In the 21st century, “family” and “marriage” can mean vastly different things to different people. Wedding ceremonies now sometimes join two brides or two grooms together. Families aren’t as predictable as the used to be. My own family is multi-racial, and not all of our five children are blood-related to each other, or even to my husband and myself.
ARTICLE 5 — I WILL UPHOLD THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE AND OF FAMILY LIFE.
What does it mean to uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life? It matters that we understand where we stand. The very word “sanctity” means that we regard these things as holy, committed reverently to the Lord. So we need to get it right.
The sanctity of marriage involves several things: gender issues, sex, the preservation of marriage (that is, staying married), and sacrificial love for one another. Society has changed a great deal. Has The Salvation Army changed its position on these matters? What do you agree to when you sign a Soldier’s Covenant?
The Salvation Army has not changed its definition of marriage. Though we have an open heart for those who are not drawn to the opposite sex, we maintain our interpretation that the Bible teaches us that marriage is between a male and a female, and that such is the only appropriate type of marriage for a Salvation Army soldier. People who feel and even practice otherwise are still welcome to worship as part of our congregation, receive services from us, etc.
Furthermore, Salvationists believe that sex is a wonderful, intimate gift that is meant for husband and wife only. Ask any happily-married couple with a healthy sex relationship (if you dare!) and they will tell you: sex is not only enjoyable; it creates a bond like no other physical act can. If used the way God created it, it intertwines body and soul. That’s why it is so special, and that’s why we don’t want to share it with anyone other than our life partner in marriage.
Not every marriage succeeds, of course. That’s real life. Since husband and wife are as two people who’ve become one flesh, divorce is extremely painful for all concerned—even if the marriage was bad to begin with. A senior soldier understands that marriage is a sacred vow and that one should do everything possible to see that vow isn’t broken. To that end, it is impossible to overstate the importance of choosing a life partner who shares your values. Husband and wife can—and should be—a force for Christ in this world together. If the Kingdom of God is your highest value, but not a value at all for your girlfriend or boyfriend, could you really have a happy and purposeful existence together for the rest of your life?
The Bible has much to say about Christian love. We are taught to regard one another as better than ourselves and to put others first. If we uphold the sanctity of marriage, our marriages should be a wellspring of Christian love. They should exemplify sacrificial giving and deep commitment. Both the husband and wife should feel valued. A Salvationist should encourage his or her marriage partner to grow in Christ, and to grow and flourish in every other way, too. A spouse should be honored, cherished, and seen through the eyes of Christ.
Biblical families were complicated. A lot of Old Testament men even had multiple wives, so you know it couldn’t have been easy! It sometimes helps to keep this in mind before we start placing judgment on the situations of other people, or even our own situations. If by upholding the sanctity of family life we mean that we only respect a family of husband, wife, two kids, and a dog, we are living in a fantasy world.
As Christians it is our duty to respect and love the family we find ourselves in, as long as this does not involve putting ourselves in dangerous or abusive situations. You may have a stepparent and stepsiblings, adopted family members, in-laws, etc. Harmonious, nurturing, and loving relationships should be our goal. Romans 12:18 (NIV) says: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
When it is your turn to build your own family, you are called upon to make it as Christ-centered and loving and healthy as you possibly can. This should be regarded as our holy duty.
ARTICLE 6 — I WILL BE A FAITHFUL STEWARD OF MY TIME AND GIFTS, MY BODY, MY MIND AND MY SPIRIT, KNOWING THAT I AM ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD.
Becoming a Salvation Army soldier is a serious, covenantal undertaking. And frankly, it isn’t just a covenant between you and God. When you become a soldier you agree to accountability for who you are. The Army gets in your face, so to speak, and tells you that you need to be faithful in these very private arenas. Your corps officer or other people may challenge you on these issues. If they are your Christian leaders, it is not out of line for them to do so.
TIME AND GIFTS
Each person in the body of Christ has spiritual gifts, as well as natural ability. These are the property of God, not of ourselves. As people concerned with the Kingdom of God, it is our responsibility to engage our gifts and our time toward the growth of that Kingdom. Some people feel insecure and so they hide their gifts. It is very important to get past any hang-ups so that God can make use of us. As the song says, “I surrender my everything to You.”
MONEY AND POSSESSIONS
We learn in Matthew 6 that we are either all about earthly gain for ourselves, or we are all about serving God. We cannot prioritize both. If we are all about serving God, then we understand that He has lordship over our finances. In the book of Exodus God demanded the first born of all the animals be sacrificed to Him. Not the second, the first. Not because He needed a steak dinner, but because His people needed to give Him their best to honor Him and to remind themselves of their own place. An animal was like cash money to the ancient people—and the best went to God. Do we really think it should be any different for us? Especially in a world of suffering and need, when giving not only humbles us, but provides for others?
BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT
We are a church that believes in holiness, which means we believe in living a life that is pure in thought, word, and deed. Song 591 in the songbook, Showers of Blessing, says, “I would be Thy holy temple, sacred and indwelt by Thee.” If we invite Christ to live within us, shall we ask Him to live in a mind that is entertained by filth, a body that is lazy or engaged in sin, or a spirit that is weak and selfish? Or shall we open ourselves up and say, “I’m yours. Clean me out. Make me pure. Make Yourself at home in me”?
SOLDIERS FOR CHRIST
2 Timothy 2:4 (NIV) says, “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” We are soldiers of Christ. He is the true commanding officer. We must live holy lives that please Him because that is our only true and proper worship (Romans 12:1). When we live according to the Soldier’s Covenant, we live worshipful lives.
A PROMISE FOR LIFE
What You Never Knew About Christian Couples
How many years were William and Catherine Booth engaged?
- A. One
- B. Two
- C. Three
Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles Wesley) was one of how many children?
- A. 25
- B. 18
- C. 11
Jonathan and Sarah Edwards were married in 1727. What color did Sarah wear for the wedding, because Jonathan believed it was God’s favorite color?
- A. White
- B. Green
- C. Red
Sarah was 99 years old when God told her husband, Abraham she would conceive a son. How old was Sarah when she died?
- A. 156
- B. 144
- C. 127
Priscilla and Aquilla worked alongside one another in ministry and were instrumental in helping establish the early church. They worked together as______________.
- A. builders
- B. tent makers
- C. farmers
How many years did Jacob work to marry his love, Rachel, after being tricked into marrying her sister, Leah?
- A. Four
- B. Seven
- C. Fourteen
Widowed Ruth marries Boaz, her kinsman redeemer. What does that mean?
- A. A male relative who delivers or rescues
- B. kind friend
- C. personal bodyguard
ANSWER KEY: C, A, B, C, B, C, A
Major Amy Reardon, Seattle Temple Corps Officer, Western Territory