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What is a Christian Marriage? Are American Marriages Biblcal?

Posted on February 15, 2015 at 10:46 PM Comments comments (128)

This study proposes that most American marriages are cultural; however, by faith in Christ, a couple’s cultural marriage can become Christian.

What are your thoughts about  my proposition?  I want to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below.

My Webinar Bible Study is starting on Sunday, February 22nd from 8:00 p.m. to 8:40 p.m.  Space is limited. Sign up now by sending your active e-mail address and phone number to me  at: [email protected]  This will enable me to send you an invitation to the study and a link on YouTube for the replay.

Response to Rev. Jesse Gibson e-mail (Part III) on the Topic: “There Is No Partiality With God” (Part V)

Posted on January 13, 2015 at 2:59 PM Comments comments (0)
As I discussed in Parts I & II in my response to Rev. Jesse Gibson’s concern, I argued that because every culture has a flaw due to our sinful nature from Adam and Eve, God cares for every wedding, whether it be African or Western style. However, He does not approve the ones that do not represent His nature. In this Journal, I’ll summarize some of the marriages performed among the patriarchs,  King David and his son, Solomon, and a careful look at the Edenic marriage─the true standard of a Christian marriage.

An Overview of some of the Patriarchs and Kings’ Weddings

In my examination of the Scriptures, weddings in the days of the patriarchs were culturally-oriented.  Abraham paid Sarah's dowry (aka—"also known as") the bride price. Isaac’s wife's dowry was paid, and Jacob had two wives and two concubines.  He paid the dowries for his wives (Leah and Rachel) through servitude to their father, Laban, for many years (Gen 29:16-30). Furthermore, the kings of Israel used the dowry system. David had many wives. This was imitated by his son, Solomon, who had 700 wives and 300 concubines. These marriages were accepted within their culture. The truth is, marriage is done differently in every culture and is honored by the people. To conclude that one culture is the standard is unbiblical because every culture is contaminated with sin.

Because of sin, every culture adapted its own law as it relates to marriage. In most African cultures, polygamy is the accepted style of marriage and the man has the freedom to have other concubines. The Americo-Liberians, who introduced the Western marriage in Liberia, tend to imitate the Western standard – a man is allowed to marry one wife at a time legally. But the majority of the married men had other wives and concubines either on their farms or in the city.  Although they imitated the Scripture, we may ask, why multiple women?  So, what is the difference between a “native man” with five wives and his first wife as his “head wife,” and the Americo-Liberian marrying one woman legally and then five other women under his care as wives, but not recognized by law? In this case, who is being biblical?  No one!

In fact, as food for thoughts, I am concerned about what we normally term a Christian wedding. In America, each state has its own regulation: the certificate is purchased from the government, and the government authorizes ordained pastors, judges, etc., to perform such acts for the state. Some Christians can just get married in the court, and the church accepts them as married couples.  Other Christians would prefer coming before God, in the presence of witnesses, for the pastor to pronounce them husband and wife on behalf of the state. Some of these so-called Christian marriages are caught up with unfaithfulness either on the part of the man or the woman.  In such a case, is such a wedding Christian or culture? What constitutes a Christian marriage in this generation? 

In Liberia, the wedding that is cemented by the paying of a dowry and the one done in the church, which is also cemented by the certificate from government, are both honored by the government. I think too, one can pay a dowry for a woman and “walk in the aisle” of the church, like those who marry legally.  Also, it is required in Liberia for one who is married customarily to get a certificate from the Ministry of International Affairs for his “head wife” if he has multiple wives. The fact is, every Liberian knows after the wedding in a church, the couple would always say, “I married him/her legally.” To answer your question, Brother Gibson, there is no difference between Western marriages and tribal or customary weddings because of the sinful nature inherited from Adam and Eve in every culture.

Edenic Marriage: A Standard of Christian Wedding

I believe the true standard of a Christian marriage can be traced back to the Garden of Eden. There, we have God’s perfect wisdom and will for marriage – one man and one woman. If God intended polygamy in marriage, He would have two or three ribs from Adam to create multiple wives for him! A marriage can be Christian whether it is a Custom or Western, when the couple lives together in the fear of God and are faithful to each other. In this case, we can see the redemptive work of Christ, which includes cleansing of the couple from their cultural baggage of sin. Let me now address Gibson’s last question, “Is God still working within the families just as He works from Adam to Amran…”  

To be continued.


Special note:

If my weekly Journal has been a blessing to you, you can subscribe freely by joining my mailing list on the website. When a new Journal is posted, it will be sent directly to your inbox. Also, please leave a comment and forward it to your friends.  New subscriber(s) will  receive one of my books in an E-book:  A Journey of Faith: A Call to Missions without a Purse at no cost and free access to my Journal’s achieve which contains some scholarly articles.  If you have any question(s), feel free to send it through [email protected]. I will surely respond to your question(s).





Response to Rev. Jesse Gibson’s e-mail (Part 2) on the topic: "There Is No Partiality With God (Part V)"

Posted on December 18, 2014 at 10:32 AM Comments comments (173)

Introduction

In Part I of my response to Rev. Jesse Gibson’s concern, I argued that because God cares for man and his culture, He redeemed the saints on the Cross of Calvary.  His redemptive work included our cleansing from those demonic societies that the devil is using to keep us captive. This Journal focuses on the second part to the first question regarding marriage in Liberia. 

Second, reflecting on his Liberian culture, in which a tribal marriage is not fully embraced by the educated Liberians unless it is Western, Rev. Jesse Gibson wonders whether any culture is superior to God.

With God no human culture is superior or flawless, and every wedding performed in the presence of witnesses is legitimate within a particular culture. However, anyone who thinks that the Western style of marriage is the norm for Christian marriage is imperialistic, unbiblical, and unacceptable. This Journal will prove why.

Because Rev. Jesse Gibson hailed from Liberia, his concern is embedded in the Liberian concept of marriage. Since there are differences in the use of certain words between the West and Liberia, I would like to begin with the definition of some terms for the benefit of my Western readers:  (1) A traditional wedding in the American mindset means a different thing in Liberia. In America, a traditional wedding means, a marriage between one man and a woman.  However, in Liberia, a traditional wedding (also called tribal or customary wedding) refers to marriage among the “native people.” It means a man marrying one or more wives. The phrase “native people” is used derogatorily in Liberia by the Americo-Liberian descendants. By Americo-Liberians, I mean the emancipated slaves who were sent to Liberia in the 1920s by the American Colonization Society. They became the elite group that led the country for over 160 years.  So, when native Liberians who are civilized, that is, enculturated and educated in the Western culture, they believe that the Americo-Liberian’s style of marriage, which is Western, is the norm of marriage.  To the Americo-Liberians, the traditional/customary wedding is recognized in the customary law for the “native people,” and for an educated Liberian to be a truly “civilized person” (as they termed it), to gain respect among the elite and the bourgeoisie, one must marry, again, legally.  

The Liberian Legislature passed an Act on October 7, 2003, which was signed into law. It included a definition of some terms.  Chapter I, Section 1a defines customary marriage, thus, “Customary marriage” means marriage between a man and a woman performed according to the tribal tradition of their locality; and Section 1k says, “Christian marriage” means that marriage which is performed either in the Church, at home, or any place by a Priest, Pastor or Judge, according to statute.[1]  The Law of the land recognizes the legitimacy of these two types of marriages, but the “class system” undermines the other.  I married my wife, Esther, customarily, by paying her dowry to her family in the presence of both parents (hers and mine) and other witnesses.  To satisfy the demand of the church and the elite or class system, I had to marry her again “legally” in the church. I said legally, because the marriage was Western and the marriage certificate was bought from the government and signed by us and the officiating clergymen. So, most educated native-Liberians would do what I did: Owing to this, when an educated or enculturated couple from the native background is asked whether they were married, they would always say: “We just had a traditional wedding, but we are planning to marry soon.” Such an answer stimulated the concern of Rev Jesse to ask, “Is there any superior culture to God?   

This unbiblical and ethnocentric cultural superiority was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe, which, I believe, was adopted by America, and shipped to the shores of Liberia with the Americo-Liberians. Ethnocentrism is the belief that one’s culture is the best and should be the standard of every culture. “Many people today think of culture in the way that it was thought of in Europe . . . . This concept of culture reflected inequalities within European societies and their colonies around the world. This understating of culture equates culture with civilization and contrasts both with nature or non-civilization.”[2]   

Conclusion 

Because of sin, no culture is superior to God.    

I’ll continue this discussion next week.    

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Special note:

If my weekly Journal has been a blessing to you, you can subscribe freely by joining my mailing list on the website. This is,  when a new journal is posted, it will be sent directly to your inbox. Also, please leave a comment and forward it to your friends.  New subscriber(s) will also receive one of my books in an E-book:  A Journey of Faith: A Call to Missions without a Purse at no cost and free access to my Journal’s achieve which contains some scholarly articles.  If you have any question(s), feel free to send it through [email protected]. I will surely respond to your question(s). You can also forward this to anyone or post it in your social media.


[1]http://www.refworld.org/pdfid/44868b524.pdf   accessed December 15, 2014. [2]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a8/Introduction_to_Sociology-v3.0.pdf, page 71 accessed December 15, 2014.





Response to Rev. Jesse Gibson's E-mail (Part I) on the Topic: "There Is no Partiality With God (Part V)"

Posted on December 1, 2014 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (1)
Introduction

This journal is aimed at responding to one of my subscribers who raised some concerns in response to Part V of my recent Journal: “There Is No Partiality With God.”  The subscriber is The Reverend Jesse Gibson, founder and senior pastor of the Throne of Grace Ministries with headquarters in Worcester, Massachusetts. In my discussion of God’s sovereignty, arguing that God does what He pleases, Rev Gibson sent me an e-mail.  I would like to summarize the key points he raised in his communication: 

  • Since God is not confined to our cultures, rules, nor regulations, does God care about the various cultures?
  • Reflecting on his Liberian culture, in which a tribal marriage is not fully embraced by the educated Liberians except it is Western, he wonders whether any culture is superior before God.
  • Is God still working through the family heads for His redemptive purpose?

I appreciate Rev. Jesse’s e-mail.  In fact, I would like my readers to communicate with me for clarification on something that I had written. My responsibility is to make the biblical texts meaningful to life by teaching faith, hope, love, and obedience to God in Christ. How can I accomplish this goal?  It will be done through writing and interacting with my subscribers on any concern(s) that may arise from my Journal. Honestly, I will not be able to respond to the hundreds that may write.  However, I will answer the ones that, I believe, will benefit everyone on my mailing list. What triggers Rev. Gibson’s concerns are the following lines in my last journal: “. . . God is not confined to our cultures, rules, nor regulations that define who we are.  God does what He pleases, and his sovereignty is not partial. Because God’s redemptive plan, perfection, and His will are beyond man’s comprehension, we think that God is partial if He does anything against our cultural norm or standard.” I’ll begin with the first question, which I believe, has two major parts. Part I deals directly with whether God care for every culture, and Part II gives multiplicities of the African cultures and their practices, and its comparison to the Western culture as its standard, specifically, to marriage. Let me begin with Part I of his question, “… does God care about the cultures and rules?” 

First,   “… since God is not confined to our cultures, rules, nor regulations, does God care about the cultures and rules?”

Because human culture is tainted with sin, God cares for its redemption, including man.  But He is not confined to it.  I’m taking a biblical approach in answering this question, and not scientific or Darwinistic.  In my book, Growing Missionaries Biblically: A Fresh Look at Mission in an African Context, I discussed the origin of human culture, using a biblical approach. I would like to summarize it here.  Biblically, human culture can rightly be traced to Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1ff). Following Adam’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden, he created his own community outside the presence of God.  It was God’s original plan for man to populate the earth (Gen 1.28), but that would have been according to His divine principles. The full picture of human culture is found in Genesis chapter 4 when Cain, due to jealously, killed his brother, Abel. God cursed Cain, and he went out of God’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden (Gen 4:16).  There Cain’s wife had a baby, and they named him Enoch.  Cain built a city and named it Enoch in honor of his firstborn son (Gen 4:17). What do you expect from a fugitive from God and his community?

St. Augustine of Hippo’s famous book, The City of God found its root in Genesis chapter 4.  He discusses two cities: (1) The City of God, which is represented by Abel’s righteous offering to God, which resulted in his death, and (2) the City of Man, which is represented by Cain’s bloodless offering rejected by God. Augustine discusses two cities and two loves: The earthly, which is shaped by the love of self, even to the contempt of God, and the heavenly culture, which is shaped by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.[1]

Because of our sinful nature, no culture is perfect, though every culture has some sort of goodness of God. Examples are family unity, love, altruism, respect for human life, providing for the needy, etc.  God cares for our cultures, but He dislikes the ones that are demonic. For example, witchcraft of all kinds, human sacrifices, and African cults that have names, such as the Leper society, the Elephant society, the Negee society, the Ground Hog society, the Owl society, etc., that are found in other African countries. These societies are demonic and Satan is using the society members to accomplish his purpose. Yet, because God cares for man and his multiple cultures, He came in Christ and laid down his own life for our redemption. The redemption included our cleansing from those demonic societies that the devil is using to keep us captive, but thank God for Jesus, who has delivered you and me because He cares.


Conclusion

Because God cares for man and his culture, He promised to redeem us through the Seed of the woman (Gen 3:15).  The Seed of the woman is Jesus Christ. He fulfilled this promise on the Cross of Calvary where Christ's heel was bruised through pain and suffering, and Satan's head was crushed.


Next week, I’ll continue answering Rev. Gibson's question regarding cultural practices about marriage in Africa.  

To be continued.


Special note:

If my weekly Journal has been a blessing to you, you can subscribe freely by joining my mailing list on the website. This is,  when a new journal is posted, it will be sent directly to your inbox. Also, please forward it to your friends.  New subscriber(s) will also receive one of my books in an E-book:  A Journey of Faith: A Call to Missions without a Purse at no cost and free access to my Journal’s achieve which contains some scholarly articles.  If you have any question(s), feel free to send it through [email protected]. I will surely respond to your question(s). You can also forward this to anyone or post it in your social media.




[1]R. Zarwulugbo Liberty. Growing Missionaries Biblically: A Fresh Look at Mission in an African Text (Bloomington, IN: IUniverse, 2012), 113.




There Is No Partiality With God (Part V)

Posted on November 21, 2014 at 11:34 AM Comments comments (1)
Text:  Psalm 135:6


Introduction

Last week, I continued the discussion on God’s sovereignty, provided Scriptural references, and reiterated its definition.  In this Journal, I will discuss the overview of God’s sovereignty.  As I argued in my series, God is not confined to our cultures, rules, nor regulations that define who we are.  God does what He pleases, and his sovereignty is not partial.

This Journal shows and proves how God’s sovereignty bypassed the rights and privileges of the firstborn, which was held in high esteem, in many cultures around the world, including the Israelites. In Israel, the firstborn son had unique privileges: the right of inheritance (Dt 21:15-17; 2Ch 21:3); a title of honor in the family(Ge 10:15; Ge 43:33; Ge 22:21; 25:13; 35:23; 36:15; 46:8; Dt 33:17); and most importantly, the right to a blessing from the father (Ge 27:19, 30-39).

Now, I want to provide an overview of God’s sovereignty found in the Scriptures, which was offensive, according to the cultural norm, and was considered partiality.

An Overview of God’s Sovereignty

Because God’s redemptive plan, perfection, and His will are beyond man’s comprehension, we think that God is partial if He does anything against our cultural norm or standard.  Let’s begin with:

First, Seth: In God’s redemptive plan, He selected Seth, the third son of Adam and Eve, to be the line of the Messiah, not Cain, who murdered his brother, Abel (Gn 41ff).  In this case, Cain disqualified himself by killing his brother.

Second, Shem: The redemptive thread fell to Shem. The Patriarch Noah had three sons: The oldest son is Japheth, and the youngest is Ham. This means Shem is the second son of Noah (Gn 10:21). Culturally, Japheth, the oldest should have taken the mantle of the patriarch. However, instead, it was Shem.

Third, Isaac: With Isaac and Ishmael, God’s choice was Isaac the second, and not Ishmael the first born of the Patriarch Abraham. 

Fourth, Jacob: The redemptive plan of God was reenacted with Jacob and Esau.  In fact, God spoke to their mother, Rebecca, that Jacob was selected to continue the Messianic line.

Fifth, Judah:  The Messianic thread fell to Judah, the fourth son of Jacob (Gn 29:35), not Reuben, Jacob’s first-born nor Joseph, who became powerful after many years of suffering in Egypt.

Sixth, Moses: In a careful study of Moses and Aaron, Scripture tells us that the first-born of Amram (the father) and Jochebed (the mother) is Miriam, the second is Aaron, but God’s choice was Moses, the youngest child in the family.

Seventh, David: Among the seven  sons of Jesse (1 Sm 16:10), David, the youngest son is selected as king over Israel and the Messianic line for His redemptive purpose.    

Conclusion

The point I want you to grasp here is that God does what He pleases. It is in this special act of God that the Gentiles were also called to faith in Christ. Next week, I’ll focus upon the fact that Gentiles’ redemption was an act of God’s sovereignty.    

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!


To be continued.    


Special note:   If this Journal has been a blessing to you, you can subscribe free by joining my mailing list on this website. This is, when a new journal is posted, it will be sent directly to your inbox. Furthermore, please forward it to your friends.  New subscriber(s) will receive one of my books in an E-book:  A Journey of Faith: A Call to Missions without a Purse  . . .  at no cost and free access to my Journal’s archive, which contains some scholarly articles.  If you have any question(s), feel free to send it through [email protected]. I will surely respond to your question(s).




There Is No Partiality With God (Part IV)

Posted on November 12, 2014 at 2:06 PM Comments comments (1)

Text: Psalm 135:6

I am grateful to God for His strength that He has given me to write this Journal after several weeks of its disappearance. I apologize for not being consistent with the weekly journal for the following reasons: I have been very busy to complete my new book, A Godly Leader on Trial: A Fresh Look at Nehemiah, which was finally released. There had been deaths in our family back home in Liberia – my wife’s mother went to be with then Lord and my sister, Maryou-pleah, also died of Ebola. Many great friends and church members died of the deadly virus too. These contributed to my inability to continue the journal as planned. Pray with me as I continue this week.

In Part III, which was the last Journal, I commenced with the discussion that God is not partial. I defined partiality, and provided Sculptural proofs. The term sovereignty was also defined. In this Journal, I’ll provide biblical texts in support of the sovereignty of God and reiterate the definition of sovereignty. The following Scriptures prove that God is sovereign:

  • God is free to do all He wills: Ps 135:6 See also Ps 115:3; Isa 46:10; Da 4:35; Rom 9:19-21.
  • God can do whatever He wills: Lk 1:37 (Gabriel speaks to Mary. See also Job 42:2; Mt 19:26; Eph 3:20).
  • God rules and reigns. He is King Ps 29:10. See also 1Ch 16:31; Ps 47:2; Isa 6:5; 43:15;
            Jer 10:7,10; Zec 14:9; 1Ti 1:17; 6:15; Rev 15:3; 19:6.
  • God’s sovereignty extends over-all things. He is sovereign over creation (Rev 4:11; See also Ps 93:1; Isa 40:22; 41:18-19).
  • His throne is a symbol of his sovereignty Ex 17:16; Ps 45:6; 93:2; 123:1; Isa 6:1 Isaiah’s commission; Isa 66:1; Jer 49:38; La 5:19; Ez 1:26; Da 7:9 Daniel’s dream; Mt 5:34; 19:28 Jesus Christ teaches his disciples about things to come; Ac 7:49; Heb 1:8; 8:1; 12:2; Rev 4:2; 20:11.
  • God’s sovereignty extends over-all things. He is sovereign over creation (Rev 4:1. See also Ps 93:1; Isa 40:22; 41:18-19).
  • God’s sovereignty is over human life (1 Ch 29:12).[1]  This was part of David’s prayer on the occasion of gifts being brought to the temple (2Ch 25:8; Lk 1:51-53; Ac 18:21; Jas 4:15).

I would like to conclude with Dr. T. Preston Pearce’s definition of sovereignty. “[The] SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD [is a] Biblical teaching that God possesses all power and is the ruler of all things (Ps. 135:6; Dan. 4:34–35). God rules and works according to His eternal purpose, even through events that seem to contradict or oppose His rule.[2] Therefore, God's sovereignty, in whatever He does, is not partiality.

Next week, I will discuss the overview of God’s sovereignty. If you have any question(s), feel free to send it through [email protected]. I will surely respond to your question(s). You can also forward this to anyone or post it in your social media.


To be continued. 


Special note:

If my weekly Journal has been a blessing to you, you can subscribe freely by joining my mailing list on the website. This is,  when a new journal is posted, it will be sent directly to your inbox. Also, please forward it to your friends.  New subscriber(s) will also receive one of my books in an E-book:  A Journey of Faith: A Call to Missions without a Purse at no cost and free access to my Journal’s achieve which contains some scholarly articles. 



[1] M. G. Easton. In Easton’s Bible dictionary (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).
[2] T. Preston Pearce. Easton’s Bible Dictionary. Sovereignty of God. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.2003), 1523.