“What God has joined together, let no man separate”

As if we needed another reason to ignore people who claim to have received visions and special revelations from God, this article adds yet another: Pat Robertson Says Alzheimer’s Makes Divorce OK. When a viewer asked Pat Robertson what advice he should give a friend who had started seeing another woman because his wife has Alzheimer’s, he responded: “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but make sure she has custodial care and somebody looking after her.”

When I married Dixie, I made vows to her and to God that I would take her as my lawfully wedded wife, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance.” Did that mean that our time together would always be trouble free? Of course not. The very vows taken are a reminder that along with the better is the worse, along with the richer is the poorer, along with the health is the sickness, etc. Christian marriage is an “until death do us part” commitment that a man and a woman make depending upon the grace of God to leave family, cleave to one another, and become one flesh.

As a son who watched his father care for his mother as her mind began to slip away, I realize that such care is draining and difficult, but I also realize that such care is one of the reasons why two people marry in the first place: to be there when they are needed most. I often read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 at a wedding. It is not specifically about marriage, but the principle is very true for a husband and a wife: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

One should always turn to God’s Word when asking such questions about divorce. God is very specific when it comes to divorce, and the Westminster Confession of Faith lays out clearly the Biblical position in Chapter XXIV: “Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God hath joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such willful desertion as can no way be remedied by the church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage.” As Jesus commanded: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate,” (Matthew 19:6) no matter what Pat Robertson says.

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Tuesday Hymns: “Holy God, We Praise Your Name”

Today’s Tuesday Hymn, Holy God, We Praise Your Name, is based on the ancient hymn, Te Deum, which has been traditionally ascribed to Ambrose and Augustine at Augustine’s baptism in the 4th century. To quote that great reformer, Martin Luther (at the top of “Pilate’s Stairs” in Rome), “Who can know if it is so?

This version was written by Ignace Franz circa 1774, and is a hymn that is full of praise to the Triune God from the beginning to the end. It speaks generally of “all on earth” and “all in heaven” praising God for His sovereignty, and then particularly lists specific groups who join the chorus of praise: “Angel choirs,” “Apostles,” “Prophets,” “Martyrs,” along with the rest of Christ’s church through the ages. It concludes at the glorious pinnacle of the Biblical doctrine of the Trinity: “There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” (I love the Shorter Catechism!) In The Trinity Hymnal, the lyrics are attached to the tune, GROSSER BOTT, WIR LOBEN DICH.

Holy God, we praise Your Name;
Lord of all, we bow before You!
All on earth Your scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore You;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Your reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.

Tuesday Hymns: “Psalms 121”

I love singing the Psalms when God’s people gather to worship Him. The thought that I am singing the same words (granted they are in English, not Hebrew, and changed to fit our patterns of meter and rhyme) that were sung over 2500 years ago by worshippers of YHWH reminds us that we, “although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree.” (Romans 11:17) We are a part of “the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 25, Of the Church)

Psalm 121 is one of the “Songs of Ascents” that was sung by pilgrims “heading up” to Jerusalem (both geographically and spiritually) to take part in the feasts commanded by the Lord under the Old Covenant. It is a reminder to us that our help is to be found in the Lord. People may (and often will) let you down, but the Lord is always at work fulfilling His eternal purpose in our lives, giving our lives meaning and direction as we face the difficulties of this fallen world.

This Psalm is often sung to the familiar tune, DUNDEE.

I to the hills will lift my eyes.
From whence shall come my aid?
My safety cometh from the LORD
Who heav’n and earth has made.

Thy foot He’ll not let slide, nor will
He slumber that thee keeps.
Lo, He that keepeth Is-ra-el,
He slumbers not nor sleeps.

The LORD thee keeps; the LORD thy shade
On thy right hand doth stay;
The moon by night thee shall not smite,
Nor yet the sun by day.

The LORD shall keep thee from all ill;
He shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD as thou shalt go and come
Forever keeps thee whole.

(Scottish Psalter, 1615)