Friday, December 23, 2016

Good News!

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a proclamation. It is not a sales pitch.

Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. Even if no one believes it, it is still true. There is no need to convince people of the gospel. Jesus said,
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
We don't preach the gospel in order to convert people, we do it so that the sheep can hear the voice of their Shepherd and follow Him.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Marriage God's Way - A Book Review, part two

This is part two in my series reviewing the book Marriage God's Way by Scott LaPierre. Part one can be read here.

Right at the beginning of the book, Pastor LaPierre attempts to establish a foundation for the rest of the book. On pages 4 and 5 we can find what I believe to be the most important things said in the entire book. In fact, the principle related there, if followed, is the key to a wife finding fulfillment and success in her role as a wife. (I won't spend as much time discussing what husbands can learn from the book because I dislike very much the notion of a woman immersing herself too deeply in a husband's duties before God. I may comment where I think the author has totally missed the mark or stated something that is outright unbiblical in this area). Here are some examples:
A wife cannot submit to Christ without submitting to her husband.
Likewise, a wife submits to her husband not because he is a wonderful spiritual leader, or because he loves her the way she wants to be loved. A wife submits to her husband because she wants to submit to Christ.
Pastor LaPierre is hitting the target right in the bullseye with these statements and it isn't hard to find Scripture passages that teach this exact thing. (1 Cor. 11, Eph 5:24, 1 Peter 3:1-6, and others)

The first chapter left me hopeful because the foundational principles were so clearly stated and it seemed safe to assume that the rest of the book would be affirming of this. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. There are many places in the book where it reappears, but there are other places where it is outright contradicted. I believe the book could also benefit from real life examples of wives submitting that don't involve the author's own marriage. He and his wife are too young and lack the depth of understanding that comes from decades of practicing submission.

The undermining of the principle that a wife submits to her husband in obedience to God begins in a footnote right on page 4 that says
1  Chapter thirteen addresses the "what ifs" of submission: "What about an abusive husband? When does a wife not need to submit?"
I think I may have groaned out loud when I read that. Conspicuously absent is a chapter devoted to the "what ifs" of love. "What about an abusive wife? When does a husband not need to love?" No one EVER writes a book on marriage and includes instructions on when a husband is relieved of his duty to love his wife like Christ loves the church. And yet so many authors feel somehow compelled to let wives know that they don't always have to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.

To be clear, the commands to both husbands and wives in the Bible are unqualified. And just in case there was some question about whether the wives are really supposed to submit to their husbands in EVERY THING, Paul says this in Ephesians 5:24
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
There is no exception clause. No exceptions are given anywhere. And, just in case there is still some question, Peter goes on to explain in chapter 3 of his first epistle that when a husband is being disobedient to the word of God (abuse perhaps?) the wife is to be subject to him. He even gives the example of Sara obeying Abraham at a time when he was not obeying the word. Now, I am assuming that Peter didn't have some supernatural knowledge of the life of Sara, but was basing his argument on what he knew about Sara from the Scriptures and on what his audience would have known about Sara. When did Sara obey Abraham? When did Abraham disobey the word? It was when Abraham told Sara to say that she was Abraham's sister (not wife) so that she could be taken to wife (adulterously) by two different kings. (Gen 12:13 and Gen 20:5) You can read what I wrote about that passage here.

On page 122 of the book, Pastor LaPierre entitles a subsection Submission Does Not Mean That Wives Submit to Sin.  I disagree, based upon what Peter said about Sara making herself subject to Abraham. IF Sara had been taken as a wife by Pharaoh or Abimelech it would have been sinful. But the sin would have been Abraham's, not Sara's. God caused both Pharaoh and Abimelech to rebuke Abraham for his lie. No such rebuke was aimed at Sara, on the contrary, God preserved her obedience as a memorial to her in 1 Peter 3.

By telling wives that they don't have to submit to sin, they are set up to be continually in a position of judging their husbands, deciding whether what the husband wants to do is sin or not. The wife is granted a veto power over her husband with her trump card of "I believe it would be sinful." When the wife has the final say, it is SHE that is the head and ruler, not the husband. It turns the whole meaning of submission on its head. God is not the author of confusion, and this is a doctrine of confusion. Instead of telling wives, as the Bible does, that they are free to offer their unconditional submission to a husband and to trust God for the results (Committing themselves to him that judgeth righteously, 1 Peter 2:23) this author would have a wife judge every command of her husband, putting a burden on her shoulders that God did not intend for her to carry.

Sometimes submission will lead to suffering. That is the entire context of 1 Peter, which is particularly applicable to the present discussion in chapters 2 -4. Peter admonishes different people to submit to those in authority, even if it involves suffering. Then Peter offers the example of Christ's suffering and death on the cross and says to the wives "LIKEWISE..." like what? Like Christ suffered, so should a wife, if that is what her situation requires. Keep reading chapter 3, all the way to verses 17 and 18 which say:
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.
In part one of my review I stated that one of my criticisms of the book is that when Pastor LaPierre uses Scripture, he doesn't look at it within its entire context and this is a perfect example. He deals with each of the first 6 verses of 1 Peter 3 as if they were standing alone, rather than being sandwiched right in the middle of chapters 2 through 4. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is not a recipe for a happy, peaceful, easy life, free of suffering. It is a description of one of the ways the people of God are called to follow Christ in His sufferings, which will sometimes occur within marriage.

It is unfortunate that in attempting to find a biblical example of a wife submitting to sin, Pastor LaPierre uses Ananias and Sapphira, whose story is told in Acts 5. There is no mention in this story that Ananias told Sapphira what to do or that she was submitting to him by lying to the apostles about the money. It says that Ananias kept back part of the price and Sapphira was privy to it. There is no mention that she was against it, or considered it sinful. So it really does fail as an example of why a wife shouldn't submit to sin. Again, the proper example, the one used by God, is the example of Sara, who was praised for her submission.

On pages 162 and 163, we read a pretty good description of Sara obeying Abraham in the matter of saying she was his sister rather than wife. But he is, again, separating verses 3-6, which are talking about Sara, from verses 1-2. In discussing verses 1 and 2, Pastor LaPierre attempts to make the case that Peter is talking about a husband who is an unbeliever. (pages 142-144) IF Peter was talking about an unbelieving husband, it would have been completely nonsensical to use Sara and Abraham as an illustration of the principle.

Also on page 122, Pastor LaPierre says that wife should not submit to her husband if he is breaking man's laws, which he equates to blatant sin. He mentions "cheating" on income tax and drug dealing. This is bordering on idolatry to claim that violating some arbitrary statute of men is a "blatant sin." What if the law of men prohibits home schooling or mandates sending children to state homes or boarding schools? This is just turning into dangerous territory for a wife who is now going to wrest the reins of family leadership from her husband by standing as judge over his every decision, ruling whether it is or is not sin.

On page 121 there is a subsection entitled Submission Does Not Mean That Wives Submit to Abuse. Again, why doesn't it mean that? Is abuse part of the "every thing" to which a wife is commanded to be in subjection to? If not, why not? Why does 1 Peter 2 describe the suffering of Christ as our example and then Peter says, "Likewise ye wives..."?  Pastor LaPierre gives permission to a wife who is being abused to separate from her husband. He asserts that God permits this based upon 1 Cor 7:11 which says:
But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
But this is ignoring the context, even the command in the verse immediately preceding which states:
And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.
Pastor LaPierre gives permission for something God forbids, by direct command? Further, 1 Peter 3 clearly states that when a husband is not obeying the word, a wife is to submit -- not leave.  We also see on page 121 that he gives a wife permission to call the police on her husband. And yet, in 1 Cor 6 Paul instructs the church that it is better to suffer and take wrong than to go to law before unbelievers.

The overarching problem that I am seeing is that while Pastor LaPierre correctly states the principle that a wife should submit to her husband as an act of obedience to Christ, he then goes completely outside of the Bible to find exceptions to the rule. The Bible does not give an exception clause. If a wife decides to forego submission for any reason, she can't use the Bible to justify it, and no one should tell her otherwise.  If you want to label something as being "God's Way" then you must stick directly to what God has said.

Go to part three of my review here

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Origins of Courtship Plus Chivalry

I wrote here about my objections to the idea that Christians should court as a pathway to marriage. One of the most obvious problems lies in the fact that courtship behavior, historically, involved extramarital affairs. It would have been better if I had done more research and given some sources, as I was primarily relying on my memory and I don't necessarily know from whence the information came.

Here Dalrock gives more shocking insight into courting, including the concept of chivalry. As I stated in my blog post, courtship was an adulterous undertaking. The principles underlying chivalry weren't even related to the behavior of a man within marriage.

Courtship is not a valid model for marriage and Christians should eschew it in favor of pathways that don't involve romantic entanglements outside of marriage.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Questions to Ask About Vaccines

One of the most disturbing things I learned from this article is that people will accept government stats about decreased rates of polio, even if it means ignoring an INCREASE in paralysis and death. I've been saying for years that we have the same rates of paralysis in this country that we've always had, but we just don't call it "polio" so that vaccine companies can make false claims about efficacy and safety.

I hate that we put the agenda of vaccine companies and government fat cats above health and safety. It is evil.

Read this and share it with your friends and family who want to know more.

4 Questions that May Change Your Mind About Vaccines

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Contemporary Worship

I have started a couple of posts about the problem modern churches have with the songs they sing and the way they use singing in the service of worship. I can't seem to finish those posts, but I'm sure I will some day.

In the meantime I came across this post which I think is very good. I don't agree that a liturgical form of worship must follow the so-called church calendar, and I do not like the word "Eucharist" used in reference to communion or the Lord's supper. It is mostly associated (at least in the U.S.) with transubstantiation, where the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. This isn't technically the meaning of the word, but the associations are tainted with Roman Catholicism, so perhaps it is best avoided in an article written for a mass (pardon the pun) audience.

Anyway, here is the article. Feel free to comment, even though I didn't write it.

7 Ways Contemporary Worship is Starving the Church

Friday, December 2, 2016

Marriage God's Way - A Book Review, part one

I'm going to be reviewing Marriage God's Way: A Biblical Recipe for Healthy, Joyful, Christ-Centered Relationships by Scott LaPierre.  I won't be doing it in one long post, because I have a lot of comments to make and I don't want it to get tedious. For this first part I will start with just giving my overall opinions and save the specifics for later.

What I Like About This Book

  • The author is pro-marriage. He makes it abundantly clear that God instituted marriage for our good and that as a person and a pastor, he is in favor of marriage. He doesn't lament that marriage is some sort of necessary evil, but rather promotes it as a part of a joyful life. He intends for his book to be a help for all of those who want to enjoy marriage.
  • The book acknowledges that God is the creator of marriage. When marriage is not good, in nearly all (if not all) cases it is because one or both parties to the marriage are not following what the Bible teaches about marriage and they need to go to the Scriptures for the solutions, or they may just need to repent and change course. This point is a strong recommendation for the book.
  • I know some people who attend the church pastored by Scott LaPierre, and from what I know of this congregation, it is a place where happy marriages and long-term marriages abound. Pastor LaPierre himself seems pretty happily married and he testifies that his parents are as well, which means this stuff isn't just theoretical to him. I once had the unhappy experience of having a pastor who spoke disparagingly of marriage nearly every week, even going so far as referring to his wife (from the pulpit!) as being "that neighbor I can never get away from." This man does know marriage, and his experience with it is good. 
  • There is no shying away from the fact that God designed men and women differently. Their roles and responsibilities in marriage are different. The passages of Scripture dealing with husbands and wives are boldly proclaimed without apology. There is no attempt to ignore aspects that might be considered less than politically correct. Bravo!
What I Don't Like About This Book

  • The book is written to both husbands and wives. Unfortunately, one of the greatest and most destructive temptations for wives is to judge their husbands. Instead of reading the Bible as a mirror and seeking to recognize their own sin, it is too common for wives to read the Bible as a means of identifying their husbands' short-comings. A book like this provides the same temptation. While it is appropriate for husbands to instruct their wives, washing them with the water by the word, the reverse is not true. No husband wants to listen to his wife saying, "The Bible says you should...." and it isn't any better to hear them say, "Pastor LaPierre says you should..."  Any wives reading this book should restrain themselves from using the book as a club on their husbands. This is why some of my all time favorite books on marriage are written by women, for women, sparing me from having to read about my husband's duties.
  • In trying to analyze verses and passages, the author frequently focuses so tightly, sometimes on a single word, that he misses the meaning that is given by the context of the surrounding words and verses. Examples of this are 1 Peter 3:1, Titus 2:1-5 and Ephesians 5:22-33.
  • While seeming to be comfortable with a wife's responsibility to submit to and respect her husband, he doesn't mention obedience to husbands at all. If one is attempting to expound on "God's way", one should be careful to include the whole counsel of God. 
  • I'm not in agreement with Pastor LaPierre's assessment of the book of Judges. No book on marriage that is directed at wives would be complete without a discussion of Deborah, I guess. But that doesn't warrant a mischaracterization of what it was that judges did (they were not primarily rulers) or how that entire period should be interpreted (as the worst days of Israel's history). In my opinion, the advent of kings to the throne of Israel was the commencement of one terrible time in Israel after another. Things were better under the judges, where they sometimes experienced peace for as long as 80 years at a time. Few countries in the world can rival that record. 
  • In several places, the author asserts that God speaks to us through other people, such as people in our small group Bible studies, our pastors and to husbands through their wives. I know of no biblical support for this principle. In fact,  I can think of several places in the Bible where we are warned against this and where we are informed that the only authority through which God speaks is His Word. 
  • Over and over in this book it is stated that men have the propensity, if not the outright inclination, to be harsh, cruel and unkind. On the contrary, women are presented as meek, gentle, compassionate, etc. There is no evidence in history or in the Bible that harshness and cruelty are the in the exclusive purview of men. Women are every bit as capable and culpable when it comes to meanness. This lie is pervasive in the Church and it is time to put it to bed. The notion of women as sweet and men as tyrants needs to die a quick death. 
  • This author says that men and women are equal. Since equal means "the same as" I am at a loss as to how men and women are equal. That is like saying that apples and oranges are equal. They are not. Wives are subordinate to husbands in authority, and therefore unequal. Men and women are equal in their inability to save themselves and in their need for the Savior. Beyond that, they are not equal. 
This is not the worst book on marriage that I've ever read. There are some gems to be gleaned from within the pages. However, like the Bereans of old, one should compare every word and concept presented here against the Word of God to avoid the errors contained within.  Stay tuned for more specifics as I go through my 12 pages of handwritten notes and share the ones that I can make coherent for you.

Go on to part two of my review here
Part three can be found here

Teach the Young Women To Love Their Husbands

This is going to be a follow up to my previous post on whether husbands and wives should be best friends. In the comments on that post, the topic of how a woman should love her husband was raised and I am going to share here the results of my research on the meaning of Titus 2:4.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a Greek scholar and I don't even play one on TV. For the most part, I believe that a good English translation of the Bible is sufficient for English speaking people to understand how to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, which is man's primary purpose according to the Westminster Confession of Faith with the accompanying proof texts. However, because of our culture and because of our pathetic use of the English language, Americans have lost the meaning of many important words, replacing their meanings with mere shadows of their former selves.

For that reason, sometimes it helps a person, like a homemaker, to consult the Greek text in order to fully understand and exercise her duties to God. Over the years there have been several important New Testament passages which have guided me in my relationship with my husband, with 1 Peter 3:1-6 and Titus 2:3-5 topping the list. I have already covered 1 Peter 3:1-6 here.

On to the text!
Titus 2:1-5King James Version (KJV)But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
There is so much here that could be addressed, but this is a blog post, not a book, so I am going to attempt to limit my discussion to only verse 4 and the words “to love their husbands.” Right here I'm just going to add that this is a grave issue. It is highly important, because when the older women don't do their duty to teach these skills to the younger women, it results in the word of God being blasphemed, which sounds pretty awful and I don't want that to happen.

The word translated “love” here is the Greek word philandros. This is a combination of two words, the word philos which has the basic meaning of dear, fond or affection. As a noun, by itself, it can mean associate, neighbor or friend. The second part of the word is aner which means a man (an individual male), fellow, husband or sir. Putting these two words together into philandros, combined with the context (an act or skill that is to be taught to young wives) I believe the most useful working definition of it would be “to love their husbands in an affectionate way, the way a wife loves a husband.” In other words, teach them to be their husbands' lovers. George Ricker Berry's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament says it this way:
...that they may school the young [women] lovers of [their] husbands to be

Let's ignore that it sounds like the Yoda translation, shall we?

I feel very confident in saying that Paul believed the young wives need to be taught how to be affectionate towards a husband, particularly in a physical way. This word is used in no other place in the New Testament, Paul chose this very specific and detailed word to describe the acts of a woman toward a man to whom she is married and toward no other person in the world. It refers to acts unique within the marriage relationship. It would include, but not be limited to, how to make love.

This verse demonstrates graphically that Greek is superior to English in expressing specific types of love. In this very same verse we see another related word, philoteknos, which is translated “to love their children” which conveys a very different type of affection from that shown to a husband. Also, the word is not only specific to being an affection for children, it is also specific in being a maternal love, that is, the type of affection that comes only from a mother. Even though fathers should love their children, this Greek word would not be accurate in describing that action.

It is not possible to use Titus 2:4 to state that wives should be “friends” with their husbands or even that they should love them with “brotherly love.” The Greek language, in which this passage was originally recorded, offers better and more specific descriptions of the nature of a wife's love toward her husband. This love is not a feeling or an emotion. This love expresses itself in acts of affection and physical relations.

There may be some confusion as to whether wives are commanded by God to love their husbands. I would say they are not, or at least not in Titus 2. The context here is one of the apostle Paul instructing Titus in how to shepherd the flock, the church, at Crete. Titus was there to set it in order. By application, these instructions should apply to all pastors. Pastors should direct the older women in the church, if they aren't doing it already, to school the younger women in proper behavior within their homes, towards their husbands and children, as well as in the greater congregation and world-at-large. The difference between commands and instructions is that a violation of a command of God is sin, even if the transgressor is not aware of the command. Instructions are there for the improvement of a person. We all need skills to make our lives enjoyable, to enable us to survive, and to improve our relations with our fellows. Just as children are to be trained up in the way they should go, young wives need guidance to acquire proficiency in areas that are less than intuitive.

As children are not punished for not knowing how to do a task, wives are not punished for not knowing how to love (philandros) their husbands. A failure in this area is not a sin but simply evidence of the need for better training. A church full of young wives who do not love their husbands is not necessarily the evidence of rebellious women, but is more likely the evidence of older women not passing on their knowledge of how to do this. The danger of this is that the young women will either wing it or acquire wrong instruction from the popular culture. I can see why Paul thought it important enough to admonish Titus to pay attention to this.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

It Is All About Justice

Dr. Joel McDurmon is one of my favorite writers on the subject of  theonomy. He is currently publishing, in installments, his book The Bounds of Love: An Introduction to God's Law of Liberty. It is a much easier read than Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law and he tries to avoid a lot of jargon, instead focusing on what theonomy isn't and how it could be practically applied in a modern setting.

His recent post The Abiding Moral Principle for Penal Sanctions does not disappoint. Here is my favorite quote from this chapter:
Anyone who wishes to deny these facts will find himself in the unenviable position of arguing that at least some, if not all, of God’s laws and prescribed sanctions are unjust and that man’s laws are more just than God’s. If this were not absurd enough on the face of it, such a proponent would then have to list for us which of God’s punishments are unjust and why.
My only issue with Dr. McDurmon is his use of the word "state" when he talks about who should execute justice and punishment under the Law of God. The Law itself does not delegate this responsibility to a state at all. In fact, reading the Law itself we see God directing his commands at "You." That is, all of God's people are responsible for keeping and obeying and enforcing the Law. It doesn't require a state at all. When the people need a judge, they can select one, as they did over and over in the time of the Judges -- a time which was marked by a lack of an earthly state and  by direct rule by God the King. What brought the time of the Judges to an end was the demand of the people to have a King like the heathen and their rejection of God as King.

The Bible does not mention that the cause of the people during the time of the Judges turning to sin was because they didn't have an earthly government. Many modern Christians, however, seem to think that obeisance to a state is the very definition of God's will. I would encourage everyone to read the book of Judges with a fresh eye and without the presupposition that it epitomizes all that is bad about anarchy. After all, if there is no king in the land and everyone does that which is right in his own eyes, but what is right in his own eyes lines up perfectly with the Law of God, it would be a great place. The problem is not the lack of a king, the problem is the lack of obedience to God's Law Word.