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Marriage

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Matthew 19:9: The Clear Exception

In response to the previous article, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not Matthew 19:9 really does give us one situation in which an innocent spouse can divorce and remarry with the full blessing of God. I see no way around the passage.  The clause “except it be for fornication” is there for a reason and does not conflict with all the other passages that explicitly state, in various wordings, that marriage is for life. That’s why the exception clause is there. It’s there because marriage is holy and sanctified. Marriage is for life and the one who breaks that vow in fornication has trodden on the most sacred human-to-human vow. He or she (the one who has fornicated) can certainly be forgiven and restored to favor in every situation. He or she can and must be forgiven when penitent. In fact the forgiver(s) will be overjoyed at the penitence. But the restoration to position in the violated home is clearly the one place where the injured spouse is left in a decision-making place. I suggest that the injured spouse is the one human who can discern what is best for the holiness of his/her home at this juncture. 

It has been argued that the penitent spouse is often spurned by the church; but, conversely, I have seen the penitent spouse welcomed back into the body with open arms on MANY occasions. The family of God, is ready, willing, praying to be able to forgive. We want that! But forgiveness has never been the same as restoration to position. It is just not the same. The forgiven child molester will not be placed in the preschool again. The forgiven drug dealer and addict will not be hired as the pharmacist. The convicted, but forgiven perjurer/forger will not be the FBI agent again. God allows restoration in the home, but he does not demand it. He demands forgiveness and the Christian wife longs to forgive and have the trust she once had or at least thought she had. But the passage is clear. She gets to discern and decide about the restoration. She often has innocent souls to consider and she alone can look at the past patterns of insincere (or sincere) penitence as she decides.  Many times, the forgiveness and restoration has occurred on multiple occasions and children are suffering. It’s interesting to think about the cycle of lying, fornication, hurt to children, etc…that could prevail in the life of a married man who is a womanizer, for instance, if there were never the Scriptural ability to stop the cycle of injury/restoration. Restoration without some extended consequences snd rehabilitation is enabling the addiction. 

We cannot take the liberty that is expressly given in this passage away from the innocent spouse. Christ’s words do not negate the passages which state that marriage is a life-long bond. But he does give one exception. That exception does not have to be mentioned each time the life-long nature of the bond is emphasized. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Glenn Colley–Ten Truths about Marriage

This is something Glenn wrote 14 years ago. Further, Glenn and I are not certified counselors. Often though, God puts us in the paths of couples who are seeking advice about how to “fix” broken aspects of their marriages. Of all the couples involved in all of these conversations, I’m sure we are the couple that has learned the most. Glenn reflected on these lessons learned and made a list from which he will probably one day preach or perhaps he will one day include it in a book. They are not necessarily profound, but they are absolutely true. (They are as true in 2024 as they were in 2010 or in any previous year. They will be true in 3024 if the world stands in another millennium.) The preferable time to think about them and make adjustments is before your marriage is in trouble. Here’s the list:

1. Advisors don’t know what the problem in your marriage really is until they talk to both of you. They will sometimes think they do, but they don’t.

2. You were schooled about how to act in marriage by your parents. You may do better or worse at it than them, but they laid your foundation.

3. Two people who are compatible enough to marry and who will maintain their dedication to obey God above all, will never divorce.

4. Wives, and sometimes husbands, can easily fall into destructive habits of constantly finding fault with their mates. Many spouses have died the death of a thousand cuts.

5. Pornography robs marriage of trust and happiness. If you’re viewing it, beg God to forgive you and do whatever is necessary to stop it.

6. Adultery doesn’t begin in the bedroom. It starts in innocent places with electric conversations and glances.

7. If you think the person you’re having an affair with will always be loyal to you when he was willing to break up your marriage, you’re not very smart at all. You’ll burn your family bridges to marry him (or her) and wake up one morning very miserable for the mess you’ve made of your life.

8. The typical husband is very predictable. He is programmed to respond to a wife who is feminine, gentle, respects him, and pays attention to the marriage bed.

9. Enduring a marriage crisis can make your marriage stronger than it otherwise might have been, if the problems are fixed right–with plain-talking repentance, open communication, and reciprocal warmth that is willing to forgive and move on in the grace of God.

10. Children do not escape the divorce of their parents unscathed. They are generally the ones who suffer most and they generally are better off in a marriage of conflict than in a situation in which divorce has occurred. (I, Cindy, contributed this one. I seem to always end up working more closely with kids involved in divorce. It is the saddest of all the things I do in life.)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Wayne Jackson on the Marriage Covenant

Our grandson, Ezra, asked us recently if we have Bible time at night even if Papa and I are just all by ourselves. “If there are no kids at your house, do you still have story time…really?” The answer is an emphatic “Yes.” Glenn and I are currently reading passages nightly from a wonderful book called “Notes from the Margin of my Bible” by Wayne Jackson. They are excellent conversation starters if you like to discuss the Word and they call us back to the reality that the Word of God never becomes outdated or out of touch. 

Last night, we read this piece from Malachi and our brother Jackson. In the middle of a marriage/divorce crisis in the body of Christ, I wanted to share it with you. It was pertinent to the fallen nation of Israel five hundred or so years before Jesus lived. It was pertinent to the words and audience of Jesus in Matthew 19:9. It was pertinent to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7. It’s pertinent to us today. 

The Marriage Covenant

One of the sins prevalent during the days of Malachi (about midway through the fifth century B.C.) was the dishonoring of marital vows. With their lives so out of harmony with divine law, God was repulsed by his people’s phony tears and meaningless sacrifices (2:13). Why was the Lord so disgusted with his people? Because the Israelite men had had been dealing treacherously with the wives of their youth. This breach of fidelity violated the covenant the man had made with his spouse—a covenant that had the interest of a third party, God himself. He had been a witness to the arrangement. 

This passage contains an important implication. Marriage is a contract witnessed by God, into which a man and woman enter, agreeing to be husband and wife. 

Consider this question: if a man and woman merely live together in fornication, are they married? No, for they did not make a marriage covenant. When Jehovah described the unique relationship that He had with the nation of Israel, he declared: “I sware unto you, and entered into a covenant with you, said the Lord Jehovah, and you became mine” (Eek. 16:8). So, in your margin, write True marriage invokes a contract to be husband and wife.

One should be impressed with the solemn manner with which the Creator views the marriage bond. He hates divorce (2:16) and allows it only on the basis of fornication under the New Testament system (Mt. 5:32; 19:9).

(And if the Christian Courier is not on your go-to list when you re studying your Bible, you should add it! www.Christiancourier.com). It’s a gold mine for diggers!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer: Shameika Hanna

(The following was “stolen” [but I know I have her permission] from a dear friend who works very hard in the Lord’s church on Grand Bahama. The events chronicled occurred this very weekend. I just thought blog readers should see it. It’s a little window to the big (and largely lost) idea of commitment in marriage. I’m posting  today just as she wrote it two days ago. I’m not sure how she found the time to write on this same day, but I’m glad she did. If you could see all of her journey since 2005, you’d see a maturing in Christ that has blessed over and over again. You’d say with me “He is just so good!” I’m going to add also, that it was very appropriate that she wore white in this ceremony. She is pure in Him in every way.)
On March 9, 2005 I married the love of my life. There was no doubt in my mind about this decision, although there was a price to be paid. We would forfeit a wedding and begin a life of lasting love outside of the knowledge of our friends and loved ones. Two faithful witnesses in a honeymoon suite in Oklahoma City would take in the hour as a sound Gospel Preacher helped us perform our nuptials and we would be man and wife. Those witnesses, and the friend in the city where we would honeymoon over Spring Break, would be the only ones who knew and we would hold a secret for nearly four months about the most important news in our lives from our families back in the Bahamas. Those days were hard. The loving congregation where I worshipped in college had a reception one evening when they heard the news, but Tavaro would not be present. Eventually we told our parents, most of whom now are deceased, followed by the rest of our families and there was a bitter-sweetness about the exchange. 1) Relief that our small world knew we belonged to each other and 2) a sense of loss as they realized they were not part of that special and once-in-a-lifetime day.
In the most unfathomable fashion imaginable this weekend, Saturday December 9, 2023, which amounts to 18 years 9 months later, we relived a version of that lost day. A surprise wedding.
For three months (or more) Tavaro Hanna hid, planned, imagined, conducted meetings, made purchases, prepared invitations, formulated a program and meticulously wrote a cover story to make me a cake-topper bride wearing a dress I had never seen, shoes I had never worn, and bridal jewelry that was unknown. He had flawless makeup applied by a skillful artist under the guise of a “series of photoshoots” and in an elegant low-bun hairstyle, I walked into our marital home to put on what I expected to be an outfit in Christmas colors for this family event.
To my surprise, our children didn’t come to meet me outside and our car was not in its place. The house was still and the friend who picked me up was ready to call the man who was decked out in a full suit, standing in the church building where he grew up before his family, my family and our church family waiting for me. Our bed was covered in full wedding garb and he called. She recorded as he revealed the fullness of the expected photoshoot and his best man reiterated that there would certainly be photos but not of the nature I was expecting. I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, take your time. We will wait. I was a bride.
Emotions started to overwhelm me and the beautiful lady waiting reminded me to collect my thoughts, not ruin my makeup and call her when I got to the point of needing assistance in getting dressed. I was chauffeured to meet my groom in a beautiful car, in full shock, and unable to allow my heart to catch up with my head. Along this short drive, I was reminded not to ruin the carefully crafted makeup.
In the previous two weeks Tavaro had asked me to write my vows and said he would too, and the night before our surprise wedding, he had planned dinner as an escape for a few short hours from our busy but blessed lives where we exchanged those vows in a quiet place. I was content having been with him and had the opportunity to pour out my soul in deeply thought-out expressions. Those vows reappearing on this wedding day from his handsome suit jacket pocket to be handed to me for a reading before all the people in our world was far from something I could have expected.
As we pulled-up to the church building, the parking lot was full but the yard was empty. Everyone was truly inside waiting in full knowledge of that to which I was oblivious.
The first face to catch my eyes brought tears. A member of our small congregation who was living on a cay teaching, made the sacrifice and journey to be there for me, with us, showing the kind of love that brings tears as I try to share this. When I entered the building, photos of our loved ones who had gone on were posted and the scene was breathtaking. Our five children were ready in coordinating colors as ‘blue angels,’ and my mother, the only remaining parent between us, was dressed to the nines as the mother-of-the bride. Me.
We took the walk down the aisle to the classical song I love most, Pachebel’s Cannon D and the tears were too much for me to retain clear sight of the beauty around me. My father was missing this moment. Mother took me half-way down the aisle to meet my groom. He was everything I could have imagined and much more as he stood down the aisle with the most confident and joyous smile I had ever seen.
After the entrance of the wedding party: matron of honour- my high school, life-friend and sister in Christ, his brother/closest friend and loving cousin, the best man and our five children the ushers-dear sisters in our congregation pulled out the white carpet for me. The bride.
He met Mother and me halfway down the aisle and held me for a moment. The emotions kept me under their power more than before as we made the last half of the march to marriage. To remarriage. To recommitment.
The container of my heart burst when I saw my father’s sisters. One flown in from Nassau with her daughter then my sister, my only sister, flown in from Miami. We had spent an hour earlier on our weekly sibling synergy phonecall and I thought she was in Miami. I stopped, held each of them, and could barely breathe in the beauty that engulfed me in the scene and in the faces who were there to support us in this way.
While Tavaro’s cousin sang, we signed a legal document of Wedding Vow Renewals with our witnesses as part of a short, deep, heart-gripping ceremony which included our children, members of the congregation he is the preacher for, officiated by the preacher who loved him even as a toddling boy and always thinks of him in kind affection.
There were prayers, tears, and so many well wishers that I am still crying today.
My husband’s sister Rhonda Hanna-Neely is more than that. She is a mother to him and a support to me. She sacrifices to give our children her best by my side each day as a handmaiden of sorts, but with the love of a second mother rather than the effort of a hired-hand. She is also a, Secret Wedding Planner!
When the ceremony ended (makeup somehow still intact) he kissed the bride. Me. We stood before our families and left first to wait at the door and hugged each soul who took the time to come, to share in this joy that has changed my life forever.
The kind of love that goes this far, to do this much and give its all is what I lived this Christmas season. The vows we exchanged were not merely in anticipation of a life together, but in confirmation of a life lived for 18 years in true harmony and godly unity preparing for a lifetime more.
It was not yet ended; there was more. We went outside the church building to a full traditional reception with a wedding cake, head table, host, DJ and beautiful seating for guests. We danced together and he smiled lovingly at me all night long
.
My. Heart. Is. Full.
If you were there, thank you. If you prepared any small thing, in any way, thank you. For the gifts, thank you. If your heart wanted to be present, thank you. For the messages after the wedding, thank you. For caring about our family, thank you. For keeping this secret, thank you, for reading this story, thank you. Thank you.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Lust’s Contempt for Loyalty

This week, several people have spoken with Glenn or me about the devastating consequences of adultery; in some cases about how to save marriages and, sadly, in some, about bridges to happiness permanently burned by unfaithfulness. These words, from Proverb 6, are extremely relevant to our homes today. I’ve borrowed the comments that follow this passage from Glenn. He’s right and these truths need to keep being said over and over again.

My son, keep your father’s command,

And do not forsake the law of your mother.

Bind them continually upon your heart;

Tie them around your neck.

When you roam, they will lead you;

When you sleep, they will keep you;

And when you awake, they will speak with you.

For the commandment is a lamp,

And the law a light;

Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,

To keep you from the evil woman,

From the flattering tongue of a seductress.

Do not lust after her beauty in your heart,

Nor let her allure you with her eyelids.

For by means of a harlot

A man is reduced to a crust of bread;

And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life.

Can a man take fire to his bosom,

And his clothes not be burned?

Can one walk on hot coals,

And his feet not be seared?

So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;

Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.

People do not despise a thief

If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving.

Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold;

He may have to give up all the substance of his house.

Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding;

He who does so destroys his own soul.

Wounds and dishonor he will get,

And his reproach will not be wiped away.

For jealousy is a husband’s fury;

Therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

He will accept no recompense,

Nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts. 

Satan makes promises every day that he cannot and will not keep.  Today’s proverb involves a promise. It’s a promise of happiness that Satan gives a man in order to entice him to be with a woman in a way that breaks his marriage vow.  I’ve been around men who have forfeited their purity, faithfulness, and marriage to this enticement, and I have learned this: people don’t commit adultery for the wound and dishonor of it. They do it for the pleasure, and always, at the moment, they believe they’ll get away with it.  As they begin the process of adultery, they attach shame to themselves. It’s a shame that’s difficult to ever leave behind.

Consider three consequences in this Proverb that come to one who violates his or her marriage to be with another. Let’s hide these results in our hearts, so we can remember them if Satan pays us a visit with this temptation.

1. Verse 26:  “For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread.”

This can mean one of two things. Either he, like a piece of bread, can be seen, held, consumed and destroyed; or, the consequence of sinning with a prostitute is often that a man will lose everything and find himself begging for bread.

2.  Verse 29: “Whoever touches her shall not be innocent.”  

Why does this need to be said?  Because this is the result of a major lie of the devil which so many have believed.  At the moment, a man believes he can embrace this indulgence, but his secret usually doesn’t stay hidden for long.  One such man said to me, “I didn’t mean to…it just happened.”  Another said, “She meant nothing to me, but now my wife is divorcing me.  I’ve begged her not to leave me. If only I could turn the clock back, I would.”

It is often true that a person who breaks a marriage vow and is discovered will repent with tears, beg forgiveness, and then fully expect that things can immediately go back to normal in his or her marriage.  That’s a childish viewpoint.  Trust, which is the lifeblood of healthy marriage, is crushed in a moment and rebuilt only after much time has shown the guilty to be trustworthy again.

3.  Verse 33:  “And his reproach will not be wiped away.”

This doesn’t mean that God won’t forgive a penitent Christian who has repented. He will (1 Cor. 6:9-11).  It means that some sins are harder to forget. Perhaps this is what the Spirit meant when He inspired Paul to write, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).

Lust has contempt for loyalty, but good marriage cannot survive without loyalty.  Hold on to your integrity in all parts of your life, and remember that no man or woman who ever committed adultery did so while evading the all-seeing eyes of God.  Intimacy inside of God-approved marriage is a celebration and, in fact, a command (1 Cor. 7:1-2).  But the same act outside of marriage draws the anger of that same God.

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

This Bizarre One Again….The Lion is Busy.

SHOULD MARRIED PEOPLE UNDRESS??!!

 

I have to tell you that I never thought I would be posting a note with such an off-the-wall title. But then I never thought that this would be the question that would keep resurfacing. Several times over the past years, the question has come…” Do the Colleys teach that married people shouldn’t take off their clothes in front of one another…even during sexual activity?” Let me say up front, the answer is NO, NO, and NO again. We have never taught that, do not believe that, have never believed that, and certainly have never practiced that silly, if not impossible absurdity in our own marriage! I really hope that’s clear. The first time I ran this post was in the year 2009. that was 13 years ago. Within the last few weeks (we are now in 2022), this accusation that’s so very false was made in a fairly public venue yet again. Let’s be clear:

The first time the question came up, I just chuckled. It was in conversation with some students at FHU and I really was amused that some rumor like this was even believable. After all, I have always been pretty clear in my teaching of Hebrews 13:4. I have always taught that sexual freedom within a God-approved marriage of a man and wife is only inhibited by the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). Nothing is off limits in marriage unless and until one of the marriage partners is hurt or offended by it. I think the Golden Rule would most often necessitate the removal of clothes for sex between married people!

Since, my teaching was so public and clear, I really didn’t worry about this query from these students. After all, in the grand scheme of things, what I think about any subject is so relatively unimportant anyway. I was glad they asked, if they were wondering, “But what a weird and awkward question!”

Then it was an eldership in a Mississippi church where Glenn and I were to conduct a marriage seminar. Same question. I was glad they asked, too. After all, if I were an elder and I had any inkling that someone was going to come in and teach something so absurd, I would want to ask. Glenn answered this time and we went and taught the seminar. Then it was a church in Florida where I was scheduled to speak in 2008. Then others; most recently from another group of students on another campus. Now I can formulate the question for those who call to ask. When someone says, “I know this sounds silly, and I’m embarrassed to even ask you this, but can I ask you something about what you teach?”, then I just say, “Oh, no need to be embarrassed. In fact, you don’t even have to ask…No I do NOT teach that married people must have sex with their clothes on!”

Now I’m still not presumptuos enough to think that what I teach about something has any huge impact on the masses. But I AM beginning to think the devil has his wicked hand in keeping this rumor alive. After all, it’s not the masses he is after. But he is a roaring lion and he would love to get his teeth into some innocent young teen Christian girls. Maybe he would like to shield these young girls from hearing “old-fashioned” truths that I DO teach about modest dress, premarital abstinence and virtue. If he can convince some Christians that teachers who stand for purity and attempt to give practical tools for its maintenence are just quacks…absurdly backward radicals…then maybe he can dilute the message of purity. In some cases, maybe he can keep the tools for purity out of the hearing of those young girls who need it desperately in our promiscuous society. Maybe he can close the minds and ears to teachings from Titus 2 before the teacher even gets to the seminar! It is not the world that the lion is stalking. He already has the world. It’s the Christians. And young teenage Christian girls are often vulnerable to his deceit.

So for the record, here is what Glenn and Cindy Colley DO believe and teach:

1. Sex, outside of marriage is always sinful (I Corinthians 6:18-20).

2. Sex, within a God-approved marriage, is wonderful, biblical, commanded and unrestrained (Heb.13:4 and the whole Song of Solomon).

3. The Bible, practically applied, gives us tools for saving sex for marriage.

4. The Bible, practically applied, gives us tools for making sex the best it can be in marriage. (This would include all kinds of things from taking your clothes off for your spouse, to consideration of one another through your days, to frequent sexaul encounters, to romantic times of touching and talking, to…well you get the point!)

For more about what we teach about Christian marriage, we just completed a book called “You’re Singing My Song”, now available in lots of places as well as directly from us. We conduct marriage seminars in lots of places. Our speaking schedules are posted at www.westhuntsville.org. You’re invited to come to any of these at any time and then you’ll know what we teach first-hand. We pray that God can use us in whatever small way to anchor Christian marriages in the Word, to help young people find their way to faithful Christian homes, and to protect the purity of His people from the roaring lion! That lion is very busy.

(Also, let me add once more that I do know that it’s not all about me. If I never write or teach another thing, truth will be out there and there will be many more qualified people saying it with greater clarity than I could. One day soon, I’ll be gone and I know no one will remember for long anything that I have said.  I just don’t get the chance to clear up confusion about what everyone else teaches. Of my own teaching/statements I can say what I KNOW with certainty to be factual. Thanks for reading.)