says a lot, but he says nothing about restricting ones mate selection to other Christians.

And he comes to his closing thoughts on the whole subject with, (I Cor. 7:39) "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord." That raises the question is the phrase "only in the Lord" adjectival modifying whom she is at liberty to marry, or is it adverbial modifying how she proceeds to marry?

  1. PHRASE FUNCTIONS. Phrases function as single parts of speech:
Is it: whom she will; only in the Lord parallels a heart of gold ?
Or: she is at liberty to be married; only in the Lord parallels He did it in the Dutch manner ?

It is quite impossible to determine which one without looking at it in its own context. We can't tell by hearing it in isolation as the older sister quoted it, nor can we tell from reading a different epistle, a different context, as the brother did. How do we determine ambiguous orders from any authority figure? Take a father for example, in a serious talk with his son:

"Did you have anything to drink?" The question hung in the darkness like a moth fluttering about in search of a flame."

"No," Hugh said sincerely. "I didn't."

"Did he?"

Hugh took two beats of a pause. "He had two sips, but he—"

"He wouldn't let you have any," Harry finished for him.

Hugh brightened. "That's right. He said I was too young."

Harry said nothing, but then he rose to his feet. "Wait here," he ordered, and he went inside.

In a moment he was back, and he sat down where he had been before and produced the bottle from under the sink. "Do you know what this is?"

"Whiskey," Hugh identified the half-full bottle.

Harry unscrewed the cap, tilted the bottle. He didn't pump it down his throat the way Jonas had done, but he sipped two quick swallows, then held the bottle out to Hugh.

"Go on," he nudged Hugh's arm with the bottle's neck. "It's okay. I said it was. It's not a trick."

"No." Hugh shook his head. He felt cold all over, spongy inside as if he needed to cry or run away. "I don't want any, thank you."

Harry continued to hold the bottle out for another second or two, then he took another swallow and recapped it. "Promise me something," he said quietly. Hugh remained silent. "Okay, Sport?" Hugh nodded. "When you take your first drink of whiskey, take it with me. Okay?"

Hugh nodded again, and Harry rose.

"Stay away from Jonas Wilson."

"Why?" Hugh turned and rose in one movement. He realized for the first time in his life that he was as tall as his father.

"Because your mother wants you to," Harry said as he pulled the screen door open. "That should be reason enough for you."

It was a cheap shot, and both of them knew it. Hugh lowered his head. "What's wrong with him?" he muttered.

"He's a crazy old man," Harry replied. "That's all you need to know. Stay away from him. Edith!" he yelled, then went inside. "If you've gotten yourself together and finished being hysterical, can we warm up some of this supper? I'm starved."

Hugh skipped the second try at supper and went to his room. He was almost asleep when he remembered a vital detail in his conversation with his father. His father had ordered him to stay away from Jonas Wilson, but, unlike the whiskey, he hadn't made him promise.

It seems to me that God doesn't mind so much if we marry whomever we please, once we are mature enough, but he first wants us to be married to Him. Just as the father didn't mind his son drinking once he was old enough, but he wanted his son to take his first drink with his old man. Isn't that what Psalm 128 is about? "Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways./ ... Thy wife shalt be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house." Keeping the commandments of God should come first.

And the idea that to marry "only in the Lord" means to marry only another Christian is some kind of cheap shot. Why must one? "Because your mother wants you to," Harry said as he pulled the screen door open. "That should be reason enough for you." Because the church [read: some "expert"] says that's what it means, I am told as the teacher changes the subject. As for continuing to feed on God's word after that subject has been broached, it's like, "If you've gotten yourself together and finished being hysterical, can we warm up some of this supper? I'm starved." The church (witness brother) becomes all unglued on this subject.

There is one crucial difference between the two interpretations. I had promised at my baptism to live my life adverbially "only in the Lord," that is, putting the Lord first in my life. But I didn't promise at baptism whom I would marry, or even if. That kind of promise is done at the wedding ceremony itself. It is true that putting the Lord first means keeping His commands, but those commands are not grievous, and they have to be found in the Bible, and they have to be clear. The hysterical un-together church that keeps coming after me on this subject can't seem to find any clear command to support them.

Unless they go to the New International Version™, that is, but the NIV™ paraphrases here with a more complicated phrase, as an adjectival interpretation is indeed not all that clear from the Greek; just the adverbial one is. That's rather an excess of liberty to be taking with Holy writ, I would think.

The King James Version, 'Preface of the Translators', written by Dr. Miles Smith, one of the leaders of this illustrious band of scholars. Concerning his co-laborers he speaks as follows: "... They prayed to the Lord, the Father of our Lord, to the effect that St. Augustine did, O let thy Scriptures be my pure delight; let me not be deceived in them, neither let me deceive by them."

In 1514 Martin Dorp of the University of Louvain wrote to Erasmus asking him not to publish his forthcoming Greek New Testament. Dorp argued that if the Vulgate contained falsifications of the original Scriptures and errors, the Church would have been wrong for many centuries, which was impossible. The references of most Church Councils to the Vulgate, Dorp insisted, proved that the Church considered this Latin version to be the official Bible and not the Greek New Testament, which, he maintained, had been corrupted by the heretical Greek Church.

—W. Schwarz, Principles and Problems of Translation320

The Roman Catholics have distorted the common faith by their false doctrine that the authority of the Scriptures rests on the authority of the Church. It was this erroneous view that led the Roman Church to adopt the Latin Vulgate rather than the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures as its authoritative Bible.
—Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended321
I think history is trying to repeat itself. The Church is trying to make the NIV™ the standard of faith, even when the NIV™ goes against the Greek manuscripts. And as the NIV™ paraphrase of the "only in the Lord" statement can result in the unwary becoming depressed to the point of suicide, I will have no part in giving honor to the NIV™ as if it were actually God's word. Count me out.

At this point it might be a good idea to see if there are any other scriptures addressed to widows marrying in the NT. Yes. (I Tim 5:11-12) "But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." They are to marry only in the Lord, as opposed to marrying wantonly against Christ.

Now, suppose a single brother or sister wants to marry another Christian so they can be an equally yoked gospel team serving the Lord. It is not in dispute that they would be marrying in the Lord. No problemo.

What about missionary dating? Here a brother or a sister is going out with nonbelievers to be a witness to his or her faith while processing his dates as prospective marriage partners and gaining experience with the opposite sex. Is that dating in the Lord, and if culminating in marriage is that marrying in the Lord? Well, (Luke 15:3-7) "And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." (John 12:26) "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour."

"But," said the Lady Matilda, "is there no duty on the part of the true Christian to try to convert and lead to safety those who are going down the paths of damnation? Is Sir Dermot always to be condemned to the presence of the women of the tavern and the inn—the wenches of St. Germain? Does Mother Church forbid any other kind of women to associate with him? Are we to gain Heaven selfishly, ignoring the perils and struggles of others?  Or are we to gain Heaven risking Hell—out of a Christian regard for the welfare of our fellows?"
—Leonard Wibberly, Beware the Mouse322
We can just as easily say that missionary dating is in the Lord. And there may be other approaches equally in the Lord which are not part of our subject.

In the book Diary of a Mormon a woman who had to convert to Mormonism to marry one, and then she got divorced, tells her story. She eventually gets to the place where the Mormon bishops wrote to her wanting her to respond in writing detailing her sexual relations before, during, and after her marriage. She responded that she was a virgin prior to marriage, faithful in marriage, and celibate afterwards. One cannot help but think there is a lack of dignity in that line of questioning.

Our Bible is dignified; at least the King James Version is. When Paul says he doesn't want widows marrying wantonly against Christ—casting off their first faith—, he doesn't go into detail what that erroneous course might involve. We can figure it out by ourselves. Similarly we should be able to recognize the opposite when we see it, marrying in the Lord. He doesn't spell it out in detail because he doesn't need to here. We can get it.

If Paul had wanted to tell Christians they had to marry only to other Christians he sure hasn't succeeded in First Corinthians here, and he sure hasn't given any foundation for "only in the Lord" to mean that. Fact is, he has given them ample permission to marry unbelievers.

Then we get to Second Corinthians written sometime later. Here Paul says, (II Cor. 3:2) "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:" Therefore we can read what Paul's message is by looking at the example of those who follow it. My following the course of missionary dating has in part resulted in two conversions that I know about, one of them coming forward at alter calls every week until she's sure she's got it right with the Lord.

I asked a fellow at the Navigators table on campus what his friends thought of missionary dating. He said they were of divided opinions, but as his best friend got converted through having a Christian girlfriend he had a real strong view on the subject.

Then you can go back in history.

Christianity and the empire323

By the end of the first century AD there were Christian congregations all over the Roman world. For all the achievements of Paul and his colleagues, this probably owed less to deliberate evangelization than to contagion and osmosis within the Jewish communities of the empire. There was no over-arching structure to link Christians in a wider 'Church'. Everyone agreed that the Christians at Jerusalem, whose first generation of leaders had actually known and heard Christ, deserved special respect. But the only links between all Christians were the rites of baptism (the sign of acceptance into the new faith) and the 'Eucharist' (the special service which re-enacted and commemorated Christ's last meal with his disciples on the eve of his arrest, trial and crucifixion), and their belief in the risen Christ. Christians usually also believed that the end of the world was at hand, that Jesus would soon return to gather up those faithful to him, and would assure them salvation at the Last Judgment. If that was so, then clearly there was not much to do here and now except watch and pray. Running the churches was not therefore a very complicated business. Still, as they grew in numbers and wealth, there were administrative decisions to be taken, and so there appeared ecclesiastical officers called bishops, presbyters and deacons. As time went on, they took on more sacerdotal roles, overseeing the conduct of worship as well as administration. They would remain the three orders of clergy.
If we are trying to restore tenets of primitive Christianity, then we would do well to remember, "For all the achievements of Paul and his colleagues, this [spread of Christianity] probably owed less to deliberate evangelization than to contagion and osmosis within the Jewish communities of the empire." "Contagion and osmosis within the community" is the bread and butter of missionary dating, and I don't believe our big church programs to spread the gospel should completely overshadow it.

Then Paul gets to, (II Cor. 4:2b) "... not handling the word of God deceitfully." by which I demonstrated earlier using an example from the OT that Paul will not be reversing in 2nd Cor. the permission he gave for mixed marriages in 1st.

Then, (II Cor. 6:14a) "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ..." Now, what could Paul be thinking about? He is not thinking about marriage; at least he has given no indication earlier in the letter that he is continuing his discussion of the subject. But in the context he is thinking about laboring together in the Lord, and he gives the attributes of Christian ministry, says he hopes the Corinthians will be similarly enlarged, and tells them not to join up with unbelievers in it. Then he refers to a number of passages from the OT about service of God, and definitely not ones against mixed marriage.

I have gone over this material in depth in previous answers, and as it doesn't seem to have been a major point (except to that brother) the last time in class the older sister was trying to find a plain teaching from Paul in First Corinthians about mixed dating. I am not going to reiterate the subject here.

Our "expert" doesn't go along with what Paul says, and a lot of people either don't like Paul or don't understand him. But Paul is only the second most important Christian as far as development of Christian thought is concerned, so what does the most important one have to say in the parable of the laborers?

Do we relegate this parable to the sweet by and by, or do we see if it addresses "a universal human problem"? But that parable is a continuation of, (Matt. 19:27-30) "Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." There Peter is concerned about rewards, and Jesus includes earthly rewards for those who have "left wife" for his sake. What rewards, say, would a couple get for having passed by other shiny marriage opportunities in order to marry a gospel-laboring partner?

I would say that those married-couple gospel teams are pretty certain that God is going to bless and sanctify their marriage for their labor together for the Lord. They have a firm agreement for a penny for their full day's labor.

Well, what about the person in the ministry who gets married to someone who doesn't share his or her calling, but his Christian spouse supports his ministry? One is a minister of some kind and the other just keeps the home fires going. Well, we know that God desires that we bring forth fruit, so let us figure that he will reward their (lesser) labor with whatever sanctification is right for their marriage. Okay.

Well, what about Christian couples neither member of which is in the ministry? They can still do the fundamental Christian labor in marriage of representing the relationship of Christ to the church, each couple according to its own ability, with a minimum of love and obedience respectively. God will sanctify them according to what is right.

And finally there is the Christian married to an unbeliever. Well, they can't work together for the Lord in anything because they would be unequally yoked. And yet there is the fundamental labor the believer does in living out his or her Christian life before the unbeliever. God does want this labor, minor though it is, and he will sanctify the marriage as he sees fit.

None of this is difficult as a parable of laborers for progressively shorter periods of time. Many of the lessons traditionally applied to the sweet by and by could be applied here.


"With Him there is no soon nor late,"
Replied to me that worthy wight;
"True always is His high mandáte;
He doth no evil, day nor night.
Hear Matthew in the mass narrate,
In the Gospel of the God of might;
His parable portrays the state
Of the Kingdom of Heaven, clear as light:
`My servants,' saith He, `I requite
As a lord who will his vineyard prune;
The season of the year is right,
And laborers must be hired soon.'

"Right soon the hirelings all may see
How the master with the dawn arose;
To hire his laborers forth went he,
And workmen stout and strong he chose.
For a penny a day they all agree,
Even as the master doth propose,
They toil and travail lustily,
Prune, bind, and with a ditch enclose.
Then to the market-place he goes,
And finds men idle at high noon;
`How can a man stand here who knows
The vineyards should be tilled so soon?'

"`Soon as day dawned we hither won,
And no man hath our labor sought;
We have been standing since rose the sun
And no one bids us to do aught.'
`Enter my vineyard every one,'
The master answered quick as thought:
`The work that each by night has done
I will truly pay, withholding naught.'
Among the vines they went and wrought,
While morning, noon and afternoon,
More laborers the master brought,
Until the night must gather soon.

"Soon fell the time of evensong.
An hour before the sun was set,
He saw more idlers, young and strong;
His voice was sober with regret:
`Why stand ye idle all day long?'
`No man,' they said, `hath hired us yet.'
`Go to my vineyard, fear no wrong;
Each man an honest wage shall get.'
The day grew dark and darker yet,
Before the rising of the moon;
The master who would pay his debt,
Bade summon all the hirelings soon.

"The lord soon called his steward: `Go,
Bring in the men quick as ye may;
Give them the wages that I owe,
And lest they aught against me say,
Range them along here in a row,
To each alike his penny pay;
Start with the last who standeth low,
And to the first proceed straightway.'
And then the first began to pray,
Complaining they had travailed sore:
`These wrought but one hour of the day,
We think we should receive the more.

"`More have we served,' they muttered low,
`Who have endured the long day's heat,
Than these who not two hours toiled so;
Why should their claim with ours compete?'
Said the master: `I pay all I owe;
Friend, no injustice shalt thou meet;
Take that which is thine own and go.
For a penny we settled in the street;
Why dost thou now for more entreat?
Thou wast well satisfied before.
Once made, a bargain is complete;
Why shouldst thou, threatening, ask for more?

"`What can be more within my gift
Than what I will with mine own do?
Let not thine eyes to evil shift,
Because I trusty am, and true.'
`Thus I,' said Christ, `all men shall sift.
The last shall be the first of you;
And the first last, however swift,
For many are called, but chosen, few.'
And thus poor men may have their due,
That late and little burden bore;
Their work may vanish like the dew,
The mercy of God is much the more.

"More gladness have I, herewithin,
Of flower of life, and noble name,
Than all men in the world might win,
Who thought their righteous deeds to name.
Nathless even now did I begin;
To the vineyard as night fell I came,
But my Lord would not account it sin;
He paid my wages without blame.
Yet others did not fare the same,
Who toiled and travailed there before,
And of their hire might nothing claim,
Perchance shall not for a year more."

Then more and openly, I spake:
"From thy tale no reason can I wring;
God's righteousness doth ever wake,
Else Holy Writ is a fabled thing.
From the Psalter one verse let us take,
That may to a point this teaching bring:
`Thou requitest each for his deed's sake,
Thou high and all-foreknowing King.'
If one man to his work did cling
All day, and thou wert paid before,
Most wage falls to least laboring,
And ever less receives the more."

"Of more or less where God doth reign,
There is no chance," she gently said,
"For, whether large or small his gain,
Here every man alike is paid.
No niggard churl our High Chieftain,
But lavishly His gifts are made,
Like streams from a moat that flow amain,
Or rushing waves that rise unstayed.
Free were his pardon whoever prayed
Him who to save man's soul did vow;
Unstinted his bliss, and undelayed,
For the grace of God is great enow.

"But now thou wouldst my wit checkmate,
Making my wage as wrong appear;
Thou say'st that I am come too late,
Of so large hire to be worthy here;
Yet sawest thou ever small or great,
Living in prayer and holy fear,
Who did not forfeit at some date
The meed of heaven to merit clear?
Nay much the rather, year by year,
All bend from right and to evil bow;
Mercy and grace their way must steer,
For the grace of God is great enow.

"But enow of grace have the innocent
New-born, before the sacred shrine,
They are sealed with water in sacrament,
And thus are brought into the vine.
Anon the day with darkness blent,
Death by its might makes to decline;
Who wrought no wrong ere hence they went,
The gentle Lord receives, in fine;
They obeyed His will, they bore His sign,
Why should He not their claim allow?
Yea, and reward them, I opine,
For the grace of God is great enow."

Let's say that we are going to read what sanctification each married couple gets, just as there is a reckoning with the laborers in the parable. Well, we see the last hired being given their sanctification first: (I Cor. 7:14) "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy." After that come the other three who are given no extra boost of sanctification, only told that they are properly allowable: (I Cor. 9:5) "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and s the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?"

The "other apostles," we won't figure out except by process of elimination, how they differ from Cephas (Peter), so that group gets paid out in the scriptures last. The next category implicitly sanctified is "the brethren of the Lord." Well, husbands are being brothers to the Lord when they love their wives as Christ loves the church, and so forth. So such marriages are sanctified just as mixed marriages are.

Next on the list is Cephas. What little we know of his marital status is, (Matt. 8:14-15) "And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them." Evidently Mrs. Peter was not an apostle, and yet such a marriage is acceptable enough for Paul's example, so we conclude that after mixed marriages, and Christian marriages, a marriage of a believer (and how could she not believe after the miracle?) supporting a gospel-laboring spouse is also sanctified.

That leaves us to figure out what other apostles have a marriage representation? We do have some foundation in this book, (I Cor. 1:12) "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." If we take time to differentiate the unity of the body of Christ—guided by love, all members needed, honor given to uncomely, gifts used for edification—from the differences in marital statuses—every man according to his gift of God, with different principles guiding the different statuses (e.g. good for the eunuch not to even touch a woman, while the married must render due benevolence)—then we can take Paul's earlier categories in a more definitive sense. "I am of Paul," would represent the eunuch. "And I of Apollos," would represent, what? Well, Apollos was discipled by the married gospel team of Priscilla and Aquila, so unless we find a better candidate, we would let this one represent the married couple gospel team. "And I of Cephas," would, of course, be a Christian in the ministry married to one who is not, or it could even represent a Christian couple of different denominations. "And I of Christ," would be the Christian couple under the condition of working out their relationship as Christ with the church does.

Now, would Apollos be one of the "other apostles" to whom Paul could have been referring? Well, a certain radio preacher considers him an apostle—with a small "a." There are more apostles than just the twelve + Paul, so I am told. Furthermore, they seem to be treated as a pair in Paul's thinking, of which Apollos would be the other "apostle." (I Cor. 3:5-9) "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."

There is another way to make the Apollosis identical toapostle connection, by looking at the context. Paul is using the "other apostle" as a comparison to illustrate his point that as a laborer for God he deserves some compensation. This same sentiment, he expresses elsewhere: (II Tim. 2:6) "The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits." In that context he describes his labor for the Lord: (II Tim. 1:11) "Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles." Now, Apollos was certainly "a teacher of the Gentiles," as seen by his introduction in Acts 18:24-26, where he was instructed by Priscilla and Aquila. Although this becomes a stretch to justify a marriage of a gospel team couple, it is nevertheless a legal stretch as opposed to trying to twist "only in the Lord" to refer but to the marital partner, and it is a stretch Christians are quite prepared to make, allowing two Christians to marry each other to better serve the Lord together.

Then we get to the crucial statement, (I Cor. 3:21-22) "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your's." All things being ours, whether Paul, if we are called to be a eunuch. "Or Apollos," if we are called to be a married gospel team. "Or Cephas," if we are called to the ministry married to a Christian who isn't. "Or the world," if we are called to a marriage with an unbeliever. "Or life, or death," as one might wish to apply the parallel of Christ to the church using his death and resurrection establishing the new covenant. "Or things present," abiding in the calling wherein one was called. "Or things to come," if one want to get married later. "All are your's."

Every category is pretty well covered for a foundation. Now, apart from the sanctification of the mixed marriage which is explicitly stated, it is pretty much taken for granted that such and such other marriage types are sanctified, no doubt. The genius of this passage is as the poet said, "The lord soon called his steward: `Go, Bring in the men quick as ye may; Give them the wages that I owe, And lest they aught against me say, Range them along here in a row, To each alike his penny pay; Start with the last who standeth low, And to the first proceed straightway.'" The passage in First Corinthians takes care of it "quick as ye may," set up to "Range them along here in a row." I mean, Paul just cites them off lickety split. "To each alike his penny pay." All these "workers" get the same sanctification of their marriages, from what we can tell from Paul. "Start with the last who standeth low," the mixed marriage in chapter seven, humble enough to have to ingratiate itself. "And to the first proceed straightway." It does proceed straight to the first, the gospel team, other apostles, right away, but we don't actually deduce what is meant until we get through the intervening categories. All this "lest they aught against me say." By putting them there all together that way, equally acceptable, there is nothing anyone can say against God. One should hope.

The prohibitions in First Corinthians 7 include not withholding due benevolence from one's spouse, not divorcing one's wife or husband, not getting caught up in worldliness, not leaving a nonbelieving spouse, and for the widow not using marriage as an occasion to depart from the Lord: (I Tim. 5:11-12) "But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." In the mind of Paul and of his readers, the holiness of the offspring of a mixed marriage would absolutely establish the sanctity of that marriage, and the point at which such a marriage takes place—before or after the one conversion—is irrelevant. And what has whether or not a widow carries on to do with it?

Then we get to Second Corinthians where Paul tells us that he is, (II Cor. 4:2b) "... not handling the word of God deceitfully." Since he has already told us in First Corinthians that a mixed marriage between believer and unbeliever is sanctified, he cannot now change his mind and tell us it's not. Otherwise he'd be acting like, (Gen. 34:13) "And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister." He'd be deceitful to tell us in one epistle something is okay and then in the next it's not.

So when setting the example of Christian labor to the Corinthian church which had been under the influence of false apostles he tells them not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers, he is merely addressing the Christian laborers they yoke themselves to; he is not addressing the sanctity of marriage itself.

But not everybody likes this arrangement, in particular the ones who married to form a gospel team:

       And then the first began to pray,
       Complaining they had travailed sore:
       `These wrought but one hour of the day,
       We think we should receive the more.

       `More have we served,' they muttered low,
       `Who have endured the long day's heat,
       Than these who not two hours toiled so;
       Why should their claim with ours compete?'
The crux of the matter is "endur[ing] the long day's heat." Trouble in the flesh, as Paul would put it. I've been to a college age oriented church where they believe strongly against mixed marriages and favorably to couple gospel teams. I've heard their testimonies, how very importantly they chose other Christians (the chosen) to marry to rather than marry unbelievers (the called) to witness to through their life. And it is elementary, dear Watson, that many are called but few are chosen. Therefore marrying someone from a small pool, one will likely find someone a bit less compatible in the flesh than if one had a larger pool to select from. And that means more trouble in the flesh, the heat of the day. As per the movie "Gigli," he would have been much more likely to find a woman suitable to his own needs from the pool of those he knows and dates, than to pick the one (lesbian) he got teamed him with. Most likely, though, that "heat of the day" refers to trials of spiritual incompatibilities when one tries to work closely together with a believing spouse whose take on Christian service is different from ones own.

It is informative to look at the attitude of an actual day laborer who had a gripe about fairness, which we can see from an ostracon known as the Mesad Hashavyahu Letter325 from the late Judean monarchy, seventh century B.C.

May the official, my lord, hear the plea of his servant. Your servant was working at the harvest. Your servant was in Hasar Asam. Your servant did his reaping, finished, and stored it a few days ago before the Sabbath. When your [se]rvant had finished reaping and had stored it a few days ago, Hoshayahu, son of Shobay came and took your servant's garment. When I had finished my reaping at that time, a few days ago, he took your servant's garment. All my companions will testify for me, all who were reaping with me in the heat of the sun; my brothers will testify for me. Truly, I am innocent from any gu[ilt]. [Please return] my garment. If the official does not consider it an obligation to retur[n your] ser[vant's garment, then please hav]e pi[ty] upon him [and ret]urn your [se]rvant's [garment]. You must not remain silent [when your servant is without his garment.]
Note the solidarity of those "reaping with me in the heat of the sun," being "companions [who] will testify for me" and "brothers [who] will testify." This goes to what I am saying about them representing being yoked together in Christian ministry.

The complaint appeals to the official's sense of "obligation" and to his "pity." But those are the two dimensions of the parable, God having fulfilled his obligation to the full-day laborers by paying them the agreed upon penny, and being pitiful and kind in paying the same wage to the laborers for one hour. The requested return of the garment —which the laborer evidently removed in the heat of the day—recalls to us the law of a garment taken as a pledge. (Exodus 22:26-27) "If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass that when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious." The man goes to church on Sunday and then goes home to live out his Christian faith before his unbelieving wife whom he is with in the night. God is gracious and completely sanctifies their marriage, and he has already to the same degree sanctified the marriage of the equally yoked married gospel team according to obligation.

Now, I took a seminar on Christian maturity, and I found in the church material:

  3. Study to discover what a passage says, what it means, and how it applies.
Let's take the points one at a time.
Keep it in context (the surrounding verses, chapters or book).
That's what I have been doing, keeping "only in the Lord" in its proper chapter and book in the context of the preceding verses plainly allowing mixed marriage. It is this brother who wants to put it in context of "not unequally yoked" from a different book of the Bible, one not yet written at the time. If one wants to look at how Paul treats an equally yoked couple in 1st Cor., he has to examine the attention he gives Priscilla and Aquila. They are mentioned in the salutations at the end, and that's it.
Check related passages (using cross references and concordance)
Well, looking in the concordance under widow and/or marriage will give us the passage in 1st Timothy relating to the widow who does not marry in the Lord because she has left her first faith by marrying wantonly against Christ.

I used my cross reference Bible in an earlier letter to show that Paul's several rhetorical questions right after the "not unequally yoked" passage had to do with service in the things of God, not relating to marriage to a believer.
Ask: Who said it? To whom was it said? and, For what purpose was it said?
Paul said it, a man who did not say one thing in one epistle and then reverse himself in the next, a man who had competition from false apostles whom he didn't want the Corinthians yoked to.

It was said to the Corinthians, a people living in a sinful society whose influence Paul did not want yoked with Christian ministry.

First Cor. 7 was written for the purpose of answering their specific questions regarding marriage and related matters.
Understand figures of speech (metaphor, simile, hyperbole, etc.)
Right at the point where Paul gets to address their various mixed relations short of marriage, he uses shades of metaphor to strengthen his telling them to walk as God has called and distributed to them.
Clarify the meaning of keywords (using a Greek or Hebrew-English dictionary)
Here we find that "only in the Lord" means only in the Lord, not "but he must belong to the Lord" (NIV™) or "but let her be guided by the Lord" (J.B. Phillips) which confuse the issue.
Determine application by referring to (II Tim. 3:16-17) "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
Here we are specifically looking at keeping the commandments of God—whether one is circumcised or uncircumcised—being paramount so that one need not painfully change his status, but just follow the commandments whether one marries a Christian or someone who isn't. If he can swing it, the better option is to be free to be God's servant, but if one must remain a servant, then he is the Lord's freeman and shouldn't worry about it. I am not trying to discourage people from teaming up to serve the Lord as a married couple, just saying they should count the cost first, and then not bother those who don't follow their course.
Check your conclusions with reliable commentaries.
When I was in the Chinese Church and we studied First Corinthians, and I disagreed with everybody else when I said it was permissible for a Christian to marry a nonbeliever, I was told to look it up in a commentary. So I checked the commentary in the church library to find that Christians interpret "only in the Lord" two different ways. Some think it means only to another Christian, and some think it means only in a manner consistent with following Christ. Those with the second view don't cause any trouble to those with the first, but those with the view that Christians must marry exclusively to other Christians sure do trouble those who only want to approach it in a Christian manner.
Perhaps our "expert" should take the Christian maturity seminar. At any rate I believe they should be restricted to trying to explain their view from the Bible without rewriting the Bible (NIV™) to agree with them. Therefore I absolutely refuse to follow the NIV™ and its ilk in this or in any spiritual teaching as the translation is automatically disqualified as an authority in spiritual matters when it doesn't have a basic grasp of m-f relations. I just go by the KJV, but it does seem to have caused trouble in integrating myself into churches using new translations.


Dating Questions, God's Answers
Questions of Greek scholarship, context, sanctification, dating, God's authority, & authority of the church
Yoked Together in Christian Ministry,
an attempt to sort out the confusion.
KJV | Context | Mixed Marriage
Comparing the KJV with modern English versions; looking at mixed marriage and being unequally yoked in their own contexts; proper handling of the word of God; vulnerability of widows addressed.
Parable of the Laborers
Episcopalians & diversity. Parable of the laborers.
Unequally Yoked Metaphor
"Unequally yoked" metaphor. New translations muddy the waters regarding a widow marrying "only in the Lord."
Holy Seed
Evil report & good report; King James Bible; "unequally yoked" examined; holy seed means sanctified marriage; marrying "only in the Lord"; Christian liberty; Corinthian epistles
Only in the Lord
"Only in the Lord" for a widow's remarriage; application to the times; sanctification of marriage; accuracy of Bible translations.
Breaking Up Blues
Breaking up is the pits.
Missionary Dating
Missionary dating; circular arguments; "expert" disagreeing opinions; Priscilla & Aquila; parallels in Paul's writing; spread of primitive Christianity; parable of the laborers.
Pauline Triads
Question from Corinthian cultural perspective; the expert's opinions; triads in Paul; courtship.
Expert Opinion
Eureka! An actual "expert;" the Corinthians' perspective; modern framework; Paul's thought.
Note on Paul's Triad
Note on the triad.


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Earl Gosnell
1950 Franklin Bv., Box 15
Eugene, OR 97403

Contact: feedbackatbibles.n7nz.org

Copyright © 2003, 2006 Earl S. Gosnell III Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.

Permission is hereby granted to use the portions original to this study--with credit given, of course--in intellectually honest non-profit educational material. The material I myself have quoted has its own copyright in most cases, which I cannot speak for but have used here under the fair use doctrine.

I have used material from many sources for teaching, comment and illustration in this nonprofit teaching endeavor. The sources are included in notes. Such uses must be judged on individual merit, of course, so I cannot say how other uses of the same material might fare.

A half verse scripture quotation marked (NIV™) was taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION™. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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