The idea of "Christian Marriage" is in fact made more interesting because there is no word for "marriage" in Hebrew, strictly speaking. There are descriptions of marriage, which is a relatively expensive linguistic way to go about naming something, particularly for a language as thrifty in the total sum of words it has, such as Hebrew. In spite of that, Hebrew has no word for marriage per se.
Some might dispute this claim. I have found for instance the closest words for marriage are "Yabam (יִבֵּם)" (which is a word for "Levirate Marriage") and "Ba'al (בַּעַל)" which is a scary word because it invokes images of idol worship. Suffice it to say in the latter case, it means to "Lord" another person, namely the husband "Lording" the wife which is consistent with how Sarah described her husband Abraham, a description and state lauded in his letters by the Apostle Peter.
I'll leave the names of my fellow disputants out, but give a sense of the debate and my reply.
I am inclined to sweep aside references to the church as just individual bodies though I certainly would agree they do exist as individual bodies. My reasoning would go to the word study of "Ekklēsia (ἐκκλησία)" and beyond it.
Reliance on the term "Ekklēsia (ἐκκλησία)" and saying it is only directed at individual congregations falls quickly apart. Ekklēsia is used several times in Ephesians 5 and also used in the Catholic denomination's favorite birthright verse in Matthew 16, by Christ. I would agree with my "monogamy only" brethren, that the use in Ephesians refers to the "Church Universal," or the perfected community of all believers (what a Calvinist would call the elect). This seems to be absolutely necessary in Matthew 16.
Leaning only on the word Ekklēsia also neglects the analogy of Revelation of the Bride. I try to eschew the use of the word "clearly," but in this case I think it applies. The "Bride (nymphē)" of Christ is clearly "the Church" as in "entire" or "all churches." In addition, this is a refined version of the Church, as we would believe there are wolves in the fold, thus there are some who might seem to be believers, but who are not. These persons do not benefit from membership in any local body, and are excluded at the time of the Judgement, consigned to hell.
One of my opponents (who is a friend by the way, a close one) claims that the usage of the term "Church," such as in "The Catholic Church," are improper. Such usages probably are. This is used as an argument that there can be no denominations but I continue to note that the early church is referred to by both those inside and out of it, as a "sect." A sect to me is a denomination.
I haven't been claiming that a denomination is strictly a "Church." I do confuse the terms at times. This is very similar to the marriage debate in which it is regularly assumed that all male/female husband/wife relationships are marriage.
There is concubinage in which wives and husbands are referred to by the same Hebrew words as are used to describe two espoused in marriage. A denomination (and I have stated this clearly at other times) is a "sect" of Christianity, not a "church." When pressed on this point I don't think I have ever come down on the side of the argument that a denomination IS a "church."
Nevertheless it is interesting that Presbyterians practice "sect-wide" assembly. I also refer to the Catholic denomination as The Catholic Church because they call themselves that. I think I hear everyone do that actually. My wife will tell you I regularly refer to Catholics as "the Catholic denomination" at home. I defend sects as a proper response to denominations sliding into bad doctrine.
The two men in this discussion with me make a similar argument, both implying or saying someone looks at a "genuine church" and makes a judgement call about their genuine nature. This to me is subjective. The letter of Paul to Titus gives us the nuts and bolts of how a genuine church comes to be. While I might agree that a church might (sort of) "fall from grace," it nevertheless has to come to be in a certain fashion and be led in a certain way.
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee."
This is clear method. God the father, "The LORD," is over all. Christ is his only Apostle. The Apostles of Christ (of whom Paul is one) are sent to us. Paul appoints Titus. Titus is directed to appoint as he was appointed. We have no other method or precedent.
It can be argued that the Roman Catholic Church for instance, is a church no longer, but in my estimation, it cannot be argued that it was not a church in the past. If no longer a church, it's appointments are of no effect. However, in the past they were.
Some church must survive as genuine for elders to be ordained in every city as Paul appointed Titus. That authority is only shown to exist in one appointed by someone having a direct pipeline to Christ through the appointment of the elder, successively back to an Apostle of Christ, who is an Apostle of the LORD.
Christ is also baptised into ministry by a Levite. That Levite is shown to be ultimately blessed in Abraham as Hebrews tells us. All of this shows the setting up of office, occupied by human beings, who have authority based on it being bestowed to them by someone in office.
It sounds great to say that the hallmarks of a genuine church are this or that, but there is no basis for listening to a particular person, other than personal choice, when it comes to evaluating that church. No one has shown me how someone can declare they possess the authority, to make that judgment. Unless of course, it is by the method I have shown above.
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