August 2007 • Volume XI, Issue 16
Virgins and Widows (1)
I Corinthians 7 is the great chapter in the Bible
on Christian singleness and marriage. But who is to decide whether a
single person or a widow or a widower should marry or not?
For a widower (a man whose wife has died), the
decision lies with him. It is likewise for a single, young man,
though, of course, he needs advice. Our heavenly Father teaches us
that a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to
his wife (Gen. 2:24). Thus leaving and cleaving, that is, marrying,
is an act of his determination and will, under Almighty God. And so
parents must train their sons for leaving home one day and leading a
But what about women? Who has the final decision
whether virgins or widows marry or not? I Corinthians 7:36-38
address the case of virgins and verses 39-40 deal with widows. I
Corinthians 7:39 also provides us with the key criterion for
choosing a spouse: marry "only in the Lord." This is a very brief
saying but it contains a lot, as we shall see in a later issue of
The Bible gives us instruction concerning a
father’s authority over his daughter. Numbers 30:3-16 teaches that a
father can annul his daughter’s vow (when he first hears of it).
According to Deuteronomy 22:13-21, if a husband in Israel accused
his wife of fornicating with another man prior to their marriage,
her father was to "bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity
unto the elders of the city" (15). Thus it was the father’s calling
to ensure that his daughter remained a virgin prior to marriage. If
his daughter had "played the whore," she would be stoned by the door
of her father’s house (21), thus indicating his guilt and shame
also. Exodus 22:16 tells us that a man who seduces an unmarried girl
is bound to offer to marry her. But her father has the right to
refuse to give her away (17) and no one can stop him from doing
this. Why? Because he has this authority from God. This instruction
from Numbers 30, Deuteronomy 22 and Exodus 22 on the father’s
authority is presupposed in I Corinthians 7:36-38.
The father, as the head of the house, has the
say-so whether his daughter may or may not marry. It is not simply a
matter of romance or of his daughter’s decision or of her
boyfriend’s insistence. Her father’s approval is required, for he
has the God-given authority, and hence the responsibility, for his
daughter’s marrying or not. Thus the Scriptures speak of sons as
marrying but of daughters as being given in marriage (e.g., Ps.
78:63; Matt. 24:38; Luke 20:34). Accordingly, in the marriage
ceremony, the minister asks, "Who gives this woman to this man in
marriage?" "Her mother and I," replies her father. There is no such
question nor answer concerning the groom. A father’s giving of his
daughter to the groom at a wedding is a transfer of authority. Her
husband is now her head; her father no longer possesses this
authority over her. Thus Numbers 30 teaches that just as a father
has the authority to disannul his daughter’s vow, so a husband has
the authority to disannul his wife’s vow.
Moreover, the father also has authority over his
daughter’s courtship. Imagine the ludicrous situation in which a
father has no say over whom his daughter may date, but he has
authority only over marriage, and so he steps in to stop the wedding
after they had been courting for, say, two years! Deuteronomy
22:13-21, in referring to a father’s bringing the tokens of his
daughter’s virginity, indicates his authority over her courtship.
What does such fatherly authority involve? Whom she may court—this
man but not that one. When she may court—when her father believes
her to be ready. The father should also see to it to that she
dresses modestly, as God’s Word requires (Isa. 3:16-23; I Peter
3:3-5). Father’s role is not merely sitting at home with Mum,
worried and fretting and praying about what their daughter and her
boyfriend will get up to on their date.
The ungodly world, the evil demons and the raging
feminists hate the biblical truth of the spiritual authority of
faithful fathers over their daughters—as do some immature daughters.
"Father is an idiot. What would he know?" "Romance and wisdom in
courtship lie with the young." So many think. Thus there is the
strong tendency to rebellion or foolishly sneaking out with some
good-for-nothing on a date without parental consent. Your parents
could have saved you from the heartache which is coming, but you
This opposition to parental (especially father’s)
supervision is probably stronger in our modern, western world than
ever before. The sexual revolution in the 1960s made promiscuity and
rebellion more widespread and "normal." The vast proliferation of
foolish books and girls’ magazines on male-female relationships
teach a "love" from below which is thoroughly earthly, sensual and
devilish (cf. James 3:15). TV, movies, popular songs and chat shows
promote this way of thinking and living. "Recreational dating is the
norm. Why not date merely for fun? Everyone else does." This can be
a serious temptation for Christian girls: conforming to the ungodly
world with its lascivious and foolish ideas of dating and "love" …
and rebelling against their father’s authority and protection,
contrary to the fifth commandment and the holy life of gratitude
required of all those redeemed by the precious blood of our Lord
Jesus Christ. Rev. Stewart
Sin’s Appearance in
a Perfect Creation
And God saw every thing that he had made, and,
behold, it was very good (Gen. 1:31).
A reader asks, "If God’s creation was perfect,
how did pride appear in Lucifer, if this quality was not in his
The question is not an easy one and theologians
have struggled with it, especially since the time of Augustine, the
Bishop of Hippo (354-430).
Although the question asks specifically about the
fall of Lucifer in heaven, along with many angels, the same question
can be asked concerning Adam and Eve in Paradise. And the same
answer applies to both equally.
In dealing with the problem, we must first of all
ask what it means that God Himself pronounced His entire creation
"good." An answer most frequently given is that the creation was
morally perfect, that is, that there was no sin in heaven or on
However, while that is true in itself, it is
obvious, I think, that the word "good" in the moral sense cannot be
applied to horses and galaxies, for neither the living creation
(other than men and angels) nor the non-living creation had the
ability to do good or evil.
When God pronounced the creation "good," He meant
that the entire creation was so formed that it was perfectly adapted
to serve the purpose He had in mind for it. For example, a machine
is "good" when it serves the purpose for which it was made.
But it must be remembered that God’s purpose in
the creation was never intended to be accomplished in the first
Paradise in which Adam and Eve were placed. The fall of our first
parents did not necessitate a change in God’s plan. God’s purpose
from the first moment of creation was to glorify Himself through
Jesus Christ and the redemption of the elect and the whole creation
by the cross on which our Saviour died. Adam was the first
Adam from the moment of his creation; the second Adam had
yet to come (Rom. 5:12-14; I Cor. 15:45-47).
Thus, also sin was determined by God as the way
in which He would glorify Himself through Christ who redeems from
sin. The Most High is sovereign over sin, as well as over everything
that happens in heaven and on earth. The fall of Satan in heaven and
the fall of Adam and Eve in Paradise did not catch God by surprise
nor come unexpectedly.
While we must (and do) maintain man’s
accountability for his own sin, God remains sovereign. This
insistence on God’s sovereignty lies at the foundation of the
solution to the problem. Reprobation, the negative part of the
decree of predestination, is sovereign. God determined to reveal His
justice, holiness and righteous hatred of sin through His
unconditional decree of reprobation, that is, He eternally wills the
just punishment of the reprobate wicked in hell in the way of their
Already in his day, Augustine dealt with the
problem posed at the beginning of this article. Even then the
subject touched on the issue of whether man’s accountability did not
necessarily imply man’s free will (understood as an ability in
fallen man to repent and believe in Christ). Augustine (and all
orthodox theologians after him) emphatically denied fallen and
depraved man’s ability to choose spiritual good and taught God’s
sovereignty also in reprobation.
In developing these ideas from the Scriptures,
especially from Genesis 1-3 and Romans 5, Augustine pointed out that
freedom can be considered from different viewpoints. Adam’s freedom
in Paradise before the fall was the freedom to do good but with
the possibility of sinning. His sinless nature was so created
that sin was possible. Adam’s freedom was true freedom, for he
possessed the ability to do all God commanded him to do. This was
freedom indeed, but not the freedom God has determined for His
people in Christ. Our freedom is higher, better, and more wonderful.
The freedom the believer has in Christ is the freedom to keep all
God’s commandments without the possibility of ever sinning again.
Adam could (and did) fall; the redeemed believer cannot fall. Adam
could (and did) choose to disobey God; the believer, united to
Christ, can never choose for anything but Christ Himself. The first
Adam could (and did) plunge the whole human race into misery by his
sin; the second Adam preserves His elect forever and ever in
holiness and true righteousness.
That inability of the believer ever to sin is not
given perfectly till heaven. In this life, the new man in Christ,
created through the wonder of regeneration, must still do battle
with the old man of sin. But even now the victory of the perfect
freedom of heaven is the possession of those who belong to Christ.
This freedom is found in the great doctrine of the preservation of
In glory, when the believer is made new in body
and in soul, he shall never sin again into all eternity, for the
power of sin is completely broken and destroyed. This is true of
elect men and of elect angels.
If the reader desires a further treatment of this
subject, he is urged to read Herman Hoeksema’s
Reformed Dogmatics. In the old, single-volume edition
(1966), consult pages 245-254. In the new, two-volume edition
(2004-2005), read volume 1, pages 348-376. Prof. Hanko
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