One Simple Rule
For Church, and for marriage
NASCAR sensation Jeff Gordon, notwithstanding the foolish and undiscerning exploitation by the religious world of his marriage to a professed Christian and subsequent highly-touted conversion, is now in the sinful middle of a “very contentious divorce” from the woman referred to as a “beauty pageant queen” and “stone hottie and devout christian.” A WHAT??!!
There are several lessons to be learned here. One is clearly this: that Jeff’s religious bride Brooke teaching him to “tape Scripture to his race car dashboard before every race” and “pray together by his car before races” is not as spiritual, necessarily, as it sounds. Not that these things are a bad idea if their lives are being built right in Him, of course. But, look honestly where all of that can still lead within a few short years, with probably the best of intentions, when we build in unBiblical ways. Jesus spoke often of those “few” who will “DO the Father’s Will” and “teach them to OBEY everything I commanded,” instead of “preach” about it, or “Bible study” it.
The christian world made a VERY big deal of their marriage, exploiting the celebrity “conversion” for speaking engagements and magazine covers. The obvious “respecter-of-persons” christian magazine and news headlines, excited stories, and photos of the newlyweds foolishly and boasted of their christian marriage and his conversion. Why were THEY dubbed hero and heroine, and written about, and paid to “speak” at religious facilities and events—and not every other person who had given their lives to Jesus about that same time? Did GOD notice them above others? No. It happened simply because she was a beauty contest winner and he was a sports celebrity. The same thing happened to Constantine in the Roman empire, and horrendous damage was done to the Body of Christ as a result of this error of the flesh. Was this woman REALLY a Christian, by Jesus’ definition in Luke 9:57-62? Was he really converted to Jesus, rather than to romance with the model and beauty queen? Does anyone even KNOW? Probably (if the fruit of this says anything to us) other than the cultural definitions of Christian which ignore vast amounts of Teaching and Commands from Jesus Himself, no one cared to know if she wanted to obey Jesus utterly, or just use Him.
“MANY will say to Me on that day ‘Lord, Lord!’... and I will say ‘I never knew you’” (Mat.7:22-23).
Not that most of the religious world will learn anything from this if history is a guide, but all is not as it appears to be in the superficial world of religion. The 50% divorce rate amongst their ranks and 75% loss of their “youth group” children OUGHT to highlight the fallacies that Jesus said would NOT happen if HE were building the Church. Instead, we continue to build with the disastrous fruit of the traditions and empires of man building superstitious and sentimental religious “experiences” on Sunday mornings and cell groups and “home church.” Will this raise questions about the very nature of cultural “christianity” which bears so little resemblance to anything named Christianity in the Bible? Not with most. Most will shed a tear for the “tragedy” and take no responsibility for the fact that their refusal to “be very careful how you build” is the REASON that 90% of these tragedies take place. Ninety percent of the terrible things that happen CAN be averted, if we are building as Jesus and His apostles have Instructed us. Until 1 Corinthians 12, Acts 2:42-47, Heb.3:12-14, and the like describe our daily lives, we will continue to see the crises and disasters of lives tragically ripped apart by satan right under our noses, right after the latest “service” or “program” or “devotional.”
There is a public service advertisement shown in the United (Untied?) States from time to time. It dramatizes teenager after teenager speaking hatefully of their parents. “‘I hated you. You invaded my space. You ask where I’m going and who I’m with and for how long. I thought you were nosey and the worst parents on earth. But, now? THANK YOU.’ Parents: the Anti-Drug.” A very straightforward message to parents about courageously taking responsibility for the outcome of the lives of family members. Even the unregenerate understand this Principle, to protect and help those they love, even if it is not what the immature person desires initially. “Loving involvement: the Anti-Devastation.”
If anyone desired to obey God’s Command in Heb.3:12-14 with Jeff and Brooke there would have been many opportunities to help them both eradicate the foothold satan was getting with them—the “small sins” and “telltale signs” and bad decisions which eventually morphed into this tragic divorce and its terrible Testimony for the Lord Jesus. Those who loved Brooke—those part of her church—might have helped her see that her slinky clothing, perhaps her occupation, her beauty pageant competitions strutting bikini and low-cut flesh in front of pagans, and her companions day to day had the potential of seriously jeopardizing her Spiritual life and blinding her to the Fellowship (and Commands) of the Holy Spirit of Christ. It is true, Biblically, for all of us that our temptations will KILL us if they are not “nipped in the bud.” And a primary weapon of God against that tendency is the “Church that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against”... Believers “called alongside daily” (Hebrews 3) helping us see what we are too dull to see by ourselves. Attitudes, decisions, tendencies, and other issues that always “start small” can fester into huge errors and sins on “business trips” or “internet” or relational sins. Likewise with Jeff. Maybe any Godly, daily, entrusted influence in his life involved with his “rising up, sitting down, and walking along the way” just MIGHT have asked him to reconsider his appearance on the demented and immoral television program, Saturday Night Live. No doubt there were a hundred thousand things that true Spiritual Family would care about amongst their Life together, that would help save one another from such tragedy and heartache and ransacking from the devil’s schemes. Jeff and Brooke’s marriage could very well have been saved if the Body of Christ was functioning Biblically around them (1 Corinthians 12). Along with the other lives all around them that could have been saved. And perhaps still can be, if God’s People will truly be “the Body of Christ.” Rest assured, there are divorces and worldly teens all around them in their religious world destroying their lives, too. It doesn’t have to be.
Another lesson to be learned from this is like unto the first: the poor and unBiblical building of the religious system, its nearly powerless sentimental rituals and services, and its man-made leadership structures will never allow us to be strong enough to “cast down strongholds” or be wise enough to outsmart “satan’s devices.” God’s Plan for overcoming the devil and his works is actually IN THE BIBLE: in the way the Church is to live and love with one another in “daily” Koinonia. “Loving one another,” “bearing one another’s burdens,” “confessing sins one to another,” “admonishing one another”... all “DAILY” in depth—as you would expect with “a hundred MOTHERS, BROTHERS, and SISTERS” in daily intimate Family relationship. But the nature of the “system” is that it is set up to be a “lone ranger” thing, not Family. The system substitutes “preaching” the Story and singing... for LIVING the Story in obedience and daily love and relationship with Him, and Him in “one another.” This man-made religion leaves multitudes of His Lambs unnecessarily exposed to the ravages and deceptions of the enemy and the allure of the world, unlike the Plan of God for His Church. “God’s Intent is now, through the Church, to make known His manifold wisdom, even to the principalities and powers.”
More often than not, the REASON the Biblical pattern is discarded is that one man (or a small group of men) want to hold the power, and extract the wealth. They say they are “called” to take on this unBiblical role of christian holy man and “automatic talker and decision maker” over the congregation. As God said, laziness and fear amongst those who have been made “laity” (rather than “a Kingdom of Priests”) result in total capitulation by most “attenders.” Most don’t mind being dominated by Nicolaitanism (“conquering the people”) in Laodicea. “My People love it so.” And so, those with something to lose, the religious leaders in the structure, will maintain a system of “clergy” holy men, and “laity” dumb masses. Of course the clergy will throw a bone out to the laity every once in awhile. “Give them an assignment” or “make them a cell group leader” or “have a ministry time to get everyone “involved.” This will keep the laity satisfied and contributing money and man-power for the empire. Clergy hold the “laity” hostage by flattery and emotional stimuli—and if that doesn’t work, with threat or name-calling.
There was an internationally published quotation about Gordon’s “superstar christian marriage” to the Miss Winston beauty pageant queen—and their subsequent “very contentious (christian?) divorce.” Ironically, this quotation ALSO sums up WHY the clergy/laity system is so terribly wrong and unBiblical.
The quote below, in a story about Jeff, is wisdom for marriage, for sure. The quote also makes a lot of sense regarding clergy as a major nemesis of Biblical ChurchLife.
“One simple rule I’ve always tried to live by: Never marry a woman who wears a sash and tiara to work.”