Monday 5 December 2016

Roles of Women in the church: What can they do?

This is a controversial issue that indeed faces us today and definitely need to be addressed. These things cannot be just left to the wayside as a side issue but are fundamental to the function of the church and of the Christian way of life.

Leading the church

An issue that really causes division among many people is the issue of women being pastors or vicars.

Let us look at 1 Timothy 2:8-15:
"8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control"

Most people are offended when women are not permitted to teach, but this is not meant to be a chauvinistic statement at all, it is for the women's own protection considering in the context of the passage the serpent deceived her and she succumbed first to him, then Adam succumbed afterward.

Also, Matthew Henry says regarding the verse: "According to St. Paul, women are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority. But good women may and ought to teach their children at home the principles of true religion. Also, women must not think themselves excused from learning what is necessary to salvation, though they must not usurp authority. As woman was last in the creation, which is one reason for her subjection, so she was first in the transgression. But there is a word of comfort; that those who continue in sobriety, shall be saved in child-bearing, or with child-bearing, by the Messiah, who was born of a woman. And the especial sorrow to which the female sex is subject, should cause men to exercise their authority with much gentleness, tenderness, and affection.".

There is hope for the woman in this passage for she will have the responsibility of raising up another generation of godly seed for the future despite not being allowed in a position of authority.

Let us also take a look at Romans 16:
"16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well."

Phoebe is often misused as an example of a leader of a church or a woman being allowed to teach mixed congregations, but this is not the case. Just reading the context, Phoebe is not indicated in the context to hold an office of pastoral ministry, but rather is an assistant to the elders (Granted if there is pastoral ministry for women, it would be to other women and not to mixed congregations).

John Macarthur, when he was asked about a deacon at his church said in an interview said: "In the first place, we don’t…it’s not an office…it’s not an office. It’s not a position. We simply recognize that some women serve in remarkable and wonderful ways in the life of the church. Like Phoebe in Romans 16 who was a woman who was called a deacon. You can take the “ess” off it. There are women in the New Testament…the word “deacon” means servant. We have hundreds of women here who are servants of the church. They don’t have authority over anybody. They don’t meet, they don’t make decisions, they don’t have committees. They don’t have councils. They aren’t given problems to solve. They serve."

Notice again, the person did not hold the positions that MacArthur listed but rather, they only had any task providing assistance to the church.

Regarding the subject of Galatians 3:28, this verse out of context is often used as a justification of women holding positions of teaching mixed congregations or being elders in a church. But this is what the verses say:
"23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.".

When read in context, it is referring to our equal status before God. Not only are men and women equally sinners under God's wrath, they have equal standing in Christ when they are adopted into the family of God. Also to point of fact it is talking about there being one in Christ and there is no difference as to OUR SALVATION. The context doesn't allow for us to say that men and women can hold equal offices within the church.

A beautiful way David Pawson summed this up was "We are of equal value and dignity in God's sight, but with different roles and responsibilities". We still have male, female, Jew, Gentile, free and slaves, their distinctions are not blurred.

Women are allowed to teach to other women, in particular the older women teach the younger in the Book of Titus (2:3-5), particularly in the context of teaching them submission to their husbands as well as caring for their children and other tasks which we will get to later.

It is possible they can teach biblical teaching to women congregations, but not to mixed congregations, However I don't think this is common within the early church itself. You do have Priscilla (a woman) and Aquilla speaking to Apollo to educate him in the faith, but this is not to do with congregations and thus was acceptable. This was private and more evangelistic than anything else.

1 Corinthians 14:34 in the context of the chapter says:
"26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.
39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."

The context doesn't suggest that a woman should not speak at all, it is referring to a specific incident. Notice in verse 39 both men and women are encouraged to speak in tongues or prophecy in church, so it is clear that a woman is only to be silent in a specific matter rather than be silent in all cases. The women were probably forbidden to speak during the service itself but were allowed to pray and prophecy. The context can also refer to women not being in a position of authority.

None of these texts prove that women can hold a position of teaching ministry in the same way as men at all. I do not think that women are to be pastors or vicars, but that doesn't mean they are not they are useless. Older Women do have their roles in the church to instruct younger women. What I can say is, is that they can agree they can serve as deacons within the church themselves.
I leave you guys to study the scriptures to study what I am saying and check with the scriptures,

Women in the workplace?
This is a difficult and also a sensitive issue. This really depends on a number of factors. We read the following in Titus 2:
"3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

Women have a responsibility to to manage the home and the children while their husband is away. They are to look after the home and maintain it, it is their primary function. Rebekah Merkle has made the point that she isn't saying a woman's place is in the home but that a woman's PRIORITY is the home. I suggest buying her book Eve in Exile for more information if you have a kindle, it's a book that is a must read for men and women.

As for women being at work, this would not be possible if they have children and a house to run (Unless it was self employment but that's another issue and should be prayfully and through study be something that the Lord wills them to do). But even without children and a husband, It is worth calling into question the motivation of the woman? Why?

Feminism is DESTROYING family life, They see housewives as oppressed, backward, held back and not being used to full potential. Feminism is eroding the family unit and trying to disparage the idea that women should be housewives. 

Both Britain and America essentially are making women selfish (men also are being made selfish for different reasons which Lord Willing I'll comment on in the future).

There is a common trend in fiction to portray marriage as a miserable experience, including programs like Last of the Summer Wine (a program which is hilarious aside from the first two seasons BTW if you haven't checked it out). 

Men are often not allowed to go out and have some space and that the wife is sucking the marriage dry. There is also this common fallacy that somehow marriage robs men and women, namely with a common phrase "If you marry it's the end of your life" when nothing could be further from the truth. 

The Christian woman's priority is to look after the home, the Christian man's is to work and provide. 

As for women working, this is a controversial issue. In some cases maybe perhaps a woman can work, but in a marital situation it's not possible.

We have to be very careful not to give ammunition to the feminist to propound their vile heresies. One thing to keep in mind is concession on a particular point is not necessarily a ground to bolster a position. One example would be acknowledging that Mary did NOT present a sin offering but pointing out it does not bolster the position of the Roman Catholic on the subject of Mary being sinless as other passages in context demonstrate otherwise. Likewise, any affirmation of women having a job of some kind is not good enough to automatically prove feminism to be right, again, other passages in context would demonstrate otherwise.

A particular type of career also depends on another factor, that is assuming women can be in the workplace. It must be a position where she is NOT usurping authority over man, nor should it be a position where a man is allowed to tread.*

Such examples of women being in a place where only men are to tread are the army, police, the political realm (being a translator is an exception), running the courts, construction etc. These positions are out of bounds to women, despite what the feminist will tell you. A computer based job is possible depending the context it is in, along with perhaps writing, composing and arranging music etc. The list of jobs women could do is long but at the same time limited. If it places them in a situation where they run the risk of having a job that is applicable only to a man, they should avoid it.

Stunt work in film is controversial and it may have some issues, considering men and women have different bone and muscle structure and are suited for different contexts. This is something to keep in mind should any man or woman desire to go into Hollywood. This problem may not be present in voice acting as the only thing that really is used are voices, occasionally using the body to assist them getting into the role.. However, whether a Christian should work in Hollywood is another matter.

There is a case in the Old Testament where you do have women hard working, but we must keep in mind that we should not see this as a pretext for female employment and the context I am referring to is Ruth in the field with other women, working under Boaz away from the men. We must go back to verse 22 of Chapter 1 for the context:
"22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite her daughter-in-law with her, who returned from the country of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest."

Ruth then goes to the field to glean in chapter 2:

Read it carefully and you'll see the following:
1. Ruth is instructed to stay with the women who are in the field
2. Boaz instructs the men not to touch her
Ruth is granted some protection by Boaz while working with the women in the field. She is granted safety during her time that she is partaking of the harvest.

Again, we must be careful not to assume this is a pretext for women to be in the workplace. Nor is this a pretext for the feminists to jump up and down for joy.

Proverbs 31 is a context used by both sides of the debate, referring to a virtuous wife:
"10 [d] An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[e] with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[f]
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.

This is likely to be a case where a woman is able to make some money on the side, while at the same time managing the home, but her job as one to manage the home while the husband is away is the PRIORITY. She never neglects her duty as a wife or a mother. If she did neglect those things, I sincerely doubt the husband would praise her or the children call her blessed. Managing the home is a God ordained task for the Christian woman, just as earning income and being the provider is the ordained task for the man. 

Furthermore, It is important to note that the woman selling certain items is NOT a full time position that is a detriment to her family, with the addition of actually making clothes and bedding for her household and possibly clothes for others. She appears to have a form of self employment, but that is anachronistic and tenuous at best.

There is also the caring for the poor, which can either inviting them into the house, going to them out of the house, or a mixture, but once again NEVER to the detriment of her house.

A housewife must NEVER put herself in a position where the home is neglected, which a full time job may cause her to do. 

A single woman possibly may be free to pursue a career, but NOT for selfish ulterior reasons. I would however say the woman should and MUST seek the Lord's will and study the scriptures before considering it, lest she fall to ruin and disqualification. If the Lord calls her to be a housewife, there isn't to be a selfish motivation such as being lazy or self indulgent. Being lazy and hating work is NOT a reason to be a housewife, but being a vessel God can use to bring children to worship him is a good reason to be a housewife, not the only one but still a good reason. The character of a holy woman in the household may also be inviting to the person who is invited, what hospitality have they received from you they will think, assuming the woman is properly looking after the home.

The man also should not have selfish reasons for either working or attempt to get out of work by being lazy, but that's an issue I won't address here. Comments on Christian work ethics have been addressed here by me here:

It is important to realise why children need mother at home while father is away.

Truth be told, both parents are needed in order to keep a family alive and actually work.

The women relieve the responsibility of looking after the home from their husbands, caring for the children and raising them. The men who work are providing for the family and as such need to make sure not only that the income they have is sufficient, but they also spend time with the wife and children as well.

A marriage like this is essential in raising up godly seed. I have already mentioned 1 Timothy 2:11-15 but not only this, fathers need to raise their children.

As David Pawson has pointed out "For the man job first, for the wife, relationships first".

The feminist in their zeal tries to uphold women's rights at the expense of men's rights, at least in the radical circles. Nevertheless, feminism as pointed out destroys the family unit and does more harm than good.

Chauvinism is just as bad which I can agree with the feminist on, but I don't see feminism as something that a Christian should embrace, even if there are points of agreement.

It's like trying to embrace Muslims as worshipping the same God as Christians when they have major doctrinal differences despite any common ground they share with us.

One thing I will say is this, A woman who seeks a job is NOT placing herself as under the head of a man like a husband. The husband is her head, not the employer. The employer is in charge and is the head of an organization, but he or she is not a head like a husband is to a wife.

I work for a pool company and there was a girl who worked there this year during the summer and she was hardworking. She went back to university when the summer was over and will return at the time of this writing for a little while near the end of this month, but I digress.

My employer was not her head as a husband is to his wife. The leadership he and his father had over her is the same they have over me, namely employer and employee. The two men are the employers, the girl and I are merely the servants or the employees.

A woman is not violating scriptural headship if she is working for an organization. whether she be single or married (Even if it were possible for a married woman to have a career, she is not placing herself under a different head in a marital sense.)

Shame of being a housewife?
This is for those who have been disparaged by many feminists and nay sayers and accused of being backwards and old fashioned, let me say this to you, You are not those things. If anything, you are in a noble position and God has put you there to raise up Godly seed for his glory and purpose.

Think about it, Training your children in the Gospel and to live for Jesus, That is a great privilege that should NOT be shunned. You have an opportunity to raise up children who in their adult years will be a godly influence in their workplace or home of their own, or God even may raise up a potential missionary he can use, depending on what his will is.

Don't EVER let anyone try to bring you down.

If you are told "You should be supporting your husband with a job", shrug it off. God has called you for a purpose. You and your husband need each other. Paul Washer's wife Charo Washer has had to suffer many comments from others regarding her choosing God's will for her. See the following talk or read the transcript here:

The feminist is trying to undermine and destroy marriage in the name of women's liberation. However, they are self serving and are actually doing a lot of damage to today's women. Even the feminists who have a noble intention such as fighting against the oppression of women and fighting for their rights run the risk of being unbalanced.

While it may not be necessarily bad for women to have a job, it is wicked and detestable to disparage marriage the way the feminists do. Don't be foolish enough to buy into their bondage. They portray marriage as a prison that women are not free to do what they want, which is again is a horrible caricature of marriage that the world loves to spread. If the Lord has called you to be a housewife, just ignore the naysayers. As the saying goes "Go with the wind, even if it's against the tide".

No, men and women may not get what they want in marriage, but that's life (And self indulgence is not an excuse for celibacy either), marriage is self sacrificing, it requires both partners to pursue each other in holiness and righteousness.

It is also hilarious that feminists claim to fight for women to do what they want yet women who CHOOSE to be housewives, not forced but CHOOSE are looked down upon. Can I say hypocrisy much?

Marital Problems
This section requires some background but you'll see where I am going with this.

Back in 1991, there were three cartoons released for Nickelodeon. They were known as Doug, Ren and Stimpy and Rugrats, which itself is the most well known and the longest running of the three despite it's brief hiatus.

There are three couples that are found in the Rugrats which show us three different marriages.

I know Klasky Csupo, the company that created the show were not giving an exposition on what is a true marriage, but hear me out.

We first have Stu and Didi Pickles. Stu has no job and used to work in a lard factory but seeks to be an inventor (A noble profession but he isn't good at it). Inventing is his dream job which he hopelessly chases after, forcing his family to live of benefits presumably. His brother Drew (Who we'll get to soon) even says this in the first movie:
"Drew: You can't even make ends meet now. You got no insurance, no savings, and another kid on the way!

Stu: For your information, bro, I am working on something right now that is going to put this branch of the Pickles family on Easy Street."

Chasing after a dream to the neglect of one's family is not very good, not to mention you have BOTH staying at home as opposed to Stu heading to work.

The other extreme is Drew Pickles and his wife Charlotte. Both of whom have little time for Angelica and presumably have jobs. Charlotte especially in most episodes is often seen on the phone and in a business suit speaking to her assistant Jonathan. Both of them do not make time for Angelica, usually dropping her off at Stu's house to be babysat. 

Charlotte should be at home taking care of Angelica and raising her until she is able to stand on her own and find a husband.

The final example are Betty and Howard DeVille and after just a brief look on the wikipage as well as going into my memory, Betty seems to be the one taking the lead in the marriage, which should not be the case, Howard should be the one taking the lead rather than letting his wife doing it.

While not a perfect analogy, Rugrats certainly gives us an interesting take on different kinds of marriages, ones that are not biblically sound. It is still an interesting contrast to observe even if Klasky Csupo were not intending to give an exposition on what marriage should be.

Submission to the Husbands and Loving of the Wives
This is something that is offensive to the feminists and they often cry foul at this idea, going as far as obliterating marriage altogether, let's take a look.

"22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."

Here, marriage is to be honoured and kept pure in honour of the Lord, How can this be done when the husband doesn't love his wife? If there is no love, the wife will either submit begrudgingly or be rebellious. There is no sanctification in the sight of the Lord if this is the attitude that is been demonstrated.

Christ is not abusive, it is hypocritical to abuse your spouse when your Lord and Saviour doesn't treat you that way, you can't have it both ways. For a contrast of two marriages, see the following article:

We also observe that just as Christ gave his life for the church, his bride, we as men if we are married must be willing to lay down our lives for our wives in order to preserve their lives. Willingness to die for your spouse is important for us men.

We'll also take a look at 1 Peter 3:
"3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."

Both the men and women have a responsibility to each other, the woman is to submit to and listen to her husband and obey, whereas the man is to love his wife, along with cherishing and protecting her, showing her grace too.

Keep in mind that the braiding of hair itself isn't forbidden for all time, it is referring to a the hairstyle in a context it's used. Braided hair itself isn't evil, but in the context of ancient Greece, it was the hair of the cult prostitutes and the Delphic Oracle. Braided hair divorced from idolatry is fine, as in our culture it doesn't have that connotation. It is an exhortation to women not to wear clothing that makes them look like a pagan when they are not.

As for adornments and the subject of hair, Paul Washer had a very interesting thing to say on it:
"Now, look what it says here. It says, “Not with braided hair, or gold or pearls or costly garments.”

Now, does this mean, as some have interpreted, that a woman can never braid her hair? Well, if you go into the Greek world, you will see some braiding that went on that literally is frightening. The woman looked like Medusa. I am not kidding. They braided hair to the… they would spend days braiding this hair up and it was going all over the place and it looks like snakes coming out of her head. That’s what Satan will always do to a culture.

What he’s talking about here is not that you can’t braid your hair. It’s talking about just the simplicity of it. Not extravagant.

And then there’s gold and pearls or costly garments. Now, what does this mean? Well, I see that the servants of Abraham gave Isaac’s bride some costly bracelets, some rings for her nose, you know go figure. So, that wasn’t treated as an ungodly thing. I think it goes back again to extravagance, extravagance.

And costly garments? No, women should not be preoccupied with spending a lot of money on clothing. But you know what? A wise woman, a noble woman can take a little bit of something and make it look pretty amazing. Remember the Proverbs 31 woman? She didn’t just dress her household. She herself dressed in purple. But it was a frugality, a simplicity.

I recommend reading the entire article to understand where Washer is coming from.

Offices open to women
This pertains to function in the body of Christ as opposed to the workplace. I have already explained that women should not be leading the church so I need not go over that again. With that said, are there positions that women can inhabit, two I have already given, teaching other women and prophesying. An example of prophecy in the book of Acts would be Phillip's daughters (Acts 21:9). We are not told what they prophesied, only that they had that gift, but nevertheless, it shows that position is open in the New Testament church.

We also do have examples of prophetesses in the Old Testament which includes but is not limited to Miriam, Deborah and Huldah. Isaiah's wife is a possible candidate for being a prophet as well. They may also be evangelists too, spreading the gospel by how they live with proper conduct so that the Way is not blasphemed.

What women cannot do in the church is place themselves in a position where they are teaching a mixed congregation, that is a job for a man.

To go back to Titus 2:3-5, not only would that be instructions to the married women on how to behave, there is also a possible precedent for the old woman to teach the scriptures to the young women and help them. Of course in the marital situation, the woman is under the headship of her husband so they can effectively teach their children just as scripture commands (Deuteronomy 6:7 has a guiding principle for Christians though we are not under the law of Moses).

There are ministries open to women, but they are not allowed to have authority over men. Leadership is male for a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church (Ephesians 5:23).

Final words
I implore all who read this not to come away from this article not to just blindly accept what I say. You check out what I am saying with the scriptures, study the issues, study the scriptures and pray about it. Check the words I say with the scriptures and be Bereans.

Answering Judaism.

*This point I need to rethink.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

The next time someone tries to misuse the Bible to silence those who condemn homosexuality, show them this.

I came across an article recently and it is sadly a very widespread paper found on many sites. I hesitate to respond to it but it has to be done. Impertinent individuals are not worth the attention in speaking to but it's worth dealing with this for the sake of the brethren, especially since it is commonly used against Christians, namely "If this law applies, why not that one?", an argument which is often used as a means to silence Christians and those who do not study the Old Testament are doomed to failure of responding to it.

Here is the article in question:

Basically to give a summary of the article, it is asking an orthodox Jew by the name of Dr Laura Schlessinger a few questions, but it's hard to know whether or not it is silly or serious, but in any case, it has been used by many, including one of my own family members who shall remain anonymous.

Let us be clear on this.

I have said in the past that only the moral law minus the death penalty applies to us, however, there is a better perspective and I can sum it up like this to paraphrase Keith Thompson, "Anything from the New Covenant ratified by the apostles is to be obeyed". See Keith's video on the subject:

To give a few examples, blasphemy, witchcraft, idolatry, stealing, lying and sexual sins (homosexaulity included BTW) pertaining to morality are ratified in the new covenant and the sins in question should not be committed by Christians, let alone entertained by them as a life to emulate.

The thing that isn't done is putting someone to death under the New Covenant

Also, Not all the laws contained in the article above are ratified under the new covenant. See the following texts:
Lev.1:9, Lev.15:19- 24, Lev. 25:44, Exodus 35:2, Lev. 11:10, Lev. 21:20, Lev. 19:27, Lev 11:6-8, Lev 19:19, Lev.24:10-16, Lev. 20:14

Regarding a menstrating woman, Most wouldn't think to touch them whether they are ignorant of the law or not and most people with or without Christ don't entertain that thought, at least in our culture. I will concede however though there are some disgusting people who practice rainbow kissing (don't ask what that is).

Keep also in mind, childbirth only rendered a mother CEREMONIALLY unclean, not unclean morally. See Leviticus 12:
"12 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 Then she shall continue for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She shall not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed. 5 But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.

6 “And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, 7 and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. 8 And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,[a] one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”"

Some of the laws, namely the subject of unclean animals being consumed, be it shellfish or pigs were only unclean for the Israelites to eat, the prohibition for eating said animals is not given to Christians (Except for the consumption of blood which is prohibited from the time after the flood).

It is also important to note that the commands regarding the regulation of slaves has also been removed. The only injunction for Christians regarding slaves is for slaves to obey their masters and masters are to treat their slaves with respect and not oppress them. If there is an opportunity to leave a life of slavery, a person could seek it.

Also, Modern day Jews don't even keep slaves so that law would not be carried out in this day and age, especially in the Western World.

In Leviticus 1, if you actually read it, it says:
"1 The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

3 “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. 4 He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. 5 Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron's sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 6 Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, 7 and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. 8 And Aaron's sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; 9 but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering[a] with a pleasing aroma to the Lord."

The animal was to be brought to the tent of meeting (later the temple) to give to God as a burnt offering, I hardly think your neighbors are going to complain about the smell if it is in the temple and even if they did they wouldn't be able to object. It isn't a law that applies to Christians anyway so it is inconsequential.

There is also no injunction or command in the New Testament against mixing seed, cattle or clothing materials either, though the reason they were there were to keep the Jews distinct from the nations. Crossbreeding of a sheep with a cow would be an abomination to this day however, but not two different cows like say a Freisian Cow with a Jersey Cow.

The Sabbath in Christ is Jesus Christ himself, he is the Sabbath rest of Christians. If a Christian wants to keep the Sabbath or NOT to keep the Sabbath, that is entirely his or her prerogative. I cannot legislate whether a Messianic Jew should or should not keep the Sabbath, they are free in God to keep it. See Romans 14 and Colossians 2. If a Christian wants to grow or not grow a beard, that's up to them and they are free to trim the temples in Christ.

I don't know the heart of the person who wrote the letter to Dr Schlessinger, but it's a letter that so many have used as a weapon and it should be put to rest.

I recommend looking at previous papers I wrote for further detail:

Any questions feel free to ask me below.

Answering Judaism.

Thursday 6 October 2016

The Girl on the Train: a Christian perspective on domestic violence

I wish I held off the release of a previous article on the subject of marriage, This movie had a profound effect on me when it had finished.

I had used Back to the Future Part 2 as an illustration of how marriage should and should not be conducted. See the article for more information:

I have said the following in the paper itself

"Paul exhorts men to do the following in Ephesians 5:
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendour,without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Here, marriage is to be honoured and kept pure in honour of the Lord, How can this be done when the husband doesn't love his wife? If there is no love, the wife will either submit begrudgingly or be rebellious. There is no sanctification in the sight of the Lords if this is the attitude that is been demonstrated.

Christ is not abusive, it is hypocritical to abuse your spouse when your Lord and Saviour doesn't treat you that way, you can't have it both ways."

There will be spoilers of the film in this article so if you have NOT seen the film, go see it first before reading, but be warned, the movie itself has squeamish moments.

Anyway, I'll give a quick rundown of the film.

Rachel Watson, our protagonist (Played very well by Emily Blunt) is divorced and an alcoholic. She commutes on a train to New York every day and passes by a house, observing that a woman named Megan is cheating on her husband Scott (Whom we learn has been abusive to her). Rachel awakens from a drunken stupor one day with blood on her face and believes that Megan has been killed by her, but can't remember and whenever she was drunk, her husband would fill in the blanks (or so he claimed).

Events unfold showing us that Megan has accepted her abuse as a norm but seeks sexual pleasure from her therapist to compensate for the fact she is unloved. 

Tom Watson, Rachel's ex husband, has marriage another woman named Anna who has had a child with him.

To cut a long story short, Rachel discovers that she is not the violent callous or insane woman she was made out to be, Her ex husband Tom had abused her and drove her to alcoholism and lied to her in order to control her and won't allow her to be trusted by Anna and not only that, Megan was killed by Tom. We also learn that Tom loves sleeping around and was fired from his job (His claim that Rachel was the one who got him fired when it was actually his fault he lost the job. 

Her divorce stemmed from the fact that she couldn't have a child and Rachel at one point, not hurting Anna's child, but actually wanted to just hold Anna's child to feel like a mother.

She has had her marital life torn from her, no baby, no husband, no means of supporting herself (She often stared out of the train to see a perfect couple, her desire to be part of a marriage again).

Tom is killed, both Anna and Rachel are arrested and Rachel is free at the end, presumably with a new job and a new lease on life.

The film never shies away from the horrors of domestic violence and treats the subject matter with respect, as it is a serious issue that plagues many marriages.

With Rachel and Megan, we have both women damaged and ruined by their husband's wicked behavior towards them. I am aware that domestic abuse can happen to men too, but the film nevertheless demonstrates very effectively why domestic abuse is wrong.

Domestic violence can destroy a person's mind, it causes them to turn to drink to dull the pain or become desensitized to the violence that is done to them, so much so that they accept the pain as a part of their life.

It even shows a person seeking love from another source, even if it means engaging in an affair with another person in light of their spouse not loving them.

While the fall has caused women to try and dominate their husbands and be their head, the fall has caused men to be violent or cruel to subdue the women to retain control, the opposite extreme.

Husbands loving their wives and wives submitting to their husbands is the biblical norm that God established and The Girl on the Train gives us examples of what happens when the husband becomes manipulative (Tom) or paranoid (Scott) and becomes cruel towards their spouse, it leads to a spiral in which the wife becomes disillusioned, afraid and broken.

In some cases, it may cause the person in question never to trust someone of the opposite gender again or see marriage is a horrible existence to never be experienced.

Domestic violence is something God hates and the husband will be accountable for the way he treats his family, both his wife and kids. May the Christian men who are married to Christian women be the protectors and leaders of the household but NEVER the dictators of the household. 

As long has the man acknowledges that his head Christ is not abusive, the wife can rest assured that her husband is the head who would never seek to ruin her intentionally.

Answering Judaism.

Tuesday 4 October 2016

Response to Jory Micah

There was an individual named Jory Micah whom caught my attention earlier today on Facebook and in light of the fact that at the time this article is penned, I have another article on the roles of women in the church, whether they can get a job or not or other issues that isn't finished yet, it would be pertinent to comment on this teacher and some of her comments in light of the subject matter.

This would have been part of the article but it's better to have this response as it's own self contained article. These things that have been said are rather concerning at best and disturbing at worst.

Let us take a look shall we?

"I believe that the Holy Scriptures are truth, inspired by the Spirit of God but I don't believe that God is confined to the Bible. God is much bigger than what is revealed to us in the Bible."

While God is bigger than scripture and us, I don't really see what she is getting at. The scriptures inspired by God are the church's sole infallible rule of faith. The scriptures determine what is true and what isn't. If there is information presented to us that is contrary to the scriptures, Why must we accept it at all? God can reveal himself to us, but he will not leave us in the dark or mislead us. He gives the church the Holy Spirit and the scriptures to lead us onto the right path.

"Feminism is the radical idea that women are human beings, thus deserving of the same opporunities as men, in the home, society and Church."

Men and Women have equal dignity and value in God's sight but have different roles and responsiblities. Putting aside the debate of whether or not women can go out to work, let's operate on the basis they can. There are jobs out there that would not be open to women and I am positive there are roles men cannot take up. While it is commendable to fight for women's rights, it is wrong to place them in a position that would violate their womanhood. There are jobs out there that would not and should not be open to women, the army being one example among many.

"If I, as a woman made in the image of God, then God must not only be a father, but a "mother" as well."
God is a father, not a mother. You could say that he birthed the people of Israel, you can say a man birthed a project, be it a movie, a program, a swimming pool. Men can give birth in that sense, they give birth to a project, but that doesn't make them a mother. Likewise, God birthed the Earth and Adam and created Eve from his side, but that doesn't make God himself a mother.

""God is described as Father by Jesus"

Yes, true, but this may be because Jesus was living in an extreme patriachal culture in which "Father" was the best metaphor available to describe God (and probably still is in much of the world), so humans can understand.

The father, in Jesus' day, was the protector, provider, and really the source of all livelihood in the home.

But remember, Mary was the source that God chose to use, to birth Jesus. No man was needed.

God is called, El Shaddai which means, "many breasted one." Our God is also a Mother-she births and nutures life. (Though God does not have a literal gender)."

If calling God Father was because of Jesus living in a patriachal culture and it was the best metaphor, then why would Jesus change that based on culture. This isn't like whether or not a woman could have braided hair where the hair in one culture carries a particular connotation that another culture would not recognize it in that way or let's say a word is innocent in one country and offensive in another (The word spunky in America does not carry a sexual connotation that it does in Austrialia or England.) This is talking about the roles of men and women from the beginning established by God, that the man is the one who is the provider for the family, not the woman.

Having said that, there are plenty of jobs for women that they could take up. In a marital context, the woman's priority is to look after the home while her husband's priority is the one to work.

See the following article on El Shaddai:

If Jory Micah is reading this, I have this to say. Repent and turn back to Jesus, you are teaching rebellion against him and his Father in heaven. Reconsider what you are teaching, do not teach over mixed congregations and be obedient to the word.

Anything else that the Lord wants me to comment on, I'll do it if he so wills.

Answering Judaism.

Saturday 24 September 2016

1 Corinthians 14: Organised worship

I had said the following in the previous article:
"Lord Willing I may comment how tongues should function in the worship of God and in the context of the church. We'll have to see."

In this article I shall be commenting on 1 Corinthians 14. To get the background of what I believe tongues, read the previous paper:

With that out the way, let us get started.

"14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up."

Putting aside the charismatic/cessationist debate, Paul is exhorting the church to have spiritual gifts that edify and raise the church up in godliness. It is important to note that anyone who speaks or prays in tongues must have an interpreter so that individuals will know what is being said, thus the church will be built up. There is no casual usage of tongues here nor the Benny Hinn absurdity and other events like it where it's fake tongues and no interpretation is even given. Prophecy is also to be examined.

"6 Now, brothers,[a] if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church."

If no one is understanding what is being said, it is of no value to the person in question is it? It's like watching a foreign film and not having a clue what the characters are saying. You either need someone to dub over in your language or the film in question have subtitles to translate what is said. How could a person who is not familiar with the language take from the film the subtext and themes that it is trying to convey to the audience? It's as Paul said, "if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air."

"13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider[b] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue."

Exactly what Paul was saying, it would be more beneficial to the individual to have few words they can understand as opposed to having many words that they cannot understand, as well as praying in mind and in spirit together.

We come also to an interesting section on prophecy in this very chapter:

"26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace."

This ties in with interpretation of the tongues again, either have someone to interpret or they do not speak and there is also a judgement on what the one prophesying is saying, judging them to be right in what they say rather than let them off the hook and shout "Touch not God's anointed", Read the following article on what that phrase actually means:

I'll quote from 33 again and elaborate on that verse again:

"33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order."

Verse 33 is to be read in light of what has been said previously as the verse is often abused by the unbelieving world to discredit Christianity. However the verse in question refers to the orderly worship and function of the church that God does not have disorderly, confused worship but worship that is organized and disciplined. It is also interesting what Paul says about women (And no to all the naysaying feminists, no this is not misogyny) that any queries they have about the word of God, they can ask their husbands after the worship service and it also puts a nail in the idea that women should be leading mixed congregations.

As for the phrase do not forbid speaking in tongues, it is not saying "Everything goes", it is referring to the biblical tongues, not the unbiblical tongues.

Putting aside the debate as to whether or not prophecy is applicable today, If it is, it is do be done in an orderly manner, the same goes for the tongues, both must be done respectfully. There is nothing similiar the spiritual orgies we have in churches today, such as laughing in hysteria, or these false prophecies and crazy contrived or demonically induced version of tongues.

Anything else to add may be given in an addendum Lord Willing.

Answering Judaism.

Monday 19 September 2016

Speaking and Praying in Tongues: What is it?

Tongues is one issue that is quite controversial among Christians, as well as prophecy and whether or not other gifts of the spirit including miracles still occur to this day. Specifically I want to take a look at what passes for biblical tongues. Let us first go back to Pentacost.

Tongues at Pentacost
"Acts 1:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”"

The context explains above what tongues are. The tongues that the New Testament speaks about are other human languages. This is why some were astonished at what happened, because the apostles were speaking in their respective native tongues. If the apostles lived in the modern era, you would have countless Americans and Europeans amazed at the fact that their languages are being spoken by them despite not knowing the language.

Of course, some of the people in verse 12 mocked and said the apostles were drunk, to which Peter responds:
"14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[b] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’"

Peter points out that he and the apostles are completely sober and quote from Joel 2:28-32.

Pentacost fulfills this prophecy present in the book of Joel. So what are tongues according to the context? Human languages, that is all they are. The same can be said also of Acts 10:
"Acts 10:44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days."

Once again we have the praises of YHWH conducted in foreign languages as opposed to another type of tongues which people proclaim.

Varying gifts in the church
Let us look now in 1 Corinthians 12:
"4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills."

There really isn't a need to say to much about this part of the chapter, Paul is explaining what various gifts that Christians possess in God, that not all Christians will perform the same feats as one another. Some will be able to speak other languages i.e. tongues and the same applies to other gifts of the Spirit that may be granted.

Read also in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31:

Paul explains using the analogy of the human body that every believer in Jesus is indispensable. No Christian who biblically believes in Jesus is useless or has no function within the body, he or she has gifts to utilize to build the body of Christ up and edify.

A tongue of angels?
Let us turn our attention to 1 Corinthians 13:
"13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[r] but have not love, I gain nothing."

Paul is not saying that there is a tongue of angels that humans can pray in, What he is presenting is a hypothetical scenario, that if he were to speak in a tongue of angels without love, it doesn't mean anything. I have already written an article on 1 Corinthians 13 so I will just link to an article dealing with the chapter in question:

Spirit filled or something else?
While I have explained what tongues entails, there are individuals who point to other so called tongues to prove them to be manifestations of the Spirit.

Other tongues may be contrived, someone may just make it up on the spot uttering nonsense as opposed to uttering a language that exists. There is also demonically induced tongues, commonly found in cults,be they "Christian" or among shamans and witch doctors. They are not the tongues that Paul is addressing within the passages in the Bible nor are they the tongues that are present in the New Testament among the apostles.

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self control as found in the book of Galatians in chapter 5:
"22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

If there is no self control, How can the fruit of the Spirit be there?

Lord Willing I may comment how tongues should function in the worship of God and in the context of the church. We'll have to see.

Answering Judaism.

Saturday 17 September 2016

1 Corinthians 13: Love

"13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

What we have here in 1 Corinthians is love being one of the core apsects of Christianity that while in some circles actually ends up leading to an unbalance on the love of God and while the world has a perverted view on what love is, it is one of the vital things for Christians to maintain. It also speaks to the motivation behind doing good things.

Doing evil in the sight of God is obvious, that is something Christians can agree on (assuming he or she is biblically sound), Doing what is evil in the sight of God is reprehensible, but how many of us even think about our motives for doing what is right? In other words, if you are doing good for the wrong reason, you might as well be evil.

It is a hard endeavor for us to do good for the right reason, sometimes ulterior motives can destroy our good works and render them tainted.

Love is one of the things that endures, but Paul is not talking about some fairy/fantasy feeling nor is he talking about the world's love which claims to be progressive but is in actuality an excuse to say "Oh look, two men and two women are together, is that wonderful" and ignore the fact that it is sinful to even suggest that sexual sin is a viable way to live. If anything it is regression not progression.

What Paul talks about regarding love is namely caring for someone, i e agape.

Apage is a love that causes you to care for someone, not in the sense that an attractive quality causes you to talk to someone, but you are compelled to speak to them regardless. You care for someone despite what they look like. This doesn't mean you overlook and accept them in their sin, but it does mean you care for them enough to demonstrate the love of Christ to said individual. You want them to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

In the church, agape allows Christians to care for each other regardless of their backgrounds and compel them to seek Christ together (Not in ecumenism but unity of the Holy Spirit).

Love is also something that endures, unlike prophecy and tongues which are a things of this era and won't be present in heaven.

This is why Paul uses the illustration of growing up. Once we are adults, we no longer have an interest in the things of childhood. We no longer act immature or throw when we don't get our way, we focus less time on play and more on important things namely our work (Though there isn't anything inherently wrong with a hobby but that's another story.)

We also no longer perceive the world through the perspective of a child.

When we get older and you play a video game or watch a movie or animated series that you saw or played as a child and you remove nostalgia, you can see flaws present that you didn't see before as a child in said media or you can appreciate the artistry, creativity and the writing of a piece of work.

When it comes to films, animated series and video games, Adults generally tend to have more of an analytical view of a film. They can enjoy something for what it is but that doesn't mean they are willing to overlook everything that occurs on screen. A child (Though in some cases a child can have the same view as an adult somewhat) doesn't look at a video game or a movie in the same way and enjoys it for what it is without any objective bias for or against it.

A example of children's programming that can be appreciated for strong writing by adults and handling of mature themes is the Nicktoon Hey Arnold and that is attributed to the fact (and I am going by second hand information) that the creator of Hey Arnold, Craig Bartlett does not talk down to children and believes that children can handle more than we adults think they can. Keep in mind I am not saying every adult or child operates this way, I am just making a general statement.

Basically when we become adults, our thinking, behavior and practice change but nevertheless our capacity to love is still present.

Love is something that will not vanish, as God has given that ability to us. It's the fall of man that has destroyed or in the very least warped our perception of what love is, hence why as said before you have people proclaiming a tolerance of sin as somehow being progressive as human beings, even though it makes us no different from the people of ancient times, the very people that modern people seem ridicule as backwards or unenlightened.

Biblically understood agape encompasses all the things found in verses 4-7, especially the point that agape does NOT seek it's own. There is no self satisfaction or gratification, but only the assistance of others.

Any good work done for the sake of Jesus is meaningless if there is no love of Jesus in your hearts. Jesus had love and compassion in his heart for those who were lost and sought to bring people to the Father, for that was the Father's will, thus, Christians should emulate that example and follow Jesus.

The same thing applies with any spiritual gift or any talent that we have that God uses for his purpose and glory. If there is no love for the lost in your heart, then what are you doing work for Jesus for?

"Philippians 2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity laid aside his divine prerogatives and humbled himself and laid down his life. If Jesus himself was able to do this, what excuse do we have to not lay aside our rights in service of others? Any good thing we do for others should never be out of selfish reasons, but a selfless concern for their well being as well as bringing them to salvation and assisting them in daily life.

There shouldn't be any complaining either:
"Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me."

As adults, there are things we may not like doing, but they need doing, but we must have a right attitude to them and not grumble or whine or complain about doing the task in question. People in the Old Testament DIED as a result of their grumbling:

"1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[a] that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown[b] in the wilderness.

6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ[c] to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Grumbling and complaining is offensive to God and yet every human is prone to doing these things, including children. Even if we do not express complaints outwardly, it's just as bad to express complaints inwardly. The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 brings the point out that it isn't just what you do, it's also what you think (see Matthew 5:21-30).

Let us love biblically.

Answering Judaism.

Did Jesus label all the Pharisees and Jews as evil?

I had written a response 2 years ago to an article that Yisroel Blumenthal had written. You can find my response here:

The article Yisroel wrote can be found:

Did Jesus himself dismiss the Pharisees as evil overall? No he didn't.

The Pharisees that were condemned were only the ones who actually were hypocritical. Jesus doesn't present his charges in Matthew 23 and elsewhere against all the Pharisees, there are exceptions.that exist, possibly including Joseph of Arimathea.

Any charge that Jesus and others in the New Testament made against the Jews or the Pharisees was only directed at the unbelieving Jews.

An example of believers from the Pharisees can be found in the book of Acts in chapter 15:
"15 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers.[a] 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”"

The Acts 15 council housed those who had Pharisaic believers in Jesus who did contend that Gentiles were to keep the Mosaic law but eventually the council came to a decision that the Gentiles were not under the Mosaic Law. I have no time to talk about that at this juncture but you nevertheless get what I am saying.

Nicodemus, who visited Jesus earlier in John 3 speaks with his fellow Pharisees in John 7:
"45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”"

While it is not explicitly stated he repented and believed, it is quite possible that Nicodemus was in a worse case scenario, at least open to the prospect of Jesus being who he said he was. Whether he believed or not it isn't stated, but it's interesting to see his reaction, that Jesus should be given a chance to speak and explain himself.

Many Jews also came to follow Jesus and were the first believers to make up the church itself, The Gentiles themselves were brought in later. Paul even mentions fellow Jews as well as Gentiles who helped him in his ministry:

"3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you."

Some translations say Jews but the meaning is the same, his fellow race of people, his kinsmen:

The New Testament NEVER approves of anti-semiticism of any kind and the condemnation of unbelieving Jews (and Gentiles) for refusing to bow the feet of Jesus is not to be seen or taken as hate speech of any kind. Nor should the New Testament be seen as a polemic against all the Pharisees or the Jewish people they ruled over.

Read also my articles responding to Uri Yosef on his claims of Anti Semitism in the New Testament if you want more information on whether the New Testament is Anti-Semitic:

Answering Judaism. (Lord Willing this article may be subject to updates).

Monday 5 September 2016

What Christians can gain from movies and video games

Both movies and video games are controversial among Christians. Some condemn them as worldly or childish and some see them as harmless but exercise caution in what they see. Me, I myself am a movie fan and fit in the latter category.

People who know me know I am a video game and movie fan, but putting that aside, is there anything to gain from movies and video games, yes and no, this comes down to an issue of what franchise is pressing a particular worldview.

Let us not kid ourselves, Hollywood as with any company is run by fallen men and as such would be tainted. There are franchises out there that put forward views that a Christian would find repugnant. But can there are cases where a noble message that conforms to a biblical world view can indeed be found.

Ultimately as Christians, we need to hold every philosophy or teaching under the scrutiny of scripture. The Bible is to be the lense through which we see the truth and should not be viewed from a worldly perspective. Any perspective needs to be tested, holding fast to the good and discarding the evil.

There are many examples I could give highlighting this issue and I'll list them.

Terminator 2 has in recent years become one of my personal favorite movies, It's a movie that explores the human condition, namely what it means to be human and the value of human life, is it possible to change. Granted however only Christ can change the hearts of men and bring about change, but nevertheless Terminator 2 has a positive message that there is some good in the world.

On the other hand, I would never encourage Sarah Connor or an other woman in her position to consider going into the military. She could send John Connor into the military for training against Skynet but biblically speaking if she were a real person, Sarah joining the army would be out of the question. See my article on Deuteronomy 22:5:

I have also commented on a contrast between a good and a bad marriage using Back to the Future Part II, see that for an example of how marriage should be treated:

Another example I could point to is the Dark Knight Trilogy, a film series that explores thought provoking themes and ideas such as what true justice is and that everyone has something to say.

However, I have pointed out in the past that vigilantism is something that a Christian should not even consider engaging in. See my article on vigilantism:

The Amazing Spiderman 2, as disliked as that movie is by comic book fans, has many interesting ideas to tackle, namely the subject of abandonment, hope, time etc. One example of a story found is breaking a promise that one should have fulfilled.

Peter Parker at the end of the first Amazing Spiderman made a promise Captain George Stacy, a police officer to stay away from his daughter Gwen Stacy. Peter struggles in The Amazing Spiderman 2 to stay close to Gwen while at the same time keeping away from her so that his promise to her father may be honored, something that tears him apart, especially at the beginning of the film and pays the price for it when he violates his promise in the third act of the film. There is a failure from Peter to keep his word to Captain Stacy and the sting is even worse at the end of the film

If one makes a promise, he should keep it even though it hurts:

"15 O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the Lord;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved."

This is an instance of why one should not make a rash promise that you can't keep. Jesus teaches us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. See the following article on vows for more information:

Star Trek is also known among fans, specifically Star Trek Prime (The Non Reboot Series) for exploring interesting ideas and questions which are two numerous to list, some of which are biblically sound and some are not. If you have time to watch an episode of Star Trek, judge a moral on a biblical basis and see if it is a moral that should be taken on board.

Finally, I have used Final Fantasy XIII-3: Lightning Returns and Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask as illustrations of urgency in one of my own articles on universalism.

As said before with any franchise, you do need to be careful that any fictional franchise may contain lies, in other words there are things in it that do not hold a biblical world view.

The Kingdom Hearts franchise is one example. I like this franchise a lot, although while the story is intriguing in the direction it's going, it would take another essay to even unpack what the main villain's goal is and how he went about it, but I digress.

There is something in Kingdom Hearts which is positive, namely loyalty to friends and of course there is no love without loyalty (Proverbs 17:17, 18:24). There is a contrast between those who care for others with a willingness to lay down their lives, helping even those they barely know and those who only care about their goals and aspirations at the expense of others. Certainly a good contrast in how we should treat people and how we shouldn't.

But on the other hand, the characters have the tendency to trust in their own hearts, especially if it leads them into an impetuous decision that would land them in trouble or have world destroying consequences. Trusting in ones own heart is something that Jeremiah himself would discourage if not condemn (Jeremiah 17:9)

Basically when it comes to your thinking, hold fast to good and avoid evil when a franchise presents a particular way of thinking to you. However this would only be applicable in cases where story is part and parcel of the game.

I could list numerous examples but I think I have given enough to illustrate a point.

If there is a theological point that is biblical you have found in the game in question, that can be accepted, but anything that contradicts the Bible you can safely chuck out and not absorb into your thinking.

Some Christians will dismiss television as a brainwashing device, however, I believe YOU are responsible for the information you take in. You need to go to God and ask him to conform you more to his liking and image and think the way he does. Get into the scriptures lest you be tossed around by every wind and wave of doctrine, otherwise you may find yourself embracing views that a Christian should not.

Can a message creep into your mind, yes, which is why we should pray to God to expunge the point.

I'll leave you to be the judge, If you are not interested in movies and video games, that's fine, if you are, that's fine but remember to be discerning and judge scriptually with righteous judgement.

Answering Judaism.