Making oneself a eunuch for the kingdom's sake

Fellows, my heart is heavy and has been for two days now. I’ve been preaching full-time now for a small church of about 30 people for nearly 11 years and I experienced a difficult first this week pertaining to Matt. 19:9, I Cor 7:10,11, etc.

First, let me say this–I understand the truth of God’s word on marriage, divorce, & remarriage (MDR), and I teach it.
http://www.audioevangelism.com/sndwrds/transcripts/SW_2005_05_14_text.htm
http://www.audioevangelism.com/sndwrds/transcripts/SW_2005_05_21_text.htm

Nevertheless, it is one thing to teach a difficult truth to an audience and another thing to teach it to a couple sitting across from you (there is a huge difference emotionally). It is one thing to teach an audience that “we must not live in adulterous situations–even if the civil courts sanction such” when you don’t have any specific person in mind, and it is another thing when you know the couple sitting a few feet away is, by their own admission, living in adultery.

Let me back up a minute–this is not the first time I’ve had discussions like this with people privately in my office. Strangers will call me up asking me to marry them. I never agree to do so over the phone but always offer to meet with them to discuss their situation. Often the couple interested in getting married has no Scriptural right to do so, and I show them Jesus’ words to that end. Some are respectful and quiet as they leave but others are angry and let it be known.

But 2 days ago I had a new experience. A couple I’ve been studying with (both about 50 years old with no young kids) have learned much in the past few weeks and have come to understand they need to be immersed. We talked a lot about conversion in our recent study. Also, they specifically wanted to talk about marriage, so we did. She has a Catholic background and was concerned that the church of Christ would not accept their marriage. We addressed that and then we talked about Matt. 19, etc. The man was qualified for marriage, but the woman was not (having divorced her 1st husband years ago, but not for infidelity). This man and woman sitting across from me understood (for the first time) the gravity of Jesus’ words in Matt. 19:9 and it hit them like a ton of bricks. I felt like Ezra and would have pulled out some of my beard if I could grow one (9:3).

“I’m not a bad person,” the woman said. “We didn’t know these truths when we got married a year or two ago” (they had lived together a number of years before getting “married” recently). I nodded as my heart ached for them. I thought to myself: “Would they be able to do what God’s word prescribes?” I then shared some verses on commitment, Jesus’ sacrifice as an example for us, and what it means to make oneself a eunuch for the kingdom’s sake. I tried to explain the brevity of life and the “duration” of eternity.

The couple didn’t get mad; they didn’t leave; they sat stunned and took it all in. This gave me hope for them. After 2 hours of talking about MDR and baptism, we all left the office with heavy hearts. How will it end? I do not know. But I’m praying for them and hope you will, too. They have great potential for the Lord–but not as a “married” couple. Will they seek first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness or will they turn away as the rich, young ruler did? Only time will tell.

I have a small inkling now of perhaps how Ezra felt in Ch. 9. I know the truth and can do nothing else but preach it in its entirety. I’m not the most sensitive chap, and, in my youth, I cannot recall every feeling terrible about sharing God’s word with someone. But it had to be done (Acts 20:26,27), and I did it the best I could in love (Eph. 4:15). Praise be to Almighty God!

#divorce, #marriage, #remarriage