christa_2The Christian blogger Dalrock’s notable critique of complemtarianism.  Read it here!

 “Complementarianism is a term coined a little over twenty five years ago by Christians who wanted to preserve what they saw as feminist progress while avoiding what they saw as feminist excess…

This is not a call to end feminist rebellion, because they are largely sympathetic to feminism.  When complementarians encounter the most overt feminist rebellion they go to laughable extremes to deny feminism and blame men and men alone.  This is a plea to Christian women in rebellion to come back without fear of having their feminist sensibilities challenged.  You can almost hear the music playing in the background as Piper and Grudem wrote the preface:

Baby come back!  You can blame it all on me!

I was wrong, and I just can’t live without you!

The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespear“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance; commits his body
To painful labor, both by sea and land;
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou li’st warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks, and true obedience-
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And no obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel,
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I asham’d that women are so simple
‘To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions, and our hearts,
Should well agree with our external parts?”

William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew

Morning Meditations on Christ’s Submission and Marriage.

giving honorJohn 8:42-54   Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  … Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.  “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 

In this section of John 8 Jesus declares himself to be the “I am” to the Jews.  He calls them the children of the devil and not children of God.  These truths in the text are monumental for our understanding of Christ and the gospel.  As essential as they are to our faith, I would like to focus on submission in this text, because here is Jesus is the model of Christian submission to be emulated in our various stations.

In theology we often speak of Christ’s active and passive obedience; the former refers to His keeping of the law throughout His life and the later His death to save the elect.  Both obedience’s are Him subordinating himself to the will of His Father.  One to the law and the other to justify those who were condemned under the law, but both are manifestations of His heart and life of obedience.

Jesus makes the statement that: “I came not of my own accord, but he sent me…”.   Jesus’ incarnation was an act of submission, he did not come on his own accord, that is he did not act without the agreement and activity of the other persons of the trinity.  It is the Father that is named as sending Him because as the son he is under authority of the father and submits to Him.   There is perfect agreement in the mission and purpose, but still the Father is over the Son and both are God same in substance equal in power and glory.  In like manner the Nicene Creed states that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son. There is no conflict with trintarian formulations to acknowledge an economic as well as the ontological trinity.  The economic trinity referring to the relationships of the persons with each other inside the God-head.

But even though they are equal in glory, Jesus did not come to seek his own glory, but the glory of His Father.  This is an often overlooked aspect of submission; to seek the glory of the superior in authority.  It may be helpful to use a military terms, because the military has well defined authority structures and enforces them for the sake of mission effectiveness.   The superior authority is responsible for executing the mission (which is received by an even higher authority) and their crew is under his command to fulfill that mission by swift obedience to the commands of their superiors.  That makes them sub (under) the mission and the commander of that mission.  The crew must set aside all personal aspirations for the sake of the mission.  If they do complete their instructions swiftly and with excellence they may be recognized by their superiors and awarded glory in the form of promotions or honors like medals.    Jesus says that seeking one’s own glory amounts to nothing.  Seeking the glory of the Father the Father gives glory to the Son.  A soldier cannot award themselves a medal or put themselves in for one, it is the recognition of the superior that initiates the honor.

So many times in life we see men seeking glory for their own, and they miss the real opportunity to receive the real thing.  The paradox of he who is first will be last and last will be first is missed on them.  When men seek glory they act selfishly and against the will of the God, but according to the pattern of Lucifer.  Lucifer wanted the glory that was God’s alone and discontent to revel in the glory of God he sought his own glory and fell in rebellion.  Lucifer would have made a poor soldier, he is a self seeking glory hound.  In fact he lead a third of the angels into a rebellion resulting in their eternal shame and judgement.  If he had obeyed and given glory to God he would be the most honored of all creatures, but instead he is the most despised father of lies.

When a son of God does the will of the Father from a good heart the Father delights in him and the Father gives him glory.   The true glory is that which comes from God and not from self or the recognition of men.  Jesus came to do His Father’s will and give glory to the Father, these two principles are principles of submission.

How does this apply to marriage?  A husband is to obey God in the leadership of his home for the glory of God, not his own glory.  He can bestow glory on his wife and children as they obey and glorify him, even as the Father gives glory to the Son.  Wives are to obey their husbands by doing what he wills and give glory to him as the representative of God in the home.  As the Father pronounced, ”this is my son with whom I am well pleased”, so a husband should pronounce his pleasure in his obedient wife.  The husband in submission to God, the wife in submission to her husband is submission to God.  There is no wife seeking her own glory or doing her will apart from her husband’s, although she may have latitude on how to execute his will, she does not act contrary to his will or in such manner as might damage his glory.

One last point.  Jesus suffered because of the sins of those who he came to save.  Those elect are part of his own bride the eternal church, and they refused obedience, especially to honor and glorify their Lord.  Suffering is required in submission.  Husbands who are in submission to God will suffer for the sins of their own wife, he may not always find her a delight.   Jesus never acted in a way contrary to His Father’s will, but sinful wives will.  When that happens, husbands emulate Christ by instruction in righteousness, admonishing sin, demanding repentance, interceding for the Holy Spirit to do a heart work and setting an example by their own piety and repentance.

Peter tells slaves to endure suffering even when they do not deserve it as an act of submission to God.  He points to Jesus’s suffering as an example of suffering for sins not committed as Christ’s own submission and then begins 1 Pe 3 with the words “Likewise wives…”.  He is instructing wives that they might suffer in their submission as well.  They might find the authority structure grievous or they may suffer for sins they did not commit and yet they are not to resist and rebel against authority.  Peter tells wives that if their husband is in sin or as he put it “ do not obey the word” their submission is to continue.  Instead of contempt they are to win their husband “without a word” and instead by their husbands seeing their “conduct “of undefiled respectfulness.

Eve wanted to be as God, she wanted to obey her own laws and receive glory that was due to God.  Like Lucifer her attempt to glorify herself resulted in disobedience and shame. Like Lucifer she took another with her, Adam the covenant representative of human creation.  This is the same temptation that is faced today by men and women, to seek glory that is belongs to God.  We are to be sons of God who are about doing our Father’s will, giving him glory.

Engines and Radiators

IC_engine1 Corinthians 7:5  Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

There has been a battle of ideas over how the man and the wife complement one another sexually.  The Christo-feminists enforce the idea that the wife is the regulator of the sexual life of the couple.  Some of the tenants of this view are: if she is not happy then no one is happy, if her husband has not earned access to his wife’s sex then he is prohibited from sex,  If she is reluctant it is marital rape, she can and should use sexual favors to civilize her man or at least get stuff done around the house.

A biological vantage notes that because men produce millions more zygotes than women they are biologically programmed to be ready to reproduce whenever a biologically suitable mate is present.  The male does not bear the same risk as a woman to bear and raise an infant.  While women are programmed to be most available during their cycle when they are the most fertile.  They are attracted to the most dominant male who has the ability to provide for their physical needs especially to protect them and their offspring in case of attack.  Men are able to impregnate many women while a woman can only be impregnated by one man at a time.  The tendency for men to desire many women to bear his children is called polygyny and the tendency for women to seek out the best available male is hypergamy.  Women will swap up if a better mate is possible whereas men will collect more women.

Wives project their own hypergamy onto men and often fear that men will leave them unprotected.  They  are zealous to keep her man away from other women who would “steal” him away of they could to move up socially.  Men are more likely to guard their women to prevent being cuckolded and having to raise another man’s offspring.  This is biological psychology at its most animalistic level.  But we are above the animals and the Bible shows us a better way, a way that reflects the relationship between Christ and the church.

I suggest an analogy to explain the Biblical doctrine of oneness and sexuality.   A man is like an automobile engine.  He provides the force for propulsion and dominion work.  The engine works by a serious of explosions that generate great heat that rapidly expands the gas/air mixture to push down on the cylinder that make the car run and move.   But the heat generated for work is also capable to destroy the engine and ruin the purpose of the car.  A car without a working engine is an eyesore that is just decaying and rusting; useless as a mode of transportation.  To overcome the problem of heat auto engineers have designed a cooling system.  By use of a radiator, water pump etc. the engine can run at optimum temperature and produce considerably more work.

The cooling system in the analogy is the wife.  She absorbs her husband’s heat and helps him take dominion.  As a bonus the heat can be released intot the cabin of the automobile and warm up all the occupants (children).  A husband (engine) can propel the auto (household) in the family mission and do much more work with proper heat transfer.  A wife who resists her husband’s sexual advances is causing him to run hot and perhaps overheat.  This is what Paul warns about in 1 Cor 7 “…so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Likewise a husband that is cold to his wife will also not run at optimum and she will remain cold and the household will be cold and he will run inefficiently.  The engine needs to fire to warm up the cooling system, even in the hot weather the engine must work to run the air-conditioning in the cabin and keep the home comfortable.  When a husband is cold toward his wife the mission suffers because the system is not working as designed.  A much more common problem is that the wife due to feminist presuppositions or biological realities is less willing to share her husband’s heat.

Proverbs 6:27  Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?

A husband like an engine will eventually burn up and break if there is not a continual heat transfer.  The lack of sex in a healthy married man will destroy him, Satan will help.   A Biblically functioning  marriage is one where the engine and the cooling system are working together to run at maximum efficiency, while creating a comfortable home.

Neither the engine nor the cooling system can refuse the other when running.  What about at start up, is the wife cold?    Yes, the engine must create and transfer some heat. That process is called courtship and the honeymoon.  Once the car is running it is sin that is likely to damage the essential parts to defraud the other. That does not preclude special times of added heat like romantic getaways, and special celebrations.

1 Corinthians 7:4   For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 

Once the I do is done the fitness testing is over.  For a wife to fitness test her husband for sexual access is to dishonor the authority he has been given,  to violate her vows an to defraud him.  Likewise to refuse to warm the wife is self destruction and makes for a bad climate in the home.  Oh and don’t be surprised if folks talk more about the engine output than the cooling capacity.  It is not blame shifting to say the engine overheated because the cooling system failed, likewise it is not blame shifting for a husband who is sexually defrauded to desire more and even find that he has issues with lust.  That is just overheating and the solution to an overheating engine is to transfer more heat to the coolant, open up the thermostat and push more air through the radiator.

 

You gotta serve somebody !

submission word artYou gotta serve somebody
Might be the devil might be Lord – Bob Dylan

We submit as men as husbands we teach our wives to also submit to us. This is God’s order (Eph 5:21-24). If a we fail to teach our wives to submit, we are still in submission, but in submission to our wives rather than to the Lord. A husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the Church giving himself up for her sanctifying her, cleansing her making her holly by the washing and watering of the word.
To water is to nurture her, to do so with the word is to provide the nutrients for her spiritual growth. To cleanse her is to remove the dirt of the world – that is to use the word to remove sin in her life. And what is sin but the want of conformity unto or transgression of the Word of God. SO the husband uses the Word to reprove, correct and for instruction in righteousness, that his wife may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. But she needs to know what constitutes good works and how can she know unless she is taught the Word. So a husband is to bring the word to bear in his marriage on all matters including the sin of insubordination in his wife.
Wise husbands will disciple the heart of his wife, not just the outward actions. Actions manifest the sin of the heart as the proverb says Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” A sure sign when a wife’s heart is in rebellion is when she chafes at correction, or threatens peace and love in the home or coldness toward intimacy. In the later the husband should patiently instruct his wife in 1 Cor 7:3-5. Many may argue that will not put her in the mood. Again this is evidence of a heart of rebellion. That rebellion puts her desires (moods and feeling) in a position of primacy over the Word of God.
A husband who is submitting to the Word, will instruct his on what the Bible defines as her role toward her own husband and against the wife’s rebellion against that role. A husband that fails to correct the insubordination of his wife does not love her like Christ loves the Church. Christ rebukes sin and teaches obedience. When a husband refuses to teach his wife to submit so that his wife stays happy or for peace in the home, he is in submission, not to God’s word, but to his wife. This is a want of conformity to the Word for the idols of peace in the home, his wife’s “happiness” and his own flesh. Just as the husband is to love his wife as his own flesh, and will study the word to bring its power to bear and bring repentance in himself, so also must he do for his wife. Failure to do just that is submission; it is just not submission to the Lord.
A man is to love his wife as Christ is to the Church. Christ does that as prophet, priest and king. As a prophet he brings the Word, as a priest he makes intercession and as a king he rule. Husband are to bring the word, make intersession and rule his own household (1 Tim 3:5, Gen 3:16).

When a husband allows his wife to be disobedient he repeats the sin of Adam and fails to keep her from rebellion against the Word of God. The sin of wives who do not obey their husbands is called a blasphemy against the Word (Titus 2:5). If you love your wife you will not allow her to blaspheme the Word without warning her to stop. So great is this tendency for women to rebel against God’s order that the husband requires older women in the church to help teach his wife to repent of her evil desire and submit to Christ by submitting to her own husband in contentment and without fear. So husbands I admonish you to serve the Lord and submit to His Word and every lawful authority over you. This will create a positive example for your wife to emulate in her own estate. A condition of your submission is to water your wife with the Word; to nurture her into greater holiness, and intercede for her in your prayers. In these ways a husband will serve the Lord, as he rules his household for the glory of god, repents of his own fleshly desires for peace without holiness and holiness without obedience.

But some object because Matt 7 tells the husband to get the log out of his own eye before he tries to remove the speck from the eye of his wife.   There are two problems with this objection. ONE:  Jesus does not tell those in authority to be derelict in the execution of their duty simply because they also sin.  Imagine if we applied this objection to other areas of authority, police could not stop a rapist because the police man lusted in his heart, or the elders of the church could not rebuke a heretic because they  ate too much the night before.  It is silly to use Matt 7 to keep God-ordained authorities from performing their duty.  It is correct to say that those who are in authority should always be working to repent of sin.  And speaking of sin that lead into TWO: If a man cannot confront the sin of his wife because he is sinning, and he is commanded to wash her in the word then his adds to his sin by disobeying the duty to confront his wife.  Thus by not confronting her sin he is in sin and because he is in sin he cannot confront his wife’s sin, but he is commanded to wash her by the Word, but he cannot because he has a log in his eye, but the log in his eye is his want of conformity to the Word, namely the command to teach her all things God has commanded including submission, but he cannot teach that because in not teaching it, he has sinned and having sinned he cannot ask her to repent …….    And the wheel goes round and round.  In order for a man to submit to God he must teach his wife submission and admonish her when she disobeys.

Women in Fatigues.

women-in-combatThere are many reasons for a male only military, some of them are based on battlefield effectiveness, others on societal and social implications and yet others are based on following God’s plan. Dr. John Frame in his ethics class does not define christian ethics as the study of right and wrong, but on what God blesses and what He does not bless. What is understood is that what is right God blesses, although not always as creatures desire, and what is evil God does not bless. God sometime allows evil to prosper and evil desires to be fulfilled, but in the end He brings judgement an curses evil actions. The same can be said about righteousness; it seems as though the righteous are persecuted, but God promises that he will reward the righteous and the testing of their faith is more valuable than riches on earth. (1 Peter 1:7 )

Now that the the pentagon has gone all in for women in combat, I thought it is time to post a position paper that I worked on for a committee my former presbytery. The question of women in combat is a subset of the question of women in the military. I take a position that I believe is the position that God blesses because it is based on His Word.

Women in the military

 

Holy > Happy!

Happy wifeOn several occasions I have spoken to Christians, instructing them that God did not create marriage to make you happy but holy.  This concept has typically been greeted with steady resistance.  The concept is a paradigm change and that kind of reorientation does not come easily.  Some of the support offered for resistance comes by way of;  1 Corinthians 7:32-35

32 But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord — how he may please the Lord.  33 But he who is married cares about the things of the world — how he may please his wife.  34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world — how she may please her husband.  35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.

The  rebuttal  to holy not happy is that a married man is to strive to please his wife or put another way to make her happy.  This is not Paul’s point at all, in fact Paul  argues quite the opposite.  The Apostle’s point is that it is natural for a man to seek the approval of his wife, to please her and make her happy but that desire to please her can constitute a distraction to serving the Lord.  St. Paul is not commanding husbands to please their wives, that is what men do already.  He is instead calling men to not put that natural desire above serving the Lord.  To that end he advocates singleness as an easier path, while not condemning those who are married.

The grammar here is crucial to understand the meaning of St. Paul.  The phrase “Please his wife” in Verse 33 is not an imperative, but an indicative.  An imperative is a command or an instruction, where an indicative simply indicates a truth or a situation.  Paul is not commanding husbands to please their wives, he is stating that husbands already want happy wives and already strive to please them.  This is not something that is unique to Christendom, but the normal situation of humanity.  Why husbands want to please their wives is an altogether different question and perhaps the topic of a future post.

In the garden, Adam ate the forbidden fruit at the request of his wife. [i]  Adam apparently let the desire to please his wife occlude his desire to please the LORD.  This is what the apostle is concerned about, husbands who care more about their wife’s happiness than holiness.  For Adam that dereliction of duty to God ushered sin and death into creation. Bad things happen when a man puts the desire of female approval above communion with God.

But Paul does not limit himself to just husbands, for he observes that women also are tempted to make their husbands happy more than serve the LORD in holiness.  The terms holy and world can give the wrong idea that marriage is not holy but worldly[ii].  Here Paul uses the term holy as consecrated to the Lord and set aside for temple service.  World is an order or arrangement and if she is married the arrangement goes God – husband – wife, but a single woman that order goes God- woman.  She is free from changing diapers, cooking and being an intoxicating lover for her husband to serve God without distraction.   Again the temptation is to think that the duties of a wife and mother are not acts of worship, but they can be some of the purest worship on earth[iii].

One irony is that if a husband and wife are equally yoked, and both are seeking the Lord, they will increase joy in each other.  A husband does not need to give up headship to make his wife happy, but he can lead her in holiness and multiply her joy.  Same for a wife, she can present her body to her husband, imaging the worship of the church to her husband, and not be defiled but united to her husband in holiness, joyfully as his helper.  A result of the sexual union is a child and childbearing is indeed holy[iv] when accompanied with faith, love and self-control.

Another misused example of scripture is Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.  Some have made foot washings almost sacramental and white-knighting feminists have used it to destroy the headship of the husband.  The Bible gives a true historical account of Jesus and his words, this is an indicative.  But, Jesus makes it clear that this is an example to be followed[v] and so the indicative is in fact an imperative.  Jesus is at first resisted by Peter who does not yet understand that authority is service.  Jesus does not give up His authority, he restates it in verse 13.  He already has established His headship over His disciples and they have for the most part submitted to their rabbi and His teaching.  Jesus shows that we must allow God to help us and if we are in authority we are to imitate Christ and use it to serve each other.  It is not an instruction for a subordinate to demand a foot bath that is insubordination and sin.  Nor is it a call to those given authority of allowing the subordinate party to become their ruler; that is abdication and that is sin.  It is a call to humility; to humble ourselves before the LORD that He might raise us up and in service to Him we do not use authority to lord it over others as the gentiles do, but to to serve others by the kind use of that authority.

A second rebuttal to the purpose of marriage is centrally holiness and not happiness has been presented from Deut 24:5.

“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.

It seems odd that God would only command happiness for the first year of marriage.  That is because the phrase here is a Hebrew idiom that refers to the creation of a bounding bundle of joy.  While the concept of having children and an heir as a happiness is foreign to the modern narcissistic mind, it has been in the history of mankind one of the greatest sources of happiness and joy to be found.  Before a new husband went to battle, he was allowed one year to produce an heir and pass on a human legacy.  If he died in battle his line did not perish with him.   This was happiness for both him and his wife, the two joined sexually to create new life that is the union of both sets of genes.

It is shameful that the modernist glories in fornication and the prevention of pregnancy. These things society says makes you happy!  Women divorce their husbands who fail to make them happy; they divorce to find the elusive happiness they desire. God wants something better your happiness, He sent His Son to make you Holy.  We count it all joy when various trials [vi] exercise our faith and develop steadfastness, for we know this is the road to holiness[vii], and without holiness no one sees the Lord[viii].  Happiness is fleeting and often the fulfilling of the desires of the flesh, but joy in holiness is eternal and the result of sanctification.

Marriage images Christ and his bride the church.  This is holy matrimony!  The traditional christian marriage vows include the phrase “for better or for worse – in sickness and health”.  In other words the vows say the marriage continues whether happy or not for it is a holy estate that God has joined two and made them one flesh.   That may not make some feminists happy, but to those who seek the Lord, there could be no grater source of joy!

[i] Genesis 3:6  She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

[ii] Hebrews 13:4   Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled;

[iii] Romans 12:1-2  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

[iv] 1 Timothy 2:15  Yet she will be saved through childbearing- if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

[v] John 13:13-17  13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.  14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.  16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

[vi] James 1:2  2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,

[vii] 1 Thessalonians 4:7   7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

[viii] Hebrews 12:14  4 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.