“The 1960s was a period of social uprising, protests, the Vietnam conflict, and moral decline.” – John Rothra, The Jesus Revolution
These words opened a report I did on the Jesus Revolution (also called the Jesus Movement). One of the leaders of that movement, Tony Alamo, seems to be fixed in some of the aspects of that era, especially the moral decline. According to the Associated Press, Alamo was recently arrested outside the Federal Court in Flagstaff, Arizona “on charges [that] he took minors across state lines for sexual purposes.” Alamo has also been convicted of tax evasion, revealing a history of legal and moral questions regarding the evangelist.
However, the most shocking aspect of the article is that Alamo declared, “I believe it’s OK” for girls to marry at fourteen or fifteen years old and that sex with minors is not only permissible, but that the Bible mandates they marry young.
According to Alamo, there are incidents recorded in Scripture of women marrying as teenagers and, therefore, this means that this practice is permissible and mandated today. I cannot disagree more! The hermeneutic that if it’s in the Bible, then it should be practiced today unless Scripture forbids it today is flawed. Scripture records people drinking water from wells and rivers, so should we abandon bottled water and the tap and return to wells and a bucket? Scripture talks about people walking from city to city, so should we stop driving and walk everywhere (this would actually help the obesity in America, but that’s another issue)? Scripture refers to armies using spears, swords, rocks, slings, bows-and-arrows, and similar weapons, so should the United States military stop using tanks, aircraft, and missiles, and machine guns to defend our country?
My point is this: just because something happened in Scripture does not mean that it should happen today. Sometimes the text is descriptive, not prescriptive. In other words, sometimes it is describing the event or action, not commanding that the action continue for eternity.
As a pastor, I would never marry a young teenager, male or female. If the parents of a young teen gave consent, I would counsel against the marriage and would not perform it. I believe it is wrong for a thirteen or fourteen year old to marry. Furthermore, sex with a minor is wrong! It is good that there are laws against such immoral behavior.
Alamo’s goal, during the Jesus Revolution, was honorable: bring people to the throne of God so that they have the opportunity to be saved by grace through faith in Christ. However, in the thirty or so years since, he has lost his way and lost sight of some things. I pray that God will guide Alamo back to the path of righteousness. I pray that God will show all his children where they fail, that we will repent of our sins, and that God will guide us all on the path of righteousness.
Alamo’s legal problems and his claims regarding teenage marriage and sex with minors shows that sin remains and that everyone, including Christians (yes, I believe that Alamo is saved, though I disagree with him on some issues) struggle with sin and can fall into sin. However, God offers grace to all those who will put their faith in his son, Jesus. As believers we must spend time studying, not just reading, the Bible. We must also spend time praying. Furthermore, we must show love to one another, meaning be willing to help others even if it means sacrificing of ourselves. Finally, we must do what God commands: share the Gospel with the lost (evangelism) and teach believers God’s Word (discipleship).