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This and the next few chapters are important because without a proper understanding of sex, marriage, divorce, fornication, and expediency, it is impossible to fully understand salvation. Christians who skim this material without looking up the referenced Scripture should understand why they will be offended: Their religious values are wrongly based on Augustinian morality, and whenever something (including Scripture) contradicts those “values” they can’t help being offended because they are bound by tradition. Their refusal to look up the Scripture isn’t so much because of laziness as it is loyalty; their true allegiance is to traditional morality (that they’ve never studied!) rather than Thus saith the Lord. True Bible believers live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God; tradition-bound morality-worshipping Bible rejecters are in need of repentance and must gird their loins against themselves because they will find this to be a Bible study…not a review of society’s moral values. Let me be clear: This material is for those Christians who want the Bible to be their sole authority in all matters of faith and practice.
Man is not allowed to see God and live (Ex 33:20) because we are unclean sinners (Is 6:5). In order to be with God we need to have our sin taken away (Is 6:7).
Woman is a type of mankind, God’s people, His body, the church. Man is a type of God. God and mankind cannot get together because mankind is unclean, and this is pictured by the fact that man (type of God) should never soil himself by touching a woman (type of sinful man) (1 Co 7:1; 1 Sa 21:4,5; Re 14:4). Therefore we are supposed to be chaste virgins (2 Co 11:2).
How then can God (man) get together with sinful mankind (woman)? The answer is in Genesis. God could not find a suitable helper for Adam (type of God) among the animals (type of mortal man) (Ge 2:18-20). (Why was it even plausible for God to look among the animals for an help who’d be meet for Adam? Because there is no difference between men and beasts, for they themselves are beasts: Ec 3:18.) No suitable helper being found for Adam among the animals is a picture of unsaved dogs being unsuitable for Christ to marry (and by extension, unsuitable for Christians to marry). So Adam’s bride, Eve (type of the church), came from Adam himself (type of being born of God) (Ge 2:21-23). Because animals were unsuitable it was necessary that a clean bride, Eve, come out of a clean Adam. Why was the bride clean? Because she came from Adam, she got her righteousness from him (I speak figuratively). So, when Adam married Eve they didn’t just become one flesh – they became one flesh again; it was a reunion.
Adam’s marriage is a picture of God’s marriage. Out of a clean God comes a clean spirit (a born-again Christian). Why is it a clean spirit? Because it is of the Holy Spirit, we get our righteousness from Him (I speak literally). God is the father of all spirits (He 12:9), and if He is to remain undefiled He can only get together with mankind through marriage. Therefore those who have been born again are the only ones eligible for marriage to Him.
As our knowledge of Bible doctrine grows we find that our understanding also expands – if we meditate on the things we have learned in order to apply them to other doctrines. For example, on pages D8-2,3 we reviewed some of the Scriptures that show the Old Testament saints were born-again Christians just like we are today. But let’s say you had never studied that topic and therefore were unable to resist your denomination’s doctrinal dissembling when it told you a fundamental difference exists between Old Testament and New Testament saints – and it even stooped to the extreme of telling you passages in many books of the New Testament do not apply to us New Testament saints (!) because they are “meant for the Old Testament saints” such as Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David, and Solomon. And let’s say your daily Bible studies resulted in your gaining an understanding of the information in the several paragraphs above. It would then be possible for you to gain a better understanding of why the Old Testament saints had to be born of God – and why they could not have been unregenerate: The unsaved are not meet to be servants of God because they are no different from carnal beasts, which is why the Bible says the unsaved cannot receive the spiritual things of God, are not subject to the law of God, and, indeed, cannot be subject to His law. After looking into this matter you would put together the Scriptures on pages D8-2,3 and you’d also include the passage in which God teaches Adam (and us) the unsuitability of dogs as His servants and the necessity for His servants to come from Himself via the new birth – which is why we are His body. And you would marvel at the incredible consistency of everything in the Bible; it all perfectly fits together with no contradictions.
Let’s continue to expand our knowledge by examining some topics that will help us better understand salvation.
If having sex with – or touching – a woman is bad because we are to be chaste virgins, how can a man and a woman (Christ and His bride) get together? Through marriage, when a man and his wife become one flesh (Ge 2:24). Notice the very next verse (Ge 2:25) says they were both naked without shame (just as you are not ashamed when you are by yourself and are naked). That’s because when two marry and become one flesh, when they get naked together they are uncovering their own nakedness, not someone else’s. In other words, when a man has sex with his wife he is merely touching his own body, because she is his body. Yes, when a husband and his wife have sex with each other it is exactly the same as if they masturbated. That is how Christians can be married and still be chaste virgins – they only touch their own bodies. And that is why – even though a man is touching a woman – the marital bed is undefiled (He 13:4); because he isn’t touching a woman, he’s touching himself, his own body (Ep 5:28,29).
Today’s Christians have two problems with this. First, because they don’t understand how two become one flesh, they stop short of believing the word of God. They don’t accept it by applying it to everyday life. The proper Christian, though, doesn’t worry about how it happens, but why. Two become one flesh by fiat. God simply decreed it; that’s all He has to do to make something a fact. What He says must be our reality!
The second problem Christians have with this topic is tradition has decreed (by fiat!) that masturbation is a sin and/or is shameful. It is not. The Bible lists plenty of sex sins; masturbation is not one of them. Ge 38:8-10 is used (by those who cannot read) as the text that “proves” masturbation is a sin. But neither Onan nor Tamar masturbated! Do you think Tamar, who was on the bottom, thought Onan was masturbating?! And the fact that Onan pulled out at the last moment (v.9) so he wouldn’t get her pregnant cannot be used to proscribe masturbation because that would completely ignore the issues of duty and obedience that are the crux of the chapter: Onan had led Tamar to believe he would get her pregnant – in accordance with his duty to her and his dead brother. Tamar didn’t know until Onan consummated the marriage that she was now bound to a lying lout who intended to leave her childless. When God nicely killed Onan He thereby freed Tamar to marry someone who would give her a child. God killed Onan because he not only failed to fulfill the duty of an husband’s brother (Dt 25:5-10), but he also disobeyed a direct order (Ge 38:8).
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God will not touch unclean mortals. So He makes us His clean children via the new birth. We marry Him and receive His righteousness because two become one flesh – we become His body. In that way God is not defiled; when He touches His bride He is touching His own body. But this presents two more problems for today’s traditional Christians: First, God commits incest when He marries His own children, and second, God becomes a polygamist when He marries so many Christians.
A quick look at incest in the Bible:
Ge 4:17,26: Cain and Seth married their sisters.
Ge 20:12; Le 18:11: OK to wed your father’s wife’s daughter.
Ex 6:20: OK to wed your aunt.
Nu 36:6-13; Ju 1:12,13: OK to wed first cousins.
2 Sa 13:1,12,13: Tamar, David’s daughter, and Amnon, David’s son, were sister and brother. It was OK for them to wed. The reason they did not marry is Amnon never wanted to; he just had the hots for her. That’s why he completely lost interest in her once he’d humbled her.
SoS 4:9,10,12; 5:1: OK to wed your sister.
Josh 15:16,17: OK to wed first cousins.
Le 18 is the chapter traditionally used to define incest as “the unlawful marriage of close relatives”, which if correct would make incest a sin. But Le 18, like 1 Co 5:1, has absolutely nothing to do with marriage to anyone! It is about fornication, about having sex with people with whom it is not lawful – unless married to those same people.
Compare Le 18:8 with Le 20:11 to see if it is talking about marrying anybody…or if it’s telling you with whom you can’t have sex. (In 2 Sa 16:21,22 Absalom violated these verses when he violated his father’s wives – but he married no one.)
Is the subject of Le 18:19 marriage? No, it’s sex.
Do you see any incest in Le 18:20? Is there even a close relative in the verse? This verse, like the chapter, is listing the people you are not allowed to have sex with unless you marry them.
But, object some, if Le 18 says you can’t screw a close relative, how can you marry someone you can’t have sex with? This chapter deals with sex outside of marriage only. The sister in verse 9, for example, is off limits as far as sex is concerned as long as she belongs to someone else. But as soon as she is given to you in marriage she no longer belongs to someone else; she is now not only yours, she is your own flesh. And you are always allowed to touch yourself (Ep 5:28,29). That is why husbands and wives are not allowed to withhold sex from each other (1 Co 7:4,5) except when it is agreed to do so during times of fasting. Why during fasting? Because fasting is a training session when we focus on gaining mastery over our carnal old man. We usually do that by saying No! to something our flesh really wants like food and sex. Fasting is an exercise in ruling the old carnal man because someday when the Lord tests us we must be able to overcome the old man’s weakness, fear, desire, and Reason. If we don’t properly train for battle we’ll be deceived, defeated, and embarrassed.
We Christians are born of God. We are His daughters and His brides. You may marry your daughters just like God does. It is nowhere prohibited in the word of God. Anyone who has a problem with that needs to take it to the Lord in prayer because He’s the one who made the rules.
So, we have many examples in the Bible of people marrying close relatives, and we have zero places that prohibit it. Why then is incest considered a sin? That’s easy, it’s the old Mt 15:2 scam – inventing sins not in the Bible. This scam undermines the authority of the word of God, discourages Bible study, promotes traditional doctrines, and glorifies generations of ignorant preachers and the religious institutions that ruined them. That’s why inconsistencies between false doctrines and what the Bible says over the centuries have never been corrected. Until now.
Many Christians don’t know the Bible well enough to look up all the above verses and make a determination one way or the other. A large percentage of them will naïvely say, “Well, there must be someplace in the Bible where incest is made a sin, otherwise it wouldn’t have been taught for so long.” Notice the pedestrian mentality of that statement: First, the “there must be someplace” is an admission that they do not know the Bible. Second, the fact that they openly admit they don’t know the Bible shows they don’t think they need to know the Bible because God gave us Reason – they already know right and wrong. Third, “it wouldn’t have been taught for so long” shows the power of tradition because it hasn’t been taught! Sex and related issues are not taught in church, in Sunday school, in Bible studies, or in theology classes. Fourth, the above statement also reveals the pedestrian mentality (and/or lack of interest in doctrine) of their preachers, because they have obviously failed to teach their flocks these doctrines – and you’d hope it is because they are ignorant or cowardly and not because they are deliberately defrauding the body of Christ. Even though preachers claim to be in the ministry “full time” they apparently never wonder, when “studying and meditating on the word”, about all the sex God put in His Bible. Sex is one of those things about which everyone just “knows”, just as they know you can get rid of warts by burying an old dishrag under the front stoop. The shortage of relevant, practical, growth-inducing instruction in the church is a big problem because most preachers haven’t got a clue as to what the Bible is all about. You didn’t think the Pharisees and Sadducees were an anomaly in Christianity, did you? 90% of the preaching/teaching in church has to do with the denominational party line on salvation (and much of that is spent appealing to the emotions). 8% is spent covering basic Bible events (because most people in church don’t really read or study the Bible other than reading “a verse a day to keep the devil away”, and memorizing Jn 3:16, the “Romans road”, and their “life verse”). And 2% is spent going over mainstream doctrines. Time at home is squandered. The church is pathetically and disgustingly and inexcusably ignorant.
Anyway, sex is not taught. People will make veiled references and jokes about incest, fornication, sodomy, fellatio, etc., but nobody ever says, “OK, open your Bibles: Today we’re going to cover incest, sodomy, and fornication,” because it is correctly assumed worldly tradition taught them that stuff long before they ever got saved! And since neither sex nor marriage is understood, salvation cannot be fully understood. And Christians think God sins by marrying His own children. But no, they don’t think that; they just don’t think. One of the things that exposes the shameful condition of the church is the fact that inconsistencies between tradition and the Bible rarely cause anyone to question tradition because the real authority in their lives is not the word of God. That is the greatest threat facing the church.
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God, who has practiced polygamy in both Testaments, gave David multiple wives (2 Sa 12:8,11). When these verses are compared with 2 Sa 16:22 we see that concubines are wives, not just “mistresses” of doubtful virtue. The many examples of multiple wives in the Old Testament establish the practice as normal, proper, and authorized by God. It is not significant that multiple wives are not documented in the New Testament because the New Testament is not the biographical history that the Old Testament is. What is significant, since the New Testament is largely doctrinal, is that it changes nothing about marriage while filling in some details about it such as the duties of husbands and wives.
Most people, however, maintain that God has changed His mind about multiple wives, that He suddenly finds His rules about polygamy (Dt 21:15) abhorrent, and has in 1 Ti 3 made polygamy a new sin. They accomplish this by taking verses specifically directed at bishops and deacons and applying them to all men, both saved and unsaved (!), because Christians are a royal priesthood! (Did you catch all the contradictions?) Others agree with the traditional reasoning used above to proscribe polygamy but go further by saying bachelorhood is a sin for all men because the Bible says bishops and deacons must be husbands who have one wife, which is also contradictory nonsense.
We agree that all Christians are members of the royal priesthood, but are there not many positions within the priesthood besides those of bishops and deacons (1 Co 12)? So how can something directed specifically at two positions within the priesthood (bishops and deacons) be applied to all of the other positions in the priesthood? And even if the directive is supposed to include all positions within the royal priesthood, why is it also applied to unsaved men who are not in any priesthood? (Don’t you hate inconsistencies? You must learn to zero in on inconsistencies between what the Bible says and everything in the world around you in order to develop the ability to rule and reign with Christ.) Because the traditional position on polygamy is inconsistent with what the Bible says, we know the tradition is false; can two walk together except they be agreed?
Putting tradition aside (your Natural reluctance to do so will wane as you grow), it becomes obvious that it is OK for a man to have multiple wives unless he wants to be a bishop or deacon. And it is also OK for a man to be a bachelor unless he wants to be a bishop or deacon. And it should be obvious to you by now that the unsaved man has no restrictions placed on him at all.
Bishops and deacons must have one wife. That is because those positions require proof of a man’s qualifications: The man must rule well his own household or he can’t have the job. That means he must have at least a wife (but not necessarily children). In order to promote polygamy among bishops and deacons in this New Testament era some claim “one wife” means “at least one wife.” But because it is not necessary to wrest the Scriptures in order to justify polygamy, I’m guessing that some denominations ignore the obvious proscription of polygamy for bishops and deacons because (in the case I’m thinking of) the founding preacher of the denomination wanted to justify his having more than the required one wife. If the Scripture were meant to be taken as “at least one wife” for preachers and deacons it would have said just that. Besides, restrictions on the number of wives that apply to some Christians but not to others has Biblical precedence. Kings were vaguely restricted as to the number of wives they could have (Dt 17:17), and Levitical priests had certain restrictions placed on them (Le 21:7) that did not apply to other Hebrews (Ho 1:2).
It is certain that God put 1 Ti 3 in the Bible for a reason. If He had wanted to eliminate His long-standing policy on multiple wives He would not have limited 1 Ti 3 to bishops and deacons. Neither would He have explained (v.5) that the requirement was a test to see if a man qualified for the job. And with 1 Co 7:7-9 in the Bible, neither would God say “all men must be the husband of one wife.” 1 Ti 3 is simple and straightforward because it not only means exactly what it says, it even explains why it says what it does. The problem is not that it is vague or difficult to understand, the problem is that it is contrary to tradition.
Now, having said all of that, let me go on by saying that while it is true there is nothing in the Bible that makes polygamy a sin, there can be found a rationale consistent with Scripture for voluntarily ending polygamy by comparing the Old Commission with the Great Commission.
Adam, Noah, and Abraham all lived under the Old Commission to be fruitful and multiply because they and their children were God’s people and reproduction was necessary in order to continue the good fight. But in the New Testament era God replaced the Old Commission with the Great Commission (Mk 16:15). Why? Because no longer are all people (as in Adam’s and Noah’s time), God’s people. And no longer is any chosen group of people (such as children of Abraham), God’s people. It is therefore no longer easy to look at a crowd of people and distinguish God’s saints from pagans.
The Old Commission and the Great Commission are very much alike; even though one calls for physical reproduction and the other for spiritual intercourse, they both have the same objective – the continuance of God’s people in order to carry on the fight. The Old Commission required marriage (and the more wives you had the more you could multiply), the New Commission doesn’t. That’s why the New Testament recommends for the first time in history that God’s people not marry at all (1 Co 7:7,8,32-35)! In fact, it is recommended that only two groups of Christians marry. The first group is the people who want to be bishops and deacons. The second group is those few Christians (like Amnon in 2 Sa 13:12-14) who can’t contain themselves from illicit sexual relations. (Look at the context of 1 Co 7:1-9 and then focus on verses 2,5,9.) In the Old Testament era God’s people reproduced through sex, therefore sex was required. In the New Testament era God’s people identify and edify each other through communion, therefore verbal intercourse has replaced sexual intercourse in importance. The primary meaning of Old Testament verses like Ps 127:3-5 was physical because the Old Commission was in effect, but today under the New Testament’s Great Commission their meaning is primarily spiritual (1 Co 4:15; Ga 4:19; 1 Ti 1:2; Phil 10; 3 Jn 4). By carefully considering the above (including 1 Co 7) it becomes obvious that marriage in the New Testament has a different purpose from marriage in the Old Testament: While Old Testament marriage was primarily for reproduction, New Testament marriage is primarily for recreation (in its “enjoyable pastime” meaning).
Neither Augustine nor Martin Luther understood this difference between the Old Commission and the Great Commission. They also did not understand sex, marriage, and salvation. And they were clueless as to the meaning of carnal. All they knew was they didn’t want to be carnal. When they considered words like fornication, whoredom, the virgin Mary, chaste virgin, be fruitful and multiply, etc., they came up with some weird ideas, as we saw earlier. And because Christians since then have also not understood sex, marriage, and salvation, and are afraid of appearing “carnal”, they have allowed the Augustinian traditions to persist. For example, the “missionary position” was designed to minimize the pleasure of intercourse because it was thought the purpose of sex was to be fruitful and multiply. In other words, New Testament Christians under the Great Commission were acting as if they were still under the Old Commission! And they did err not knowing what carnal meant. The confusion about whether we are under the Old Commission or the Great Commission often manifests itself today when an ignorant Christian argues against anal and oral sex by heterosexual Christian couples and by unsaved homosexuals: They claim God frowns on any form of sex that can’t cause pregnancy. The Catholic Church even says all sexual intercourse between husbands and their wives is wrong if they use birth control because they are having sex for pleasure instead of procreation.
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The reason “Bible” schools and the preachers they pump out teach nothing about sex is they simply don’t know anything and are insecure. They are vaguely aware of the inconsistencies and changes in the way “society” has viewed sex over the decades and centuries, but they never seriously examine the issue because they are afraid to challenge tradition or to question the doctrinal soundness of denominational leaders living or dead. And they are afraid to be considered “lustful”, “carnal”, “obsessed with sex”, or just “weird.” So they continue to assume that “ethics” and “morals”, even though they change with “the times”, are somehow Biblical, authoritative, and unchanging “standards” that should shape our lives. They don’t realize how inconsistent their thinking, their “values”, and their doctrines are…because everybody else is just as confused and ignorant as they, and because they justify themselves before men instead of by the word of God.
At any rate, as I return to my previous train of thought, this lesson makes it obvious that if the Bible really were our sole authority in all matters of faith and practice, Christians in general would remain single and would limit themselves to masturbation and lawful sexual relations. If you met a Christian who was married to one wife you would know he was: a) a bishop or deacon, b) a man who thought his lust might involve him in unlawful sexual relations, c) both. And if you met a Christian who had more than one wife you could eliminate choices a and c.
Nowhere in the Bible is a Christian (other than bishops and deacons) prohibited from having multiple wives. In fact, the Devil is delighted when Christians view an incestuous polygamist with revulsion and contempt because that is just what God is!