West Africa Times | Serving The Community Since 2001 | Page 27
look like in such a situation? It does not mean that the marriage is nullified; it really is a marriage — a marriage that should not have been entered into, but now, having been entered into, should not be broken; it should be sanctified. A n d Pa u l i s j u s t a s clear about the fact that a believer should not divorce an unbeliever as he is that they shouldn’t marry one (1 Corinthians 7:12). So, repentance of sin in marrying an unbeliever does not include divorcing the unbeliever. What it includes is a heart change, not a marriage change: ~ T h e r e s h o u l d b e an authentic remorse and regret for disobedience to 1 Corinthians 7:39. ~There should be an a c k n o w l e d g m e n t a n d repentance that the heart was not right in putting man above Christ in the affections. ~There should be an apology and sor row for spurning the counsel of God’s leaders in the church. And all of these changes are possible while the marriage stays intact. Indeed, I would say that a man or a woman who stays in such a marriage can say to an unbelieving spouse these words: “My reawakened love for Jesus, and my treasuring Christ above you as my Lord and Savior, and my desire to be a part of Christ’s people again, and my regret over my sin in marrying an unbeliever, does not mean I have stopped loving you or that I want to leave you. We have a covenant till death do us part; I intend to keep it. In fact, my restored faith means that I now know how to love you better. I would like to show it. I hope you will have me.” Whether the unbelieving spouse will receive that, we don’t know. But it is possible, and that’s the goal of the discipline; that’s our prayer.
as I’m saying. Many professing Christians today would regard such excommunication as more hurtful than helpful. They call it intolerant; they even call it hateful. But that’s because they elevate their own wisdom above God’s wisdom. They use the same reasoning for why we should not remove a person from membership that the disobedient person used to marry the unbeliever in the first place: Maybe the unbeliever will be won to Christ in this marriage. Maybe if you keep them as members, or keep one of them as members, the other will be one. And the parents — oh my — of the excommunicated person, or friends, if they’re not seriously biblical, will argue that you won’t be able to win them to Christ by putting them out of the church. They’re going to get angry. The unbeliever will call you intolerant and hateful, claiming it won’t be redemptive but will be alienating. That’s what they are going to say. That’s what elders have to be prepared to hear. That’s emphatically not what the Bible teaches. In 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15 and in 1 Corinthians 5:4–5, Paul holds out the possibility and the desire that by means of such holy ostracism, people will, in fact, be saved and restored. In fact, I have seen church discipline have that very effect in my ministry. Church leaders have to be prepared to be vilified by people who think they know better than the apostles how to love people. Restored to Repentance One of the other questions to answer is this, which is very important: What does repentance and restoration
the three men they were now free to fly, and the District Court then dismissed claims for monetary damages. Now, they are free to sue the agents for monetary penalties. “A damages remedy is not just ‘appropriate’ relief as viewed through the lens of suits against government employees. It is also the only form of relief that can remedy some RFRA violations,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the court’s opinion. “For certain injuries, such as respondents’ wasted plane tickets, effective relief consists of damages, not an injunction.” T he gover nment had argued that making individual employees financially liable for the consequences of their actions would make it difficult for employees to do their jobs. While not dismissing those concerns, the court correctly ruled that neither the law nor the Constitution prohibits such penalties. The three Muslim men, meanwhile, suffered damages of their own while being punished for exercising their religion, a constitutionally guaranteed right under the First Amendment. That right is now a lot sturdier.
men claimed was in retaliation for their unwillingness to voluntarily spy on their fellow believers. Those claims are bolstered by the fact the three had done nothing to raise suspicions about themselves, and that the government originally considered them trustworthy enough to use as informants. It shouldn’t be hard for virtually any believers in the United States, regardless of religion, to put themselves in the place of these three men and imagine how this would feel. Law enforcement agencies have, at various times, been suspicious of the actions of any number of faith-based communities, especially those considered to be on the fringes of mainstream beliefs. Once on the no-fly list the three men said it was impossible for them to advance their careers, meet with distant loved ones or pursue educational opportunities. Not only could they not travel, they were tainted with terrorist suspicions. They sued, claiming the FBI had violated the federal Religious Freedom Act. More than a year later, as the lawsuit was underway, the Department of Homeland Security told
Gover nment officials cannot violate someone’s religious rights, then change the rules after that person sues and claim no harm was done. Nor can those officials be spared financial penalties for what they have done. That decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week was a huge stride for religious liberty. The fact it was a unanimous decision was that much more satisfying, given the divisive rhetoric about religious liberties during recent confirmation hearings. The newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett, did not participate in this ruling because the oral arguments took place before she was seated. A statement by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty notes that the decision ought to put an end to a “common tactic by the government bodies across the United States: changing harmful policies or actions the moment they are challenged in court, and then arguing that since the harm has ceased, the people harmed by their actions cannot even bring a lawsuit.” Perhaps the best way to appreciate this ruling is to examine what led to the lawsuit in the first place. FBI agents approached three Muslim men several years ago — Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah and Naveed Shinwari — wanting them to serve as undercover informants, reporting on what other people in their religious community were doing. The three men refused, saying it would violate a core tenet of their religion to do so. The FBI then placed the three men on the national no-fly list, which the Muslim
Religious Freedom Protections Just Got A Lot Sturdier
By the Deseret News Editorial Board
Christian Marries Non-Christian How Does A Church Respond?
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