By Robert Wayne La Caste
When most people think of the Northwest they think of beautiful mountains, rushing whitewater rivers and enormous wildlife. Surely it is all of this and more. Of all the places in the world, surely this one more than most “declares the glory of God and sheweth his handiwork” (Psa. 19:1). It is also the home of many brethren of like precious faith.
The Lord has blessed me with the privilege of holding gospel meetings there since 1976. Just about every time I do, I am destined to be asked about the condition of the church there. Often questions are asked about the congregations and their stand on the matter of marriage and divorce. In just about every meeting I have held in this state, I have preached on this subject, usually at their request. Regrettably, I have learned some have not asked me to hold a meeting for them because they don’t like what I teach about it. While it is true many of the churches have brethren believing error on this subject, it is equally true that there are brethren standing for the truth of all the gospel.
In the state of Washington, I have preached meetings at Walla Walla, Richland, Prosser, Sunnyside, Yakima, and Enumclaw. In fact I just finished two fine meetings this last October with the saints in Yakima and Sunnyside. There are several others standing for truth besides these and though the Richland church had to disband, all the others are seeing that all the truth of the gospel is preached. In just about every church there are some very sincere brethren believing error on the subject, but most I have met want to believe and do what the Lord wants.
What is most regrettable is that in more than a dozen meetings, a Pentecostal debate, and a lectureship on the errors of Realized Eschatology in the state of Washington, never has any of the preachers who differ with me on marriage, divorce and remarriage approached me and said, “Brother La Coste, you teach error on it and we need to talk to you. ” Three of these meetings, along with a lectureship I was a part of, were held with the saints at Enumclaw, Washington. These brethren are very near and dear to my heart as are all the saints in that part of the country. While some of the brethren from different churches came and we studied together on marriage, divorce and remarriage, none of the preachers from the Seattle area or any other part of the state ever approached me in any way, shape or form. Does this not seem strange to you? For years it seemed strange to me, but lo and behold, now I understand why these preachers, not only in Washington but in most other places avoid not only those who preach on it, but avoid the subject pretty much altogether!
It’s Too Controversial
Marriage, divorce and remarriage are not the only subjects many preachers are avoiding. This one must be placed at the top of the list. The mentality exists that “this is too controversial and will cause trouble if preached.” Following this earthly wisdom, it’s a wonder any of these preach anything! Most every subject in the Scriptures is controversial. Anything really controversial is pretty much off limits to the PMA (positive mental attitude) crowd. After all, how can you help people to “feel good about themselves” if you even remotely hint that they may be in an unscriptural marriage? Have those with this attitude forgotten the Lord’s statements concerning why he came the first time? His coming was not to “bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). The Lord knew that truth would “set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Matt. 10:35). Truth will always be controversial, for truth demands right and opposes wrong, condemns evil but condones good, uplifts but also, “casts down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
There can not be peace at any price brethren. Peace with God (Phil. 4:7) comes by way of fellowship with God (1 In. 1:7), but where men refuse to walk in his ways, there is neither. When men refuse to preach the Lord’s will on such matters as marriage, divorce and remarriage, and even refuse to openly and honestly discuss such, you might have peace and fellowship with members of the church, and you may have people “feeling good” about themselves, but how does God feel about them? That’s the fellowship that really counts. When men do not stand for the purity and yes the simplicity of Jesus Christ on marriage, divorce and remarriage, churches are destined to have fellowship with people in adulterous marriages. Many already are! How I would hate to stand before the Judge of all the earth one day and have to give answer for adulterous marriages being in my spiritual family, when I took no measures to oppose and avoid such.
A gospel preacher is a man who “declares the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). When he speaks, he speaks, “as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11). His message seeks to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort” and is delivered “in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2). He preaches to “please God and not man” (Gal. 1:10). This is not a popularity contest and the gospel preacher is not asking for votes to hold a political office. He therefore doesn’t want pats on the back while he scratches the patters itching ears. He is one who is “always set for the defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:17). He “con-tends earnestly for the faith, once and for all delivered” (Jude 3).
However, this “we don’t discuss it because it will cause trouble” ideology has caused more than a few to the church? When James Bales and others wrote and preached their institutional “gospel” these Northwest preachers stood and countered such with a “thus saith the Lord.” Yet, when the same James Bales, and many others preached his heresy on “Not Under Bondage” these preachers acted like a whipped dog who runs away with his tail between his legs looking for a place to hide. Is either of these subjects less controversial than the other? No, but the fact of the matter is, that the reason they cowered is because some didn’t know how to answer, while others agreed in whole, if not in part with the error.
And what of the fence sitters? Some of our older preachers believe the truth on these matters, but they won’t come out of the closet and be heard. Little, if any of their writings, have spoken out against error on this. These are the guys who have blasted away at our younger preachers for doing what they should have done themselves early on! Brethren, the “middle of the road” was meant for yellow lines and dead animals. It is surely no place for those who love the law of the Lord Jesus. We need to stand, stand immediately and stand firm on the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Quality or Quantity?
One brother expressed to us while we were in open their eyes! Several brethren in Enumclaw, who have been there many years, tell me the story of how these long time Northwest preachers stood their ground on such matters as the work of the church, church sup-port of orphanages and the sponsoring church arrangement. Many debates were held and these Northwest preachers stood publicly and “shucked down the corn” when it came to these matters. They stood boldly and fearlessly against those who sought to teach error on the church in these respects. Without hesitation they challenged for debates and when they got them they defended the Lord’s truth admirably. Now, lo and behold . . . these same preachers have ducked their heads between their legs and are found to be playing “hide and seek” when it comes to the truth on marriage, divorce and remarriage. Some of the brethren located there couldn’t believe it! These same preachers were asked directly how they could cower on the subject of marriage, divorce and remarriage, wave the white flag of surrender, and fade away as though it were not even in the word of God? Where now was that same boldness, tenacity and zeal that had condemned the false teaching and evil practices of brethren on the work of
Washington this concern: “If we limit our fellowship just to those people who divorced for fornication and remarried on that basis, this would cause the church to be even that much smaller, and the Lord knows it is small enough now.” Can you believe this? Can you believe any Christian would be this ignorant of the Lord’s will? I’ve heard Elmer Moore say that “some Christians don’t know if the Lord died on Calvary or was shot at Bunker Hill.” I think this brother may be in that category. I tell you something else the Lord knows brethren. The Lord “knoweth those who are his.” But Paul doesn’t stop there. He hastens to tell Timothy, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19). Adulterous marriages are iniquity. They are “lawlessness.” Our choice is clear. We must have “no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11).
Since when is God interested in numbers? Is the Lord more concerned about the size of the church or the purity and holiness of the church? The prophet Gideon learned that God is more interested in quality over quantity. Gideon’s soldiers at the first were too many, yet even then they were not numbered. God wanted a selected and we might say “hand picked” force to do his bidding. With a smaller force, Gideon led God’s army against their enemies and was victorious (Judg. 7). It’s as though preachers are afraid they won’t be supported, or the church will just fold up if they preach and insist on what God’s word teaches. Has it dawned on these of “little faith” that God will always richly bless his people, both individually and collectively when they seek to teach and do his will? Or, is it possible some of these preachers are in unscriptural marriages and in an effort to justify themselves they have therefore embraced Bale’s or Hailey’s or someone else’s position? Is it possible they don’t want to discuss these matters, for if they do, the skeleton in some of their closets, known as a previous wife, will come creaking out? Of course, by the time you get through listening to most of the views of these and other men on marriage, there isn’t any such thing as an adulterous marriage. They redefine adultery, they twist a Scripture one way and other Scripture another way, they say that the alien sinner isn’t under God’s marriage law in the first place, and if none of that works, they try washing away unscriptural marriages down the baptismal drain! (Repentance, what is that?) So by the time they use plan A, B, or C of their human wisdom, which ever one will fit most conveniently, then an adulterous marriage doesn’t even exist, so why worry about whether you are having fellowship with it or not? God help us!
Sadness Yet Rejoicing
This trip last year to Washington state was a moving experience in more ways than one. A precious beloved sister, Lindy Henry had just died before my coming, with cancer.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 11, p. 16-18
June 3, 1993