Satan Supports Equal Rights?

Church signs are a minefield for bad doctrine:

Satan and Equal RightsSatan was not the first to demand equal rights. He didn’t want equality at all. He wanted to take God off the throne and rule in his place.

You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
(Isaiah 14:13-14.)

I get the impression that whoever approved the wording for that church sign (assuming someone didn’t create it just to get a rise out of people) is also opposed to equality. Of course, another way to read that sign is as a teaser for a sermon on servanthood as Jesus taught it:

 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45.)

That’s a good topic for a sermon. But it still doesn’t lead to the idea that equal rights is satanic.

In fact, nowhere does the Bible say we are not to consider ourselves equal to each other. It does say that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we should (Romans 12:3) and we should not emulate those who seek to put themselves higher than those around them (Matthew 10:25), but those passages do not tell us to avoid equality or striving for equality.

When it comes to equality, the Bible actually tells us it’s not only desirable but urges us to accept it as a reality in God’s kingdom.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28.)

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:11.)

Rather than desire equality, Satan must hate it since equality in Christ is godly. And those who oppose equal rights for all people are doing nothing to pursue what the Bible teaches is God’s truth.

S0 please church sign, don’t tell me Satan wanted equal rights when what he wants is not to be God’s equal but to take his place. And don’t try to tell me that pursuing equal rights is ungodly. It’s not.

God loves us all.

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Don’t Lose Your Head Over Doctrine

When I fell in love with my wife (which, incidentally, happened before I  became her husband), I kind of lost my head over her. I admit to being head over heels in love with her, and going out of my head over just the thought of her.

Here’s what else happened when I fell in love with my wife. I did not in fact lose my head because it stayed firmly attached to my shoulders, I did not turn somersaults across the floor every time I was in her presence, and my brain did not slip out of my skull when I thought of her.

Every one of those uses of the word “head” is figurative.

Wrongheaded Doctrine

The thing about figures of speech is you need to know context in order to understand metaphor and idiom. That context can include cultural and language history, and a word or phrase used in one language sometimes doesn’t directly translate to carry the same meaning in another language.*

Idioms are popular expressions that explain something by using examples and figures of speech. … They are “cultural-bound”, that is why it is so hard to export them to another context, because the translator needs to find other cultural references. (Chiara Grassilli, Translation Techniques: How to Translate Idioms.)

Susanna Krizo covered the use of the word “head” as a figure of speech in her book Recovering from Unbiblical Manhood and Womanhood: a response to evangelical patriarchy.** The title is a take-off from the collection of complementarian and patriarchal essays collected by John Piper and Wayne Grudem in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism.

Krizo addresses each of their essays through a very readable dialog in the chapters of her book. The conversation is between a student and teacher, identified as Christian and Theologian. It becomes clear that both learn from each other as they discuss the problematic reasoning in the essays Piper and Grudem chose for their book.

In Chapter Eight she addresses the use of the word “head” found in Ephesians 5:23.

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

Krizo discusses the use of the original Greek word translated as “head” in that verse, and points out that it at times meant leader (as we would call someone the head of an organization) but was more often used for a different figurative meaning. She quotes John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th to 5th Centuries:

Thus, if you mark it, He is “the Head,” as we are “the body:” can there be any empty interval between the head and the body? He is “a Foundation,” we are “a building:” He “a Vine,” we “branches:” … All these things indicate unity: and they allow no valid interval, not even the smallest. (Recovering from Unbiblical Manhood and Womanhood, p. 132.)

Later in the same chapter the Teacher summarizes various descriptions of our relationship with God to show they do not focus on leadership but unity.***

    1. Head and Body = One Flesh
    2. Cornerstone and Living Stones = One Temple
    3. God and People = One Kingdom
      (Id. p. 143.)

The good thing about understanding the way the word “head” is used in Ephesians 5 is it keeps us from reading into the passage a role for husbands that would be completely unbiblical, even heresy.

[A] metaphor is a transfer, it changes the meaning of words temporarily to make a point. … Metaphors are meant to convey deeper meanings, not to transform the object into something else. … [It is a misuse of metaphor if] you transfer the reality behind the word and not just the meaning. (Id. p. 122.)

Krizo argues that to give the word “head” in Ephesians 5 the meaning of leadership not only uses it in a way that Paul did not intend nor would his readers have understood it that way, but it places the husband in a role the Bible nowhere puts on anyone in relation to anyone else.

If theologians transfer the reality of Christ to the husband [(that is, placing the husband in the role of Christ to the wife in the same relationship as Jesus has with his people)] he becomes literally a Messiah to his wife, and that creates all kinds of problems in theology. (Id.)

Sadly, these problems have actually arisen, as when preachers teach that wives must follow their husbands’ commands even if it goes against God’s word. These teachers assure the wife that her husband will bear all the responsibility for leading his wife astray. It’s as if the husband is a mediator between his wife and God. He’s not.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. (2 Timothy 2:5-6.)

Men and women each have a mediator, and it is not a pastor, a parent or a spouse. Our mediator is Jesus who loves us all and gave himself for women and men alike.

Any other understanding of our place in the Body of Christ is unbiblical.

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*For examples of amusing idiom translation (including what it means to have tomatoes in your eyes) see 40 brilliant idioms that simply can’t be translated literally.

**I received a review copy of the book without obligation to write favorably or even at all.

***This is not to say we aren’t led by God, of course. The Bible tells us that one of the blessings of the New Covenant is that we are led by the Holy Spirit.

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When Life’s A Pain!

that-which-doesnt-kill-you

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The Fallacy of Getting Closer to God

You can’t get closer to God.

No matter how hard you try, you can’t.

Honest, you really can’t.

And that’s good news. Here’s why:

God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27.)

Jesus is in you. You can’t get closer than in.

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Jesus Doesn’t Hand Out Dirty Underwear

[From the archives.]

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One of my favorite hymns is Elisha A. Hoffman’s “Are You Washed In The Blood”:

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

The great thing about this hymn is that it is squarely based on Scripture:

They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:14.)

This is a great image, showing how Old Testament promises are fulfilled in Jesus. Old Testament priests needed the blood of animal sacrifices sprinkled on their robes in order for them and their clothing to be consecrated for God’s service. (Exodus 29:21.) Jesus, of course, is the ultimate blood sacrifice, the one we rely on to consecrate us to God.

Some Christians read Revelation 7 and readily agree that they are robed in Christ’s righteousness, covered with the blood of the Lamb, but they think that if anyone – God included – looked beneath those robes they’d see dirty underwear.

Not true.

Made Brand New, Through And Through

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17.)

For those of us in Christ, those of us who are in God’s family, our newness is now, the new creation already come. Our old self is gone, and we have been remade.

But what about the imagery of merely wearing white robes in Revelation 7? That’s just it. Notice that those robes are white and spotless. They don’t have bloody splotches on them as evidence of sprinkling, as in Exodus. No, they have been washed, not sprinkled, with Christ’s blood, and they are spotlessly white.

Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf doesn’t leave spots because it is complete and eternal. As the writer of Hebrews put it:

We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. (Hebrews 10:10-14.)

Made perfect forever by his one sacrifice. And we get to be there with him:

God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6.)

God has already raised us up. He has already seated us with Jesus in heaven. He has already given us those spotless robes.

And you? You don’t have dirty underwear on beneath those robes. You are new and perfect and clean to the core. That’s what Jesus has done for everyone who belongs to him.

Amen.

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The Rule of Necessity for Writers

In law we have a doctrine called the Rule of Necessity. It’s applied rarely and narrowly. The rule allows cases that pose a conflict of interest for all judges to still be heard. In simple terms, if all judges are disqualified then any judge can hear the case.

For example, let’s say someone filed suit against a company the judge’s spouse works for. In order to avoid an appearance of impropriety or a claim of conflict of interest, the judge would recuse herself from the case and it would be assigned to someone else’s courtroom.

What if instead the person filed suit against the government. A person might say a judge has a conflict of interest in hearing the case because the judge’s paycheck comes from the government. But if all judges’ financial interests are involved (since all judges’ salaries are paid by the government) then who is left to preside in the courtroom? A judge has to be available in order to allow the case to proceed. Otherwise the person bringing suit is denied her First Amendment right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances”.

It’s a necessity.

Necessity of Comment

This blog’s comment policy relies on a quote from the movie Buckaroo Banzai.

“Hey, hey, hey, hey-now. Don’t be mean; we don’t have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

It’s simple and not that hard to follow. Don’t be mean. Still, I occasionally get asked by a commenter what it means.

I found the answer.

Kenny Ray Pierce posted these verses penned by The Reverend Mr. Stewart, a Presbyterian minister who pastored a small church in Leghorn (that is, Livorno, Italy) in the mid-1800s. His influence extended far beyond his small congregation on the Tuscan coast, as noted in papers such as Evangelical Christendom, Its State and Prospects (vol. 2, no. 1, Jan. 1848, p. 250) and a string of correspondence with the British Colonial Department (August 1848) found in the record of the House of Commons.

Mr. Stewart put to words what I hoped to express through that movie quote.

Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?

Oh! Stay, dear child, one moment stay,
Before a word you speak,
That can do harm in any way
To the poor, or to the weak;
And never say of any one
What you’d not have said of you,
Ere you ask yourself the question,
“Is the accusation true?”

And if ’tis true, for I suppose
You would not tell a lie;
Before the failings you expose
Of friend or enemy:
Yet even then be careful, very;
Pause and your words well weigh,
And ask if it be necessary,
What you’re about to say.

And should it necessary be,
At least you deem it so,
Yet speak not unadvisedly
Of friend or even foe,
Till in your secret soul you seek
For some excuse to find;
And ere the thoughtless word you speak,
Ask yourself, “Is it kind?”

When you have ask’d these questions three—
True,—Necessary,—Kind,—
Ask’d them in all sincerity,
I think that you will find,
It is not hardship to obey
The command of our Blessed Lord,—
No ill of any man to say;
No, not a single word.

(The Rev. Mr. Stewart, 1848)

This poem applies to much more than a blog’s comment policy. It should be engraved on every blogger’s monitor screen so that we view everything we write through those words, which echo the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:29.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It is a rule of necessity I hope to live by.

***

[This post is part two of a series on blogging well. You can read the first part in yesterday’s post How To Be A Christian Who Rocks Social Media.]

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How To Be A Christian Who Rocks Social Media

In the movie School of Rock, Jack Black plays a rocker in between gigs who cons his way into a job teaching kids at an exclusive academy. Instead of math, science and history, he teaches them to rock. When he finds out one of them has written a song he immediately asks the kid to play a few bars. Then he tells everyone to grab their instruments.

“What are you doing?”

“We’re gonna learn your song.”

“But why ?”

“That’s what bands do, man.
Play each other’s songs.
You got lyrics? Hook me up.”

Today I’m hoping to say something as straight forward and constructive as that movie dialog:

If I publish a blog, tweet or Facebook post and you want to leave a comment with a link to a post you wrote on a related topic, please do. We need to be here for each other. That’s why it’s called social media and not anti-social media.

After all, this blog has a purpose and that purpose is to glorify God and encourage people.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35.)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds … . (Hebrews 10:24.)

So please, if you wrote something related to a post here at my place feel free to link your post.

It’s a great way to spur one another on in God’s love.

It’s what we do.

***

[This is the first post in a two-part series on blogging well. The Rule of Necessity for Writers will appear on tomorrow and discuss how bloggers and blog commenters can discern what needs to be said and what can be left unsaid.]

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The Legalistic Nonsense of Marriage and Sex on Demand

In the post Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not the mood? a blogger by the name Biblical Gender Roles goes to great lengths to argue that the Bible requires wives to provide sex for their husbands on demand. He admits as an aside that the husbands have the same obligation to their wives, but his entire thesis focuses solely on women making up excuses to avoid having sex whenever their husbands say it’s time to have sex.

At one point he looks like he’s advocating for women when he writes that sometimes a wife will tell her husband that her day had been rough and the husband should take the time to listen to her.

I think there needs to be a compromise here between husbands and wives, that sometimes we as guys can cool our testosterone jets just for a little bit and connect verbally with our wives when they need that prior to sex.

Some advocacy for the wife. Listening to her is just what has to be done before the sex starts.

Then he has some advice for women.

But wives need also to understand that sometimes a man has a rough day, and all he wants to do is have sex and forget his troubles, he does not want to talk about it.

I think any wife who finds this true in her marriage also needs to understand that she is married to an immature man who still has a lot of growing up to do.

Legalistic Sex

The reason this anonymous blogger dishes out such absurd observations and advice is that he is stuck in legalism. He claims to be describing marriage under 1 Corinthians 7:4-5, but relies on Old Testament law to argue that sex-on-demand is supposedly God-ordained.

In the Scriptures, the only way rape occurs is if a man forces himself on a woman who is not his property (not his wife, or concubine). A man’s wives, his concubines (slave wives taken as captives of war or bought) could be made to have sex with him, no questions asked.

The anonymous blogger bases his whole argument regarding marriage between two people living in marriage under the New Covenant on an Old Covenant law concerning the sex rights of men and their female property (which includes wives and slaves, who are essentially the same thing in this argument as both are property according to the blogger).

Then, regarding this Old Testament reliance, he plays the “I didn’t say it, God did” card:

If you want to argue with God about this at the judgment, be my guest.

No, God did not say that our relationships under the New Covenant are governed by Old Covenant laws and customs. In fact, he said just the opposite:

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35.)

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34.)

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12.)

Notice the common thread. Every one of those statements focuses on the other person, not you. Now look at the anonymous blog post; it’s written to the husband and focuses on what his sex rights are and how to get them from his wife. That may be how things were under the Old Covenant but they are not the way of life under the New Covenant.

Wives and husbands have it so much better in Christ.

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[I almost didn’t write this post answering the anonymous blogger because it’s so clear that he is way off base with his argument. Then someone pointed out to me that his post has been shared over 5000 times on Facebook. That’s appalling. I don’t expect anywhere near that number of people to read my response post here but I am hoping some who need clarity in focusing on Christ in their relationships with significant others will find it helpful.]

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Gender is Irrelevant to Mentoring – a response to CBMW’s call for “Masculine Mentoring”

When I graduated law school my mentor at the firm I worked at was a woman. When I got on the bench and had been a judge for a while, I mentored a woman who joined the court. Gender qualifications were meaningless both times.

Gavin Peacock at the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood argues differently.

In the 1980s as a young Christian and professional footballer (that’s soccer to the uninformed!) I saw older players mentoring younger ones. One experienced star player took an interest in me. He encouraged and corrected my game, and he developed my character.

One of the great needs in the church today is for men to mentor other men in the things of God—a distinctly masculine mentoring in the face of a culture that does not value manhood. God designs the church to grow under the protection and provision of biblical men. But they will not simply appear. Men of God must cultivate men of God.

(The Desperate Need for the Mandate of Masculine Mentoring)*

Mr. Peacock’s call for mentoring is fine. His call for masculine mentoring is hogwash. It’s apparent in the aspects of mentoring he argues are essential:

  1. Presence
  2. Teaching and Testing
  3. Character and Example
  4. Wisdom and Patience

None of these are specifically masculine. The Bible shows women and men both being present in people’s lives, teaching, giving good examples, as well as being wise and patient.

Mr. Peacock then specifies two goals of mentoring: maturity and holiness. He insists that these are required in men so that the church does not suffer:

The need for masculine mentorship is desperate because a dearth of men is the death of a local church and the family. Men were made to take initiative and cultivate life and godliness in those under their care.

True manhood is cruciform loving leadership, like the true man, Jesus: who took initiative for God’s glory, and despite the shame, overcame sin, Satan, and death on the cross, rising again to give life and redeem masculinity itself.

This conclusion is the most troubling. He speaks of true manhood as being an emulation of Christ. Where does this leave women? It apparently leaves them not needing to grow in Christ’s likeness in those areas Mr. Peacock identifies as specifically pertaining to “redeemed masculinity”.

This leads to the astonishing conclusion (astonishing to anyone who has read the Bible) that there are supposedly aspects of Christ’s life that are thus irrelevant to women because only men are to emulate Jesus in these “masculine” endeavors. I imagine CBMW would deny this by saying all of Jesus’ life is relevant to women, just not directly. They’d say the relevance reaches women but only through men.

The problem with that assertion is that the Bible nowhere says “Jesus died so that men can do this and women can do that.” It does say that Jesus sets everyone free from the limitations that came by sin. (Hebrews 9:15.)

Everyone means everyone, women and men. Free means free, so that none of us are bound by sin’s limitations.

So where did Mr. Peacock get the idea he can place limitations on what it means to grow in Christ?

I think it’s his lack of experience. He was in a profession made up exclusively of men in his sports career, and he is now in a ministry where women are never allowed to lead men. Mr. Peacock has a narrow understanding of the Bible because his experience in life has been narrow as well.

There’s a way to fix that.

He needs a woman to mentor him.

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*My thanks to Kathi Bonham for bringing Mr. Peackock’s post to my attention.

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The Difference Between Patient and Slow

Lion - patience***

[I created that meme after reading Aleah Marsden’s post Momentum this morning.]

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