Marriage seminar? No thanks. We’re fine.

Experts differ on the rate of divorce in the United States. Fifty percent is the much-quoted statistic, although the actual rate may be a bit lower. But no matter how you slice it, divorce is a HUGE problem in our society, even among professing evangelical Christians.

My wife and I regularly hang out with a lovely Christian couple who I have mentioned a few times in the past. A couple of months ago, my wife informed me that there was going to be a marriage seminar at this couple’s evangelical church and they had invited us to attend. Argh, I thought to myself. Our marriage is doing just fine, so leave us alone. But what kind of husband would I be if I said no to a marriage seminar, so I reluctantly agreed to attend. Double argh!

My wife and I have been married for 44 years if you don’t count the one year we were divorced back in 2001. I had walked away from the Lord ten years previous to that and my wife wasn’t walking closely with the Lord at the time, either. As a result, our marriage became pretty messed up. The Lord brought us back together in 2002 (Praise God!) but it would be another 12 years before I came back to Him. What a dummy! Our marriage still has some challenges at times (what marriage doesn’t?) so I resolved a seminar would do us both some good.

A couple of months seemed like one hundred years away when I first heard about the seminar, but the event quickly crept up on us last weekend. Right on cue, my wife and I had a little squabble right before the 6:30-8:30 Friday evening opening session. My timing is sometimes superb! The information – mostly via video – was very helpful and inspiring. Most importantly, it was God-focused.

The second session was an all-day affair, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and again, right on cue, my wife and I had a nice tiff prior to leaving home. Argh! It was almost as if the Lord allowed those two timely squabbles so that we would have a humble attitude rather than showing up with an “I don’t need this” pridefulness. Again, the information that was presented was very helpful, inspiring, and centered on the Lord.

The videos used in the seminar were put together by FamilyLife, a ministry of CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ). I’m definitely not a big fan of CRU because of founder Bill Bright’s ecumenical tendencies, but the material was Biblically solid. I’m currently reading through 10 pages of the 140-page workbook (photo below) each night as a follow-up. The workbook wasn’t used much during the sessions.

Divorce statistics confirm that marriage relationships need constant, intentional work, but we can easily fall into a selfish rut and take our spouses for granted. This seminar was a real blessing to me and an inspiration to be the husband the Lord wants me to be. If your church sponsors a marriage seminar, I would encourage you to check it out.

“But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Mark 10:6-9




Catholic “Divorce Recovery Expert” is a false teacher

This past Wednesday night, I was driving to our church small group’s weekly meeting and I had the car radio tuned to the local Catholic station and a program called, “Catholic Answers Live.” Lisa Duffy (see photo), who bills herself as a Catholic “Divorce Recovery Expert” was the guest for that evening’s show.

A Catholic woman called into the program desperately seeking some advice from Duffy. She related that she and her first husband, also a Catholic, had been divorced. After waiting several years, she remarried civilly, but then sought to backtrack and get her first marriage annulled by the church so that she could have her second marriage convalidated* in order to once again receive the sacraments. Catholicism teaches that members who have divorced and remarried without having their first marriage annulled are living in a state of ongoing adultery and are barred from the sacraments. In Catholic teaching, communion and reconciliation are vital components of the church’s salvation process.

The woman brought her annulment case to her diocese’s tribunal, but the ecclesiastical court would not grant her petition for a “declaration of nullity” (annulment) of her first marriage. Hmm. Her last name must not be “Kennedy.” She then sought the counsel of two priests in regards to receiving communion. The first one said he would gladly allow her to receive communion, while the second one said she was still banned according to the strictures of Canon law, #s 915 & 916. With a tone of deep weariness in here voice, the woman appealed to “Divorce Recovery Expert,” Duffy, for help.

Catholic Answers disseminates very conservative Catholic ideology and features only like-minded guests. Duffy seconded the instructions of the latter priest, saying the woman was definitely still restricted from receiving the sacraments because her annulment petition was not granted. She counseled the woman to pray and to visit a priest about the possibility of appealing the tribunal’s ruling.

My thoughts on this complicated, legalistic gobbledygook? Glad you asked, as ol’ pastor Joe would often say!

According to Catholic theology, only members without the stain of mortal sin on their souls and in a “state of grace” may receive the consecrated communion elements, which the church teaches are the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. But I would counter that the soul of every single Catholic and every single person in this world is stained with “mortal” sin, and the only redemption available to us is by repenting of our sins and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. When we accept Christ, His perfect righteousness is imputed to us, we could never become righteous ourselves. Every Catholic who stands in line on Sunday to receive communion, claiming to be without mortal sin, is a liar. Who do these pious Catholics think they are? If I could display all of their secret thoughts and actions over the course of the preceding week on a large screen in front of the entire congregation as they stood in line, they would stumble over each other like panicked rats as they scurried back to their pews or out the door.

“For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

And what about the celibate priests who sanctimoniously deny communion to remarried divorcees? If the newspaper headlines are any indication, many of them lust after the children and teenagers sitting in the pews during mass. Harsh words? I’m not the one telling remarried divorcees to move to the back of the bus.

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:10 & 23

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

By barring remarried divorcees from communion, the Catholic church created a group of second-class members. It wasn’t a problem fifty years ago, but with divorce rates so high these days, it’s become a huge issue. Many remarried divorcees leave the church rather than endure the humiliation. Pope Francis attempted to stanch the exodus by guilefully reversing the ban on communion for remarried divorcees via the small print in his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia.” But bishops are interpreting the document differently. Liberals are allowing communion for remarried divorcees while conservatives are not. The church is currently embroiled in a major battle, with conservatives claiming that the lifting of the communion ban was a heretical act by Francis.


My heart goes out to the poor caller who is struggling to do the right thing. Yes, God’s Word says divorce is not permitted, except for the reason of marital infidelity or by being abandoned by an unbelieving spouse. But all sin can be forgiven by the Lord Jesus Christ. The woman needs to repent of her sin and accept Christ as Savior. She can’t simply undo her divorce or her remarriage, but she can go forward as a child of God, reborn through the Holy Spirit by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone. She needs to turn from Roman Catholic religious legalism and accept Christ. Only in Him will she find forgiveness, eternal life, and sweet fellowship with Almighty God. Lisa Duffy propagates Rome’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit and religious chains. She is a false teacher.

*Convalidation: In Roman Catholic canon law, the making of a putative marriage valid following the removal of some impediment. A ceremony in which a marriage, such as a civil marriage, is made recognized by the church.

Is remarriage after divorce always adultery?

Pope greases annulment process, so what about…???

“Youra second time arounda? Eh, you always gotta homa here.”

I’ve already referenced the recent Pew Research which shows the Catholic church is on a downward slide and picking up steam. The pope is fully aware of the situation and is rolling up his sleeves to try to stem the tide. Last week he announced priests all over the world will soon be granted the “power” to forgive women who’ve had abortions. Only priests in certain countries currently have that “power.”

Then, like a one-two punch, the pope announced yesterday he is going to fast-track the annulment process. Currently, any Catholic who divorces and remarries is barred from the sacraments, meaning they’re going to hell. In the old days, only rich Catholics like the Kennedys could get their first marriages annulled but restrictions were loosened a bit. Today, the ever-growing number of Catholics who are getting divorced and remarried would rather sleep-in on Sunday mornings or explore other worship options rather than go through the annulment hassle or be treated like a puritan with a sewn-on scarlet letter.

So the pope is going to expedite the process. Annulments will be cheaper and faster. And the grounds for granting an annulment will be pretty much non-existent. A legitimate excuse…er…reason for granting an annulment will be that one of the partners didn’t realize “marriage was a lifelong commitment.” Oy vey!

Okay, the parish exit door is spinning like a top and Francis is trying to stanch the exodus but this ex-Catholic, who accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and has no other plea than Jesus, has a couple of simple questions. This new annulment policy goes into effect in December. So what happens to all the Catholics who divorced and remarried and were denied the sacraments and died and went to hell in years gone by? Do they get a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in December?

The Catholic church has more rules than Carter has pills and the rules are always changing. Praise the Lord for salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE!


Pope Reforms Catholic Church’s Marriage Annulment Process


Francis seeks to softsoap divorce PR nightmare

If divorced Catholics remarry they are not allowed to receive the “eucharist” at mass. Why not? Because the church teaches remarried Catholics are living in “mortal” sin and anyone with “mortal” sin on their souls cannot Decision_marriage_divorce_annulment_Photo_by_George_Hodan_CC0_10_CNA_US_Catholic_News_10_1_13receive communion. This wasn’t a problem fifty years ago but with today’s high divorce rate the church’s restrictive policy is giving many Catholics a good reason to stay home Sunday morning or even consider worship alternatives (hopefully where the true Gospel is preached).

The Catholic church’s canon lawyers are keeping busy these days cranking out “annulments” for first marriages but that is not always possible UNLESS your last name is Kennedy.

I recently heard a priest on Catholic talk radio say a remarried Catholic should wait until they’re on their deathbed when they could strategically confess their second marriage and be received back into the full graces of the church just prior to their death. Oy vey!

Pope Francis understands he has a PR nightmare on his hands and is trying to stem the exodus but I don’t see the Vatican changing its official policy on the communion ban for remarried Catholics any time soon. It would be unthinkable for this “infallible” pope to abrogate the policy of previous “infallible” popes, as much as he’d like to.

Unfortunately, the world’s increasingly casual approach toward marriage vows is rubbing off on Evangelical Christians. The Bible says divorce is permissible only in the cases of adultery or abandonment (Matthew 19:19 and 1 Cor. 7:15). But thank the Lord that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all sin.

Works-righteous Catholicism with its bevy of canon lawyers has more rules and regulations than Carter has pills. Thank the Lord for the simple but glorious Gospel of salvation by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ ALONE.


Pope Francis calls on church to welcome divorced Catholics


David Gibson, Religion News Service, August 5, 2015

Speaking out on one of the most contentious issues of his papacy, Pope Francis issued a powerful call Wednesday for the church to embrace Catholics who have divorced and remarried.

Such couples “are not excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way,” Francis told a Vatican crowd. “They always belong to the church.”

Francis asked pastors to welcome Catholics who have remarried without an annulment, even though such Catholics are currently barred in most cases from receiving the Eucharist, the central sacrament of the faith.

“The church is called to be always the open house of the father … no closed doors! No closed doors,” Francis told the crowd at his weekly public audience, which resumed after a month-long summer break.

Since he was elected in 2013, Francis has said that the church must be more merciful and open, and he has encouraged debate on changing pastoral practices to allow, for example, divorced and remarried Catholics to take communion.

That issue was one of several that inflamed unusually public debates at a major Vatican summit of bishops that the pope convened last October. The arguments — including how to welcome gay couples and those who are cohabiting — have continued to engage top churchmen in pointed exchanges ahead of a follow up summit, called a synod, set for October.

Many Vatican observers believe Francis wants to see some concrete changes, which his foes believe would be tantamount to heresy because it would undermine Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

The issue of how to treat divorced and remarried Catholics is just one of many the bishops will debate, but it is a widespread pastoral problem and has come to stand for the bigger question of how, and even whether, the Catholic Church can change.

Francis himself has not endorsed any particular proposal, and in focusing on the topic on Wednesday he reiterated that “there is no easy solution for these situations.”

But he made it clear that he wanted the Catholic Church to take a new, more open approach.

“For how can we encourage these parents to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christian faith, if we keep them at arm’s length?

“If we look at these new bonds (of remarried Catholics) with the eyes of small children – and the children do watch,” he said, “we see once again the urgency of developing in our communities a real welcome for people in such situations.”

The children are the ones who suffer most when their parents are shunned, Francis said.

How can the church, he said, “tell these parents to do everything to raise their children as Christians, giving them an example of a firm and practiced faith, if we keep them at arm’s length from the community, as if they were excommunicated?”

The church, he concluded, “must do everything not to add further burdens to those that children in these situations must already bear.”