Monday, March 24, 2014

Gate or Bridge?

I am continually surprised and gratified when I learn something new that allows me to further refine what I believe to be the proper mode of getting couples married:  betrothal.

Much gratitude is sent the way of Vaughn Ohlman over at True Love Doesn't Wait for his description of courtships's gate versus betrothal's bridge. While there is much, much more to be gleaned from this article, this particular aspect really stood out to me.

In courtship, much ballyhooed by the conservative Christian community as THE way for Christian young people to pursue marriage, we typically see a young man setting his sights on a particular girl and then he becomes the initiator, running the gauntlet to first getting permission to court and hopefully, if none of the gates shut him out, marry the girl. What do I mean by gates? These are the numerous people who can, at any time, deem that the boy or girl is not worthy, or for some other (or no other) reason decide that the marriage is not to be and cut off the courtship. The first gates that a young man encounters are his own parents. Because his parents are gates, and not bridges, the best they can do is allow him to pass through. They can't help him and they can certainly hinder him. If they shut, the courtship is over before it begins. If they remain open, he doesn't get the girl, he has to pass through the next set of gates, IF they will open to him. Those gates are the girl's parents. Then there is the girl herself and perhaps a pastor or some elders thrown in there as well.

The reasons for a gate to close are unknowable to the young man. They will be arbitrary and perhaps even capricious. And they can be closed retroactively, too! After the young man has been granted permission to pass! Is it any wonder that young men don't want to try this? Is it any wonder that Christian young men are arriving at 30 years old still unmarried?

How does betrothal differ? Because in a betrothal, the father of the groom is dealing with the father of the bride. They are acting as a bridge so the marriage can positively move forward. They don't stand there gaping as if to say, "Pass if you dare." Once there is a betrothal, there will be a marriage. There are not multiple gates and no chance for a young man to get the gate slammed on him. There is no gamble for the young man really.

I hope you will go over and read the entire article. It was especially painful for me to read how a young man's own parents can be the ones closing gates for the most insignificant of reasons and without scriptural support for their actions. The problem with gates is that they are continually looking for reasons to close. Their job is to restrict access. Otherwise they wouldn't be gates. But we shouldn't be looking for reasons to deny marriage to our sons and daughters. Marriage is something that fathers should be actively pursuing. May we be faithful.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sexual Desire - Evil? or Reason to Marry?

Ever the student of the biblical manner in which men and women should become husbands and wives, I sometimes speak with other parents about what they are doing in this area and why. It has come to my attention that there are fathers who will absolutely exclude as potential husbands for their daughters any young men who have viewed porn. Even once.

Being sometimes emotional, my first thought was that these men are apparently not all that concerned about whether their daughters marry at all, since they have rather off-handedly excluded a huge number of young Christian men from the pool. And what, exactly, would be the explanation for this exclusion? How is it a worse sin to lust after a woman who is clothed than to lust after one who is not clothed? I mean, don't these men realize that any young men asking to marry their daughters have likely lusted, in their hearts, after those young women? Personally, I would say that is a good reason to pursue marrying, rather than not. As Douglas Wilson so aptly describes in his book Her Hand In Marriage when a young man comes courting, what he is really asking is to have a sexual relationship with your daughter.

And I have found another blogger who agrees with me and is not afraid to use the Bible to make his point! In this 3 part series on pornography, you may be lead to think of lusting in a different way than you have been taught to previously by some worldly screeching from the pulpit. Please take the time to read these and comment here and there.

Combating Pornography I - To Avoid Fornication

Pornography II - The Married Man

Pornography III - Hear, Oh My Son, the Instruction of a Father

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Argumentation by Shallow Emotions

Athol Kay is a Game blogger, but he focuses on using Game within marriage. He isn't a Christian. I can appreciate a lot of what he says. This eye-opening post contains descriptions of tactics used by husbands and wives to get their own way within marriage. The tactics are used by other people in other circumstances as well, but his point is how they are used in marriage.

After reading this, I find I disagree with his label of a tactic frequently used by women which he calls "Deep Emotion."  The reason I disagree is that what he is describing is not deep, but rather shallow.

Just like the violent people, highly emotionally sensitive people are quite cooperative and delightful when you’re giving them what they want. But if they aren’t getting what they want and especially if they are losing a debate with you, that’s when the entire frame of the debate changes into a maelstrom of emotion, accusations, gunnysacking, DARVO and all-purpose accusations of your inappropriate behavior and abuse.

Deepness implies that it goes far and that it encompasses well-thought-out connections and rational reasoning. What I'm hearing in this post sounds more like caterwauling, irrational whining and emotional blackmail. "Do what I want or I won't love you anymore!"

Even though I am a woman, I prefer the Rational Talk version of dealing with problems. I don't know how I got this way, whether I was hard-wired to think that way or whether it is the result of my experiences in life. My daughters have not inherited this trait, so I don't believe it is genetic.

When it comes to emotions, I tend to think of myself as deeply emotional and sensitive, but not highly emotive. I can feel things without putting it all on display for others in order to manipulate them. This is often mistaken for being cold, when in reality I'm just not seeing how emotions can change or fix anything, so it is more sensible to keep the deep emotions to myself and employ reason to solve problems.

In parenting, the "Deep Emotion" style of argument coming from older children is one of the greatest dangers mothers and fathers will face. It can tempt them to give in to demands and to parent by fear. That is, to fear the loss of a relationship, or love or friendship of a child more than they fear losing their principles and forsaking their duty to do what is best for the children.

Fellow parents, recognize "Deep Emotion" for what it is whether it is coming from your children, your spouse, the women at church, your mother, or anyone else.

Is There a Right Way to Give Birth?

I'm not sure if there is a word to describe the religious philosophy whereby a person believes that some aspects of life on earth are spiritual and others are physical. In other words, some choices that we make are of no eternal significance and therefore there is no need to consult the law-word of God in making such decisions. It doesn't matter one way or the other, God doesn't care, and the Bible could give us no guidance in that area. It is a type of dualism, I suppose, crossing over into gnosticism, the belief that God just isn't concerned or involved in the physical world.

I don't hold to the gnostic worldview, although I would never try to define the proper amount of reflection and deliberation that should go into which color to paint the bathroom versus whether or not the family should make a move to another country. To me, my faith, my beliefs and my submission to God require that I not make a mockery of truth by living as if I don't really believe the things I claim.

What does this have to do with childbirth? As a creationist, one who believes that God created the universe and mankind in particular with purpose and with a specific design, I cannot look at things like childbirth as being some flawed, random process. I don't look at modern medical doctors as being experts on design or wellness, because all of their training is directed at disease and dysfunction. What causes a healthy women who becomes pregnant to immediately turn herself over to an expert on disease? How does this mesh with the belief that a woman's body and the normal physiological functions of her body are designed by God?

Obviously, because of the fall, a pregnant body can become a diseased body. The normal physiological function of giving birth can be interrupted or obstructed in some way. But those cases are abnormal. Statistically, they are rare. Like breathing, like digestions, like elimination, birth happens. We don't go to the hospital to have bowel movements unless a problem presents. We don't keep oxygen tanks and defibrillators in our homes "just in case." To make regular visits to a man (or woman) who views you as diseased and a disaster just waiting to happen is asking for trouble.  Why don't we all go down to our local imaging center and get CT scans of our entire bodies every year? First, because it is expensive and second because we know that if we look hard enough, we will find something. And nothing will be gained from that process. We know that if something is truly wrong, we will develop symptoms and seek expert advice at that point.

So trusting childbirth is trusting God. It is trusting His design. Trust is revealed in behaviors and choices. Just as faith is revealed by works. Just saying that you trust God is not trusting God. If everything you do while pregnant and giving birth is a display of not trusting God, then you probably don't trust.

Perhaps you didn't see this coming, but now I'm going to talk about patriarchy and a man who rules his house well. God has placed men in the primary position of authority and protection over his wife/wives and children, including unborn children. How much research does the average husband do before turning over the care of his family to a medical doctor during pregnancy? How does their risk of injury or death change by entrusting them to hospital care? Does he enjoy sex with his wife? Does he want his wife to continue to enjoy sex with him? Does he know how often his wife's doctor mutilates the genitals of his patients in the process of what he would call a "natural" birth? Does he know that having a c-section increases his wife's chances of dying by 10 times? Does he know that use of pitocin to induce or augment labor increases the chances of a c-section? Does he know that in some hospitals, nearly 100% of birthing women get pitocin? Does he know that epidural anesthesia increases the risk of having a c-section? Does he know that if he takes his wife to the hospital for birth that he is relinquishing their rights to make decisions about what happens? Sure, they have the so-called right to informed consent, but any disagreement with doctors or hospitals can result in a call to CPS, which can result in court-ordered surgery and/or loss of custody. Don't believe me. Do your own research.

If you buy the hospital ticket, you will get the hospital ride.

If God designed women to give birth and God says that children are a blessing and the man is happy who has his quiver full of them, then why do we have an epidemic of c-sections, hysterectomies, organ prolapse, incontinent, frigid women and families who are wiped out by medical bills? It isn't because childbirth is dangerous. It is because we don't think the decisions about where and how to give birth are faith-based decisions and we trust the medical/drug industry more than we trust the Creator. Womb to the tomb, they direct our destiny.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Southern Baptists Are NOT Calvinists

I read something today that I found to be rather amusing. One lady wrote, "Southern Baptists are Calvinists". To which another lady responded, "Southern Baptists can be both Calvinists and Arminian."

I just want to set the record straight by saying that the Southern Baptist Convention's 2000 Baptist Faith and Message is undeniably NOT Calvinist. It stands in direct disagreement with  Calvinism on at least 3, if not 4 of the 5 points of Calvinism.

A reminder of the 5 points:
T - Total Inability (or Total Depravity)
U - Unconditional Election
L - Limited Atonement
I - Irresistible (Efficacious) Grace
P - Perseverance of the Saints

 Here is part of what the Southern Baptist Convention says about "Salvation":

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.
A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

We can contrast that with the Westminster Confession of Faith, which is arguably Calvinist, and what it says about Effectual Calling:

I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call,[1] by His Word and Spirit,[2] out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ;[3] enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,[4] taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;[5] renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good,[6] and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:[7] yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.[8]
II. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man,[9] who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit,[10] he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.

The Southern Baptist Convention does not entirely line up with Arminianism, either. Especially with the last point, "Falling from grace", as the Southern Baptist position could be described more as "once saved, always saved."  Here is a review of the 5 points of Arminianism:

1. Free Will or Human Ability
2. Conditional Election
3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement
4. The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted
5. Falling From Grace

While there are some people who call themselves "baptist" AND "reformed" or "Calvinists", this is definitely opposed to the official position of the Southern Baptist Convention.  This includes such notables as John Piper. I believe a reformed baptist is a Calvinist who ascribes to baptism after profession of faith rather than infant baptism. Infant baptism is the traditional Calvinist teaching. Correct me if I'm wrong, please?

Red Herring

As I began this post, I realized that I do not know the origin of the term "red herring". I shall detour to wikipedia, then return to finish this.

Ok. I'm better informed now and may continue without distraction. The subject of my writing today is PORN. By that I mean primarily images of nude women or images of people engaging in sex. There are pornographic magazines and, of course, the now ever ubiquitous internet porn.

It is my assertion (although I didn't come up with this on my own, my genius husband pointed it out to me)that someone, perhaps Satan, is using the issue of men (primarily, although not exclusively)viewing pornography to throw us off the trail of identifying other harmful and sinful habits and practices within the church.

For example, instead of focusing on the lusting going on within the congregation, and instead of being concerned about women clothed immodestly, we will just harp on pornography every week so we can sit smugly in our pews and say, "Well, at least I'm not doing that!"

In the American church today, a person would be tempted to think, based on the number of websites dedicated to eradicating it, that "viewing pornography" was the worst sin mentioned in the Bible, instead of one of many. Oh wait, it isn't mentioned at all.

What do we mean, anyway, when we say that a man is using porn or has a problem with porn? What is he actually DOING? Basically he is looking at naked women to whom he is not married. Is that sin? Is it always a sin to look at a nude woman who is not one's wife? What about doctors and other medical personnel? Don't they do the same act?

For a moment, let us turn our attention to Scripture. Matthew 5:28 says,

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

That is the verse most frequently given for why men should not view pornographic images. What I noticed about the verse is that it does not say anything about a nude woman. As a matter of fact, it is likely that Jesus was referring to a woman who was fully clothed. But it really doesn't matter, because the sin is not in the looking, it is in the lusting. It is a sin that happens within the heart of the man doing the looking. It is not what he sees or whom he sees that makes him a sinner, it is what he thinks about what he is seeing.

So, we don't condemn the doctor for looking at the nude woman because we assume he isn't lusting. Of course, we don't know his heart. And we don't condemn the man who uses the internet for reading the news, because we assume that he isn't looking at the female newscasters in order to lust after them. Again, we don't know his heart. But when a man is viewing pornographic images, we assume that he is looking at them in order to lust after them because there is really no other reason to be viewing them. Yes, yes, I know, some men read Playboy magazine for the articles.

To return to my original point, why do we focus so much on the object of a man's lust, rather than on the sin itself? Why is it so hideous for a man to lust after a nude woman and not such a big deal for him to lust after the youth pastor's wife? Of course they are both equally sinful. Although, in reality, lusting after women that are in one's acquaintance is much more likely to result in adultery, the destruction of marriages and the destruction of churches. Lusting after a woman whom one does not know and with whom one has no contact is not likely to evolve past lusting.

Again, why then the focus on porn? Simply because it reveals the sin. The man was a lustful sort before he dialed up those images. But we didn't know it because he can lust secretly. Thus, the devil would have us pour out our wrath on the man caught in his lust so that he (the devil) can continue his evil work in the lives of the women and men who don't have their sinful hearts on display.

All the psycho-babble about viewing pornography leading to more and more debauchery and to serious crimes like murder is just another means Satan uses to steer us away from much that is evil in ourselves. We do what God does not, which is to make one sin, like lusting, worse than all others. Or to say that lusting after nudes is more wicked than lusting after the clothed, which the Bible also does not say.

I don't condone viewing pornographic images. I'll come right out and say that I think men shouldn't do it. But I won't say things about it that the Bible doesn't say and then try to attach some superior holiness to my condemnation.

Daughters of Disappointment

There are some vocal elements of the now adult home educated daughters that are a huge disappointment.  Knowing full well that their children won't be perfect, home educating parents nevertheless are hopeful that their children will face challenges and address problems in a manner that rises above the more common shrill rhetoric of mainstream feminism and for Christians, in a manner that follows the teachings of the Holy Bible. Alas, in that respect, many have failed.

In places like quiveringdaughters and recoveringgrace we see young women complaining that their parents and others involved in the home school movement misused the Scriptures which resulted in these women suffering unhappiness or worse. Some are claiming "abuse" with varying definitions, when they bother using definitions. The irony is, that at the same time they are decrying the misuse of the Scriptures, these women are ignoring them altogether in response to the alleged wrongs. They also blame their own moral failings, their own sin, on others. While calling for others to repent, they ignore or excuse their own sin.

Especially amusing, or perhaps sad, are the ones boldly proclaiming that everything taught by Bill Gothard is nonsense at the same time that they demonstrate their violations of the "principles" resulting in their own misery and, dare I say it, "youth conflict". Can you say "root of bitterness?" How about "balancing guilt with blame?" Do any "take up the offense of another?" Is a lack of gratitude contributing to mental instability?

If they wish to take the moral and Scriptural high ground, it would behoove them to bring their accusations from Scripture. It would be appropriate for them to follow the procedures taught in Scripture for confronting offenders. Otherwise, all of their pointing fingers should be pointing right back at themselves.

In spite of their bitterness, lack of witnesses, inability to describe how they were sinned against, for the sake of argument let us agree that some egregious wrongs have been committed against them. What then? How does that make them so very different from every other young woman who has ever been raised on this planet full of sinners? What makes them believe that every woman who is not making a global case of her dysfunctional childhood has had some sort of perfect or charmed upbringing? What really sets these women apart is their response -- their belief that they are somehow special, or different, or entitled. This is where their home schooling parents have failed them. Somehow this is a generation with an unreasonable number of entitled-minded children. A generation who had their every triumph, from peeing in the potty chair to graduating kindergarten recorded and perhaps even uploaded to the internet. They were taught that everything about them was special and different. And they believed that.

"God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" was transformed in the minds of these youths to "You alone matter in the world, and everyone else should order their life in such a way that you are recognized and pampered to the fullest." If their parents held opinions or made decisions with which these women disagreed, the parents are now labeled as "abusers" and "legalists." The parents couldn't possibly have been trying to protect them, but were simply trying to make them miserable and prevent them from having fun. It is all so obvious to them now, and thank goodness there are other women out there who recognize and will acknowledge their mutual pain.

If any of these women truly desire to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, if they truly want to do what is right, I hope they will consult the Scriptures. I hope they will seek out God's plan for people with hurts. I hope they will follow his commands for confronting a brother who sins. I hope they will uphold the law of God above the law of their own feelings. Because there is so much more at stake than their hurt feelings. There are homes and families that could well be damaged or destroyed by their selfishness. Their attempts to get others on their side rather than to do what is right will cause division in families and churches.

Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

If it is foolish to pluck down one's own house, it is downright evil to pluck down the homes of others. This would include the ministry of others. Those who do no trust God, but believe they are the arbiters of what shall stand are dangerous. The desire to destroy rather than to reconcile is an evil desire. To gloat and cheer over the fall of a brother is evil. It is not righteous. To break up relationships between parents and their children for the sake of gaining victory is evil. Do not do it. I will not end well for you. God is not on your side.

Exodus 20:12 Honor thy father and they mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and thy mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

It is one of the big 10. Honor your parents. Paul extends that with "obey" your parents. It could be understood from these verses that when a person doesn't honor his father and mother that it might NOT go well with him and he might not live long on the earth, couldn't it? To whom was this command given? To those with perfect parents only? No, to everyone with parents. That includes parents that aren't so great. This command used to be taken pretty seriously. Even when a man had pretty rotten parents, and that man was given some sort of forum like a book or a newspaper, it is rare to see a man dishonoring his parents in words. At least until pretty recently in history, when it has become vogue to do so, almost required.  You would think that some Christians believe they have some sort of DUTY to dishonor their parents instead of honoring them. Perhaps God won't know their parents were bad parents unless these women expose them? God says not to do that. God says to honor them. Let God judge. He sees. Ladies, for your own good, don't do it. Obey God rather than Oprah.

Matthew 18:15-17   Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Dear lady, if you believe you have had a trespass committed against you while you lived at home with your parents, and your parents are believers, then it falls upon you to go to them and see if they will hear you. If you have not done this, then YOU are the one in sin. Note also, that this is for sin. Your parents are entitled to believe differently from you about how to raise a daughter.  Just because you didn't like the household rules does not make them sinful.  Search the Scriptures and see if they have violated the law of God concerning you.

Here is the advise that your friends are not going to give you. Move on. If you have left the home of your parents, if you are married, if you  are a mother, take this opportunity to become the great mother that you think your mother was not. Using the Scriptures as your guide, form your own family standards, direct the upbringing of your own children in the best way you can. Stop blaming your unhappiness or your lack of achievement or, God forbid, your sin on your parents and others. That is a cop out and it doesn't bring healing, no matter what you may hear from psychology or your friends.

Take responsibility for all of your own behaviors. Find your own happiness.  Be a grown up and stop acting like a toddler.