1 CORINTHIANS 7
15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
In writing to the disciples at Ephesus, the apostle illustrates the submission due from wives to their husbands by the obedience rendered to Christ by the community of the faithful in his day. "As the ecclesia is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing."
This was an injunction of absolute submission to their Christian husbands as unto the Lord Himself; because "the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the ecclesia [ecclesia]." But, while he enjoins this unqualified obedience, he exhorts their husbands to return them due benevolence, not to treat them with bitterness, but to love them "even as Christ loved the ecclesia, and gave Himself up for it."
... They are like those who will not submit to Christ. The love which should subsist between Christian brethren and sisters in the married state, is such as Christ manifested for the ecclesia by anticipation. "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us," says the apostle (Rom. 5:6-8).
This is the greatest love a man can possibly show, that He should die for His enemies; and this is the kind of love which Paul (who by the bye was never tried by a termagant wife) commends to the attention of the Ephesians; though always on the supposition, that the wives "adorn the hidden man of the heart with that which is incorruptible, even a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling Him Lord: whose daughters such women are, as long as they do well, and are not dismayed at any threat" (1 Peter 3:3-6).
Elpis Israel 1.2.
19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
People are sometimes moved to approach God from a desire for the good they hope to secure for themselves, without recognizing other elements involved. God certainly offers good--the highest good it is possible to conceive. He proposes to confer the perfection of well-being, and invites men to avail themselves of it: "whosoever will ": but men who come without respect to the conditions of the invitation, will find themselves repelled at last, like the crowd who followed Christ for the sake of the loaves and fishes, which he more than once provided in connection with his public ministrations.
Consider what those conditions are as involved in circumcision. Literally, circumcision was a cutting-off of the flesh of the foreskin, in token of the accepted covenant of God, to choose Abraham's posterity as a people for himself (Gen. 17:9-14). In virtue or efficacy, it was "nothing" in itself, except as a kept commandment (1 Cor. 7:19).
Its significance was everything; and this was double: first (as a token of the covenant) that rejected man had no relation to God except by Divine choice; and second, that this choice was based upon submission to the Divine will, even when involving the sacrifice of human pleasure.
Circumcision deprived the subject of it of the means of the destructive self-indulgence common among the Gentiles, and therefore always carded with it this hint or meaning, that the acceptable rule of life with God is the "denial of ungodliness and worldly lusts", in accordance with His commandments: that obedience and not gratification is the ground of acceptance with Him.
The common thought of the world ignores this feature of the Divine work. Human impression and human feeling are allowed to govern all conceptions of what is right in man. The will of God is forgotten. In fact, people do not generally realize that such a thing as the will of God exists.
They reason as if the universe existed by them and for them. They leave out of account the fact that God has made all things for Himself, and that man himself is but a permitted form of His power, whose part as a sinner is to bow in deepest reverence before Him, and to enquire in bated breath what He would have him do.
Law of Moses Ch 16
20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
A druggist sells poison, am I to refuse the fellowship of a druggist because he is the agent of a stuff that may be used in murder? Where is the line to be drawn? Our brother editor replied:
"The line is discernible; but requires a wide view to be taken of the mission of the truth. That mission is the same now as in the apostolic age. It comes to a world lying in wickedness and asks a people out of it, for a certain future purpose.
It does not require them to emigrate like the Mormons to a separate country in which to work out life on heavenly principles. It does not invite them to hope for the rennovation of the world at all at the present stage. It recognises the world as a world of sinners, hopelessly beyond cure till the Lord takes it in hand; and asks them to recognise it too, and to accommodate themselves to the situation and time.
"I pray not," said Jesus, in prayer to the Father, "that Thou would'st take them out of the world;" and when Paul explains the bearing of the instruction he had given them about not keeping company with fornicators, he says, "Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, &c. . . . . for then ye must needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, &c."
21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.
Paul reminds the Saints in Rome that they were all the servants of sin once; but thanks God in their behalf, that they had been freed from sin, and were now the servants of righteousness, "having obeyed from the heart A FORM OF TEACHING, into which they were delivered" (Rom. 6:17).
They obeyed a form of teaching which emancipated, liberated, or set them free, from the lordship of Sin. This was Paul's mission -- to invite men to a change of masters. He addressed himself to free men and slaves, all of whom, whatever their political or social position, were in bondage to the devil or sin.
He did not invite slaves to abscond from their fleshly owners: on the contrary, he told men to remain in the several callings of life in which they were when they first heard the truth.
"Let every man," says he, "abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called, being a slave? Care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather."
23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
He invited Sin's servants to become Yahweh's servants upon the principle of purchase; so that, in addressing those who had abandoned the synagogue and temple for the house of Christ, he says to them, "Ye are bought with a price." They were "not their own," being bought bodily and spiritually; "therefore," said he, "glorify God with your body and with your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 7:23; 6:19,20).
When a man's body and spirit become another's property, all property in himself is surrendered to the purchaser. All that he used to call his before he was sold, is transferred to his owner; and, if allowed to retain it, he must use it as the steward of his lord.
Redemption is release for a ransom. All who become God's servants are therefore released from a former lord by purchase. The purchaser is Yahweh; and the price, or ransom, paid, the precious blood of the flesh through which the Anointing Spirit was manifested. It is therefore styled, "the precious blood of Christ": as it is written in the words of Peter to his brethren, saying,
"Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conduct paternally delivered; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without spot and without blemish" (1 Pet. 1:18.)
The Office of A Constable in the Truth
"Would you fellowship a brother holding the office of constable?"-L. A.
Answer.-Not if he taught rebellion against the Lord by contending that a brother might lawfully thrust at another with a cutlass, or knock a man down with a truncheon, or kill him in self-defence. If, being found by the truth in a constable's office, he accepted and strove to obey the prohibitions against personal violence imposed by the truth, seeking peacefully to exercise the harmless duties of his office, duty and mercy would require his recognition at the hands of the brethren, leaving the Lord to judge the doubtful part of the case.
A brother joining the police-force would be in a different position. He would go into the snare with his eyes open, and would rightly forfeit the approbation of his fellow-believers, and incur the possible condemnation of the Lord.
The office of police-constable involves the employment of personal violence. In this respect, it is on a footing with the calling of a soldier. Our duty in relation to both must be determined by the more general question of whether the servants of Christ are permitted to use force in either the punishment of evil doers, or the protection or vindication of themselves. For if they are not allowed to do this for themselves, it cannot be that they are at liberty to do it for others, as in the case of a soldier or policeman who is hired.
But the truth may find a man a soldier or a constable. What is he to do? If he can leave the service or the force, let him do so, and find his livelihood in ways more consonant with the calling wherewith he has been called. If he cannot, let him at least, in his calling, act on the principle of absolute harmlessness which belongs to the present Lamb-stage of our heavenly vocation. He will be disqualified for some of the duties of his office, but it may be that in the kindness of God, he may never be called upon to perform them.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1898
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
The conjugal relation
And alluded to also by Jesus when he says-
"If a man come to me, and hate not . . . his wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple."
It seems at first sight impossible to reconcile this with the love that a man is enjoined to bestow on wife and children. It is one of those sayings that are apt to make a man feel as certain disciples felt who left Christ, saying of another matter,
"This is an hard saying: who can hear it?"
Persistent dwelling in the word will open this as well as other dark matters. The allusion to a man's "own life" shows the sense of Christ's words. A man is not to value any human thing on a level with the things appertaining to Christ.
The things that are seen are all temporal-short-lived and inferior: the t6hings of Christ, not yet seen, are all eternal and lofty and glorious. Christ asks us to hate the one by comparison with the other. He asks us to put him first-before wife and child and life.
This is reasonable.
The family relation is ephemeral, an adaptation to the needs of a transitory phase of the world's history. Enlightened husbands and wives will recognise this, and while loving each other as is meet they will each give to Christ the higher place.
32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
that is, carefulness in the sense of worldly anxiety. Peter tells us to
"Cast all our care upon God, for He careth for us."
Faith will confide and good sense will abandon useless fret. We have the authority of Jesus for saying that
"the Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him";
and that the benevolence spontaneously exercised towards the birds of the air and the grass of the field will not be invoked in vain by those who fear Him.
Marriage, comfort, worldly possessions, are all very well in their place; that place is at the footstool of the truth.
Going To Extremes
The man who goes to an extreme in saving money, becomes more and more saving. The man who goes to extreme in developing business, becomes more and more devoted to that object, and increasingly indifferent to everything else.
The man who goes to extremes in careful provision for family exigencies, becomes more and more careful and anxious, until the words of Christ, which tell us to be without carefulness, cease to have the least meaning for him. All these classes of extremists -- and they are legion -- sink at last into a state of spiritual turptitude, in which all sensibility is gone.
The present world, which they have loved, has slain them, while they continue to think they are alive.
39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.
There is nothing to prevent marriage with a Chinese woman or any other female of the genus homo, provided she be a believer. It is all a matter of taste.
It is not usual for brethren to officiate in marriage, except in Scotland. It is unnecessary, however, to submit to clerical manipulation, as the law in Britain allows the registrar of the district to perform the ceremony.
How it is in China, you will know best.
A brother would not be "justified in engaging himself to a Christian young lady who is looking into the truth," unless she had actually come to a decision in its favour, and made up her mind to yield the necessary submission in baptism.
Your question presupposes that you recognise marriage with the unbeliever to be unlawful. If so, you must recognise promise as equally unlawful, for the promise of a son of God is binding. Wait till she decides.
"Looking into the truth" as a rule leads to its acceptance, but it is not certain, and where would you be if after you had given your promise, she should decide against the truth? In a false and embarrassing position that would create difficulties for yourself and everybody else.
The Christadelphian, April 1898