The Arrogance of Masculinity and Femininity

It is arrogance in us to call frankness, fairness, and chivalry ‘masculine’ when we see them in a woman; it is arrogance in them to describe a man’s sensitiveness or tact or tenderness as ‘feminine.’ (C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.)

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When the Son of God entered the world as a baby, grew into boyhood and then became an adult, he did so for all people, women and men both. His is not a life designed merely for men to emulate, but for girls and boys, women and men to see and follow.

Here’s what that looks like.

Traits of Jesus’ Own Life

  • Getting emotional:

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept. (John 11:32-35.)

  • Having courage:

[T]hen he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” …

Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:7-8, 16.)

  • Being submissive:

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:41-42.)

  • Showing leadership:

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:16-18.)

These examples are not exhaustive, but give the picture that Jesus was not bound by expectations of masculinity or femininity – not in his own society and most certainly not by modern Western notions of those cultural constructs. And he said we will do the same and more.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. …

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (John 14:12, 25-26.)

We know what it looks like to follow the Holy Spirit who leads us in the way of Jesus. It looks like this:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23.)

Where is the masculine and feminine in that list? A better question is to ask where in that list are the traits meant solely for men and those meant solely for women.

You won’t find that type of delineation in the way God’s people are to live. He calls us to be Christ-like by the power of the Spirit of Christ within us. There are no masculine traits in your life in Christ, just as there are no feminine traits. All traits are of Christ, or they are not worth having at all.

So to say that someone is a Godly man or woman is not to say they are acting in a particularly masculine or feminine manner, but that they happen to be a man or woman who is acting in a Christ-like way led by the Spirit. The manner in which they act might even be identical: getting emotional, having courage, being submissive, showing leadership – each of these are traits of women and men who follow Jesus Christ. There’s nothing masculine or feminine about it.

All About Jesus

It’s all about Jesus and growing into the likeness of him.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18.)

Jesus spoke of the freedom he delivers to his people as well.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.(John 8:36.)

“Free indeed” gives the impression of being utterly, fully and irrevocably free. Jesus spoke of this freedom in the context of slavery to sin and reliance on legalism to claim righteousness., and ultimately to find they were relying on Satan and his ways. (John 8:31-47.)

This is what Paul addressed in his letter to the Galatians as well.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1.)

This freedom from the burden of slavery refers to the crushing burden of living according to the world’s ways as opposed to life in the Spirit of Christ, the life Paul mentions later in Galatians 5 (that is, the fruit of the Spirit quoted above).

Satan would rather you follow rules and the ways of the world rather then live in the freedom of the ways of Jesus.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8.)

Rules about masculinity and femininity are based on human tradition. They change from culture to culture, time to time.

  • Men kissing each other when greeting? Sure, in some parts of the world but not so much in others.
  • Women covering themselves head to toe to conceal all their skin from public view? Again, this is considered a requirement for women in some parts of the world but not in others.
  • And in some regions a wife walks several paces behind her husband to show that she is acting sufficiently feminine while he stays to the front to show he is sufficiently masculine.

What do they all have in common? Not one is found in the Bible as a requirement for women or men.

Remember: ideas of what is masculine and feminine are not biblical but cultural. That means they are human tradition and not of the Holy Spirit, destined to fail because they are not of Christ.

These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:17.)

What are you to do then as a woman or man of God? You are to follow the Spirit who leads both men and women to bear his fruit. Be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. These aren’t masculine or feminine.

These are Jesus.

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The United States Has Never Been a Christian Nation – a 4th of July post

[Updated from the archives.]

Happy Birthday, America!

Today marks 241 years since the Second Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia to draft and sign the Declaration of Independence. To commemorate the day, let’s remember this:

The United States is not now and never has been
a Christian nation

How do I know? Because the founding document that provides the framework for all laws, rules, decisions and regulations ever passed, enacted or handed down by the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government nowhere mentions Christianity.*

It doesn’t even mention God. Not once.

The only time the Constitution of the United States – adopted September 17, 1787 – mentions religion at all is in the negative:

… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (Art. VI.)

Religion comes up again in the 1st Amendment, proposed by Congress in 1789 as an additional article to the Constitution and ratified by the States in 1791, and again it’s in the negative:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof … .

So if the original text of 1787 said religion has no place in the qualifications of people holding office and if the 1st Amendment leads off with a prohibition on the government establishing any religion, Christianity or otherwise, then how does someone come to the conclusion that the United States is a Christian nation?

Wishful thinking perhaps. Or living in a state of denial. Or blissful ignorance. Or worse, they do it to pander to people and take advantage of them.

In any case, none of these are good models for Christians to emulate. Jesus said we live in a world where there are two governments to live under.

“Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”

… “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” (Mark 12:14-17.)

Paul reiterated the distinction between the two governments:

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. … Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:18-20.)

Neither Jesus nor Paul promoted a Christian nation of any sort on earth, and the U.S. Constitution doesn’t try to establish one either.

This is a wonderful country to live in, with a constitution that provides more for the benefit of its citizens than most people could ever imagine possible. But while these are blessings from God when carried out to help people, that doesn’t make this a Christian nation.

After all, nations aren’t believers in Jesus. People believe in Jesus. And that’s how God builds the kingdom of Christ. Through his people.

What a great way to constitute his kingdom.

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*The Articles of Confederation of 1777 – the governing charter of the United States before the Constitution – did not establish a Christian nation either. The only mention of religion is in Article III:

The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defence, the security of their Liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever.

The inclusion of religion alongside “sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence whatever” reflected the times: wars of religion were part and parcel of European history. This article did not endorse any religion but did stand to promote religious liberty by pledging aid for religiously based attacks.

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Even If: a hard-learned lesson of faith in the midst of change

[Today’s guest post is from Kaylyn Whitley, who has some experience with letting go and finding faith.]

Early in the morning of March 9th, I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror trying to get ready for class, but was instead crying hysterically for the first time in almost seven years. I was a Teacher’s Assistant for a graduate professor, and I was substituting that day; which meant I was giving the lecture that morning. What no one knew was that two days prior, I had dropped out of seminary. I was fine, and happy as I usually was when I got to lecture, but then “Even If” by MercyMe came on my Spotify. I was trying to sing along, but had lost it by the start of the second verse.

“They say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain. Well, good thing, a little faith is all I have right now. But, God, when You choose to leave mountains unmovable, oh, give me the strength to be able to sing, ‘It is well with my soul.'” (MercyMe, Even If.)

The thought “What have you done?” in regards to quitting school, crossed my mind over and over again. I knew I had lost my financial aid by leaving, so I knew changing my mind wasn’t going to be an option. I had no “Plan B,” and no faith to go along with the uncertainty that I was feeling about everything. The irony is that my lecture that day was on faith and repentance.

Fast forward to today – late June – and I’m an unemployed, university graduate but seminary dropout, still without a plan. In late May, I applied for what would have been a dream job for me. As I was waiting and waiting for June 16th to find out whether or not I would get an interview, I was constantly reminding myself of the promises of God:

  • He who began a good work in me will see it through to completion (Phil 1:6).
  • I will cast all my cares on Him because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7).
  • He will sustain me and not let the righteous fall (Psalm 55:22).
  • God has a plan of hope for my future (Jer 29:11).
  • Stop worrying. God’s got this (Phil 4:6-7).
  • If God takes such good care of the birds, He’ll take even greater care of me and my needs (Matt 6:25-34).
  • No matter what happens, God will work all things together for my good and according to His purpose (Rom 8:28).

This list nowhere near exhausts the promises of God, but I was able to muster up enough faith to remind myself not to count God out. However, June 16th came and went with no call for an interview. Yet, I found a familiar phrase still stuck in my head from months prior: “Even if.”

In a dark, quiet moment one night, it was like I heard God speaking to me:

Kaylyn, even if it doesn’t look at all like you had hoped for and dreamed about, will you still follow Me?

Kaylyn, even if it doesn’t happen when you thought it should have, will you still trust Me?

Kaylyn, even if it doesn’t happen at all, because My plan for you isn’t what You thought it would be, will you still worship Me?

Will you still love Me, even if?

Will you still serve Me, even if?

Because, no matter what, I’m still here. I’m still your ever-faithful God who goes before you, and I know the plans I have for you; even if you don’t understand it all right now.

So, Kaylyn, even if … will I still be your God?

Once again, I gathered up my mustard seed sized faith, and from somewhere deep inside my heart I managed to pray, “Yes, LORD, even if … through whatever ‘if’ may be.”

You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good all of my days.
Jesus, I will cling to You, come what may.
‘Cause I know You’re able. I know You can. …
But even if You don’t, my hope is You alone.
(MercyMe, Even If.)

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Kaylyn Whitley is a twenty-something who is still trying to figure out and find her place in this crazy journey called “life.” She is a graduate of Liberty University, where she earned her B.S. in Religious Studies: Theology and Apologetics with a minor in Biblical Studies. Her love of God and theology was the catalyst that sparked her passion for egalitarianism, gender equality, and women’s rights. Connect with Kaylyn on her blog Follow Your Arrow, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

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Communion Feasting: Strong Bread and Strong Wine

[Our church served communion this weekend, so I thought this 2014 post was appropriate.]

The communion bread I picked up from the tray was about a tenth the size of my thumbnail, like all the other uniform pieces laying there. The tiny plastic cup I removed from the same tray had a tiny bit of grape juice in it, and if anyone had called it a sip-worth they would have been overstating the case.

So different from my early days as a Christian.

Beginning with Strong Bread and Strong Wine

I became a Christian while at Sussex University in England and started attending the campus chapel on Sunday mornings. The gathering was small, and every Sunday they’d invite us to the front to stand in a circle around the communion table to partake together. We’d pass a loaf of bread and tear off chunks, saying to one another, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you.”

Then came the cup. It was a common cup, a chalice really. And it was filled with a very nice port.

Have you ever tried port? It’s awesome. When we passed the cup around and said, “This is the blood of Christ, shed for you,” the only thing that kept me from taking a second – and perhaps third – quaff from that cup was the solemnity of the communion service itself.

But nobody took tiny little sips like you get in those plastic communion cups at a lot of churches. Everyone drank deep, taking a mouthful of good wine to wash down the wonderful bread we’d just shared.

God Is No Skimpy Miser

I’m not going to address the issue of wine or grape juice, although that is a worthy subject of discussion.

Instead, I wonder about the symbolism in our communion services when those symbols are reduced (literally) to a tiny plastic cup and an even tinier crust of stale bread. It just doesn’t square up with the gospel accounts of the first communion, nor of the type of feast Christ invites us to share with him in his kingdom. For example:

  • God prepares a table for us in his own house. (Psalm 23:5-6.)
  • He leads us to his banquet hall. (Song of Songs 2:4.)
  • We are to feast at the wedding supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:6-9.)

In looking at the Last Supper/First Communion passages and with these other passages to guide us, what do our present symbols used in communion depict? That our God is a skimpy miser who sets a meager table for his people?

I hope that the practice in God’s fellowships and congregations will point people to the abundance we find in Jesus because of his sacrifice for us. Communion is solemn, yes, but it is also a celebration. It is about deliverance and freedom. Jesus himself instituted it all at the great supper of Passover, a celebration of God redeeming his people from the oppressors. It’s a supper full of symbolism, symbols of hearty eating in preparation of traveling with God wherever he leads.

Is this your idea of a feast?

Bread crumbs and a thimble-full of grape juice just don’t seem to say the same thing. God wants us to eat heartily in him. Communion should reflect this.

That’s more like it

Let’s break bread together, share the cup, and celebrate communion with our Savior and one another.

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Going Close to Travel Far

[From the archives.]

If you ran a movie studio in the early 20th Century, you wanted to have your studio in California. It wasn’t just for the good year-round weather. Other states have fairly temperate weather most of the year. But other states don’t have what California has: a geography that allows you to film on the Coast of Spain in the morning and in Wales that afternoon.

Need to film in the Sahara Desert? Just pack your gear and drive a few hours south. A Swiss Alpine forest? Head a few hours north. Keep going and the Mississippi River can be found further north, with Siberia at the top end of the state. How do I know? Because Paramount Pictures provides the map.

Map from Paramount’s early days

Oh! the places you’ll go without ever leaving California’s borders!

No wonder people like to live here in California. It has a place for everyone’s tastes. Unless you want the Sudan Desert. Then you go to Nevada. All of it.

A Great Place to Live

This map made me think of God’s promises to restore his people.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.

Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever. (Micah 4:1-5.)

Doesn’t that sound like a nice place? No need for weapons, because everyone is at peace. No fear of food shortages, because everyone has vines and fig trees. And apparently there’s no need to work your fingers to the bone, because everyone has time to sit at leisure.

And there is never ever any reason to be afraid, “for the Lord Almighty has spoken.”

That sounds like a great place to live, even better than California.

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The Things I Never Knew I Was Going to Know

I love LSNED.

No, I did not misspell the word “lends”, although I do like it when someone lends me a hand, lends me an ear, or lends me a tenner.

LSNED reminds me that I Learn Something New Every Day. There is so much I never knew I was going to know. For example:

1. Blue moons are real: They are the second full moon in one calendar month, and they don’t happen all that often.

You might have already known that, but did you know that some years have two blue moons while others have none? 2012 even had back to back blue moon months, August and September.

All right, maybe you already knew that too, but did you know that once in a blue moon can also be expressed as 1.16699016 × 10-8 hertz? I have no idea what that means, but that’s what Google showed me when I searched the phrase “once in a blue moon”.

2. It’s spelled extravert, not extrovert: When Carl Jung popularized the phrases introversion and extraversion, that’s how he spelled them (and he ought to know!).

Changing the fifth letter from a to o came later, mostly from people who didn’t bother to learn their a’s from their o’s. It’s an “alteration influenced by introvert”, and after all who can blame those people for being influenced thusly. Everyone knows extraverts wish they were more like us introverts and if a little thing like changing an a to an o makes them feel better, well let them have at it.

3. James = Jacob: The original Latin was Jacobus, so it’s easy to see how it traces back to Jacob (thanks Beth Moore for pointing this out to me). What’s not so easy to see is how it ended up as James in English. I suppose we can blame the Italians for introducing the letter m in their version of the name, Giacomo.

Now imagine you lived in Nazareth about 2000 years ago and one of the town’s family’s named their sons Joshua and Jacob. You can imagine that the neighbors thought those parents had high hopes for their children.  So when Jesus (the same name as Old Testament Joshua) and his brother James (named for Jacob, also known as Israel) were growing up, I wonder how many of the other families kept a close eye on them to see how they’d turn out.

There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, But So Much to Learn

Even though I seem to LSNED, the Bible tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. So how can I learn something new each day?

It’s because, as Jesus’ friend John pointed out, there’s so much to learn about God that there aren’t enough books in the world to hold it all. But we have the Book that tells us what we need to know, and I haven’t yet found the person who has mastered every bit of information in it.

For me, I find that whenever I open up the Bible I learn something new. It might be something new about God, new about me, or new about the world he has created.

Sometimes it’s all three.

LSNED.

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Well-meaning people make up stuff about Jesus

[From the archives.]

A recent study reported that people who like a company sometimes write reviews on products the person has never bought, owned or used. You think they’re writing favorable reviews in order to promote the product, right?

Wrong. They’re writing negative reviews.

In essence, the professors explain in their report, the customers were acting as “self-appointed brand managers.”

“They are loyal to the brand and want an avenue to provide feedback to the company about how to improve its products,” the report explains. “They will even do so on products they have not purchased.”

People think they are helping the company by making things up about products. I bet the companies think otherwise.

Making Up Stories About Jesus

Well-meaning people make up stuff about Jesus, too. Don’t believe me? What image comes to mind when you read the word “Footprints”?

I bet you thought of this.

That cheesy poem is firmly entrenched in bad doctrine because if that “Footprints” poem says anything it says God helps those who help themselves. You walk for as far as you can on your own, and when you can’t take another step, then Jesus will carry you. Yeah, like that’s in the Bible. Check the Book of Hesitations.

I’d rather read the alternative story: “Dragprints.” That one describes a set of footprints going down the length of the beach with two drag marks alongside. Instead of picking you up and carrying you when you got tired, Jesus tells you he had to drag you along through life.

It is no more biblical, but it is a lot funnier.

I think most people who make up these types of stories do it because they haven’t read the truth about Jesus, at least not carefully. The Bible contains all we need to know about Jesus in order to understand him and our need for him.

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31.)

I’ll summarize that: The Bible doesn’t tell us everything about Jesus, but it tells us what we need to know about him.

I’m not making this up.

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The Da Vinci Cod and the Reliability of Scripture

[From the archives.]

What happens if you take a book’s title and drop a letter somewhere? The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s best seller about secrets and intrigue in the Vatican, might just become The Da Vinci Cod, described as

“Thrills, spills and gills as a Harvard swimbologist tries to catch a murderous albino monkfish. A load of pollocks but better than Brown’s original.”

Just try to crack that cod’s secrets

Many of the twenty retitled books’ descriptions are even better than their titles. And who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? Look at the way the cover art for Of Ice and Men evokes a certain insouciance, or cast your gaze on the steely eyed stare of the title character from Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crow.

Getting Things Wrong is Nothing New

In 1631 the printers of a new edition of the 1611 King James Bible, also known as The Authorized Version, made a little three letter mistake with Exodus 20:14. By leaving out the letters n, o, and t, they printed a well known verse so that it read “Thou shalt commit adultery.”

Oops. No wonder they call this version The Sinner’s Bible.

The misprint so incensed the Archbishop of Canterbury that he declared:

I knew the time when great care was had about printing, the Bibles especially, good compositors and the best correctors were gotten being grave and learned men, the paper and the letter rare, and faire every way of the best, but now the paper is nought, the composers boys, and the correctors unlearned.

Modern Bible translations seem to be more accepting of error in transmitting God’s word down through the centuries. It’s not that modern translators are careless about error, but that they recognize it exists in the ancient manuscripts. The NIV’s notes, for example, cite repeatedly the instances of discrepancy between ancient texts and attribute them to possible scribal error.

Is this a problem for modern readers who want to know if the Bible is reliable? After all, the Bible claims about itself:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17.)

How can we trust that claim if we don’t know we have an accurate record of what was originally written? It comes down to recognizing that the discrepancies are on points that do not concern basic doctrinal issues.

We don’t have one ancient manuscript that says God is love and another that says he isn’t, for example. Nor do we see one source claiming that God created all there is and another that claims God is actually part of that creation.

On all points of doctrine that I can think of, the texts are consistent. This gives me confidence that the Bible really is as authoritative as it says it is.

But if you do happen to find an ancient manuscript that tells you “Thou shalt commit adultery”, don’t tell the Archbishop of Canterbury.

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The Lie of the Heavy Yoke: Debi Pearl’s corruption of God’s character

When you think of Christianity and the metaphor of the yoke, is this the imagery that first comes to mind?

A woman married to a Command Man wears a heavier yoke than most women, but it can be a very rewarding yoke. In a way, her walk as his help meet is easier because there is never any possibility of her being in control. (Debi Pearl. All quotes from Ms. Pearl are found in the blog post linked in her name.)

This Command Man is one of the three types of men –  along with Mr. Visionary and the Steady Man –  that Ms. Pearl says all men fall into. Her position is that in these three types the character of God is revealed for the good of women and the world. Here’s how she describes being married to a Command Man:

  • “They are known for expecting their wives to wait on them hand and foot. Most of them do not want their wives involved in any project that prevents them from serving him.”
  • “We receive very few letters from wives of Command Men. These men have less tolerance, so they will often walk off and leave their clamoring wife before she has a chance to realize that she is even close to losing her marriage.”
  • “Command Man will not yield. He is not as intimate or vulnerable as are other men in sharing his personal feelings or vocation with his wife. He seems to be sufficient unto himself. It is awful being shut out. A woman married to a Command Man has to earn her place in his heart … .”
  • “She is on call every minute of her day. Her man wants to know where she is, what she is doing, and why she is doing it. He corrects her without thought. For better or for worse, it is his nature to control.”

Sounds ominous. Yet she thinks not. To her, it’s a blessing:

If you are blessed to be married to a strong, forceful, bossy man, as I am, then it is very important for you learn how to make an appeal without challenging his authority. …

A woman married to a Command Man has to earn her place in his heart by proving that she will stand by her man, faithful, loyal, and obedient. When she has won his confidence, he will treasure her to the extreme.

Unwavering obedience and fealty will win his heart, she says. Only after she has earned his love will he treasure her.

What a heavy, ungodly, horrifying burden she places on people.

Laying Your Burdens Down

Jesus never asks anyone to carry a heavy burden. Instead he invites you to give up your wearying burdens and put on his yoke, that is, to give up the crushing ways of the world and find ease and rest in his ways.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30.)

When it comes to people like Ms. Pearl giving pseudo-religious instruction, Jesus calls it out:

“And you experts in the law [that is, religious teachers], woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46.)

What would be better teaching for Ms. Pearl? She should tell men to stop trying to run their wives as if they were puppet masters making their spouses dance on a string. But in Ms. Pearls’ world women can’t tell men anything except how wonderful they are and how much they want to obey them. Anything else and a wife should expect her husband to leave her and the kids behind.

By the time she realizes that there is a serious problem, she is already a divorced mother seeking help in how to raise her children alone.

According to Ms. Pearl, it’s all the wife’s fault.

God’s Love Comes Before Your Love

Remember, this is the man Ms. Pearl admires as the Command Man, a necessary member of society that any woman would be blessed to be married to. All she needs is to earn his love by unerring loyalty and obedience to all he says and does. After all, as Ms. Pearl says, he won’t treasure her until she succeeds in pleasing him.

How different from the love of God:

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21.)

First comes God’s love, then ours. And then we are to love one another because of God’s love, not because of each others’ love. A failure to love one another like this, John says, is a failure to love God. Anyone who says God created some husbands to withhold caring for and treasuring wives until they earn it is teaching an ungodly doctrine.

One verse Ms. Pearl relies on to support her rules for wives married to a Control Man is James 3:1.

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

She should read that verse again and apply it to herself in light of how her teaching contradicts God’s word and his love for people.

God loves you and he wants you to love one another. There is nothing to be earned, no heavy yoke to bear. Remember, as you are in relationship to one another, Jesus offers you rest rather than rules.

Rest in his love as you love one another.

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Fierce Opponents with a Great Friendship – G.K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw do it right

[From the archives.]

G.K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw were great friends who rarely saw eye to eye in their personal philosophies. Note in this passage from his book Heretics how Chesterton praises Shaw’s good sense while criticizing his inability to grasp what most people understand: humanity is worth something but progress for the sake of progress is a waste of time.

After belabouring a great many people for a great many years for being unprogressive, Mr. Shaw has discovered, with characteristic sense, that it is very doubtful whether any existing human being with two legs can be progressive at all. Having come to doubt whether humanity can be combined with progress, most people, easily pleased, would have elected to abandon progress and remain with humanity. Mr. Shaw, not being easily pleased, decides to throw over humanity with all its limitations and go in for progress for its own sake.

If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. Shaw asks not for a new kind of philosophy but for a new kind of man. It is rather as if a nurse had tried a rather bitter food for some years on a baby, and on discovering that it was not suitable, should not throw away the food and ask for a new food, but throw the baby out of window and ask for a new baby.

These two men would debate each other on stage and then dine together afterward, admiring the intellect and integrity of the other. Chesterton’s part in this friendship, as you can see in the quote above, was not to blindly boost Shaw no matter what he said or thought. Rather, he saw this friendship as a place where he could talk things through, hash things out, and come to disagreement if warranted.

Do you have friends like that, friends you can come to disagreement with? I think the Bible tells us this is a good type of friendship.

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:5-6.)

And as Paul tells us under the New Covenant, there is grace when believers disagree even on doctrinal issues:

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (Philippians 3:15.)

I admire Chesterton for many things: his clarity of writing, his intellect, his incisive wit. But I also admire him for his example of what real friendship looks like. I want to be like him.

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