Marriage and Relationships Part One

   The ‘God in love unites us’ Report states:  “biblical texts originating from earlier times provide for polygamy in the form of a man being able to have many wives (without that being seen as a contradiction of a man and a woman becoming ‘one flesh’).  Texts from later times, however, only allow for monogamy.” (footnote 92) and “In the Bible, the practice of heterosexual polygamy in the Old Testament was never revoked, but by the time of the New Testament exclusive monogamy had become the norm.” (footnote 112).

    I want to demonstrate that this, in fact, is not true.  The logical place to begin is Genesis 1: 26-27 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”… So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

      I am also conducting another study that looks at what the Bible means by ‘The image of God’ and how this image is affected by the sin and Fall of Genesis 3 as well as understanding the implications of Genesis 5: 3.

    We begin in Genesis 1 with two people, created by God, and whatever your views on creation/evolution, I am dealing with a plain reading of Scripture.  God created two equal people, one male and one female.  The author’s conclusion to this particular creation is: in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    A letter writer in the Methodist Recorder suggested that no one today takes this passage seriously.  In Matthew 19: 4-6 we find that Jesus takes it seriously when, in response to a question about divorce, He says: Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ … For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh.  Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.   He goes on to say that Moses allowed divorce because of ‘the hardness of your hearts’.  I will return to that later when looking at the idea of a liturgy for divorce.

    In the beginning there was one man ‘married’ to one woman.  That, as Jesus tells us, is how God intended it, in the beginning.  Then comes sin in Genesis 3 and things begin to change.  The human race is affected by sin, but still there are some lights in the darkness.

    An area for further research is: what constituted a wedding?  Adam & Eve got together and became ‘one flesh’.  Were they married, or was it sex that united them?  If sex unites, then the ‘God in love unites us’ report is dangerous in its discussion of sex.

    As we look at all the marriages in the Bible we need to notice that, even in the Law there is no marriage ceremony, or guidance for when and how a couple become married.

    The next recorded marriage after Adam & Eve comes from the descendants of Cain.  In Genesis 4: 19 Lamech takes 2 wives.  This is not a righteous man, so his bigamy is not an example of normality.

    Alternatively, from the line of Seth we see Noah in Genesis 7: 7.  Noah has one wife.  Noah is described in the New Testament as ‘a herald of righteousness’ (2 Peter 2: 5).  He and his three sons have monogamous marriages.  And right here we see a difference between monogamy and polygamy.   The descendants of Cain tend to polygamy while the descendants of Seth are monogamous.  Noah ‘was a righteous man, blameless in his generation’ (Genesis 6: 9), while ‘all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth.’ (Genesis 6: 12).  Included in this corruption is polygamy.  So to say, the practice of heterosexual polygamy in the Old Testament was never revoked, is to misunderstand what is happening in the Old Testament.

    The next example of  marriage is from the descendants of Seth: Genesis 11: 27-29.  On first reading this appears to be a family practising monogamy, but further reading suggests that Terah had more than one wife: Genesis: 20: 12.  There is an indication that marriage is bordering on incest as Abraham marries his step-sister, and his brother Nahor marries his niece (Genesis 11: 29).  And incest occurs with Lot and his two daughters (Genesis 19: 30-38).  There is no comment on these arrangements, but they are not portrayed as the norm.  Terah’s family have come from the idolatrous city of Ur and Lot has spent time in Sodom.  These cultural and sociological influences will have had an effect on their understanding of marriage and relationships.  God calls Abraham out of Ur, but it takes a while to get Ur out of Abraham.

    The next incident is God’s promise to Abraham that he will have a son and it is implied that Sarah will be the mother, but when the results are not instant Sarah suggests Hagar as a surrogate.  This is obviously not God’s plan (Genesis 17: 16).  It is possible to excuse Abraham because of the environment in which he lived.  He grew up in Ur among the Amorites and then moved to Canaan.  His father possibly had two wives, although with a 10 year age difference between Abraham and Sarah Terah could have been widowed and remarried.  Either way God’s plan was for Abraham and Sarah to have a son together.  It was Sarah’s wrong thinking and Abraham listening to his wife (as Adam had listened to Eve, rather than listening to God) that led to this polygamous relationship.

    With the lesson learned Isaac has one wife, Rebekah.  This is an arranged marriage between second cousins.  For the first time, however, we read of a husband’s love for his wife: Genesis 24: 67.  The success of arranged marriages compared to the failure of marriages based on physical attraction and romantic feelings in the modern world would make an interesting study.

    The next generation sees polygamy in Jacob and his marriage to the sisters, Leah and Rachel and their maids, Zilpah and Bildad.  Jacob was a victim of circumstances as he was cheated by his dishonest uncle Laban into marrying the wrong sister, and then Jacob gives in to the complaint of his wives, resulting in the maids becoming concubines.  The rest of the story shows how this is not a happy family.  This is a very dysfunctional family with favouritism and jealousy among the step brothers resulting in attempted fratricide.

    Joseph survives and, living in Egypt, he marries one wife: Asenath (Genesis 41: 45).  Meanwhile, back in Canaan, Esau, who had despised his birthright marries two wives in an attempt to gain favour with his monogamous parents: Genesis 26: 34-35.  The results are disharmony in the home.  To try resolve this, Esau married another wife: Genesis 28: 8-9.  But Esau is not seen in the Bible as an example of a righteous man.

    Joseph’s brothers have a catalogue of complicated relationships.  The one named sister, Dinah, is raped and her rapist wishes to marry her, resulting in her brothers committing mass murder.  Reuben has sex with Bildad (Genesis 35: 22); Judah marries a wife, but his 3 children have a complicated relationship with one wife, as an early form of Levirate marriage is practised: Genesis 38: 1-10.  And whatever may be said about Tamar, the married Judah has sex with what he assumes is a prostitute (Genesis 38: 15).  The family are very far from God at this point, while the comment made about Joseph is: the Lord was with Joseph (Genesis 39: 2, 21, 23).  No similar comment is made about his step-brothers.

    To conclude Genesis, the people who are listening to God are in monogamous marriages, although there are some notable exceptions, resulting in dysfunctional families, but from a brief overview it would be hard to justify the claim that polygamy was the norm.

    Then, somewhere around the time of Abraham is when the book of Job is set.  It doesn’t matter whether it is seen as history or story, this is when it is set, and we see that Job, who is described by God as: There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil, had one wife.

    The next 4 biblical books concern the Law, so while briefly commenting on Moses’ marital situation, we will continue with the progress of history through the Old Testament and then return to the Law passages later, with the exception of one passage that serves as a guide for what follows.

    Moses married Zipporah (Exodus 2: 21), then, sometime later he marries an Ethiopian woman (Numbers 12: 1).  No detail is given: was Moses widowed, or did he take a second wife?  We can only argue from silence.

    Before moving to the book of Joshua, there is that one passage: (Leviticus 18: 2-4) 2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: I am the Lord your God. 3 You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not follow their statutes. 4 My ordinances you shall observe and my statutes you shall keep, following them: I am the Lord your God.

    The Israelites had been in Egypt for 400 years, which was enough time to acclimatise them to the ways of the Egyptians.  Also, there were Egyptians and others among them: (Exodus 12: 37-38) The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. 38 A mixed crowd also went up with them.

    There are studies on the sexual practices of the pharaohs around this time, which tell of incestuous marriages as the norm.  Little is known of the sexual practices of the ordinary people, but given the Laws about sex in Leviticus it can be assumed that this is what Leviticus 18: 3 is referring to.  In Canaan we see that the Israelites from time to time do actually do as they do in the land of Canaan, and follow their statutes, and this is why polygamy becomes acceptable.

    The next chapter will continue the history up until the exile to Babylon.

 

Marriage and Relationships in the Bible Part Two

    In the book of Joshua there is not much mention of marriage.  The first marriage mentioned is Achan’s (7: 24) and interestingly, while there is mention of sons and daughters in the destruction of his family, there is no mention of a wife.  If there were several wives, surely they would be mentioned here, but again this is an argument from silence.

    Caleb has a daughter who is given in marriage to Othniel (Josh.15: 16-19).  There is no hint that there are other wives for Othniel, not even when he reappears in Judges (1: 12-15).

    The book of Judges is considered the Dark Ages in Israel’s history.  The first comment is: (2: 10-14).  This is no longer a people following YHWH.  The covenant was violated (2: 20).  And so: (2: 5-6).

    Then there is that repeated comment: Israel had no king (17: 6; 18: 1; 19: 1; 21: 25).  In two of these incidents the comment continues: everyone did as they saw fit.  Therefore, whatever happens in Judges is not God’s original intention in any area, not just the area of marriage and relationships.

    The first recorded incident of polygamy comes in the story of Gideon, after he has moved away from God and become an idol worshipper: 8: 30-31.

    The story of Jephthah the Gileadite begins with a monogamous marriage, but with a mention of a prostitute: (11: 1-2).  Notice the reason Jephthah is sent away: because he is the son of another woman.  This tells us something of the morality in the family, despite the father’s morality.  It is revealed later that Jephthah has one child - a daughter (11: 34) - which would suggest that he only had one wife, but again this is an argument from silence.

    The next family is that of Manoah, who has one wife, and although she is unable to conceive he neither marries another woman, nor takes a concubine to produce offspring: 13: 2-3.

    Samson then marries a Philistine woman, but during the 7 day Philistine marriage ceremony (the first marriage ceremony mentioned in the Bible), Samson storms out and the Philistines give his wife to another Philistine man, although Samson still refers to her as his wife, but before too long he is widowed (15: 6).

    Prostitution is still an issue and Samson spends the night with a prostitute (16: 1).  Then Samson falls in love (the first time this concept is found in the Bible), with yet another Philistine woman - Delilah - and although they appear to live together, there is no mention of a wedding.  This is the end of Samson, but no serious biblical scholar would use Samson as a typical example of marriage in the Old Testament.

    Chapter 19 of Judges begins with a reminder that Israel had no king before it tells the story of a Levite and his concubine.  The reminder sets the context: this is not God’s perfect plan for Israel.  This lets us know that the conclusion to this story, in chapter 21 is also not God’s perfect plan for Israel.

    And so we have Ruth, set during the time of the Judges.  There was a man with one wife and two sons.  They move to Moab where each son takes one wife.  At the end of the story Ruth, the widow, marries Boaz, the bachelor.

    The book of Samuel begins with a polygamous marriage, but the reason appears to be for procreation.  Elkanah loved Hannah (1: 5), but Hannah could not conceive, so he married Peninnah.  This is similar to the situation Abraham and Sarah found themselves in.  It was God’s plan to give Hannah a child, but the impatience of either Elkanah, or Hannah, resulted in an unhappy home situation, with polygamy.

    As if to demonstrate that Israel had not moved on from the days of the Judges there is the request for a king: 8: 5.  They wished to be like the other nations.  That warning from Leviticus 18: 2-4 was forgotten.  Interestingly, when God through Samuel tells the people what the king will be like, he does not mention polygamy: 8: 11-18.  This is because the Law has already described this: Deut.17: 17.

    The kings of Israel were not all polygamous, but the most well-known were.  Saul had a wife (1 Sam. 14: 49-50) and a concubine (2 Sam.3: 7).  David had at least 9 wives and an unspecified number of concubines (2 Sam.5: 13; 1 Chron.3: 9).  This goes against what was said earlier about the righteous descendants of Seth being monogamous.  David, as king, acted like the people of the surrounding nations, and no comment is made about this, except for his adultery with Bathsheba, which happened after his 7th marriage.  It may be that these are political alliances to strengthen David’s position as he takes more ground from the Canaanites, but no comment is made about these marriages in the Bible.  However, the man after God’s own heart is no longer described like this.  David’s final years show a man who has moved away from God and on his deathbed David’s instructions to Solomon show a man who is determined to exact revenge on his enemies after he is gone.  He started well, but as with Gideon, he ended badly.

    Then there is the well-known Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines.  The Bible comments that this formerly wise man was led away from God by these many wives.  There is disapproval expressed, not for the number, but for where they came from: 1 Kings 11: 1-6.  He did evil in the eyes of the LORD.  The priority was his relationship with YHWH and this was broken by his political allegiances, which led to religious syncretism.

    The following descendants of Solomon: Rehoboam and Abijah were idol worshippers; (Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines: 2 Chron.11: 21); Asa was a follower of YHWH and his heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life (1 Ki.15: 14).  His son Jehoshaphat succeeded him and he too did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. (1 Ki.22: 43).  Jehoram, and Ahaziah followed and they both married into Ahab’s family and were considered evil, although they appear to have been in monogamous marriages.  Then Joash becomes king and he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him (2 Ki.12: 2).  His son Amaziah was limited in his righteousness: He did what right in the eyes of the LORD, but but not as his father David had done. (2 Ki.14: 3).

    His son, Azariah succeeded him.  He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done (2 Ki.15: 3).  His son Jotham also did what was right in the eyes of the LORD (2 Ki.15: 34).  Ahaz was next and he did not do what was right.  He was followed by Hezekiah who trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him, (2 Ki.18: 5) and this is the first king in several generations whose wife is named: 2 Kings 21: 1.  Manasseh was next and he was Judah’s worst king, followed by Ammon another evil king, who was followed by Josiah who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (2 Ki.22: 2).  Jehoahaz came next, briefly and did evil, followed by Jehoiakim who was as bad, followed by the brief reign of Jehoiachin another bad one, followed by the final king, another bad one, Zedekiah.

    There is little in this brief history of the kings of Judah that mentions the marital state of these kings.  I have ignored Israel because none of the kings of Israel followed YHWH, so even if they were polygamous it would not affect the view that I am taking here that the righteous were monogamous.  We learn very little after Rehoboam about the marriage practices of the people of God until the exile.

    There are, however, the prophets, so a brief look at the pre-exilic prophets will be given now:

In Israel there were Elijah, Elisha and Jonah and there is no mention of a wife for any of them.  So, following the biblical order, there is Isaiah, who is married to the prophetess (Isa.8: 3).

    Jeremiah does not appear to have been married. 

        Ezekiel was both pre-exilic and in the exile and his wife dies in chapter 24: 15 - a monogamous marriage.

    Hosea’s one wife was adulterous. 

        As for the other prophets, there is no mention of their personal life, so we learn nothing from them.

    The post-exilic situation and the Wisdom Literature will be dealt with in the next section, along with the passages in the Law books.

 

Marriage and Relationships Part Three

For this final part of an overview of the Old Testament material on marriage and relationships we will start with the exile to Babylon, followed by the return to the land and Ezra’s teaching of the Law which results in the Israelite men divorcing their pagan wives, while Malachi tells us the God hates divorce.

    We begin with Jeremiah’s instructions to the exiles in Jeremiah 29, where he tells them to take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, do not decrease.

    This instruction seems to have been obeyed because we find that when the 70 years of exile are over the people return to the Promised Land with foreign wives and after the return they continued to marry foreign wives.  Whether that was Jeremiah’s intention, or whether he intended the people of Judea to marry among themselves is not clear from his instruction.  Either way, Ezra is not happy with them for intermarrying, and so he prays, but does nothing, then, on the basis of the Law the  people demand that the Jewish men divorce their foreign wives: Ezra 9-10.  This is a decision from the grass roots, not from above.

    A near contemporary of Ezra, the prophet Malachi, is remembered for saying that God hates divorce, but a closer look at the context: 2: 10-12 shows that mixed marriages are not included in this.  Israelites who marry foreign wives have broken the Law, so their marriages are not counted.  There is no annulment, just divorce, but the divorce that God hates is between the people of God.

    We find the laws against foreign marriages in Exodus 34: 11-16 and Deuteronomy 7: 1-4.  Chronologically, Ezra is at the end of the Old Testament, as is Malachi.  The standard there is for monogamy (Mal.2: 14b) for life.  The limitation is that the marriage is between man and woman from the people of God.

    This was the start of the society in which the New Testament begins - a society smaller, but more faithful to the Law, than at any other period since Joshua died, so the Law regarding marriage will now be considered, to see what it actually teaches about marriage.

    We begin on Mt Sinai with the 10 Commandments.  That command about adultery (Ex.20: 14; Deut.5: 18) assumes an understanding of adultery without actually spelling out what is meant.  The assumption is that marriage is between one man and one woman.  King David, who already had several wives, is accused of adultery because he takes Uriah’s one wife for himself.  Adultery is the breaking of the covenant relationship between one man and one woman.  There are penalties for adultery given in Leviticus 20: 10-14.

    The difficulties come with passages like Exodus 21: 1-11.  The context has to be kept in mind: Israel was a nation of slaves.  They understood slavery because they had been slaves in Egypt for the past 400 years, so to compare the references to slavery in the Law to the slave trade that Wilberforce fought against, or to modern slavery is to completely miss the point, especially as ‘slavery’ lasted for no more than six years.  These laws were specific to Israel, the descendants of Jacob, living in the Promised Land and as sociological laws they cannot be equated with moral laws that have their origins in creation mandates.

    This passage is a difficult one because it deals with married slaves.  Foreigners who were slaves were not relieved by the sabbath law (Lev.25: 46) and it seems that this law is referring to an Israelite male slave marrying a foreign female slave (who is her master’s permanent property).  This again is a motivator for not marrying foreign women.

    Verse 7 is dealing with a female Israelite who is sold as a wife - the nearest equivalent must be the dowry system.

    While this is a form of marriage that we may not recognise, it is not unlike the tradition of arranged marriages still practised in many cultures today. 

    Exodus 22: 16-17.  There is no suggestion of rape in this passage.  This is sex outside of marriage that leads to marriage for the sake of the girl who was seduced.

    Leviticus 18 lists the prohibitions on marrying close relatives and doesn’t need to be addressed here, other than to say that certain verses: 8, 9, 11, 18, suggest that polygamy is acceptable.  Again this is the Law written for the people who have just left Egypt, the descendants of Jacob and the others who went with them.  Rather than accepting polygamy as the norm, these laws recognise that this is the marital status that the people have at present.  It would be assumed that future generations, living in the Promised Land, would be monogamous, having lost the influence of Egypt.  This was not always the case, however, as they were influenced by the examples of the Canaanites among whom they lived.  Rather than condemning, the Bible makes laws that protect the women in these situations.

    There are restrictions on who a priest is allowed to marry, in Leviticus 21: 13-15.  The restrictions indicates that monogamy is the norm for a holy marriage.

    One contentious point for feminists is in Numbers 5: 11-31 which deals with an unfaithful wife and a wrongly accused wife, but there is no equivalent for an unfaithful husband.  The procedure suggests that God is involved in the marriage as the suspicious husband does not take his wife to the law court, but to the priest and a sacrifice is offered to God.

    Deuteronomy 21: 10-14.  It is to be assumed that this is a reference to war with enemies outside Canaan, as Deut. 7: 1-3 says, When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you— 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons….

    This law has to be compared to what happened to women captured in war among the other nations.  It is not the Genesis ideal of marriage, but it is a fairer treatment of women than they would be likely to expect.

    Deuteronomy 21: 15-17.  This is a definite reference to polygamy, which is assumed and for some reason not judged

    Deuteronomy 22: 13-30.  Monogamy is assumed in this passage.  The first section refers to a virgin who was betrothed at puberty and whose husband suspects her of infidelity.  

    The second section deals with adultery between two married people.  The Law of Hammurabi and the Assyrian Code both applied the death penalty to this type of adultery.  However, if the husband agreed to spare his wife then the king also spared the man.  This shows how the laws were similar, but the Law of Moses in many cases was more humane.

    The third section deals with a betrothed woman, showing that betrothal was as legally binding as marriage. In the city the woman could cry for help; in the country she couldn’t.  One assumed consent, the other assumed rape.

    The fourth section suggests that a rapist may, or should, marry his victim.  This, again, is found in the Assyrian Code and while not acceptable today, it would give the girl some form of security.  Not a good example! 

    Deuteronomy 23: 2 is referring to either children of an incestuous marriage between two Israelites, or the offspring of mixed marriages.  The idea that this refers to illegitimate children (see KJV) is no longer accepted.

    Deuteronomy 24: 1-4.  The condition in v1 is literally, nakedness of a thing.  It is not easy to understand what this referred to, but it was not adultery.  The point behind this is to avoid the situation that Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor found themselves in - divorce was final and the original couple were forbidden to remarry.  Divorce was common in the ancient world and this law made sure that both parties were aware of the finality of divorce.

    Deuteronomy 25: 5-10.  This is the ancient practice of levirate marriage that was practised in Hittite and Assyrian society, so was not unique to Israel.  It is found in Genesis 38: 1-10, indicating that it was an old practice.  This was in the days before women were allowed to inherit, although a single case of this is found in Numbers 27.

    This is not meant as an in-depth look at the laws regarding marriage, but just an overview demonstrating that in a Patriarchal society, after 400 years of slavery in Egypt and now in the morally corrupt Canaan monogamous marriage (in its various forms) was the norm.  There is no suggestion that marriage can be anything other than one man and woman in a covenant relationship for life.  There was divorce, ut Jesus explained the reason for that in Mark 1o: 4-6, They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ 5 But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6 But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.”.

    And once again Jesus takes us back to creation, where God made them male and female.  We can get confused with the Law in these discussions, trying to justify why we keep some and ignore others, while ignoring the fact that, as Gentiles Paul’s letter to the Galatians explains our relationship to the Law.  But if we do as Jesus did and go back to creation, then we have the answer: male and female!

 

This is an article I wrote for the May/June edition of the Milford on Sea Parish Magazine.  It received favourable reviews:

    "I’ve been enjoying some free time lately!  During that time I have finished my Bible teaching preparation on the book of Acts and I found a fascinating word I have overlooked in the past.  In Acts 24 Paul is on trial before Felix, the Roman governor.  The Jewish leaders accuse Paul in v5 of being ‘a pest’.  The word in Greek means ‘pestilence’, or ‘plague’.  And then they say that this plague is causing trouble ‘all over the world’.  And I had to think about the Gospel as a pandemic.  In the early days of Acts ‘the Lord added to their number those who were being saved’; then ‘the Lord multiplied’ the number of disciples; then ‘the churches multiplied’.  And you see the ‘R number’ increasing as Christians came into contact with more and more people and infected them with the gospel.

    A vaccine had to be found, and, unfortunately, one was found.  They made the gospel into a religion.  They built church buildings to put the Christians in so they wouldn’t infect any more people.  They made clergy who would control any possible outbreaks.  They put the Bible into Latin, and later into Elizabethan English, so no one would be able to understand it.  And the plague stopped.

    Every now and then there would be an outbreak, a new spike, but then the clergy would apply the religion vaccine and the outbreak would die down.

    And so today we find our church buildings closed and maybe they should stay that way.  I have read about the concerns of churches having to close when this Covid-19 ends, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.  I’ve read about people wanting to get back into those buildings so we can be isolated from the world once again.  But I’ve also read that 1 million people tuned into Spring Harvest this year (it’s normally 40,000).  I’ve read about more people listening to online services, and even those church members who were housebound are now being catered for.

    And maybe what we need to do is consider how we can cause another spike in this pandemic called “The Gospel”; how can we contaminate more people?  We need to be tested first to make sure we have the infection, then we need to get closer than 2 metres and talk to people about the infection, maybe breathe the Holy Spirit onto them.

    Maybe it’s been too much free time I’ve had lately, but what if we all took this time to consider why a gospel message that spread so rapidly at the first outbreak is now confined in buildings, meetings and committees.  And maybe we should consider how we can help to cause another spike."

 

Martin

 

Alpha for Methodists

                                                                            This comes from my time in Scotland:

 

There has been a request for an Alpha Course designed specifically for Methodists.  This puzzled me at first because I have only used Alpha as an evangelistic tool, so I'm not sure if the request is because Methodists are not being saved by Alpha, or whether it is because Methodists want to present a specifically Methodist gospel.

Anyway, I have put a lot of thought into this and so here are the 15 talks for my new "Alpha for Methodists":

1. Is Methodism boring, irrlevant and untrue?/Is there more to Methodism than this?

2. Is Jesus a Methodist?

3. Why did Jesus die for Methodists?

4. How can I be sure I'm a Methodist?

5. How and why should Methodists pray?

6. Why and how should Methodists read the Bible?

7. How does God guide Methodists?

8. Is the Holy Spirit a Methodist?

9. What does the Holy Spirit do for Methodists?

10. How can Methodists be filled with the Holy Spirit?

11. How can Methodists resist evil?

12. Why and how should I tell others I'm a Methodist?

13. Does God heal Methodists?

14. What about the Methodist Church?

15. How can I make the most of being a Methodist?

The DVD set and accompanying manuals should be available from Methodist Publishing House as soon as the legal proceedings are over.  Enjoy (if you are a Methodist).