Question & Answer Forum: Subjective Questions

Are bangs and cutting the hair around the face right?

John writes, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1John 1:3). This was God’s desire from the beginning. He walked in the garden to have fellowship with man (Gen 3:8, 9). He chose Abraham to be a source through which blessing would reach the world; God called him His friend. Remembering the early days of the nation of Israel, the Lord said, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after Me in the wilderness” (Jer 2:2). He cherished the memory of their loving relationship with Him. The Lord Jesus, in the days of His rejection by the nation, chose 12 men to be His friends (John 15:14, 15). And, as John reminds us, the aim of Scripture and the desire of God’s heart is our enjoyment of a relationship “with the Father and with His Son.” The Bible is not a book of rules. God’s Word is an authoritative guide for the enjoyment of a relationship with divine Persons. The basic question of Christian life is not, “Will I submit to the rules of the assembly?” It is, “How important is my relationship with the Lord?”

The Lord has stated His preference for a sister’s hair (1Cor 11:15). This expresses His purpose in distinguishing the male from the female (vv 7, 14, 15). Ultimately, the Lord intends the length of a sister’s hair to express the truth of headship, which God has established to honor our Lord Jesus (vv 3-6). Expressing a truth so precious to God must bring Him great pleasure (John 14:23).

“How long is long?” is another way to ask, “What is the minimum I can do and still please the Lord?” If a believer loves the Lord and values what He values, choosing minimum compliance is not an option. How can it be an option when He gave all that He had for our salvation?

Minimum compliance says we prefer a minimum relationship with the Lord. Joyful, wholehearted compliance expresses a desire for an uncompromising and intimate relationship with Him.

D. Oliver

Should we renew our wedding vows?

This is a personal matter. Any answer to the question has value only if it rests on Biblical principles.

The main Biblical principle is that God intends marriage to be for life (Gen 2:23, 24). Second, while the Bible does not mandate exchanging wedding vows at a marriage, it does state the responsibilities a married couple accepts when they marry. Third, marriage is a commitment made before God (Gen 2:24) and, as with Ruth, before witnesses (Ruth 4:9, 10).

In considering this question, it would be helpful to know the intended purpose of renewing wedding vows.

A first possibility: Does a couple wish to renew their vows because one or both of them have not been keeping those vows? If this is the case, a couple would be wise to review what the Bible requires of them and what they promised when they were married. It would be beneficial to privately review their promises, identify where they have failed to keep them, and once again express to each other that they want to keep those promises. If they are receiving counsel to help repair their relationship, one way the counselor might help them would be to point out how their marriage difficulties are the result of failing to keep their vows. To assist them in keeping those vows, the counselor could point out ways to change their patterns of relating to each other. As they implement these changes, the counselor could solidify the restoration of their relationship by privately witnessing the renewing of their vows.

A second possibility: Does this renewal express a recent decision to continue with their marriage? A Christian couple would hardly want to give the impression that their original vows need to be renewed. Those vows are for life. A culture that doesn’t regard marriage as a lifelong commitment may find significance in renewing vows. In the kingdom of God, the subjects of the King should regard marriage as a lifelong commitment. Renewing the vows may be redundant.

A third possibility: Is renewing wedding vows a way to remind others that the couple is gladly continuing their marriage? This has emotional impact and could be a good testimony to the value of a godly marriage. On the other hand, is it more important to say it or to do it (Mat 23:3)? The witness of a couple cherishing each other and visibly enjoying their married relationship likely has greater value than repeating the words of promises they had made before.

D. Oliver

How can overseers deal with marriages that are troubled?

Overseers have a responsibility to maintain the spiritual health of the believers they serve (Heb 13:17). Spiritual health is related to emotional issues, such as marriage problems. However, trying to help a couple that doesn’t want help is ineffective. The first step, then, is that the elders should be sensitive to the problems that arise in believers’ marriages. The next and most important step is for the overseers to pray for the couple’s marriage both privately and unitedly when the overseers meet. They can then wait on the Lord for an opening. If a couple fears a lack of confidentiality, they will not likely seek help. If elders have not built a relationship of trust and mutual respect with a couple, they will not likely be willing to discuss such private matters with an elder. Preferably, more than one elder will have developed the habit of actively listening, because that is a major factor in helping anyone (Pro 18:13), especially couples with marriage problems. It would be good if more than one elder were available to help couples with their problems, although it obviously is better for only one counselor to work with a couple at any given time. There is value, however, for the counselor to confer with other elders to receive Scriptural insights and help (Pro 11:14).

At times, an oversight might be wise to request help from a brother whom they respect who is in another assembly.

Under no conditions, should believers feel that overseers are interfering in marriages (1Peter 5:3). They are servants who help believers to deal Biblically with their problems. They must exemplify the truths they teach, but they cannot teach from their own experience. Their resource is the Word of God.

D. Oliver