Once I had dinner with a two worship band members, and one of them was in a wheelchair. After we finished, and I drove back to church with my able-bodied friend, he said, “I can’t help but wonder, if we really had enough faith, would our other friend be able to walk?”
My Christian family has no trouble affirming that God can heal our physical bodies. However, at a recent healing-prayer service, one of our pastors reminded us of two principles:
1) All healing is temporary. While Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still died later on. His death does not invalidate his previous healing at all, but rather shows that we still need a savior. Complete healing can only take place in heaven.
2) God heals according to His will. While Paul himself healed many people, he had an illness that was used for God’s glory. Can we say that Paul lacked faith to be healed? Of course not! Hebrews 11 even states that many people did not receive healing, and yet were counted among the heroes of faith.
That’s one reason why I love this video from worship leader Aaron Shust—it affirms faith in God, even when what we pray for doesn’t happen. The song is fabulous, but if you want to watch how the story played out, grab some tissues first.
We can have complete faith that God loves us, regardless of whether or not healing comes. We will all die someday. We can trust that one day He will overcome the sin and death that takes our loved ones from us.
However, if we believe that God is capable of healing, and can still trust God when our physical bodies, or our loved ones’, aren’t healed, why then do some people insist that God heal every marriage?
Last week, I heard the lie repeated that God wants a woman in my church return to her adulterous, cruel husband. Even worse, she was hearing it from her own family.
I can’t understand how a Christian could pressure a heartbroken woman to do this. <cough, JohnFreakingPiper, cough.> Does Jesus want her to get HIV? Should she shake her fist at the mistresses and sing “You ain’t woman enough to take my man?” <cough, Debbie Pearl, cough.> Should she get different lingerie and try a lap-dance? (I kid you not, I HEARD this advice, given at a Christian women’s retreat, with my own ears.) Should she repent of not “servicing” her husband well enough? <cough, Mark Driscoll, cough.>
Wow, I need a throat lozenge.
People who pressure victims simply do not understand the nature of evil. If satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light, why are we shocked when a lying, conniving, demeaning, and promiscuous abuser masquerades as a good Christian?
“Oh, but his ministry blessed me so much! I can’t believe he (or she) could abuse someone!
Solomon wrote two books of the Bible—can you believe he’d bang seven hundred women later on? David was a man “after God’s own heart”—can you believe he’d kill a man so he could steal his wife? Judas was a disciple of Jesus—can you believe he’d sell out his Lord for a bag of money?
“Oh, but this abusing adulterous douchebag has repented! He’s said he was sorry! He cries every week! We shouldn’t hold his past against him any more than God holds our past against us!”
John the Baptist had some pretty specific things to say about that: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance….and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Yes, I KNOW that was before Jesus died and rose again, so let’s go to the epistles:
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Do you honestly think that a person who faked cheerful Christian smiles while he was in church with you for fifteen years and had three mistresses on the side is being sincere now? He was supposed to have died to sin then, but he didn’t! So how do you know he’s really repented? How can you advise his wife—who knows him better than you do—to take a course of action based on your knowledge of his heart?
Even the most literal reading of the Bible allows divorce for adultery and abandonment. I believe that abuse also constitutes abandonment—abandonment of one’s marriage vows, one’s spouse, and one’s faith—and that therefore Christians of any gender should not be afraid to leave abusive marriages. However, certain authors and pastors have perpetuated the unbiblical doctrine of marital permanence, far above and beyond the Biblical requirements. Those writers are directly affecting the lives of people around me, and they must be held accountable for the fruit of their doctrine.
We do not berate people who are not healed physically, and say they lack faith. Why do we berate victims of abuse and adultery, and pressure them to stay married to a liar? When a member of Christ’s body finds him-or-herself married to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, we should protect that person! We should help them all seek safety. Yes, pray for restoration of the marriage, but in the same way we pray for healing—it may happen, or it may not.