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Theology of Rebekah's marriage by faith 
8th-Aug-2006 12:29 am
UBF uses the marriage between Rebekah and Isaac to justify the UBF-style marriage by faith. But I think there is a very sharp difference between the marriage in Genesis 24 and UBF-style marriage by faith. I would like to highlight some significant differences between the two. If anyone has more insight into the two marriages, please feel free to add comments.
8th-Aug-2006 05:49 am (UTC) - A marriage within the same UBF franchise chapters?
In order to talk about the marriage in Genesis 24 as a marriage by faith, we need to clarify one thing first. Isaac was a son of Abraham. Rebecca was a daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor. According to Genesis 11:27-32, Nahor and Abraham were sons born to Terah. So Bethuel was Abraham’s nephew.

I think we can consider the two families two different house churches or two different churches. So I think we can regard the marriage in Genesis 24 as a marriage between two members from two different churches. But the point to consider here is whether the marriage was between two members from different churches under the same franchise as it is the case with UBF-style marriage by faith or the marriage was between two members from two different churches that didn’t have any franchise relationship.

UBF interprets the marriage in Genesis 24 as a marriage only within the same church or within the same UBF franchise. But when we look at the marriage in Genesis 24 in the context of the whole Genesis, it seems that the marriage in Genesis 24 could be interpreted as a marriage between two members even from two different denominations!

So if we go by the marriage in Genesis 24, UBF cannot argue that a marriage by faith should be interpreted as a marriage only within the same UBF franchise families. According to Genesis 24, a marriage between a UBF member and a member from non-UBF local church--assuming that there would be any member from a non-UBF local church who would even contemplate marrying a UBF member--should be allowed IF UBF is a Bible-believing church. I think that the UBF interpretation of the marriage in Genesis 24 is not well grounded on sound theology.

I think that the only reason UBF would not allow such a marriage is that UBF leaders are business-minded. They don’t want to risk losing their members. They don’t want to risk losing their established ruling theology. They don’t want to risk losing control and authority over their members by introducing other good Christian views into their system which is built on Samuel Lee’s false theology.
8th-Aug-2006 01:48 pm (UTC) - Re: A marriage within the same UBF franchise chapters?
Ruth was a Moabite woman. But Boaz, a descendent of Abraham who is the great grand father of kind David, married Ruth. As we know very well, Jesus is known as the Son of David.

Can we apply UBF theology of a marriage within the same church to Ruth and Boaz? I don’t think so. UBF leadership would never allow the marriage between Ruth and Boaz. But the marriage between Ruth and Boaz is one of the best example of a marriage by faith even though Ruth was a Moabite and Boaz was an Israelite. This marriage shows that a marriage by faith should not be interpreted as a marriage within the same church but as a marriage between two persons who put their faith in God.
8th-Aug-2006 07:53 pm (UTC) - Re: A marriage within the same UBF franchise chapters?

One of the root causes of the 1991 USA ubf schism was EE Chang Woo taking numerous American woman recruits from other chapters, mostly from Ohio State. We are only talking about a total of like 8 woman recruits, but the effect was very profound in the outlying chapters. There was serious dissent behind the scenes with OSU, Toledo, and even the Cincinnati coward Sam Jun taking a position against EE Chang Woo. How could they expect to build up their franchise when the women were taken to Chicago? (Back in those days the ubf recruit had to endure so much abuse and humiliation before marriage. Compare those days with today, there is less abuse before ubfmarriage today.)

It was at the core a business dispute among ubf franchisers. There was no consideration for any of the individual Americans involved in the marriage process. I was ubfmarried in 1989, and the process was full of deception, humiliation, and disgraceful conduct by ubfleaders. One of the main plots I feel in my ubfmarriage is that EE tried to use my ubf wife to lure a certain person to Chicago as a permanent member. This certain person stayed outside of the reach of EE for all his ubf years, prefering refuge in the sparsely ubf populated ubf EastCoast. When he was finishing his studies, EE used the moment to try to lure him to Chicago with a marriage arrangement. EE sent them to the European conference together and had them sit together and play footsie together. The guy considered it but balked. Then I was inserted to the vacant position. I was already in Chicago, and had serious doubts but went ahead anyway. The main plot of trying to lure the outsider back to Chicago was hidden from me, to make me think that if this marriage occurred then it was God's sovereignty, not just a backup arrangement.

One thing that occurs to me about the Isaac and Rebekah marriage is that Abraham insisted that the servant get a bride from his own family/clan. If ubf really followed the Genesis 24 example, then none of the Korean to American and Korean to German and Korean to Russian marriages should ever take place. It is a total violation of the marry within the family/clan policy.

The main point of the Isaac and Rebekah marriage that may apply to us today is that in marriage there is God's sovereignty. However, there is literally no indication that the ubf and it's process comes anywhere near being in line with God's sovereignty. I have never heard any stories about how anyone prayed and really experienced a great leading from God in their ubfmarriage. For ubf, the ideal marriage is where the recruit never even imagines getting married, and then they pull some name out of hat and say, 'Here is who God has chosen for you. Can you accept God's sovereignty?' ubfmarriage is arranged marriage with a fiat proclamation by the leaders that it is God's sovereignty. It is an empty proclamation.

And how about that ubf leader who said that nobody will marry by falling in love "in his chapter"? He is declaring that the chapter and everyone in it is HIS, his own property. You no longer are free, you are the property of a ubfin who has his won selfish motives in mind.
8th-Aug-2006 09:33 pm (UTC) - Re: A marriage within the same UBF franchise chapters?
Some more differences:

Abraham was the father of Isaac. Arranged marriages by parents were usual in the old times, and are still usual in many cultures like in India, in Muslimic countries, and among gypsies (Sinti and Roma). Arrangements by parents are something completely different than arrangement by leaders. It is natural that parents only want the best for their children. But that is not guaranteed for UBF leaders. They want the best for their UBF business (see the examples given), which is not necessarily congruent with the best for the marriage candidates.

If you look even closer, it was not even arranged by the father, or by his servant. If you read carefully you see that they left the choice open to God by waiting for a certain sign to occur (Gen 24:14). Abraham did not know Rebekah. All he wanted is that his son married somebody who is a believer in His God (there were not many of them in that time) and that she showed a certain bountiful character (the sign that was requested). This point was never discussed in UBF.
9th-Aug-2006 04:01 am (UTC) - Fact vs. Personal opinion
I think it is very interesting to see how Abraham’s servant carries out his work in Genesis 24 to get a wife for Isaac. I think the most interesting part is from verses 32 to 49. Here the servant describes in great detail what happened in his journey.

One thing very interesting to me is that the servant seems to know how to distinguish material fact from personal opinion in presenting everything happened regarding his journey to find a wife for his master’s son.

What he says from verses 32 to 48 are all facts. He never expresses his personal opinion. In verse 48, he seems to express his personal opinion but in fact he is describing the fact that he praised the Lord when his prayer was answered. He never said to Rebekah or her parents “This must be from God” or “This is from God. So you better accept this. Otherwise you will be disobeying God!”

I think the servant at this point has very credible evidence to believe that God has chosen Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife. But he never says “You should obey me because God answered my prayer.” As we saw in Becky’s testimony, the way UBF leaders carry out a marriage by faith is very different from the way Abraham’s servant does it. UBF leaders carry out a marriage by faith based on their personal opinion. They pressured Becky that if she didn’t obey them, she would be disobeying God. Is this a fact or just their personal opinion? They should read Genesis 24:32-49 very carefully and understand how the servant does his job.

When we read verse 21, we can understand why the servant refrained from putting more emphasis on his personal opinion. It says “Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.” The servant doesn’t want to make it successful according to his own opinion. He want the LORD make it successful. He is indeed a shrewd and wise servant.

If the servant strongly expresses his personal opinion at this point and uses all the facts only to back up his own opinion about the whole matter, Rebekah would lose her chance to see God’s leading in this matter. So when she makes the decision, she would be making her decision based on the servant’s personal opinion instead of based on God’s leading in this matter.

In carrying out his mission, the servant is very careful so that Rebekah may never be influenced by his personal opinion in making the most important decision in her life. The servant is helping her very carefully and prayerfully so that she can see how God is leading her life and make the decision accordingly. However, as it is manifested in Becky’s testimony about her marriage by faith, this doesn’t happen in UBF.

I heard that Samuel Lee once bragged about himself saying that he could arrange 100 marriage overnight in UBF! John Jun also bragged about his achievement of establishing 1000 marriage by faith in UBF during his career in Korea. I think there was a post about John Jun’s performing one marriage where he proved that the groom’s nose was not crooked when the bride complained about his crooked nose. Well I believe that he can prove anything to make his sheep accept his arranged UBF marriage.

UBF uses Genesis 24 to back up UBF-style marriage by faith. But as we can see, UBF marriage by faith is not based on God’s leading in one’s life. It is rather based on UBF leaders’ personal opinion in order to boost their business performance.
10th-Aug-2006 04:07 am (UTC) - what normal people think of marriage
The ubf tries to define marriage as the 'big day' that the arranged couple becomes a couple formally. The ubf has no concern or theology about what constitutes a marriage after the big day.

If we survey healthy churches, there is almost no interest in how a couple become married. What healthy churches are concerned with is how the couple progresses, and the welfare of the people in the marriage.

For example, I went to the Grace to You website of John MacArthur's church. I went to resources, plugged in the keyword 'marriage', and it came up with 244 results, mostly books on marriage. A 'marriage' search at the Willow Creek Church Seed's Bookstore came up with 1108 items, mainly books. Healthy ministries do all kinds of things to be a blessing to married couples, and thus entire families. Marriage in God is so much, but ubfmarriage is so lame and pathetic they can't even describe it.

ubf cares about young peoples' marriages about as much as Stromboli cared about Pinocchio.
11th-Aug-2006 02:43 am (UTC) - God’s sovereign will vs one’s free will
Part I

Why do we think that Rebekah’s marriage is a marriage by faith? There could be several reasons. But one reason I want to think about in relation to UBF-style marriage by faith is that Rebekah did not choose on her own the person whom she was going to marry. In Genesis 24, Rebekah did not pick Isaac. In fact Rebekah was picked for Isaac. The most important part of UBF-style marriage by faith seems to be: Thou shalt not choose thy own marriage partner. UBF defenders say that they get that from Genesis 24.

Do we agree that the most important lesson of Genesis 24 is that one should not choose a wife on his own? I think I have a hard time to believe that.

What happened in Genesis 24 is that Rebekah was chosen by God to marry Isaac. But does the fact that Rebekah was chosen by God make it true that she was never supposed to choose on her own a man whom she wanted to marry? I want to digress from this subject a little bit and consider the subject in a more general setting.

It seems to me that there is a belief among many Christians that God does not want what they want. They believe that God does not want us to have what we want. So there is always a conflict between what God wants for us and what we want for ourselves. Is it true that God does not want us to have what we want?

The UBF theology based on Genesis 24 that one should not choose his spouse on his own seems to be very closely related to the general belief that God does not want us to have what we want for ourselves. More important subject related to this matter is about God’s sovereign will and man’s free will. In Genesis 24, God’s sovereign will is clearly revealed for Rebekah. However the question is this: Does God’s sovereign will nullify Rebekah’ free will?; does God’s sovereign will for Rebekah nullify my free will?

Continues in Part II…
11th-Aug-2006 02:44 am (UTC)
Part II

I think what happened in Genesis 24 is not that God nullified Rebekah’s free will with his sovereign will but that Rebekah willfully relinquished her free will to God’s sovereign will. I use the word willfully because I think that when Rebekah said “I will go”, she was not in the state that she had lost her free will overruled by God’s sovereign will. She didn’t seem to have made her decision as a slave who was deprived of her own free will. But I think she made the decision as a free person who had the free will.

By the way, when we closely read Genesis 24, we also clearly see that Rebekah didn’t make her decision under undue pressure, threat, false interpretation of facts, coercion and manipulation against her will. But the UBF environment for a marriage by faith is the exact opposite of the environment given to Rebekah as we see in Becky’s life testimony. UBF does not provide proper environment so that one can freely make decision about his/her decision according to his/her own free will as Rebekah in Genesis 24 was provided for her to make a very important decision. UBF leaders put tremendous amount of pressure on their members through coercion, intimidation and manipulation to achieve UBF-style marriage by faith. Through all kinds of intimidation and manipulation, the UBF leaders finally seem to have fabricated the theology: Thou shalt not choose thy own marriage partner. But as anyone can see easily with careful consideration, that doesn’t seem to be the thesis of Genesis 24.

I think the Bible passage that shows very well the relationship between God’s sovereign will and our free will is Luke 15:11-31, the parable of the prodigal son. In this passage, we encounter two very different ideas about God’s sovereign will and our free will. The younger son thought that his father’s sovereign will didn’t matter but only his free will mattered. The older son thought that his free will didn’t matter but only father’s sovereign will mattered. But they both were wrong.

The passage teaches us that God’s sovereign will matter more than our free will. BUT this should not be interpreted to justify the belief that our free will does not matter. Just read Luke 11:31. When the older son complained to his father, his father says "My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” For all those years, the older son never knew that he could have just picked a young goat among his father’s flock and killed it to celebrate with his friends by exercising his free will as a son!! In fact according to the passage, it seemed to have been what his father wanted!!

Continues in Part III...
11th-Aug-2006 02:45 am (UTC)
Part III

When we become Christians, as we all know very well, we become children of God. But some people think that we are stripped off our free will and our own desires based on our free will when we become Christians. In some sense that is true. We crucify our sinful desires on the cross of Jesus. But we do not crucify our free will on the cross of Jesus. That is not what God wants.

In the beginning God created man and endowed him with free will. In Genesis 2:19-20, God formed all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air and brought them to Adam to see what he would name them; and whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. God didn’t bring the animals to the man with a list of names written down on it so that he could name them all according to God’s list. After the man named all animals, God didn’t overrule the man’s decision to change the names of a few animals. This is the nature of free will that God has instituted from the beginning.

God’s sovereign will and our free will should be understood in the context of father and son relationship rather than in the context of boss and subordinate relationship. We can now say that God wants what we want too. One can choose a wife of his own choice. One can also ask God to help him to choose a wife of God’s own choice. One can also ask his parents to pick anyone as his wife whom they like.

To marry a wife of his own choice is not sin. But the problem in UBF is that choosing a wife of one’s own choice is taught or implied as sin. If someone is attracted to an opposite sex, regardless of the nature of the attraction or relationship, the person has committed a dirty sin and he/she must repent the dirty sin in his/her testimony and confess the dirty sin by sharing the testimony in public. It is unbiblical/unhealthy/unethical to blend one’s exercise of free will with dirty sin regardless of the nature of the exercise of one’s free will. UBF Bible teachers do not have the competency to properly distinguish free will from dirty sin. Whatever is good for their business is good and whatever is bad for their business is dirty sin.

Rebekah in Genesis 24 doesn’t seem to be carrying out her duty as a slave who is stripped off her free will. Rather she seems to be in control of her own free will in a free environment to evaluate the whole situation to see God’s leading in her life regarding the very important decision. The servant is not controlling the situation. Her parents are not controlling the situation either. It is completely between God and her. It is all about God’s sovereign will and her free will about the marriage. Abraham’s servant and her parents are working only to provide the environment so that her free will could see clearly God’s sovereign will. But in UBF there is no God’s sovereign will. There is no person’s free will. There is only UBF will established by Samuel Lee through the UBF-style marriage by faith.

UBF marriage by faith is no marriage by faith. There is no meeting of God’s sovereign will and one’s free will. UBF marriage by faith is only intimidation and manipulation based on false theology.
22nd-Aug-2006 01:11 am (UTC)
Thanks for writing this. It is a fact that UBF continues to justify their pressure-into-arranged-marriage practice by twisting Genesis 24. Anyone (with half a conscience) should be able to agree that Genesis 24 is an example of an arranged marriage, but North American UBF leaders are, amazingly, still able to deny that "marriage by faith" amounts to arranged marriage.

Other ways in which the Genesis 24 account falls apart as an example for Christian marriage would be:

* It's not clear that Rebekah's side of the family believed in the God of Abraham and Isaac, at least, not exclusively. Laban was most likely a polytheist. In Genesis 31, Leah steals Laban's household idols on her way out. Rebekah herself may have been a polytheist prior to her marriage. Nor did Abraham make faith in his God a requirement for a woman to be chosen for Isaac. He just wanted someone from among his own people, his *race*.

* Abraham's servant used financial inducements (gold ear ring and two gold bracelets initially, then later, more gold, silver, jewels and garments for Rebekah and her family, as was the custom. It's clear that Laban got the financial inducements message loud and clear.

* The marriage decision wasn't made by Rebekah (v. 50-51). It was made by her parents and Laban (the financial inducements again). The only decision left to Rebekah was whether she would leave the next day or a few days later. (Yes, the lack of individual decision making power fits within the UBF paradigm of cultic arranged marriage.) If Rebekah made a decision, it was likely based more on family duty than on "faith." The faith shown here was on the part of Abraham's servant, not Rebekah. Even with the faith, he wasn't taking any chances, using substantial financial inducements and seeking to leave right away before a change of mind could take place.

This is not a great model for Christian marriage, and certainly not THE model.

UBF's twist of Genesis 24 also puts UBF leaders clearly in the place of the parents, in the places of Abraham and Bethuel. They teach their recruits to give respect and obedience to their "spiritual parents" more than to their actual parents. This should be disturbing to anyone with a shred of discernment. It's worse because, in practice, UBF's "true parents" seek to exercise even greater control over their "children's" decisions than is shown in Genesis 24.
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