Ask Your Preacher
(This post is in reference to “A Parent’s Sorrow”)
Just reading the Q and A about the woman's daughter that has chosen a homosexual life… when do we as a church or member disfellowship ourselves from someone, and how do we do this with a family member or loved one? Out of love, we are not to even eat or associate with them, but how can we do this effectively with an adult child or straying parent?
Dear Cutting Ties,
The Bible doesn’t tell us to withdraw from all people who are living actively sinful lifestyles; we are only told to withdraw from christians who live actively sinful lives. Paul even said that the church isn’t in the business of judging all mankind (that’s God’s job); we are only responsible to exhort and, if needed, discipline our own (1 Cor 5:9-13). In the question you are referring to, it doesn’t sound like the daughter is a christian and the member of the church.
Secondly, even if the person is a christian, when the church withdraws from someone, family relationships aren’t as clear-cut as the rest of the brethren. The church is given strict orders to withdraw and not associate with a wayward brother or sister (1 Cor 5:13). However, the immediate family doesn’t have the same “black and white” guidelines. In fact, we see that they sometimes are commanded to do the opposite – as in the case of an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:13). Close relatives and loved ones falling away can be torturous on the rest of the family, and immediate family oftentimes has to make the tougher decisions of when to draw back and when to keep the family door open. Family ties in the case of a wayward christian becomes a gray area that requires wisdom and should be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Jesus says in Matt 23:9 not to call anyone “father”. A buddy tells me that since Catholics call their priests “father”, they’re disregarding this verse (not that I care about this because, for me, they can call their clergy any name they want). But I hate to be the one to ask this because this may seem idiotic, but does this also mean that we cannot call our dads “father”?
Honoring My Father
Dear Honoring My Father,
Calling a priest ‘father’ is wrong because it is referring to ‘father’ in a spiritual sense. That is what Christ is condemning in Matt 23:8-10. Christ is rebuking people who elevate themselves above others within the church. Catholic priests place themselves in a position of spiritual superiority and authority above others. That is wrong and exactly what Christ told His disciples never to do.
On the other hand, the term ‘father’ is perfectly fine when used to refer to a physical parent. The Bible itself uses the word ‘father’ almost 1,000 times, and the vast majority of those times refer to fleshly parents. Gen 2:24, Gen 9:22, Lev 20:9, Pr 17:25, Mk 10:29, Lk 11:11 are just a few examples. Our fathers are a blessing from God given to us for a time to guide and discipline us (Heb 12:9-10). They are worthy of honor and the title ‘father’ (Eph 6:2).
Is it a sin to marry or have a relationship with your first cousin?
The Bible never condemns marrying your first cousin. Even in the Old Testament, the prohibition only extended as far as aunts and uncles (Lev 18:12-14). It isn’t a sin to marry your first cousin. In fact, it hasn’t even been culturally taboo for very long. Even two or three generations ago, it was much more common to marry a first cousin. Today, it is an odd thing to see a first cousin marriage, but it isn’t wrong. Cultures change all the time, and this is a cultural issue, not a Biblical one.
My mom was adopted, so we don't know her family history well. What would you do if you found out your boyfriend of twelve years maybe your cousin? We have no children together. He doesn't know we may be cousins... we live together... WHAT DO WE DO FROM HERE?
Dear Regretful Researcher,
The very first thing you need to do is stop living together before you are married. More important than any biological issues your future children may have, you are sinning, and that is much worse than any physical problem. The reason people don’t get married – but instead (outside of marriage) have sex, live together, have children together, and eventually destroy their lives – is because we spend our lives making up the rules as we go. We live our lives by the “what-makes-me-feel-good-right-now” philosophy. We have no real standard to live by other than what we feel at the moment. Like Pilate, we ask, “What is truth?” (Jhn 18:38) because we don’t know where to find the right answers to life. How can we know what is the right thing to do? Only the Creator can give us a rulebook for life that allows us to comfortably say, “I’m making the right choice.” Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life (Jhn 14:6). All the answers to life are found in His Scriptures (2 Pet 1:3). If we want our relationships, our families, our careers, and our lives to work, we have to use the manual.
Biblically, there is nothing wrong with marrying your cousin – people did it quite commonly just a couple generations ago. You would have to consider the medical ramifications of having children, but that is a medical decision – not a moral one. As we said, more importantly than anything else is that you make your lives right with God.
I am a mother of two, and we don't attend church. I tell them as much as I know about God and Jesus and the Bible. I am scared, though, every time I start to think about the end of days… not because I am not saved but because I heard that when the rapture comes, in heaven you will not know anyone. I want to know my kids. I want to watch them grow up and have babies of their own. I think I may be misunderstanding something. Please help me understand what is going to happen and if we are all going to be together and know each other. Please, I get so sad about all of it.
Dear Maternal Instinct,
The Rapture isn’t a biblical teaching, and it won’t actually happen (read our article “Up In The Air” for a detailed explanation of what the Bible teaches about the Rapture). However, you are still left with your concern about what heaven will be like (heaven is still very real! – 1 Pet 1:3-4). In heaven, we have every reason to believe we will know each other. In fact, if the transfiguration is any indication, we will know everyone in heaven, not just those we have known in this life. When Jesus was transfigured on the Mount of Olives, both Moses and Elijah appeared and talked to Christ (Lk 9:30). The remarkable thing is that Peter recognized both of those men even though they had been dead for many centuries (Lk 9:32-33).
Now, if we may, we’d like to address your statement that you don’t go to church. It is a sin to not attend church; the Bible says so (Heb 10:24-25). God uses the church to strengthen each of us individually, and He expects all of us to provide our effort to help strengthen others in His church (Eph 4:16). The church is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15). Every faithful christian of the Bible was commanded to be a member of a congregation because God knew that we shouldn’t stand alone. It is a wonderful thing that you are teaching your children about Jesus and training them up to love Him (Pr 22:6). We would be happy to help you move forward in your service to Christ by putting you in contact with a faithful congregation in your area. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us help you fill in that piece in the puzzle of your spiritual life.