In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is on the 12th of June. The actual name for this special day, I reckon, would be Sweetheart Day in English. It is always a great time for churches to emphasize that dating done right should lead to a godly, Christ-honoring marriage.
This year we kept things simple with a few sermons that led up to the special day. Sadly, immorality is even further down the road here than in the States. That may be hard for some to believe. Typically once a couple begins to date, they quickly begin to refer to each other’s families as in-laws. They call each other husband and wife. This often happens even before they are living together. Repeatedly we have found out that a “married” couple was not married at all.
We thank the Lord for the sensitivity of several people we have worked concerning this matter. This has not, however, led everyone who visits or attends our church to correct their relationship status. We have discussed why people are so averse to being legitimately married, and they tell us that marriage is in many ways like prison. Right now they can live together without feeling so bound up, and if things don’t work out, it is much less expensive to separate. So, our mission to encourage godliness, even in this area, will continue. We pray they would begin to value true lifelong commitments consecrated by vows before God as of much more value than a loose-living relationship.
Your prayers for this would be deeply appreciated. We need God’s wisdom and tender hearts. The spiritual progress of a church is directly connected to its obedience to the Biblical pattern.
If you would like to see photos for the month of June, please click the link below:
The following was in Gleanings from the Missionary a few months back.
What constitutes a legitimate marriage in God’s eyes? A wedding ceremony? Signed documents? Government recognition? Vows? Physical union? The mere declaration that two people are now one? The birth of children? The Bible has the answer, though a perfunctory reading will not be able to draw it out. This is primarily because the Bible is not an explicit handbook on marriage, but a record of lives, events, laws, genealogies, writings and so forth wherein the nature of marriage is instead simply assumed. Marriage’s conditions, then, are a given in Scripture, and we must draw from multiple implications the nature of marriage. This is not to say that the Scriptures keep things vague. On the contrary, a careful study of the Bible yields tremendous results in this area, and shows there is certainly an accepted pattern for a marriage to be legitimate. The lazy reader, however, will not discover this, neither will the soul who already has a predisposition to accept perversions of marriage. Having lived in America, and known only a Christian home, my conscience has been hardwired to view marriage in a particular way, and it was only through witnessing the constant immorality in our field of service, that I realized I had never systematized my theology of marriage. This realization has only grown with the coming of marriages between people of the same gender, and so forth. Seeking counsel from other missionaries, and my own personal Bible study have yielded some very helpful results, and I hope these gleanings can also be of help to you. I’d like to highlight several points that hopefully will be a blessing to others seeking God’s answer on marriage.  Marriage is founded on man’s general need of a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:18), though not all people are required to have a spouse (Matt. 19:12).  Marriage is symbolic of the extremely vital relationship between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:22-33).  Marriage is brought together by God (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:6).  Marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:18-25; Rom. 1:26-28).  Marriage is a covenant between the man and woman, and their families and God (Mal. 2:14; Gen. 24; Pv 2:17).  Marriage is an inseparable bond, through vows publicly recognized and binding, which can only be extinguished through death (though, in the Old Testament law, divorce was structured into an orderly process due to the people’s hard hearts) (Gen. 2:18-25; Deut. 22:13-30; 24; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:7-12; Mc 10:1-12).  Marriage is not mere sexual activity by two people who agree to live together (Deut. 24; Jn. 4:18).  Marriage, born out of a public ceremony, is significant enough to God that of the few events we know Christ attended, a marriage ceremony was one of them (Jn. 2:1-11).  Marriage is useful to help avoid sex outside of marriage (which is the sin of fornication) (I Cor. 7).  Marriage, as presented in Scripture, is rooted in the Jewish betrothal process which included a very clear public declaration that a man and woman were permanently joined together, such that there were penalties for abandoning it or violating it. Beyond these basic gleanings, it should be noted that (1) God’s permission of polygamy in the Old Testament is not the same as His condoning it, (2) though within the biblical culture it appears that government recognition of the marriage is not required to make it legit, within a culture where such recognition is the norm, the believer is best to go through with it to avoid all appearance of evil, (3) a mere private agreement between two individuals to live together is never endorsed in Scripture nor shown to be a legitimate marriage, and (4) the modern attack on marriage should make us, as believers, just that much more alert to keep everything above board.