Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Debate over the Existence of Adam

If anyone is interested, and in the Philadelphia area, there will be a preconference debate/discussion between C. John Collins and Denis Lamoureux on the subject of whether a literal Adam existed in history. It is free, but has limited space.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guard the Children

I've been sick this past week, so I got a chance to watch some shows. My favorite to watch are either slow moving dramas or documentaries. I don't know why. Maybe because they affect more calm or maybe because they tend to be more thoughtfully put together. In any case, I sat down this time to watch a documentary entitled, "Deliver Us from Evil." It was about a specific sexual abuse scandal within the Roman Catholic Church that centered on a priest in California. It was on Netflix, so if you have it (and are an adult--it's not for children), I definitely recommend seeing it (although I had to fastfoward certain parts when they interviewed the "priest," as I felt it was unnecessary to include the details that they had him include).

I have to say, I don't think I've ever cried so much at a documentary before. By the time it was over I was extremely upset and disturbed by it. The amount of betrayal perpetrated by this "priest" against the children, but also the families of those children, was unbelievable. The guy was clearly a sociopath. The lives he ruined were legion, and the lack of concern on the part of the Roman Catholic Church officials was appalling. It went straight up the line even to the current pope. If anything makes me want to identify the RCC with the whore in John's Apocalypse, other than its teachings concerning salvation, it is this. Perhaps, because I also know that this is not a new issue for that entity, but stems back for centuries when certain popes engaged in just such behavior.

But this post isn't about the RCC. It's about the crime of pedophilia. The pedophile is nothing more than a murderer. He rapes his victim, and robs him or her of who they would have been had they not been so violated. I've heard many a pedophile convince themselves that their victims were willing partners, and of course, a child might appear that way to them, since the child has no clue what to do in that situation. But have no doubt. This is rape, as one of the fathers of the victims cried out in the documentary again and again. This is more than rape though. This is murder.

You see, I know I always go back to the creation ethic, but it is extremely important to have this base in order to know what sin is to be categorized correctly. This sin is an anticreational sin. Such a sex act does not produce family, but death instead. It distorts sexuality to the unproductive toward life. It often distorts the sexuality of the victims. It often takes away their desire to have children even in a normal relationship later on. It just plain destroys. Because of this, it is equal to the sins of homosexuality, incest, murder, etc. (i.e., the sins of Lev 18 that speak of sexual distortions that work toward the destruction of children and family).

Hence, there is no doubt in my mind that our current laws are unjust in this regard. This offense deserves nothing more than execution. It is an abominable crime against God and man, because it is an abominable crime against the weakest and most vulnerable of our society, the ones who have no choice but to place their whole hope and trust in us as adults, and yet, some of those adults choose to become their destroyers instead. There can be no other answer to such a crime than the termination of the life of the perpetrator, and because our government has failed in this regard, I believe this crime is becoming more rampant, especially as our culture becomes more and more sexually depraved as it sinks into its own idolatry of narcissism. Indeed, our culture is slowly moving toward becoming a factory of sociopaths, who cannot identify with their victims so as to be appalled by their actions before they do them.

But even if pedophiles escape the judgment of this life. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that they will not escape the next. His words in Luke 17:1-2 are applicable here.

And He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come! "It would be better for him if a  millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.

This is repeated in all three Synoptic gospels in various ways. It first and foremost speaks to ruining the faith of a child. Thus, the one who causes a child to stop following Christ, or hurts the child's faith, is better off committing suicide in the most violent manner. The point is simply that the judgment to come for destroying a child is a greater terror than immediately cutting off your own life short and dying in such a violent manner.

The person who destroys a child is a murderer, and John tells us that no murderer will enter the Kingdom of God. Indeed, we might say that it would be better for the pedophile that he had not been born at all.

Now, you may say, "But the pedophile can be saved too." And I would reply, "Not as a pedophile, he can't." If he wants to be saved, let him immediately cease from this sin for the rest of his life, and spend his days making restitution. Then, and only then, perhaps, with some sliver of hope, God may grant him true repentance and forgiveness, since Christ is so valuable, and hence His sacrifice is so valuable, that it can even pay for the sins of this worthless wretch and make him a lifegiver instead. But if he continues another act of it, thinking he can be forgiven in the end anyway, let him know that God will likely not grant him repentance, and if that is the case, he will surely perish, and enter that terror that is greater than a horrible suicide.

But whatever comes of him is of no concern to me. I'm concerned with the victims, not the criminal. He has his route laid out above: repent completely and have a chance of life or end yourself before you harm another child.

The victim needs to know that he or she will have justice, even if there is none here. I assure you, no one is angrier than God about it. In fact, he doesn't actually say what He does above about anything else. He comes close to saying it about Judas betraying the Son of God, so if anything, the situation of the pedophile is the situation of Judas, whose soul was reserved for hell.

But God will give you justice, either through the wrath poured out upon His Son or through His wrath poured out upon the pedophile (most often the latter). In fact, there may have been pedophiles who were saved, but we don't actually have any record of them. Again, it may simply be that God does not grant them repentance so as to allow salvation to be an option for them. It's not for me to say either way. The point is that this crime should never be performed, EVER! And the casual manner in which our culture has taken sex truly disturbs me into thinking that one day we will become like ancient Greece and not see this as bad as a crime as it really is. But God will not allow this evil to go unpunished. Children are the apple of His eye. They surround Him in heaven. Their prayers are ever before Him, and He will bring those who harm them to a bitter end.

Unfortunately, most of those who are abused by so-called "christians" lose their faith. And so many in the video lost theirs in one way or another. They became distorted in their relationships and sexuality themselves, and thus have been made to fall to the ground by these stumbling blocks. As Christ says, It is necessary that they come, but woe to those through whom they come.

A word to the wise: I don't think most people realize how widespread this is. It's turning into an epidemic. A professor at Wheaton was just arrested for surfing child pornography sites (which is nice that they at least observe that now). Pedophiles are often your best friends, next door neighbors, coaches, teachers, Sunday School teachers, etc. In other words, you can't tell who they are. You would never know it or believe it if you were told, just like these families never believed it until the evidence was so overwhelming that they had to. But that evidence isn't always going to come. If anything, you need to see what adults want to hang around your kids a lot. They like to work around children or to be around families with children a lot. It's sad, because some people just love kids and want to see them nurtured, and so they enjoy working with them, but in this day and age, you cannot afford to not be skeptical and watch your kids like a hawk. Guard your children. You are their only defense against the pedophile. If you do not protect them, and you may not always be able to do so, then they are without defense.

The only other thing you can do is teach your kids that their bodies are for their spouses when they grow up, and that if anyone else tries to touch them, they should tell you right away. Also comfort them that no one can hurt you or them if they secretly tell you. For one, pedophiles almost always threaten the child or the parents, and for another, you don't want the child announcing to the pedophile that he or she is going to tell on them. A sociopath is likely to really harm your child then. It's a shame that we have to teach our children these things today, but this evil has gotten out of hand, and we need to take appropriate actions against it.

Whatever way you decide to deal with it, deal with it. Don't brush it under the carpet because you don't want to think of such things. Your child has to live such things. How much less is it for you to have to go there. Deal with it and save your child. Be skeptical. Limit your child from hanging out with adults or in places where they are not under your supervision. Yeah, you can give the old irresponsible line, "Well, I don't think we should live in fear," and that's really nice for you; but you're child may be living in terror because you don't want to live in fear and put up some ground rules to provide a defense for them. We don't live in Mayberry anymore. We never really did. So go ahead and be that overprotective Mom or Dad when it comes to this, so that if such a predator victimizes your child it will be despite of what you did rather than because of what you didn't do.

And let's not argue the "trust in God" routine. God has given you responsibilities as a parent. We put all things in God's hands while we are working all things for good with our own. It's not a false dichotomy we need to make.

And to the pedophile: Let the words of Ecclesiastes forever ring in your ears:

The conclusion, when all has been heard, [is:] fear God and keep His commandments, because this [applies to] every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (12:13-14)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why All Love Isn't Necessarily Good

I've met so many people today who believe that loving others is a good thing within itself. They think that simply loving is a godly attribute, and really the only attribute one should strive for. Hence, they can gauge whether or not they are a good person, or are acceptable to God, based upon that. Now, this is understandable since the Bible tells us to love all over the place; but the problem is that it tells us to love in a certain direction. The phrase in 1 John that tells us that "God is love" does not say, "Love is God," i.e., to love is to be like God or to experience God. The definite article on theos means that God is the subject and agapē is the predicate. Hence, love characterizes God, but love isn't necessarily divine. It's like saying, "All Roses are flowers." But the reverse isn't true, "All flowers are roses." Hence, God is love, but love is not necessarily God.

A failure to understand this is a failure to understand what the Bible is telling us concerning love and its witness to our relationship with God. In the very book that tells us to love as God is love, it also tells us to "not love." In 1 John 2:15-17, John tells us:

Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.

In other words, the one who loves his life here, and loves it for the reasons that he loves this self-directed, self-pleasing, existence that is not overshadowed by love for God and the kingdom to come, the love of the Father is not in him. He loves, but not the right things.

What and who we love for what reasons we love them tells us whether we are in communion with God, and therefore, saved by Him, or whether we are damned. Yes, you can be the most loving person on the planet and be damned, having  no fellowship with God at all. Let me explain.

Everyone loves. Everyone. Wicked people love themselves. They love their possessions. They love their lives that are in rebellion against God. They love others for their rebellion against God. Hitler loved Eva Braun. I'm sure he loved his parents. I'm sure they saw him as loving. Millions of Nazis certainly did, and they loved him. Nazis loved.

So we see that it is not merely loving possessions that is the problem. It's loving self and it's loving others for the wrong reasons. The question isn't, "Do you love others?" The question is, "Why do you love them?" The question is also, "Who do you love more than others?" The reason why this last question is important is because you love those the most who you gravitate toward. You may convince yourself that you love God's people, but maybe you hang out with and feel your deepest friendships with people who are in rebellion against God. That would not be a good sign, as it is not the love we are told witnesses of our relationship with God.

Notice, we are told that people will know us as Christ's disciples "if we love one another." Who is the "one another"? In the context, it's fellow disciples of Christ, i.e., Christians who are truly Christians. John's point in his epistle as well is that we know we have passed from death into life because we "love the brethren" (3:14), and we know that we love the brethren when "we love God and keep His commandments" (5:2). Hence, loving God and loving fellow Christians who reflect God is what tells us that we have loved in the way the Bible has directed us, and have in fact passed out of death into life.

Now, John isn't telling us something new, as he says himself. He's relating to us what Christ told us, and Christ is relating to us what God said in the Old Testament as well. We are to "love our neighbor as ourselves." Now, unfortunately the term "neighbor" has been misunderstood as everyone in the world, or everyone in your community, etc. But the term really refers to those who are in fellowship with God within the community. In other words, it refers to other believers.

This is further muddied in our world by the command to love our enemies. Christ is referring to fellow members of the community with whom we are at odds, not people who love evil. But even if we apply it this way, it is clear that the love spoken of here is a love that merely tries to do good to even those who are evil, not an actual affection for them because they are evil.

So we see then that loving others doesn't actually tell you that you are doing what is pleasing to God. In fact, if you love others for the wrong reasons, and you love others who are not of God more than those who are, then you are evidencing a hatred toward God and His people, and hence, showing your wickedness, not your goodness.

In fact, let me press you a little further on this. You may love others who do good to you for their good, but not like them for what they believe or say, and that too evidences that you are not of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ tells His children to do good so that others will see and glorify our Father in heaven (Matt 5:16). If we do this, the reaction then is respect and perhaps love from even those who do not love God.

I've seen this numerous times even in my own life. People love the stuffin's out of you when you do good to them. It's when you open your mouth and convict them with God's message that's the problem. Hence, in the very same pericope, the Lord says,

"Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when [men] cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. "Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Now, you may think, what's the deal? Will people love me or not? But the point here is that they will not love you for the message you bring. They should love and respect you for the good that you do, but that will end when you open your mouth. Think of Stephen, who all saw as an angel of God, having the wisdom of God with him, and respected as a godly man . . . that is, until he said something that offended them. Then, they wanted to kill him  . . . and they did.

Hence, people may love even Christians, but for the wrong reasons. It is not a wrong reason to love someone for the good that they do, but good and truth go together, and divorcing them, and loving one but disliking the other is an evil sort of love. It takes God, who is truth Himself, out of love, and makes love (any kind of love for any kind of person) into God.

So who are your friends? Who do you love the most? Yes, you probably love your family and friends. Who doesn't? Even the wicked do this, as Christ says in His sermon. Love doesn't tell us that your life is a product of God. Only who and what you love tells us that.

So he who loves Christians the most for both their good and truth, loves God; and he who would love others must therefore love God in order to love others. He who loves those who are not of God because he feels most comfortable around those who are like him, has no love for God, as the Scripture tells us. He who loves others apart from the truth, does not love others at all in the way the Scripture directs us, as "love rejoices in the truth" (1 Cor 13:6).

The men who stoned Stephen and the people who killed God's prophets all believed themselves to be loving people of God. They loved their families, their communities, and their religion. They just didn't love God in truth, and so they didn't love His people who spoke it either.

You may not kill a Christian, but do you want to remove them from your life? Shunning is the way societies that do not execute their criminals deal with them instead. It is a replacement for execution. That is why the church shuns so-called believers who persist in rebellion rather than executes them (stand up and take notice, Inquisition). So you may not stone a Christian, but your hatred will be seen in what relationships you choose to have with them and for what reasons. There are more ways to remove a man from your life than the throwing of a rock.

Loving God means loving His people in the truth, and it's that simple. But all love isn't God, and that's why all love isn't necessarily good.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Women in the Church

Above all books I've read on the subject, this book is the level of scholarship I wish the rest of this debate had. Most of what is written on this subject is either half scholarly or is so badly in need to be informed by linguistics that it's simply not worth the read. If there is one book to get on the subject, it's this one.

Do Historical Matters Matter?

I hope to review this book in a couple months when I get the chance, but from what I've read so far, I like a few of the articles in here. It will also be a great resource to use as I finish up my book on inerrancy. Check it out. A couple of the articles are written/edited by my old profs (Dr. Hoffmeier, Dr. Averbeck, and Dr.Magary), and they're men who know their stuff. Check it out if you get the chance.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ergo, 1 Peter 3:1-7

This is the second post that I will attempt to translate a passage that discusses the roles of men and women in light of my posts entitled, "Why Boys Like Guns," and "Why Girls Like Playing House." For some reason, whenever people debate this issue, Peter goes unmentioned. Yet, he has probably one of the most important things to say about the issue of gender roles in terms of how to respond to abuse (along with one of the strongest commands and condemnations against abuse), although Paul has words for this as well. Maybe people feel better disagreeing with Paul than Peter, so they bring up Paul more? I don't know. In any case, it's difficult to break 1 Peter up, as the following passage has a lot of context in the sufferings and submissive role that Christ endured in the world as our example; but I had to break it somewhere. So, 1 Peter 3:1-7:

 In the same way, wives, be in submission to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the word, through the manner of life of their wives, they may be won over without verbal coercion, as they observe your pure manner of life in recognition of their authority. 
Let your life be about, not external appearances (e.g., braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses), but the hidden woman of the heart, with the immortal quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is considered "high class" in the presence of God.  
For, in this same way, the holy women, who also directed their hope toward God, used to adorn themselves by being in submission to their own husbands---For example, Sarah, whose children you have become by doing what is right and not being afraid of what may come as a result, obeyed Abraham, calling him "lord." 
Husbands, likewise, live together with [your wives] in accordance with the knowledge that she is physically weaker in her feminine role; and show her respect as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be prevented [from being heard].

I'm just going to comment on a couple things here, and if anyone has a question about the translation, feel free to ask.

I've already discussed much of the words used when I did the "Ergo, Ephesians 5:21-33" post: the middle/passive uJpotassovmenai, the nature of the word fovbo" as meaning a recognition of authority rather than a giving of authority in terms of respect, that these instructions are given to the wife in regard to her own husband and to the husband in regard to his own wife, etc.
The phrase a[neu lovgou kerdhqhvsonta literally means "without a word they will be won." The idea here is that authority figures are won to Christ by conduct that first gains a hearing, and then by the word that either has been or will be spoken once that hearing has been granted. This pattern is the same for slaves and masters, as well as hostile governments (let all activist Christians stand up and take notice) in the preceding verses, and we might also apply it to children who want to see their unbelieving parents saved.
Peter then contrasts women who want to be considered high class and respectable by presenting themselves as such in the way that they dress and adorn their bodies with jewelry and Christian women who seek their "high class" status before God by becoming a gentle and quiet spirit (i.e., someone who has control of herself and doesn't need to talk about herself or continually verbalize her discontent to get the things that she wants in life). Instead, holy women, as they have in the past (using Sarah as an example), gain their adornment (i.e., what makes them look sophisticated and "high class") by yielding to/being under the direction of their own husbands.
The command to husbands is one of the most frightening in all of Scripture. Here, Peter tells them to live together with their wives in accordance with the fact that they are physically weaker in the role that she has been given as a woman. The phrase wJ" ajsqenestevrw/ skeuvei tw'/ gunaikeiv "as in a weak vessel in the womanhood" simply refers to the fact that her role is not that of the man's, and thus, she is given a different body for those purposes than he is. As such, he is to be mindful of her difference from him in terms of her physical strength. 
Even though her role is different than his, however, he is to treat her as a fellow heir (lit. one who inherits along with him) the grace of life. Peter lifts her to the status of a son, who inherits his father's possessions. He then goes on to tell husbands that they are to ajponevmonte" timhVn "show respect" for her (this is true "respect" in the sense of an honor given to someone who will be lifted up as one who is extremely important).
If he fails to both acknowledge her role as a woman so as to abuse her instead, and/or he fails to acknowledge her status as a fellow heir to the grace of life by showing her honor and respect, HIS PRAYERS WILL BE HINDERED!
If you're not aware of what that means, it means that God will cut you off. If you want to abuse, see how much life abuses you at the point when God turns you over to the demonic powers that want to bring you to ruin. You have no escape from them, having burned the bridge between yourself and God. But it is not only the sin of commission (i.e., abuse), but the sin of omission (i.e., not showing the proper respect for her as a son of God, who will inherit all things) that brings about this judgment. Here, Peter sets up what I believe is a type of merism, where the two opposites are contrasted in order to convey the whole. What this means is that she is not only to not be physically abused (as that to which the passage literally alludes), but she is to be given full honor and respect as one of the sons of God who will inherit God's gift of life and all that goes with it. Hence, she is not to be abused AT ALL, but instead to be given complete respect/honor. And if this is not done, the husband better get to repenting and begin to do it, or he might as well string two verses out of context and apply them to himself: "Judas went out and hanged himself." "Go thou and do likewise." I cannot overstate this. Being cut off from God hearing your prayers is the end. It is something the Bible presents as God's final judgment upon someone, and it leads to their complete and utter ruin. 
Hence, if the man is the prince, although he is lord of the princess, she is still a daughter of the King, who rules them both, loves His daughter and lifts her to the same status in eternity as He does His Son, and will not let any mistreatment of her go by without severe consequences. Husbands, beware. Your role has been given to you to protect her, not to be her destroyer. Read Ephesians 5:21-33 again if you think otherwise. Our roles exist for good, not for evil, and it is a crime against God Himself to treat them as otherwise.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Our Society's Advice on When and Where to Talk about Christ

It's become a bit sticky to talk about Christ today. You can talk about God very generically, and very lightly, but hardly ever specifically in a way that would exclude others, or make them feel uneasy about too religious of a conversation. In order to help us, I've pulled together a few of the ideas within our culture to give you some guidelines concerning when and where it is appropriate to talk about Christ and His truth and where it is not.

Don't talk about Christ on facebook. It's a place where people go to interact on a lighter level, post snapshots of what they ate today, and let you know interesting facts about their day, like when they vacuum the floor or go get some milk at the grocery store.
Don't talk about Christ and the truth at family gatherings. Family gatherings are also a place of lighthearted fun and festivities. This is a place where we can all catch up on any of the interesting things we may have missed on facebook, like the time we went to buy milk at the grocery store or the time the dog ate Purina instead of Kibbles and Bits.
Don't talk about Christ and His truth at work. Work isn't a place where you can act like Christ encompasses your entire life. It's a place where you need to suppress Christ's sovereignty and for you to live as a dependable and hardworking atheist for nine hours of your day.
Don't talk about Christ at school. School is a place where people learn about things that are true, and things that are true cannot be based upon the Transcendent Mind of God and His relation of Himself through Christ. We simply have to assume His existence and the fact that knowledge is possible because He relates it to us, but we should never make this explicit, even to the point of, again, pretending that atheism is true instead, and religion is just something with which you fill in the gaps on your own time.
Don't talk about Christ in the home. You don't want to brainwash your kids, but let them make their own choices, which will be completely based on the practical (and maybe even philosophical) atheism they are taught everywhere else, including now in your own home.
Don't talk about Christ and His truth in the Church. You may run people off who might be interested in Church, and Christ and what He says can be very polarizing and offensive.
Don't talk about Christ outside the Church, because you may offend people who might want to come to Church one day if they think Christians are really nice and no longer judgmental people who believe in truth and an exclusive identity of God in Christ.
Don't talk about Christ and His truth when out with friends, because your friends are there to have a good time, not to be brought down by your heavy thinking.
Don't talk about Christ when you meet strangers, because they might just think your weird and socially inept, since, as we've discussed, it's not appropriate to talk about such things in public . . . or in private . .. or with your friends . . . or with your family members . . . or with anyone besides yourself. But then again, don't talk about Christ to yourself, because talking to yourself is a sign of insanity.

Lesson to be learned (and has been thoroughly) from our society: Don't talk about Christ and His truth, period.

Lesson from Scripture: Those who observe the above are of another religion that has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with self absorbed narcissism created by their practical atheism. Such produces only superficiality of life and idolatry everywhere. Instead, the Scripture tell us:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your  forehead ."You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:5-9)

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matt 28:18-20)

But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I  spoke ," we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. (2 Cor 4:13-14)

I solemnly charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in  season  [and] out of  season ; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but [wanting] to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Tim 4:1-4)

Our society, according to Scripture, is ruled by the demonic, not Christ. Why would it ever set its rules of topical etiquette to where they would allow Christ and His truth to be presented? And, even more important, why would you observe them?

"It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more [will they malign] the members of his household!  "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. "What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear [whispered] in [your] ear,  proclaim  upon the housetops. "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt 10:25-28)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ergo, Ephesians 5:21-33

I thought, in light of the roles assigned to men and women in order to fulfill their part as the images of God in thwarting chaos from overtaking their family (and therefore humanity as a whole), I would translate (in terms of a dynamic equivalence) each of the New Testament passages that contrast the roles from the nuances in the Greek and in the context. I'll then explain some of my translation and the interpretation of each one afterward. 

Ephesians 5:21-33

Submit yourselves to each of your respective authorities in your recognition of Christ's authority:
Wives to your own husbands, as if you were doing so to the Lord Himself. For the husband is the authority of the wife as Christ is the authority of the Church. He is the S/savior of H/her body. But as the church is in submission to Christ, so also the woman should be in submission to the husband in all areas of life. 
Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for her sake, in order that she might be holy, cleansed as by the washing of water in what is spoken, in order that He might present the Church to Himself in her splendor, without stain or wrinkle, but in order that she might be holy and blameless. Likewise, husbands are to love their wives as they love their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but feeds and takes care of it. Just as Christ also does for the Church, because we are the members of His body. "For this reason a man will leave behind his father and mother and become united with his wife; and the two will become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I am speaking in terms of Christ and His Church.
Nevertheless, you also, as those who are one, each man is likewise to love his own wife as himself; but the wife is to recognize her husband’s authority.

21 The word   JUpotassovmenoi is an imperative that could mean “be submitted,” or “submit yourself.” It’s likely the latter, and I have translated it “be in submission” as a way of meeting both ideas half way. The word ajllhvloi" is often mistakenly thought to be reciprocal. However, in the context such an understanding makes no sense. Submission takes an authority to which it must submit. Submission isn’t humility. It’s a placing of one’s self under the direction of another. If everyone were to submit then no one would be in authority. If no one is in authority, then no one can submit. The absurdity is resolved when one understands that ajllhvloi" isn’t reciprocal but distributive: “one another” meaning “this one to that one, that one to that one, etc., which is what we have here: wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters. Paul is not arguing that parents should submit themselves to the direction of their children or masters to their slaves (see also Rev 6:4, where it is painstakingly clear that the word is distributive). The phrase  ejn fovbw/ Cristou', often translated as respect, misunderstands the meaning of the term fovbo" (lit. “fear”) as that which merely lends respect when the term actually means a recognition of authority that the individual already has. Respect is an authority given, but fovbo" is due when one already has an authority and is recognized as such. In v. 22, it is clear that this relationship is between wives and husbands, not women to all men:  aiJ gunai'ke" toi'" ijdivoi" ajndravsin (“to her own husband”) wJ" tw'/ kurivw/. The Greek definite articles throughout this passage take upon the nuance of the personal pronouns, and thus are to be translated contextually as “his” or “her” etc.
23  o{ti ajnhvr ejstin kefalhV th'" gunaikoV" wJ" kaiV oJ CristoV" kefalhV th'" ejkklhsiva", aujtoV" swthVr tou' swvmato": The term kefalh (lit. “head”) undoubtedly means “authority,” not “source” as is often erroneously claimed by an extremely poor lexicographical methodology. The husband is the head of the wife in the same way as Christ is the head of the Church. The word aujtoV" is ambiguous and likely refers to both groups (Christ as Soter maior and the man as soter minor). Hence, I have translated it with both an upper and lowercase S and the article as a personal pronoun with both an upper and lowercase H. The word “savior” needs to be understood in terms of headship in the ancient world. Caesar was the head of the state and thus the savior of it. The authority is seen as the one who is to rescue the ones in submission to him from chaos  by taking care of them through his government of them and through his protection of them from harm. Christ is the Savior of Her Body (i.e., His Church) and the man is the savior of her body (his wife).
Hence, in vv. 24-26, we are told that the wife needs to be in submission to her husband as the Church is to Christ, lest this relationship where she is sanctified is rendered useless, and she is open to attack from the enemy, as would a nation without its protector would be. Hence, it is necessary for her to be in submission to him ejn pantiv “in all things,” not just in some things, as ignoring the direction of one’s protector in a time of chaos and war is likely to lead to ruin.
Hence, in v. 25, we are told that the man needs to love his wife in a manner that sacrifices himself, gives himself up for her, and her protection in all things. Verses 26-27 indicate that this protection/governing relationship is first and foremost spiritual. 
The washing in water by the rJhvmati “spoken word” in Ephesians likely refers to the verbal teaching of the word of God, through which Christ sanctifies the Church, but it also plays on the idea that the man is the director of his wife in terms of spiritual teaching.  
The phrase i{na h\/ aJgiva kaiV a[mwmo" has connections to the rest of the letter that places its purpose in showing that God predestined His people to become holy and blameless in Christ, and that this same purpose ought to also be in the husband’s leadership and teaching of his wife.
Verses 28-31 are pretty self explanatory. The husband is to treat his wife with the same love as he treats himself, because she is one flesh with him. Therefore, whatever he does to her he does to himself. If he sanctifies her with the word, he sanctifies himself with the word. If he ruins her by not taking upon his headship role, he ruins himself.
32 toV musthvrion tou'to mevga ejstivn: ejgwV deV levgw eij" CristoVn kaiV eij" thVn ejkklhsivan. The term mysterion is a terminus technicus in Second Temple Judaism that refers to something that has been hidden in a text and is now uncovered. The relationship between man and woman was always meant to function as a picture between Christ and His Church. “Nevertheless” (plhVn), v. 33, this does not diminish the other reasons the relationship exists, and as such, husbands and wives ought to take their relationship queues from the relationship between Christ and the Church.
The phrase plhVn kaiV uJmei'" oiJ kaq= e{na is difficult Greek, but hJ deV gunhV i{na fobh'tai toVn a[ndra is clearer (although I’d like to study i{na + subjunctive, as it is used as an imperative more). The former phrase is likely an affirmation of what I said above: that even though the relationship is to function as a picture of Christ and the Church, and these words apply more to that relationship than they do the relationship of the husband and wife, the husband and wife are still one, and as such, the husband ought to love his wife as himself and the woman ought to recognize her husband’s God-given authority to work toward presenting her unstained by the world.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Machines Are Coming

If you're a cool guy like me, then you love sci-fi movies. In all seriousness though, I do think that sci-fi movies have a lot to say to us that goes far beyond how cool it would be to fly spaceships and blow things up with lasers. The reason why I think they have much to say to us as a society is that they all seem to show us that technology can be used correctly, or it can be used to rob us of our humanity. If there is one thing sci-fi tries to warn us of, it's that "the machines are coming."

Take Star Wars for instance. The less "human" Anakin becomes, the more machine he becomes. It takes his human son, who is much more human and much less machine, to bring his humanity back to him. In the final scene where he is alive, Luke takes off his respirator/mask and reveals his much less intimidating human face. When we witness him again as a redeemed spirit, he is fully human again (well, as human as a spirit without flesh can be).

Take the Terminator movies for a moment. This is the idea that machines will one day overtake us. They will seek to wipe out humanity altogether. Then there is the Matrix trilogy. In these movies, machines have robbed us of our humanity by suppressing who we are, and yet, convincing us that we are still fully human with nothing out of place. It is only in being released from the machines that one realizes that he has not been living as a human, but in a role that has oppressed his human role in life, and who he was meant to be.

Now, obviously, I don't believe machines are going to take over the world. That's science fiction. But do I believe that they have confused us so much that we have begun to lose our humanity? Yes. I believe this has happened and continues to happen already. I believe it has happened in terms of our expressions of humanity, which are our gender roles.

Hence, as I've been talking about, men and women have particular roles that exist for family, and we are incomplete and underdeveloped humans when we ignore these roles and the duties that they require. But we can't even see this, because technology is in our way. Technology isn't evil, of course, but it has been used in an evil way. It has been used to blur the lines between the genders, and I don't think that this has been good for us as families and as a society. Let me explain further, since what we were meant to be, and what we are, is best displayed when we remove artificial add-ons.

If one were to take away technology, and leave you with just who you are as a human couple, you would come together in marriage and in sexual relations and have children. The creation of human life into family is the "natural" result of the two genders becoming one. The man would need to protect the household and secure food for it simply because of his physical strength and natural inclination toward aggression. The woman, being often physically weaker, would need then to fight off chaos at home, where she remained to protect her children from harm by removing the threat of starvation, exposure, and disease. She would also be the daily guardian of her children in terms of their spiritual life, even though the man as disciplinarian and protector of the household from outside harm would be the overseer of his household in terms of what is taught and practiced. These are all consistent with who they are biologically, and what God made them to be in their spiritual roles, which coincide with their physical ones.

Hence, the human role, as God's image (i.e., His representatives who work with Him to perpetuate human creation through procreation and preservation of human life, first and foremost through family), is one where chaos is thwarted by the man and woman who actively participate in their designated gender roles to have family in order to rule rather than to be ruled. Again, Genesis 1:26-28 has the idea that the image is a role that humans decide to enter by subduing and ruling over the earth via their creation and preservation of the family.

Now, add technology to the mix. Technology now allows for that normal expression of who you are as two different gendered humans coming together in the sexual act to no longer result in the creation of human life. It no longer must result in family. Hence, one can just choose to come together for other reasons than family. Immediately, humanity is robbed of its role because its genders are rendered functionally genderless by technology.

A man can just go buy mass produced clothes from a store. A woman can just go buy mass produced food at a store. There is no need for making clothes. There is no need for hunting. There is no need for protection provided by the man. As the saying goes, "God made all men, but Samuel Colt made them equal." That includes women. A woman can just take up a shotgun. No man required. The man is no longer needed; but neither is the woman. We have washing machines and dishwashers. So men can do that too (after all, they're not out hunting anyway, so whatever job they get outside the home, the woman can do it just as well). We can trade genders because our modern conveniences have made things so easy that you don't have to give your life to doing them. If we could teach a machine to think, it could just fill our duties. There is nothing specifically human to us any longer because we have used technology to wipe our genders, the very expression created for us to express our humanity, from us. There may be no children to guard, no family to preserve anyway. We are just a bunch of genderless individuals roaming about the earth.

Again, we can use technology to fulfill our roles if we know what they are, i.e., if we do not allow technology to confuse us about who we are within our gendered humanity.

And we are confused by technology now, because it does not allow us to see who we are apart from it. If it did not exist, the gender roles are VERY clear. It's not just a matter of primitive societies who didn't get it like we do. We're the ones who don't get it. A woman in those societies, apart from those in abusive households, where the man has become warped and turned in on his family rather than functioning as the protector of it, which always seem to be the testcases used by pop-feminists, would look at a woman arguing that women should be able to not have children and go do what men do, like she had a mental illness. They wouldn't want to do it. Neither would the man want to do the role of the woman. He would feel less of a man for it. These feelings are not just the result of breaking cultural mores, or thinking that women are lesser. They exist because of that inner feeling down deep that we are not doing what we should be doing. But our misuse of technology has robbed us from identifying the problem correctly.

We have been duped. We have let ourselves become enslaved to the idea that genders are non-distinctive in roles because technology allows us to believe that. But we have lost ourselves in the process, because there is no such thing as an androgynous human. All humans are gendered because all humanity as God's image must be expressed through gender. The task of subduing the earth and ruling over it cannot be accomplished apart from humans using their genders to the best of their abilities to accomplish it. Without them doing so, family fails, humanity falls. The machines have won. We're still here, but then again, we're not still here.

If we wipe away the natural results of our genders coming together, we wipe away our genders. To wipe away the purpose of something is to wipe away its meaning and existence. If we wipe away gender, we wipe away the only expression through which humanity exists. If we wipe away the only expression through which humanity exists, we wipe away humanity.

What we are left with are shells of humanity. We are left with creatures who look human but are not fully human. To the degree that we diminish the functions of our gender roles, we diminish our true humanity. We were meant to be the co-creators and preservers of family because that is the task God gave to us for, not only our survival as a race, but our individual survival as human beings who are made to be His image.

No, the machines aren't coming. They've already come.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Why Girls Like Playing House

I'm sure people get tired of me speaking about this issue, but the truth of the matter is that this is perhaps one of the most important things we as a society will ever learn. And yet, we've lost who we are. We are busy seeking to be important, and because of this, have completely missed just how important we already are. We want to be CEO's, we want to be superheroes, we want to be rockstars, we want to be celebrities; and so we look at the mundane as . . . well, mundane.

But I'm going to talk today about why girls like to play house. Why they like to set out plastic plates on a table and serve their pretend husband and children. Why they enjoy playing with dolls, and why they love toy kitchens.

You see, they are practicing for the role of a lifetime. They are practicing to become wives and mothers, because that is what has been placed within them to become; and only a lifetime of contrary indoctrination by a society set on exalting buffoonery and degrading the normative activity of women could undermine who they are and who they were always meant to be.

Women are meant to be homemakers. They are meant to be life givers and life preservers, and that is what a homemaker is. We, as the superficial culture that we are, think motherhood is giving birth to a child, but motherhood is giving life to children by giving one's life to them from before they are even born, in birthing them, and each and every day from that time forth. A wife and a mother, a homemaker, is the best possible job a woman can have. Don't believe me? Let me put it into perspective for you.

Wonder Woman probably saved people about a hundred times in her career (maybe more or less). A CEO may or may not have saved anyone once or twice. An entertainer may or may not have saved anyone once or twice. But a mother saves her family each and every day, perhaps, more than once a day.

Still confused? Let me say it this way. If she was to neglect doing the dishes and let her family eat off of dirty dishes, is there a good chance her family will get really sick, and in all probability, die? If she doesn't do the laundry in order to rid clothes of possible disease, or clean the house in order to rid it of the same, will her family get sick? Could they die from disease?

If she does not feed them, will they not starve to death? If she does not clothe them or provide for them a home in which they can thrive, will they not get sick or die from exposure? Think it's silly? Try not doing all of these for a month and see how many members of your family you have left.

Yet, our culture holds all of these things to be below a human being. They are the tasks of servants, so we are told. They are the labors of dogs, and we want to be exalted as gods. Yet, these tasks save the lives of her family each and every day.

And what about her spiritual duties with her children? If she doesn't model for her children spiritual humility before God, will those children not likely rise up in rebellion against Him in the same way? Will they not repeat her pattern of belief and lifestyle? If she fails to teach them the gospel both in word and in deed, will they not likely perish unless a stranger, by God's grace, intervenes?

The mother, like the father, is a destroyer of chaos in the home. When she fails to do her role, death occurs for her loved ones. And this isn't worthwhile? Is this not the best thing you could ever do in your life, saving the lives of your most loved ones? There is nothing greater on earth. Wonder Woman doesn't save your husband and children each and every day. You do. A CEO doesn't save you're family each and every day. You do. A rockstar doesn't catch your family and pull them back from the brink of death each and every day. You do.

Do you get it now? YOU ALREADY ARE THE SUPERHERO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You already are the CEO. You already have the most important job on the planet. It's the best job that is reserved only for the best person who can do that job. God has made the woman to be a homemaker, given her different, and likely many more, abilities than the man in order to accomplish this most important task. She is the rescuer of her family. And she does this by doing, yes, here it comes, housework, because housework isn't really about the house. It's about saving lives. And that's what she is programmed to do. That's why God made her last, so that man would know that he wouldn't be able to pull off his task without her (the text in Genesis 2 doesn't say that the man was lonely, the Hebrew indicates that mankind wouldn't exist without God making her). And if she doesn't do it, woe to her husband and children. For if she uses her gifts elsewhere instead, she misuses them, and chaos takes over the home.

Again, can she bring home the bacon and defend the home herself (i.e., do the man's job) with the help of technology? Of course she can. I just said she has more abilities than the man has. In fact, I truly believe that women are superior in their makeup to men. But those abilities have been given to her, not to settle for doing his role, but to take on her own.

So women are told one thing, but their likes and dislikes portray another. They like making homes. They like creating living space. They have fulfillment in making a good meal for their families. They enjoy a clean home with clean children and clean dishes. I've got news for you, guys could probably just let all that go for awhile. Women? Not so much.

Now, do our roles just come to us with all enjoyment? No, not always. Whoever said the most important things we should do in life are the easiest or the most likeable? Not me. We have to work at them. They are hard, and we often feel like failures in those roles, simply because the task of superhero takes some practice and we live in a fallen world, so that even if we do our tasks completely, they may ultimately fail. Along with this, we have a society constantly, incessantly, preaching to us that we need to become something great like the next American Idol, the next celebrity, the next "Somebody." We, then, feel like we need to accomplish something more than just being husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. But the truth is, we already are so much more in those roles than we could ever become in another.

Women are the guardians of the household, and they perform that role by cooking, cleaning, creating life and living space, and teaching through word and deed. They already are Wonder Women, the most important of two superheroes their children will ever know, the most important superhero currently in her husband's life. She stands between the threshold of life and death and decides to give life via those mundane tasks without which destruction would overtake the household and bring the family to ruin. When they practice these things in role playing as children, they're getting ready for the most essential role they will ever play in life. And that is why girls like playing house.

Her children rise up and bless her;  Her husband [also], and he praises her, [saying]:  "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all."  (Prov 31:28-29)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's Not Either/Or, but Both/And

A lot of false dichotomies are presented within false Christianity, where a pendulum swings back and forth between theology and practice in different time periods and within different ecclesiastical bodies. But the very characteristic of false religion is the emphasis of one truth or right practice to the exclusion of another truth or right practice. Paul exhorts Timothy to "pay close attention to yourself and to your  teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you" (1 Tim 4:16). In other words, both your lifestyle (i.e., character as it is represented in your practice, not just as you think of yourself, as your works will display who you really are beyond our tendencies as a spiritually blinded people to self deceive) AND in your teaching (i.e., what you believe and communicate to others that they should believe). Salvation is in watching both carefully, not in just watching one. Let me illustrate and end with this story.

A father was taking his young son fishing by an old WWII ship graveyard. The boy asked his father, "Dad, I'm not sure what is more important to God, whether to believe what is true, or to do what is right. If I were to fail at one of these, which one can more easily be dismissed from my life than the other?
The Father thought for a moment, and then steered the boat closer to two big naval ships that had been sunk by torpedoes. He moved the boat past the first and told his son to observe the bow as it stuck up from the deep, displaying that it had been sunk by a torpedo blowing a hole in the stern. Then he passed by the other and told his son to observe how the stern stood out of the water, displaying that it had been sunk by a torpedo blowing a hole in the bow.
Then, as he moved the boat further from the two sunken ships so that his son could see them both well together, he said, "Which side of these two ships, which have become the gravestones of these unfortunate sailors, was lost without complete devastation to the whole ship?"
The son answered, "Neither."
The father, in answer to his son's question, then said with a confirming nod and sober whisper, "Neither."