Friday, February 20, 2009

What God Hath Joined Together, Let Not Man Put Asunder (part 1)

Part 1 of a series.

One of the most insidious things about Mark Duke and the House of God is their teachings on the issues of marriage and divorce.

When I set out to address Duke’s error-filled preaching and teaching on these subjects several weeks ago, I thought it would be relatively easy; simply because his teachings are so clearly wrong.

But, when I re-listened to portions of Mark Duke’s sermons and re-read some of the information that has been given to me by people caught up in his web of deceitful dealings on these issues, I quickly realized that this is a huge task, especially when the goal is to help Duke’s followers see just how spiritually deceitful he has been to them.

Thankfully, God’s Word speaks to us clearly about what Christians face when dealing with false teachers and prophets like Mark Duke:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

Scripture also tells us how we are to deal with these evil and demonic forces (click here to read Ephesians 6:13-20).

Before reading any further, please join me in prayer for Mark Duke and the House of God; that through the Holy Spirit they would come to understand the errors of their teaching and come to repentance; not bowing before any man, but before a just and Holy God, asking Jesus for forgiveness for the hurt and destruction they have caused to families who have trusted them. Let’s also pray that they don’t cause any more hurt and destruction.

“And don't forget to pray for me. Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time” Ephesians 6:19a (The Message)

The audio clip included with this post starts with Mark Duke talking about what Jesus said was acceptable in divorce in a Jewish society. As usual, Duke quickly turns from what Scripture clearly and plainly says and twists it to suit his own views and purposes.

I have provided below the text of Matthew 19:3-9, which is part of the Scripture Duke twists in the audio. As an aside, the Gospel of Mark (10:2-12) also speaks of Jesus’ teachings on marriage and divorce, but Matthew 19:3 includes the words “for every cause,” which is vital in understanding Duke’s bad teaching.

Matthew 19:3-9 (KJV)
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
(bold text added for emphasis)

As Duke correctly notes in his sermon, Jesus here is talking about divorce in the Jewish society, so let’s take a quick and factual look at the view of divorce from the Jewish Society of Jesus’ day to see just how far Duke deviates from the Truth:

In verse 3, we see the Pharisees attempting to push Jesus into a controversy with some of the rabbinic schools, asking the loaded question: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” This may seem minor, but on the issue of divorce it was vital. Almost all of Jewish thought on the matter of divorce at the time revolved on two basic views [schools of thought]: that of the Jewish Scholar Shammai, and Jewish religious leader Hillel the Elder.

In a religiously legal sense, divorce was a privilege only for Israel, not the gentile world, and the legal grounds for divorce was an important and hotly contested issue between the two schools. The school of Shammai’s teachings departed from the literal meaning of Deuteronomy 24:1, which gave an acceptable reason for a man to divorce a woman, namely; uncleanness (nakedness), to say that only sexual sin (adultery) was grounds for divorce. In fact, this school taught that even with a wife as ruinous as Ahab’s (Jezebel), a divorce would not be legal if adultery was not involved. It is important to know that this school didn’t see this principle as set in stone, but rather as opinion and good counsel.

Hillel’s School on the other hand was very strict and dogmatic in its approach, teaching that a woman must be divorced for any matter of shame. Moral blame made divorce a duty.

Additionally, the setting is important to the context; this all took place in Judea, which was under the rule of Herod, who previously had John the Baptist arrested for proclaiming that Herod’s sexual dalliances with his brother’s wife was unlawful. That the Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to run counter to the ruling legal authority as well as the religious is obvious.

Now that we have an understanding of the context and setting of “Jewish society,” let’s take a look at what Jesus has to say in response to the Pharisees tempting.

First and foremost, Jesus completely avoided the Pharisee’s tempting words “for every cause,” and went directly to the original and highest of all authorities - His creation of man and woman, and the institution of marriage as a Holy bond that joins a man and a woman into one flesh.

When asked why Moses permitted a man to give a divorce decree, Jesus pointed out the human condition – the hardening of our hearts to God’s unchanging Truth. Moses permitted divorce in response to Israel’s spiritual condition. Jesus says that there is only one scripturally acceptable reason for divorce – fornication, sexual immorality - adultery. He doesn’t make it a requirement, as does the School of Hillel; and He doesn’t offer it simply as an option as does the School of Shammai.

In Verse 9, Jesus says whoever divorces for a reason other than fornication [adultery] and remarries commits adultery; because in God’s eyes, the marriage is still in full effect. In marriage we are separated from what was our closest possible link to another human being (our mothers and fathers), and joined to be even closer (as one flesh) with our wives or husbands.

Accordingly, anyone who divorces for any reason other than adultery, is biblically wrong – that’s what Jesus said.

Mark Duke doesn’t accept what Jesus says though, and quickly twists His words by adding things other than adultery as excuses for divorce.

According to Mark Duke, “God said to Israel, ‘I’m gonna give you a divorce decree’ unfaithfulness is not just about physical sexuality. Unfaithfulness and adultery in a marriage is turning from God’s will and His Word – THAT MY FRIENDS, GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO NULLIFY THAT MARRIAGE!”

WRONG! The words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 19 are extremely clear, and Mark Duke is lying to his followers.

To be fair, the Greek word; porneia (por-ni'-ah), from which fornication (KJV) (immorality, (NASB), sexual unfaithfulness (NIV), sexual immorality (ESV), whoredom (YLT), sexual relations (NCV) is translated has the possibility of being translated in an obscure metaphysical sense as worship of idols, or idolatry for eating the food sacrificed to idols. But NOT in the context of Matthew chapter 19. Here it means only sexual immorality such as illicit sexual intercourse, fornication, homosexuality, and lesbianism, intercourse with animals, sexual intercourse with close relatives; or sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman. - ADULTERY.

Duke continues on in his sermon to claim that “There is so much Scripture here that has to be given and received deeper, there are so many things that go beyond the letter. God’s people are so mixed up …How can we figure out what God is saying? …The only way we are gonna know, is for God to speak directly, from Him, not from mans mind and thoughts …God can speak to man directly, and you can measure that by the fruits.”

What Duke should really be saying here is that people in the House of God are so mixed up. Duke's followers are allowing him to speak in place of God rather than allowing God’s Word speak to them and as a result they have been led far, far astray...

Duke is correct that God can speak to man directly and you can measure that by Christian fruit. Of course, we must test what we believe God is telling us. If what we believe God is telling us does not match with His Word (the Bible) we must reject it as not being from God.

In my opinion, the god that is speaking directly to Duke about marriage and divorce is not the true Holy God, but rather another god, a false god - and you can measure the fruit: a multitude of divorces and destroyed families in the House of God because of the lies of false teachers. This is putrid, morally rotten fruit.

In my opinion there are many reasons why Mark Duke twists Scripture to teach his followers to divorce spouses who don’t agree with his gospel, but first and foremost is control. He claims that the House of God has a 100% success rate with marriages he has performed, but his teaching on divorce has resulted in a large number of divorces amongst his followers, particularly women whose husbands questioned Duke’s authority. Of course he claims that those marriages came to the House of God with deep troubles.

There are very serious questions to ask of themselves for the women who have participated in these divorces. My prayer is that they will listen to the evidence presented with a mind desiring to please God…

No matter how Duke fusses or whines, God’s word is clear. Any man (or woman) who divorces except for the cause of sexual sin – adultery - did not really divorce at all in the eyes of the only one who really matters – A GOD WHO LOVES MARRIAGE AND HATES THE SIN OF DIVORCE.

At the very end of the audio clip, Mark Duke asks the question “are you suffering.” If you are suffering, ask God to release you from your commitments that bind you to Mark Duke and the House of God, He will be faithful to deliver you from his hand.

To the Christian Pastors, leaders and lay people of Selma, Alabama and Parker, Colorado I ask: how long will you suffer Mark’ Duke’s profane abuse of God’s design for human creation and the sacred institution of marriage before you stand for truth?

Lord Jesus I beg you use me for just that………

Click the play button above to hear Mark Duke contradict God's Word on Marriage and Divorce

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Thanks again, Allan McConnell