Questions and Answers - Part II
Dr. Joe Temple

Question Number 10

Why is it that one partner may seem to be more sensitive to spiritual things than the other? Should one try to help the other become more devoted to Christ?

ANSWER: I think the answer to the first question is this: The reason that sometimes one partner seems to be more sensitive to spiritual things than the other partner is that we are individuals, and our hearts are quickened individually by the Spirit of God through the Word of God. Some of us walk in the Spirit and some of us don't. That is one of the reasons for the difference in spiritual aptitude.

Quite often a question like this is asked by a lady, and perhaps this one was. I believe if statistics were kept, it could be proved that women are more spiritually inclined than men, and I think historically it has always been so. Basically, what I have said to you is true, that it is a matter of walking in the Spirit. Men can walk in the Spirit. Men can obey Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18, just as women can obey Ephesians, chapter 5, verse 18. But in many instances, the men are so in touch with the world–notice what I said: not in all–and have so many opportunities to grieve the Holy Spirit, and do grieve Him, that they are out of fellowship more times and for longer periods than women are. I think that is the reason.

Now this part of the question: Should one try to help the other become more devoted to Christ? An immediate answer to that would be yes, by all means. But I would offer a word of caution because I don't know exactly what is meant by this. Let me suggest to you what I have suggested to parents oftentimes about their children, and let's face it, husbands need to be treated like children quite often. You need to learn, if you have not already, that you can make people religious, but you cannot make them spiritual. You can make your children go to church, and you ought to make them go to church, but you cannot make them spiritual. I use the illustration in relation to children to make a point here: You cannot make children spiritual, and if you try, you may develop an empty, formal testimony that means nothing. I am very much concerned that in many of our Bible-believing churches that is what we have done.

Let me use this illustration: My wife and her sisters were reared in a Methodist parsonage, and her father was a godly man. They had testimony meetings as they used to have in old-time Methodist churches, and he was very anxious that the Pastor's family maintain the image. If no one else testified, the Pastor's family must testify. My wife is very hesitant about public testimonies to this day. For one thing, she cannot talk about the things of the Lord without tears. For another thing, she is afraid that what she says will be directed by the flesh instead of by the Spirit because they had to testify every time they had a testimony meeting.

She said that when they would get home from church, if for some reason they had not testified, their father would line them up in the living room and say, “All right, what is wrong with you? Have you back-slidden? What is wrong with you? Why didn't I hear a testimony tonight?” Now, he meant well; he was a godly man, but he was not perceptive. It got to the place where they gave a testimony because they would rather do that than face what they got at home. The youngest girl, who is now a missionary in Ethiopia and doing a marvelous work along with her husband for the Lord, got the picture; so once when testimony time came, she stood up and said, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candlestick,” and sat down. That's all she knew to say. Well, everyone laughed, and that is understandable, but the father was furious with her. He thought she was making fun of a very sacred thing. But my wife told me that the child told her in tears, “I thought I had to say something.” So you see, don't even attempt to make children spiritual. You can't.

Now, we are talking about partners. Don't try to make your partner spiritual. If you are saying, “Should I try to help the partner become more devoted to Christ?”, and you mean by that insisting that he do certain things, by all means, no. But if you can adroitly, wisely, leave things lying around that the Holy Spirit can use, then do it. The Lord will give you wisdom to do that.

A wife who would say to her husband, “I want you to read this,” won't get anywhere at all. But if she leaves that same thing lying in the bathroom, even with the page turned down to the place she wants him to read–I don't want to be crude; I am being practical–he will pick the thing up and leaf through it; he will see the page turned down, and he will say, “I wonder what she was reading?”, and he will get it. The Lord can give you wisdom. By all means, help him become more devoted to Christ, but don't force him.

Now, let me add one other thing about this. There are some husbands who are new in the faith. Maybe you have known the Lord longer than he has. He has just come to know the Lord. He would like instruction, but he doesn't want to admit that he wants you to tell him about it. So ask the Lord to give you perception about teaching him without appearing to teach him. For example, if you read the Word of God together, don't say to your husband, “Now, Honey, this means so-and-so.” He may really want to know that, but he hates for you to tell him. Why don't you say to him, “Honey, I enjoyed the way you read that. I wonder what that means.” You may know; but say, “I wonder what that means.” He may say, because he doesn't want you to know how ignorant he is, “Well, I think it means so-and-so.” You can say, “Oh, I never thought of that,” because it might be so far-fetched that you have never thought of it. After you kick that around a little bit, you can say, “But, you know, I just had an idea that it might mean this. Do you suppose it means this?” He will say, “Well, you know, I hadn't thought about that. You know, it probably does mean that.”

Then do you know what he will do the next time you talk with some friends? He will say, “You know, my wife and I were reading such and such a passage of Scripture, and do you know what I told her it meant?” His face is saved, and believe me, the Chinese are not the only people who like face-saving. His face is saved and the message is given. By all means, help him to be more devoted to Christ, but don't try to make him devoted. There is a big difference.

Question No. 11

Would it be wrong to go to church on Sunday night or Wednesday night when it doesn't inconvenience my husband, since he is interested in going only on Sunday morning, or should I be content and happy to go only on Sunday morning?

Answer : This is a question that is asked in different ways in nearly every conference we have. There are a number of things to consider, and I am going to say one or two things with which many pepole are not in agreement, but I offer them to you and you can do as you will about them.

I am concerned about legalism in relation to Christianity from a twofold standpoint. One thing is that I think folk are too legalistic, and the other thing that concerns me is that because folk are prone to legalism, other folk turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. I am making that statement so that you will not misinterpret what I am going to say. There is nothing in the Bible that says we should have services Sunday morning and Sunday night. There is nothing in the Bible that says we should have services on Wednesday night.

Sometimes a question such as this–I don't mean to imply that it is true in this case, because I don't know who asked it–indicates a bit of conscience-streckenness, because some folk have been trained that if they are not in church on Sunday morning and on Sunday night and on Wednesday night, or every time the doors open, they are grieving the Holy Spirit.

I do not preach loyalty to the church. In our work at home, I announce what I am going to preach on Sunday morning and what I am going to preach on Sunday night, and then I say, “You let the Holy Spirit guide you. If you feel that He wants you here on Sunday morning, you be here. If He wants you to stay at home, stay at home.” I am very jealous for the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the individual believer's life. To be in church for the sake of being in church will accomplish nothing; I want to say that as a foundation for what I am going to say.

If your husband wants to go to church on Sunday morning and does not want to go on Sunday night, it could indicate a lack in his own spiritual experience. On the other hand, it could mean nothing more than that he prefers to stay at home on Sunday night. Though he may not seem to mind your going (note that this question says it does not inconvenience him), it is possible for something not to inconvenience your husband and still displease him. He may love you. I hope he does. And he may want your presence with him because he is busy all week long; on Sunday night he does not want to go to church, and he may say something like this to you: “Honey, why don't you stay home with me tonight?” You say, “Why? What do you need for me to do.” Well, ten chances to one he will say, “Go ahead and go. That is all right.” But he may not be adroit with words, and what he really means is, “I don't need you to do anything. I just want to be with you.” And it may be the only time he can be with you.

But, you feel that you need to be in church or you may even want to be there because of the spiritual blessing or the spiritual food that you would receive from the service. So I think the question needs to be interpreted in the light of what your husband's desire is; and that, of course, should be interpreted in the light of I Peter, chapter 3, verse 1. You will recall that that verse reminds you that your husbands may be won; if they are disobedient to the Word (that does not necessarily mean that they are unsaved) they are not living in the fullness of the Spirit, and they may be won without a word from you by the godly conversation that you present.

I am sure it has been emphasized that some folk say they may be won without the Word–the idea being that you don't have to preach to them, because technically speaking no one can be born again without the Word of God. It is through the Word that we are born. But basically I think the meaning of the verse is that they may be won without a word of any description from you.

Oftentimes a woman will in all sincerity interpret a godly life as being manifested in prayer and churchgoing. It is well to remember that a godly life can be manifested in a sweet, understanding spirit, as far as your husband is concerned. So, I would say in answer to this question: If your husband prefers to stay at home on Sunday night, and he really doesn't mind your going–he would just as soon you go because he may want to read, or he may want to do any number of things–then you are perfectly at liberty to go. But I would ask the Lord to give me a spirit of perception to know what is in my husband's mind–not just what he says, but what is in his mind. Most men, believe it or not, want peace at any price, and if they discover that you will stay at home if they ask you to, but you are edgy all the time you are there, they would just as soon you would go on. And by going on to church on Sunday night, you may be missing a marvelous opportunity to win your husband to the kind of spiritual life that is needed.

Question No. 12

If a husband or wife is emotionally ill, and therefore subject to rash decisions and irresponsible behavior, how bound is the mate to spiritual obedience? For example, if the husband is prone to make decisions what are unwise, and even unbiblical, should I, as a wife, remain silent when I know that he is sick and his decision is not the best one for our family? This instablity, remember, is also known by the children and they add to the problem by verbally disagreeing with their father.

Answer : There are several things that need to be said about this compound question. First, if the mate is ill, then certainly you should not stand by and see a decision carried out (notice what I am saying–carried out) to the detriment of the family or the children. There are a number of ways that this can be handled. If the person is really sick, then eventually you will want to find some way of bringing him some help. Help from a phychiatrist–and I know that when I say that, most folk in fundamental circles begin to bristle a little. I would remind you that there are Christian psychiatrists. I would remind you that most of the time psychiatric help is not needed if individuals would learn to unburden themselves to the Lord or in some wise to a sympathetic ear, such as your pastor.

It is a very foolish thing to let real damage be done because you have a mental block against psychiatrists. Better salvage what you can than to stand off because you are afraid of the word. Seek a Christian psychiatrist if you can. But oftentimes people who are emotionally and mentally ill not only need verbal therapy, but they need medicinal remedies, and a psychiatrist or a medical doctor is the only one who can prescribe these. Don't let this illness just ride along to the extent that you may be interpreting as illness something that isn't illness. If it is illness, seek plans for remedy as soon as you can. But you are under no obligation to let the decision of an ill man work out damage to your family.

The rest of this question is, I think, of vital importance because it touches on a great many things: “Should I, as a wife, remain silent?” Regardless of what the questioner meant, if I interpret those words at their primary, ordinary, literal meaning, I would say yes, remain silent. Remain silent by all means, because the more that is said, the more fuel is added to the fire. There are ways to prevent the damage without verbal disagreement.

Those of you who have lived with problems like this know, for example, that if you are living with an alcoholic, the worst thing you can do is verbally disagree with him. But that doesn't mean that you go ahead and let him make decisions to the detriment of the whole family. You find some way of helping the situation without oral disagreement. I would like to add this other thought: Especially remain silent in the presence of your children.

This question indicates another problem, and it is that the children disagree with the father because they recognize the instability. Much better would it be for you to take care of the unwise decisions in silence, and when your children begin to disagree with their father, take them aside and say, “Now, children, let's remember that father is ill and you must not disagree with him like that. He is your father, and God intends for him to be the head of this home; but he is ill right now, so we are going to have to work this out the best we can. But don't ever talk back to him again. Don't ever disagree with him again. And Mother and you all will work this thing out together.” And then work it out in some practical manner.

I am going to give you an illustration which is only an illustration, but there are no certain set rules, because the circumstances are not the same. When my father lived with us, a month or two before he died he broke his back and had surgery and everything addled his mind. He was not insane, but he did some foolish things. We tried first to remonstrate with him and that only made matters worse, so we learned to live with it. This is what we did. We instructed our children that they must respect elders and should always be kind and obedient. Even if some things were irrational, they need not take issue at the moment.

My oldest son took my father downtown one day because he wanted to go, and he went into a western clothing store and bought a complete western outfit for himself. He was seventy-three years old, and I don't know why he wanted it or why they sold it to him, but they did. The point that I want to make is this: He had his own bank account and he could write some checks, and he wrote a check for the amount of all this clothing and then said to these people, “I don't know how to write my name. I can't spell it. Will it be all right if I put an X on the check?” Well, he did put an X on the check. Of course, the clerk didn't know what to do. My son, who is rather tall, was standing behind him, and he nodded his head at the man behind the counter, so the man said, “Yes.” Then my son left our name and address. The man from the store called and said, “I have a check here from your father, and it is a sizable check, and it has just an X on it. What do you want me to do with it?” We said, “We will send you the money for it. You don't need to do anything about it.”

This perhaps does not apply to this particular situation, but it is an illustration of what I am talking about. You are not obligated, if you will permit me to change the phraseology, to stand by and see damage done to your family. But for the sake of the household, it might be better to remain silent in the presence of your partner and in the presence of your children, and then take care of the damage that has been done or take what steps you can to prevent the damage. Particularly is this important in relation to the children. Perhaps this is a burden for the partner to bear, but it is very important that children learn to respect the partner even though he is ill. Do you have any other questions along this line?

Question : How can one go about in silence correcting or providing help?

Answer : For example, if some direction were given to your child by your mate, you could explain to your child what the situation is, and you could say to your child, “Now, as far as is possible, do what he wants.” But if he asks some unusual, unreasonable thing, you could say, “Now, Daddy is ill, and if he asks you to do some unreasonable thing, you come talk to Mother about it, and then we will decide whether we have to do it or not or whether we can do it.” That is one way you can handle it with your children.

Of course, as far as the damage that is done in relation to outsiders, up to a point all you can do is repair the damage. But only this past week I had to give advice that I did not want to give, but I had no choice about it. A man who writes hot checks continually–he is ill from that standpoint–has drained his savings account, and he has drained what he and his wife, who works, had together. She has spent her time protecting the family's Christian testimony by picking up these hot checks. If the man would put his ability to some worthy cause, he could be tremendous; he can pass a check where no one else could. She came to me finally and said, “There is nothing more I can do. What can I do?” I said, “Stop picking up the checks.” She said, “They will pick him up.” I said, “I know, but that is the only cure.” At my advice, she stopped picking up the checks, and they did pick him up. Fortunately we were able to get him into the hospital in Big Spring instead of having charges preferred against him.

This is what I mean: You cannot afford to let a man who writes hot checks, for example, deplete your savings and get you far in debt just because you want to protect him.

Questions No. 13

What about adoption–three things: your opinion, scriptural principles, and practical problems connected with it?

Answer : I think that adoption is a marvelous opportunity to accomplish several things. First, I think it is a marvelous opportunity to bring children into empty, longing arms, because there are a lot of precious mothers going to waste. Their arms are empty, and a child within those arms could mean a lot to such a mother, to the husband, to the entire home, and certainly to the child. I had the privilege only a few months ago of placing a child in a preacher's home, a lovely couple. They had waited some years for a child, and God had seen fit to withhold that child. The child that I placed in their home was the child of a fine Christian girl who went one step too far. Believe me, that is happening all the time; it is pathetic. This girl was deeply concerned about a home for this child, and we discussed whether her parents ought to keep it and whether she ought to try to keep it. We prayed about it, and I believe we were given the wisdom to see that it was placed in a home where it could be reared for Christ.

Someone will say, because it has often been said, “If God had wanted this couple to have children, He would have given them children.” That is not necessarily so. We know that God does withhold children for a purpose. Sometimes we are prone to think that the only reason He withholds children is that He is displeased with the couple involved. Sometimes there are natural physical incapabilities which prevent certain couples from having children, and we will not discuss those. But I believe God sometimes withholds children so there will be some waiting arms for children who come into this world by what we charitably call mistakes. They need a home in which to be reared. This is my opinion. I think that if you do not have children and it is possible for you to adopt children, you should make every effort to do so.

I am not going to get into the scriptural principles related to adoption. They will be found in the Know Your Child book to which I have referred. But most times when questions like this are asked, the main thought is, “Do I have a right to go ahead and do it?” As far as my opinion is concerned, and my opinion is backed up by Scripture, you do have the right to adopt children.

The third part of the questions concerns the practical problems connected with adoption. Will there be problems? Yes, there will be. There are problems with your own childen. Haven't you learned that yet? There are different problems with adopted children, and I have said this and I would re-emphasize it: I believe that it will take an unusual amount of wisdom to rear an adopted child properly, but I don't believe that that wisdom will be withheld. I believe that you will have to wait upon the Lord perhaps more than you would if it were your own natural child.

One of the reasons I say that is this: If it is your own child, even though you may say, “I don't know what makes him do that,” you know. That is why you get so irritated; you can see yourself in him or her, as the case may be. I can see myself in one of my daughters in nearly everything she does. One of my daughters cannot stand people breathing down her neck; she just grits her teeth. I suggested to her that she ought not to do it, and I have suggested to her how she can keep from it, but I don't like people breathing down my neck either. One of the things that I have had to do some tall praying about is that very thing.

My mother drilled into me–perhaps wrongly, but it was drilled into me to the extent that it was almost inherited–was that I was as good as anyone I would ever meet, and better than nine-tenths of the people I would come in contact with. Now, I don't suggest that you tell your children that. In the first place, it isn't true, and it gives them a superiority complex and is a hindrance. But that was drilled into me, so that until the Holy Spirit gave me victory over it, I found it very, very difficult to put up with some of the silly, inane things that people would say and do. This daughter, every time she would have a date, would come in after the date, and I would say, “How did it go? Everything all right?” She would say, “I am sick of that boy.” Then maybe a day or two later, she would say, “Why doesn't God send a boy into my life?” I would say, “Well, this past month He has sent five or six.” Then she would say, “Oh, I know that, but that is not what I am talking about.” Well, I know why she feels that way. I see myself in her.

The reason I am making this suggestion is that if you have an adopted child, you won't be able to see yourself in him or her. Whatever they do, you will be saying, “Are they doing this because I have been too strict? Are they doing this because I have been too lenient? Is this something they have inherited that is coming out?” You may try to solve the problem in human wisdom, and you will never be able to do it. But if you ask God for wisdom, He has promised to give it liberally; He has promised not to scold you for the asking; He will give you wisdom. Some of the choice saints of God I know are adopted children who have been reared in Christian homes. It is one of the greatest ministries, I think, that a Christian couple could perform.

About the little baby of whom I spoke, before we placed it in the home we had in mind for it, we didn't know but that we might have to take it into our own home. My wife and I discussed it, and she said, “There is only one thing that bothers me. If we bring it here, that couple will never get it.” I think it is a real ministry.

Question No. 14

Do you believe there is any cause for divorce? If so, is the Christian free to remarry?

Answer : This question, if answered adequately from the Scripture, would take a whole session. Let me say just this. First, it is a debatable question. When I say it is a debatable question, I mean that good, conscientious, conservative Bible scholars differ about some of the things that I am going to say to you. As far as I am personally concerned, I believe that there is no scriptural reason for divorce except fornication. As far as I am concerned, there are no “ifs” and “ands” about that. Notice what I say: divorce. According to I Corinthians, chapter 7, there is a scriptural reason for separation. Some people believe that that reason for separation also includes the right to remarry. I do not. I believe that in the same passage of Scripture we are told that the individuals concerned should remain separated with the possibility that the erring partner might be brought into right relationship with Christ, and then the marriage could be renewed. As far as the reason for divorce is concerned, I repeat, scripturally, there is only one reason and that is fornication.

The second part of the question is debatable. Does the individual have the right to remarry? I am of the firm conviction that he does not. And I, as charitable as I know how, refuse to marry people who have living mates. But I always tell them this: Greater men than I, men as good as I and perhaps better than I–because God knows I am only a sinner saved by grace–are of the opinion that if fornication is the cause for divorce, then the individual concerned has the right to remarry. I always tell people who come to me for counseling, “This is what the Word of God says,” when there is a “Thus sayeth the Lord;” I won't debate with anyone about that. But where there are debatable phrases or passages, I say, “This is what I believe. This is what another godly man believes. You make your own decision. Be fully persuaded in your own mind, and then make no apologies to anyone.” That is my answer. We could spend a great deal of time looking at a number of Scriptures that might make it clearer, but we won't take the time to do that.

Question No. 15

What did you say about Proverbs, chapter 31, verse 20?

Answer :

Proverbs 31

20She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

I said that she considers the poor. Long ago I formed the habit of using alliteration to aid my own memory and to give some mental pegs upon which folk can hang some thoughts if they care to do so. We have been discussing the capaable woman. She is one who cultivates her spiritual life; she is conscious of her personal appearance; she cares adequately for her household; she conserves her time; she is calm in trying circumstances; she is considerate of the poor and needy.

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