Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Of Marriage

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on June 26, 2013 at 4:19 pm

1689

The London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689

Chapter 25: Of Marriage

1._____ Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time.
Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:5,6 )

2._____ Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.
Genesis 2:18; Genesis 1:28; 1 Corinthians 7:2, 9 )

3._____ It is lawful for all sorts of people to marry, who are able with judgment to give their consent; yet it is the duty of Christians to marry in the Lord; and therefore such as profess the true religion, should not marry with infidels, or idolaters; neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresy.
Hebrews 13:4; 1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Corinthians 7:39; Nehemiah 13:25-27 )

4._____ Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.
Leviticus 18; Mark 6:18; 1 Corinthians 5:1 )

  1. Now why don’t we interpret this so that it is at least as easy to understand as God’s word? Especially now, when it so very important to understand what the Bible actually and really says about marriage.

  2. The Confession makes it perfectly clear: …”one man and one woman…”. The scriptures, of course, are most clear on this as well, and, no matter what so-called law our government passes, “we must obey God rather than men.”

  3. What’s not to understand, brother (Dan Lane)? The Confession is quite clear to me.

  4. “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman;” this is wise statement and a great safeguard in our day. Those of us who hold to the Confession have an unambiguous statement of our belief. It is based on Gen. 2:24 and the citation of that passage by the Lord Jesus Christ. No one could force us to perform gay marriages (or polygamous ones) and if they did try to force us — it is a sincerely held religious belief for which we would be willing to suffer persecution.

  5. Tom, if all that was posted was that statement “Marriage is to be between one man and one woman”, then it would be plain enough. But whoever initiated this post included the entire chapter and it needs interpretation. When the confession was written, “equality in marriage” and the definition of marriage was not an issue. I know that statement is clear and perhaps it ought to be enough. The rest of the chapter (2,3 and 4), is almost gibberish to most younger readers:

    “Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and the preventing of uncleanness.”

    “…should not marry with infidels, or idolaters; neither should such as are godly, be unequally yoked, by marrying with such as are wicked in their life, or maintain damnable heresy.”

    “Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity, forbidden in the Word; nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful, by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.”

    If we read our Bibles in modern vernacular, why shouldn’t we be able to read the confession in the same way? And while we are at it, why don’t we clarify what are bigger issues these days (as opposed to what were big issues in 1689), broaden and expand it?

    (Now perhaps this post is only intended for pastors within the RBC and your audience is not intended for lay person such as myself, if so, then I am completely out of context and withdraw my defense).

    I know this ruffles some feathers but it is not advantageous to fight a 21st century battle with 17th century language. The truth has not changed but words have.

    Respectfully,
    Dan

  6. Dan: Point well taken. There is a modern translation out now, published by Founders Press. In it (Confessing the Faith), here is how it reads:”Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of humanity with legitimate offspring, and for the prevention of immorality” (paragraph 2). “…should not marry unbelievers or idolators. Nor should the godly be unequally yoked by marrying those who lead evil lives or hold to damnable heresy” (paragraph 3). ” Marriage should not occur within the degrees of blood relationship or kinship that are forbidden in the Word. These incestuous marriages can never be made lawful, so that the individuals may live together as husband and wife, by any human law or consent of the parties involved” (paragraph 4).
    Brother, there are some of us who read the puritans so often that the old language is like second nature to us. I happen to be one of those people, and I sometimes forget that, unless one is more used to reading that kind of language a lot, it can be very difficult. My apologies. If you would like a copy of the modern version, entitled “Confessing The Faith,” you can order a paperback copy, very reasonably priced, at http://www.founders.org

  7. One more note on paragraph 1. Not only is it written timelessly and wonderfully — it actually covers the most important marriage issues of our day. Homosexual marriage is absolutely disallowed by the definition of marriage, as are polygamy and polyandry (which was more of a problem in the 17th century than homosexual marriage). Also, the “at the same time” ath the end of paragraph 1 talks about the fact that remarriage is allowable after death — and I believe also allows for remarriage after a lawful divorce.

    Paragraph 3 is also extremely helpful. I, as a minister refuse to perform a marriage ceremony between a Christian and a non-Christian and here our confession backs us up once again. So according to the laws of CA — it’s not just “homosexuals” that I will refuse to marry (and possibly single out for discrimination — no doubt that question will one day be addressed in a US or foreign court for our brethren abroad.) — there are hetrosexuals for whom I also will not officiate on religious grounds.

    BTW — Tom — we subscribe to the 1689 — but carry copies of the update you reference in our book room to help people understand our Confession better. I am sure Dan will profit from that book!

  8. Dan – Words like “consanguinity” and “affinity” are legal terms for which there is no modern english substitute. In fact, they are still used today to describe forbidden incestuous relationships.

    Some times, instead of complaining that simpler language needs to be used, you just need to step up to the bar of education and learn a few new words.

    Not every document, especially a confession of faith that requires precision, and must express fine distinctions, can be couched in a sixth grade vocabulary.

    Your statement that “The rest of the chapter (2,3 and 4), is almost gibberish to most younger readers” is not a commentary on the deficiencies of the confession, it is a commentary on the pathetic level of education of “younger readers”.

    The solution is to educate our “younger readers” in the language and meaning of the confession, and improve their english language and comprehension skills, the solution is not to try to reduce the confession down to the comprehension level of the illiteracy of the current generation.

  9. Pastor Doner,

    It’s not simply the words (which can be better defined for clarity) but the structure and readability of the sentence that needs clarification as well. And I’m not complaining here, but making what I hoped was a logical observation. Your condescension to me and any potential readers with a “pathetic level of education” is unnecessary just because you disagree.

    With all due respect, using your own logic, we should only read the Bible in the original language and simply hold all our people to a higher lever of education including fluency in Hebrew, Greek and Latin. We don’t. Our bibles, faithful translations of our Bibles, are written for every man to read, not just the scholarly.

    The confession even agrees with me in 1689 1.8 “8. …But because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have a right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded in the fear of God to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience and comfort of the Scriptures may have hope.” (I used the older version here intentionally because of the word “vulgar”. It makes my point that language and definitions change)

    You say that “Not every document, especially a confession of faith that requires precision, and must express fine distinctions, can be couched in a sixth grade vocabulary.” If precision is the goal, assuming you want everyone of Christ’s followers to be in agreement with that document, isn’t clarity, conciseness and accuracy of utmost importance?

    In all sincerity, I’m curious what version of the Bible you preach for as anything less than the original King James would be a younger translation than the 1689 (and then only by about 80 years).

    I’m also curious… why is it that when someone comments that a 300 year old document (that is not the Bible) needs to be updated it is automatically treated as complaining or an affront to the church of Christ?

    Perhaps all this is moot as others have commented that there is a more updated version and if so, perhaps it would have been just as beneficial (in my mind, more so) to post that version.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond, please receive my push back with the respect it is given.

    Dan

  10. Dan – I did not assume you to be among the class of “younger readers” that you alluded to – so no condescension was directed at you – or even towards the “younger readers” themselves. An observation is not an insult, when the observation is accurate – and the literacy level of the “younger readers of our day is sad indeed, thanks to the Publick Skools that pass for institutions of learning in our day.

    I did not argue for anybody reading the Scriptures in the original languages, and it is a failure of logic on you part to imply that I did.

    Of course the meaning of words change. You cite the word “vulgar” as an example, but it is a thirty second process to explain the older meaning, and the education in the older meaning of words is valuable to anybody who is going to read the Puritans, as every reformed Christian will do. Are we going to re-write all the Puritan works in modern english also, so the under-educated can understand them too? I don’t think so.

    It is fallacious to argue that a few older words and anything other than the most simplistic sentence syntax will obscure the meaning of the confession to the masses. Our confession has stood the test of time, it is a small matter to educate those who read it in the meaning of a couple of words whose meanings may not be immediately obvious.

    And as for the sentence syntax, this generation could use some instruction in that regard by reading the writings of those who were actually skilled in that discipline.

    So, now you know “why is it that when someone comments that a 300 year old document (that is not the Bible) needs to be updated it is automatically treated as complaining or an affront to the church of Christ?”

    Such comments are treated that way, because such updates are entirely unnecessary.

    Try writing a doctrinal statement sometime (I have done it) and see how the syntax goes for you, as you try to get the precision, balance, and exact shade of meaning that is critical to doctrinal accuracy. The authors of our confession were masters at it, but writing doctrinal statements is not like writing ordinary prose, and it just cannot be smoothed out without losing precision.

    And as for why the post was not made in the “updated” version of the 1689 – my guess is that it is because it is the 1689 version, and not some “updated” version, that is the standard to which this site subscribes.

    And yes, I do use the KJV in my reading and preaching – but I also encourage people to use the NKJV if they find it more to their liking. I am not KJV only, and I am certainly happy to allow others to exercise their liberties in the matter.

  11. I suppose we will have to agree to disagree.

    Warm regards,
    Dan

  12. As far as the “younger readers” go, I had my three teenagers read it and they didn’t find it difficult to understand at all. Maybe because they’ve grown up with the confession and memorizing the catechism, so such language is not foreign to them. As far as an update is concerned, it can be “both/and” instead of “either/or”.

  13. I think there is value in “updating the language” of the 1689, but it is easier said than done. The task is difficult. Stan Reeves did a fine job, IMHO, and we carry his more modern (although the changes were not substantial for the most part) update in our book room, but confession the original. Shades of meaning can easily be lost or shifted. Whole doctrines can be changed — intentionally or unintentionally. Once we change a doctrine, or make a huge shift, it really is no longer the 1689 — but “something else”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: