Here we are in Chapter 12 of Good or God? and Pastor John Bevere is tackling the tough issues. In my last post I wrote about his views on couples living together out-of-wedlock, a practice that is accepted by many today. The startling thing about his comments was the revelation of born-again Christian couples who choose to live together. Many see nothing wrong with the practice.
But let’s stop right here and go back to Bevere’s premise for the writing of this book. Living together out-of-wedlock is a perfect example of “good”, “cultural good”. If contemporary culture says it is ok, then it must be ok. It is not hurting anyone. If the couple is in love, there is no real problem, right?
Except in the eyes of God…
There are numerous Scriptures that declare God’s prohibition of sexual immorality (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). Pastors like Bevere who declare that living together is a sin point to these words which declare that sex outside the marriage bond is a sin and sexual activity should be reserved for couples who are married.
Bevere is indeed “swimming against the tide,” resisting the temptation to give into today’s cultural mores.
It is a brave thing for a pastor to do but he takes the words in 2nd Timothy seriously: “You as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong” [4:2 Amplified Bible]. This position can cause people to leave the church in anger. This position can cause pastors to lose employment at their church. Certainly some readers of his book will not like Chapter 12. I am sure Bevere’s views could even hurt his book sales. But the big question is this: should we heed his message?
When I was sixteen years old I met a wonderful girl. I knew she was special when I first noticed her. Maybe it is “corny” but sometimes I believe you just know that special person you are destined to love your whole life, you know it very early in the relationship. I believe this happened with my wife Susan.
Like many young couples, the early years were all about discovery. She was trying to find out if she really cared for me and I was trying to do the same. For her, part of that process was seeing how I would handle church attendance. Her parents were Baptists and within a year of dating her, I felt that attending Marion Baptist Church was going to be a requirement.
I will never forget the first service I attended; it was a Sunday night service. The pastor was a wiry man with black hair that was parted low and combed over. He and the youth pastor insisted all the young people sit in the same section of the church, an inset series of pews to the left of the pulpit, very very close to the pastor.
Have you ever been confronted directly by a pastor?
I have… on that night…
I will never forget sitting by Susan when the pastor leaned all the way over the pulpit, glaring directly down at the youth to his left. He was sweating and he had a loud, distinct voice. He “put it to” the youth that night. He did not say David you are a drinker, Joe you are having premarital sex and Rhonda, you are using drugs but he might as well have. He looked directly at all of us and he said that to all of us. Even young people who were not sinning at the time felt like we were all indeed horrible sinners.
Ok, this was a few years back, but he got away with it. No one complained. I could even hear the adults back in the church saying “amen” to support his accusatory words.
Here is the point. Could he preach that same sermon in today’s world?
That Baptist pastor was trying to warn all of us of the danger of temptation, the idea that we may have good intentions in life but there is a powerful force that can derail young people [or for that matter, all people]. He was talking about the anti-God force that the Apostle Paul calls sin. He knew that all people suffer from sin. That is just part of the human system and to ignore it is to court disaster.
I sat there that night.
Was his message uncomfortable? Of course it was. As I recall, he had all of the youth of the church sweating as much as he was. From Acts 20:28 “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with his own blood.”
He felt he was just doing his job, following his sacred calling from the book of Acts…