Making Sure We are not a “Feminist” Bride of Christ

Yeah, I know some guys are like “bah don’t feminize me!1!!11!” with this kind of language. Except it’s the language of the Bible. 😉 It’s exactly the reason why submissive women can be such a powerful ministry to men, because they can model to men how we are similarly submissive to God (1 Peter 3).

So on that note . . . I mean to write to the audience of men who are on guard. 1 Corinthians 11:3 begins describing the hierarchy of God to Christ to man and to woman. In that model, Paul says “he is the image of God, but woman is the glory of man. Man was not made for woman, but woman for man.” This is an important thing to remember with so much language used today which really inverts this stuff–of course men need to be considerate and minister to their wives in love, but a lot of language used to describe marriages starts to sound an awful lot more like an attitude of men being made for women as much or more than vice-versa, even in the “biblical gender roles” circles.

Back to 1 Peter 3, however, we can see how wives minister to their husbands not by preaching, but by being the model of Christ’s submissive bride to her husband. But for men who are on guard to protect themselves in the post-feminist world, let’s make sure we’re not feminists toward God, as a matter of opportunity for meditation.

 

*Do we truly understand that God was not “made for us,” just existing for the sole purpose of being useful to us for what we want? Or do we realize that we submit to Him in everything, that we were made FOR Him and not the other way around?

*Do we realize that life is all about being molded to God’s lead, to be conformed constantly to His purposes?

*Do we realize that we are not “independent” or “strong” or “like a boss” before God just as women are not to be so before men? Or can we learn to embrace our fundamental need for Him for every aspect of our provision and protection, quiet and listening (James 1:19), and vulnerable?

*Do we serve God because we are trying to “earn” or “prove” something, or is it out of love and obedience to Him, and in humble gratitude for all He’s done for us?

Hm . . . it’s sad to think of how scarily similar the attitudes of men and women both towards God can look to the way feminists treat men. Feminism is a fundamental rebellion, of course, and many recognize the fact; but I believe it makes for a useful meditation for searching our hearts and removing any pollution. 😉

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The Greatest Milestone in a Man’s Life

I had the benefit of receiving Christ as a child–as far as I remember back. I remember being water baptized at age 8. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit, praying in tongues for the first time, at age 21.

At the same time – like most people, I imagine – I gave lots of attention to planning out my life and the decisions that I would make to shape it for my duration on the Earth. Of course, this never really ends during a person’s life, but as a child, envisioning mere decades ahead feels like a sort of “judgment day” in itself. How many of us can remember school teachers assuring us that we better pay attention in class, lest we be condemned to being a fast food worker for life? For sure, Proverbs describes a number of benefits of discipline and hard work for material gain, and a child has a lot to learn about such things and the world around him. Yet Christ’s preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven makes clear that obtaining eternity utterly necessitates leaving behind everything of the world that is sure not to follow us into eternity either way.

A child usually looks forward to a lot of milestones in his life that require work to obtain, as a matter of standard fare:

*Getting a driver’s license
*Graduating High School
*Getting a first job
*Getting married
*Having children
*Graduating College
*Rising in Career
*Developing a Skill
*Owning a Home

To all such things, we tend to attach a great deal of romance. Most of us long for a sense of “accomplishment,” as almost everything on this list requires a great deal of work of the hands.

Ecclesiastes 9:9
Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun–all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.

Solomon was given a special gift of wisdom, and this is his sentiment regarding our lives with all of its work and all of its milestones. Surely he’s pouring ice-water on the fire of our passions for the various romantic milestones of our lives, calling absolutely all of it “meaningless.” What does Scripture say regarding the romantic confidence that character will produce a material result?

James 4:13-15
13 Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money.
14 Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].
15 You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing].

Or the romance of conquering the world?

Matthew 16:26
26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed [a]life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] [b]life [in the kingdom of God]?

The great stuff we have or can get from the world with some amount of work?

1 John 2: 15-17

15 Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.

16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].

17 And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.

Through all of these commonplace life objectives, some of us receive something exceptional at some point in our lives, which is the gift of Christ.

Is it obtained as an accomplished adult?

Luke 18:16-17
But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Faith with its rewards isn’t something you work to get. It’s a reason why you work hard because you already have a gift handed to you. After we receive the kingdom of God in the heart and the Spirit of God who enables, we are truly able to produce fruit unto genuinely good and lasting work. (Luke 17:21)

But I still want to talk about masculinity! 😉

In today’s world, many men are rightly complaining about masculinity portraying men like objects of productivity and the depreciation of their personhood. We can see men, historically, pursuing sciences, building things, fighting in wars, great thinkers and philosophers, but what is it that a man is doing as he does those things that are less socially oriented but pointed out toward nature and the elements outside of people? Looking for God.

“For the head of man is Christ.” A man goes straight for Christ in the wild, with the power of socially-independent thinking. He discovers the truths of nature and uses it to build–materially or otherwise. He ventures bravely into the wild to discover, getting what he needs for himself from the Lord’s provision . . .

. . . to be God’s “child” and His “bride,” so greatly loved, docile and obedient before Him and totally dependent on Him. He receives all of his instruction from God and returns to society with no timidity–quite the contrary, he now has what it takes to be a leader, unafraid to override the feelings, ebbs and flows of society around him, not a “mist driven by a storm.” He loves himself, filled by God from his adventure, and loves others as himself, entailing suffering negative reactions from those around him for love’s sake–love, essentially a force that creates. Much like all of a man’s hunting and survival instincts, he goes out and finds in the wild and returns it to others, builds and fights with it.

“The head of woman is man.” A step lower on the authority hierarchy, women will more focus on looking for God from people as man brings it back to her, also with equal courage to follow where it leads.

The greatest milestone of a man’s life is made in the boldness of his heart to independently receive Christ (Matthew 11:12, Hebrews 11:6, Luke 11:10). The victories aren’t a material world-conquest in essence, but are won in the heart, as a man discovers God and hears Him speaking to a man in his work: great victories alone in his room, on a hike in the wilderness, building what he builds, exploring the “wild” in which he can achieve line-of-sight with God as His child and utterly docile and submissive bride. A “real man” seeks God beyond the scope of society, Who in all reality was calling him (John 15:16) as a child or a bride of total dependency. The rest of his life, for however long it lasts with whatever other “milestones” are accomplished, is nothing and everything at the same time–though the “meaningless life” that Solomon describes perishes unto absolutely nothing, a man will constantly receive from his heavenly Father freely, stand firm among others, and with an ability to provide and lead with all that he receives from his heavenly Father.

Hearing God’s Voice, Versus the Enemy’s

To let this out up front, this post is quite personal, but is such an important point for us. We must be able to tell God’s voice apart from the enemy’s. There are so many Biblical passages I could cite that I’m going to assume familiarity with the basic, pervasive messages of the Bible.

I caught myself today. My thoughts stream through rather heavy subjects almost no matter what I’m doing (I happened to be exercising), so I can’t particularly remember how my thoughts segued into this, but I considered this passage:

Hebrews 12:5-6

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

I got a little bit whiny about this–but not in the way you might think. I considered an awful lot of struggles and hardships that I encountered over the years (as it happens, things are really on the upswing recently albeit still with a struggle). But basically I thought perhaps I was being punished. And I complained to God, haven’t I been asking daily for correction, to hear God’s voice, to dedicate every moment of my life to following You?

And then it hit me: who accused me of sinning? Who was condemning me? My sentiment to God was as if God never said a word to me, which could not be farther from the truth: He has been speaking to me continuously! And everything He says to me is truly empowering.

I considered Biblical figures like Job and Joseph and many others, were they being punished or rebuked for sinning? Clearly they were not, but God was definitely in the process of refining them.

So what happened, when I was caught complaining to God, and for a moment, felt like He was like an enemy? Well, I was not hearing his voice! It was another voice at work: an accuser! The fact is that God is not the only voice that tries to speak to us, and other voices that speak to us will claim to speak for God.

John 10:27

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

We must know the nature of God: He loves us. He is a God who answers prayer. Consider: have you ever spent an enormous amount of your time and energy to obtain something? Have you worked hard for a goal? And once you obtained something that you spent all of that time/money/effort obtaining, aren’t you serious about taking care of what you bought.

Our Heavenly Father bought us with His Son! How could He have paid a higher price? And since He paid such a high price, is He not interested in taking care of His investment?

Praise the Lord, He is invested in us! He answers prayer, supplies all of our needs according to His riches and glory, training us in every way.

Unfortunately we know the better part of the world does not follow God, and Satan speaks lies as truth–lies that steal, kill, and destroy.

To speak in general terms, lies are extremely abundant. They come from theologies that do not agree with the Bible: masses of people who will enable their “leaders” to say what their itching ears want to hear and feign submission to the truth–false humility; “leaders” who appeal to people’s worldly and fleshly attachments versus the unmovable truth of God.

And it doesn’t matter how many stand up against God. God does not yield to popular opinion, or “leadership” whom man exalts. This may seem obnoxious, but this whole passage is worth seeing for this point:

Luke 6: 21-26

21 Blessed (happy—[h]with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from your outward condition—and [i]to be envied) are you who hunger and seek with eager desire now, for you shall be filled and completely satisfied! Blessed (happy—[j]with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from your outward condition—and [k]to be envied) are you who weep and sob now, for you shall laugh!

22 Blessed (happy—[l]with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, apart from your outward condition—and [m]to be envied) are you when people despise (hate) you, and when they exclude and excommunicate you [as disreputable] and revile and denounce you and defame and cast out and spurn your name as evil (wicked) on account of the Son of Man.

23 Rejoice and be glad at such a time and exult and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is rich and great and strong and intense and abundant in heaven; for even so their forefathers treated the prophets.

24 But woe to (alas for) you who are rich ([n]abounding in material resources), for you already are receiving your consolation (the solace and sense of strengthening and cheer that come from prosperity) and have taken and enjoyed your comfort in full [having nothing left to be awarded you].

25 Woe to (alas for) you who are full now (completely filled, luxuriously gorged and satiated), for you shall hunger and suffer want! Woe to (alas for) you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep and wail!

26 Woe to (alas for) you when everyone speaks fairly and handsomely of you and praises you, for even so their forefathers did to the false prophets.

We can expect to be absolutely bombarded with lies, screamed out by the majority. You may or may not be an actual prophet, but would you listen to a Jeremiah, whose message no one liked and the man ended up looking like a bum? Or will you listen to a man who says what you want to hear, propped up for all to see–propped-up by people ONLY because he says what people want to hear? A man who is essentially a hired hand, with a craft for keeping his customers coming back?

And I see it all the time: the lapses in basic, common sense with people warping theologies in ways that suit them. How will they control truth? By immersing themselves in a mutual admiration society?

1 John 4:4

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

1 John 5:4-5

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

No matter how many shout lies, and no matter how loudly, if you have God on your side, God works out everything around you for your good, including trials:

James 1:2-4

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.

For the purposes of men, so many of us awaken to anti-male propaganda in the world. Tirelessly, people craft theories and ideologies that enslave, degrade, and dehumanize men, including warped theologies, such as that insane “Silence of Adam” theology to which I recently responded, and much more. They write to an audience, nothing more. Listen to God. Their agenda is not there.

God meets you where you are. If you are in need of discipline, discipline you will receive until you approach God with a humble, submissive, and dedicated heart that understands everything you have belongs to God. Believe that God answers prayer. Pray for gifts of His Spirit and He will shower them abundantly.

To share something I do quite often, I speak to God when I weigh my thoughts when evaluating things according to His will. One particular story I can share involved a decision that was a very distinct fork in the road: it was one way or the other. NEITHER option was relieving my conscience. I worked it out and used my mind, to reason through it morally, to come at a decision, but the feeling of guilt was relentless. Finally, I spoke to God, explaining what I intended to do, and explained why I reached the conclusion. Time after time I was struck by the Holy Spirit so powerfully while I spoke that i was silenced; I could not put more than two or three words together before I felt that strike–it was not something I “waited” for, but it was so overpowering. The doubt and guilt had gotten so deep into me that I kept speaking, kept explaining. The feeling was overpowering, yet filling, healing, and empowering. And finally it was clear and inescapable that the enemy was tormenting me with lies, and I could not deny it: even if I TRIED to think that my conscience was legitimately condemning me, the force of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed it so greatly that I could not succeed. Quite simply, my Shepherd led me with his voice away from a wolf.` The feelings, that troubled me greatly for at least a year, troubled me no more. Why not? Because God’s voice was like waking from a dream: no matter how “real” the dream feels, the reality of waking truth washes away a dream with a force that will make us forget the lie.

John 8:32

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

The Lord will lead us far away from lies when we follow, and lead us utterly to life.

I do not in the slightest suggest that I do not struggle with sin. Quite the contrary, the Lord has been working a great deal in me, uprooting layer upon layer of bitterness, but it is by His power, not mine, and it involves taking in His love and empowerment, the good news of grace–setting me free from lies that breached me, freeing me from wolves, enabling me to fight and resist and stand firm. I thank God that He is “here,” even when I feel alone–my tireless good Shepherd.

“The Universe is a Simulation”

This statement has been an intellectual/philosophical pursuit for many. Descartes entertained those thoughts, complete with the question of, “do even I exist?” He concluded with “I think, therefore I am.”

Descartes had said that, truly, who knows if anything around him exists according to his understanding? Could it all be an elaborate deception of some evil genius? Well, his surroundings might be. But at the very least, an “evil genius” running the simulation could not “simulate”–or falsely make him think–that he thinks.

In summary, Descartes was convinced that he exists, even if the existence/reality of anything else cannot ever be ascertained for certain.

Descartes is just one example of many who have gone down this pathway of thinking (solipsism). But I think there is something absolutely huge to be gained as a mental exercise in our walk with Christ–at least, it does to me. Please allow me to explain.

Let’s say, for a moment, that NOTHING around you actually exists. It’s just a simulation. Now of course, if it’s a simulation, there must be someone running it. And as Christians, we acknowledge the creator of the universe, so in this exercise, God is the creator of the simulator. We can acknowledge two things, then: like Descartes, we can be certain of our own existence (our consciousness), and we can be certain of God’s existence as the one who runs the simulator built specifically around you, the individual.

(please note, as per the mental exercise, I am speaking as if “you” are the only consciousness)

Since it’s a simulation, nothing else actually exists. It’s all meaningless–all the sights and structures, people, places and things are not at all real. Nothing that happens to them actually matters. The only thing that matters–as these are the only things certain to exist–are your consciousness and the consciousness of the one running the simulation. At some point the simulation ends, and you meet the creator of the simulator who has been studying you for evaluation. The one who runs the simulation, of course, also cares nothing about what happens around you so much as the way you respond to everything around you.

When you realize that nothing else exists, you don’t care what happens to it, or even yourself in terms of your current form of existence in it. You do realize, however, that you have a game to play within it, as it were. The rules are set SPECIFICALLY for you in the simulation. You don’t care about what happens in the simulation per se–since everything in it will disappear in the end–but you care immensely that you respond accordingly to everything that the designer has thrown at you.

Here’s the point: it’s so easy to get distressed about outward results, and the world is very good at trying to get us to stress about outward results. Jesus told us that hating our neighbor is the same as murdering him (Matthew 5:22); whether the person hated actually dies or not, the one who hates is guilty of the sin of murder. On the other hand, Jesus did a perfect job of loving those around him and yet even he did not turn up results in the people around him (Matthew 11:20-23); and consider how many came after him and apparently won more souls than even Jesus did when he walked the Earth–now of course that’s mistaken sentiment, but hopefully therein the point is made: we are not judged before God based on the reactions of our environment, for anything, ever. Many people think and speak in terms of outward results directly indicating one’s character: whether he/she marries the right person (or manages to get married, period) and whether his/her marriage is good, the condition of one’s living and financial situation, one’s popularity, one’s success at working in the elements, and so on. Lazarus the beggar–a decidedly “unsuccessful” person who died from his poverty–was raised up to heaven. (Luke 16:19-31) When Jesus met fishermen in Luke 5:5-8, they spent all day long trying to catch fish and failed, and at a certain point Jesus told them simply to do the exact thing they did all day, only from the other side of the boat, and then they achieved success in catching an abundance of fish; there was no lack of effort either way, and of course there was no reason why the fishermen should have thought that casting the net on the other side of the boat would make a difference, except by faith in the word from Jesus, but a whole host of different results occurred nonetheless.

Why do some people judge others and themselves based on the conditions of the simulation versus the heart? Of course, “man looks on the outside, while God looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) We have NO hope but to ascertain another person by outside indicators. When someone (say) dies by being hit by a car, we look at outward evidence to see if it was intentional murder, a legitimate accident, or even if the victim was deliberately committing suicide–the heart makes the difference as to the judgment of the person, not the outward result. We can never truly know another’s heart–that is just our limitation; from our point of view, it’s like a simulation.

The upshot to this is that we’re all on equal footing in that sense: God created my simulation for me, and your simulation for you. No two people’s simulation are exactly alike, but each is fine-tuned for the person. One person’s trials may look entirely different from another, and yet we are told “no temptation has befallen you except that which is common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Our simulation is unique, and yet our tests, inasmuch as they test us individually, are completely fair, as a period of evaluation.

One sure-fire way of failing the simulation, however, is to evaluate ourselves by the condition of the simulated environment–when we realize that God has total control of the simulation, it should be obvious how foolish this is, just as we are told not to love the simulation (1 John 2:15), and as everything we store up in the simulation will be gone (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Judging by material success goes against countless Scriptures, and so is boasting about riches (Psalm 49), yet sloth is condemned (2 Thessalonians 3:10). What if you teach Scripture truthfully and actually win souls, yet you’re a hypocrite? (Matthew 7:22-23). What if you do a perfectly fine job fulfilling your duties in a marriage, yet the other never responds positively (1 Corinthians 7:16)?

Well, what do the results matter for the time being, for better OR for worse? It’s just a simulation! What counts is the way we respond to everything in it, and to the way God speaks to us within it.

Perhaps this was a long-winded way of going about something obvious–let me know. But it’s one way I think of things to combat the angst of the conditions of the world and the “results” I obtain while in it, versus thinking ONLY in terms of what I do within it while the one who has written my situations for me evaluates me.

On Men’s Sexual Purity: an Empowering Approach

I have been contemplating ideas for this subject for quite some time, and I expect that I will frequently edit this post. So much is written about it in the frenzy of combating a problem in Christianity that–despite all the words thrown at it–I feel is not really understood. I believe I can offer something that, from what I’ve seen in Christianity addressing the matter, you may not have seen. The distinguishing aspects of my approach, in my view:

*Weaving Scripture through all of my thoughts. By all means, examine the context.
*The reasons for why the truth is obstructed and perhaps even withheld from men that is capable of setting them free, even within Christian culture.

Some men and women are simply unrepentant sinners with no interest in pursuing righteousness. But I am speaking regarding what can be so commonly seen: addictions, being overpowered, and, for all the vigor and passion and urgency in Christianity for men to stay sexually pure, a real problem achieving success through intense frustration; men who WANT to be blameless before God.

Allow me to digress for a moment to set the stage for what I’m going to say. When I graduated High School I was obese. My eating habits were terrible and I was just not into exercise. Was I guilty of gluttony? Maybe, but I’m not sure to be honest–many things have changed for the better since then. (Just to say, I don’t remember ceremoniously repenting of gluttony) I took on body-building as a hobby soon afterward, which, like any athletic pursuit of course, requires some discipline of dieting. Today I watch cookies, cake, ice cream, and all sorts of other junk food go right past me while others indulge at get-togethers constantly. I almost never touch any such item of junk food anymore. Is it difficult? Not really, usually, because, for the most part, my attitude toward eating is almost entirely oriented for health and so the sight and smell of food that cannot serve that end just doesn’t get associated with something I ought to eat. Sure I remember what cookies, cake, ice cream and other junk food tastes like–and some research on sugar shows that sugar is more addictive than cocaine! Once in a very rare while I might have a taste of something. Likewise, I never even think of taking up smoking because I’m aware of the horrific negative effects the habit has on health.

As I look up information regarding a bodybuilding, I come across other amateur to professional bodybuilders for their knowledge. Some of these men make references to the goal of bodybuilding for “getting laid.” And it hits me: these men are highly disciplined people in many areas of their lives such that they can be successful at bodybuilding and fitness–an area that most people today spectacularly neglect. When they know something is bad for them, they invoke their discipline to avoid it.

What I’m saying to you is that I believe men are not being told or truly convinced, on the deepest level, of why sexual immorality is bad for them. Yes, we have the fire and brimstone stuff; yes, if you’re married, sexual immorality makes the wife upset and wrecks marriage. People in Christianity are screaming in intense anger over an action oftentimes confined between two people, or one person who’s sin is entirely inside his head. But truly: why? Really, digging clear to the very, very essence of the issue, of why is it bad for YOU?

Let’s talk about this subject in love. Let’s talk about sexual purity and how it empowers us as men. And at that, regardless of marriage, because God calls us to sexual purity regardless of marriage. What is my motivation?

    “It’s objectifying women!”

I’m glad we have sympathy for prostitutes and porn stars and promiscuous women, really. But as far as the messages of love that Scripture imparts to men regarding sexual purity, we have a very different message.

Proverbs 6:26: “For on account of a harlot a man is brought to a piece of bread, and the adulteress stalks and snares [as with a hook] the precious life [of a man].

Of course, a porn model/star is an extension of prostitution as she is motivated by money, not love for anyone for whom she performs. Indeed, Proverbs 6:26 speaks not of any man victimizing a woman with sexual immorality, but rather, how the man is the victim of objectification by her, albeit with consent.

Say what?

This is repeated by Paul as to the reason why we are to avoid sexual immorality:

1 Corinthians 6:15:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!

It sure sounds like Paul wants us men to wrap our minds around the notion not to objectify the prostitute or women in general, doesn’t it? Nope. Once again, it speaks of YOUR victimhood, that YOU are defiled and reduced to an object. We need to avoid sexual immorality because of how it threatens to degrade US if we use a prostitute–that is the message of Scripture.

Men’s bodies are also to be revered, just as a woman’s, kept pure, respected and dignified. Women are indeed beautiful, but so, men, are you–the beautiful woman should not be so intimidating (indeed, sometimes, the way women models are portrayed, they intimidate other women too–yet femininity is anything but intimidating).

On so many levels, we live in a culture that worships and pedestalizes women. But when we consult our Bibles, what is the reason given for why the sight of a woman is appealing?

Genesis 2:21-23

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 And the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made (fashioned, formed) into a woman, and He brought her and presented her to the man. 23 Then Adam said,

“This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

This is later referenced in 1 Corinthians 11:7-9

he is the image and [reflected] glory of God; but the woman is [the expression of] man’s glory. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man.

She is not some goddess, not high up on a pedestal. Her image is nothing high and mighty such that she should be intimidating to a man. She is beautiful because of the way she reflects the glory of man – something has gone terribly wrong, on so many levels, in this day in age of female pedestalization, and that men (and sometimes women) are intimidated by the image of a woman.

I want men to be able to think of the prostitute or porn star, no matter what she looks like, as an insult to the dignity of the customer: the prostitute sees YOU as the object, the loaf of bread, the meal ticket, and have no agreeableness to this objectification.

Do we struggle to comprehend this, as men? Why?

I’m going to follow-up on this statement very shortly, but my contention for this whole discussion is that men are so accustomed to being performance objects to begin with that these passages fall flat to men as a motivator. Where we can see women afforded the notions of their innate value, the sheer importance of their protection, men are esteemed for their performance (if they’re even esteemed for that). The idea of being reduced to a piece of bread–objectified, rather than loved for our innate value–fails as a motivator because in other contexts we’re already reduced to pieces of bread, socially and (tragically) in marriages. We are way too saturated in the culture that has us, as men, trying to earn our value.

Conveniently enough, the way sexual purity–with regards to men–is handled, without the loving manner of Scripture, we may very well have yet another example of how men are viewed as performance objects. Else, where are the messages ensuring us not to allow ourselves to be objectified by the prostitute in congruence with Scripture? Why, instead, is the whole discussion framed almost entirely in terms of its effects on women?

Where is the talk of our own sacredness, the necessity of us being loved and respected, and the need for our protection? Speaking of protection, that leads me to:

“And I find something more bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters.”(Ecclesiastes 7:26)

This is a rather personal comment from Solomon, right? “I find,” he says–his personal reaction. To approach the discussion this way, I concur.

Who is such a woman? A prostitute, a porn star, a wayward wife, a “friend with benefits,” a “casual sex” partner. We should understand that all of these are examples of sexual immorality, but why are they “more bitter than death”? And what does it mean that she is a “snare” and a “trap”?

It means she lures you with something that bears the appearance of something good. Like cheese in a mousetrap, she is reminiscent, to a man, of something that is actually very, very good, and one of the greatest blessings God gave man on the Earth, and that’s a woman’s love. The betrayal in that trap is horrific.

So as we uproot lust–the deception that looks like something good but is not–what idea do we put in its place? The real thing: a woman’s love. Paul asserted that, due to the prevalence of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife (1 Corinthians 7:2)–the real thing, to help avert the danger of falling prey to the counterfeit. But if getting a spouse isn’t immediately possible (as it may not be for a huge variety of reasons, especially in today’s world), let’s just ask ourselves honestly, do we really have an understanding of what a woman’s love really is? Or have we lost the concept so badly that we don’t even know what it has to do with sexual relations anymore?

Let’s explore some potential thoughts:

*”I’m not deserving of a woman’s love”

*It’s a challenge to earn the “pretty girl”

*The “pretty girl” is beyond my worth or accomplishments

*Getting the girl(s) is part of my man card.

Which is all garbage.

Proverbs 31:2 What, my [a]son? What, son of my womb? What [shall I advise you], son of my vows and dedication to God? 3 Give not your strength to [loose] women, nor your ways to those who and that which ruin and destroy kings.

WOW! Listen to the sheer LOVE in this admonition to men!!!! Winning over women – “earning” and spending our strength – is a temptation, but a total waste of our strength!

(Dear brothers, here is yet another Scripture on sexual purity to us that is protective and empowering! Isn’t in amazing how much God’s word loves us, put so powerfully into perspective compared to a culture that has next to no regard for our well-being as men?)

If you’re married, your wife is to love you and vice-versa. Whether you “deserve” her love has nothing to do with whether or not you are due love from her any more than vice-versa. It’s not something you need to “earn.”

All throughout history wives have been effectively bartered to men like “prizes.” Just look at the story of Jacob who had to work 14 years for the woman he really wanted. But to be sure, Jacob’s story definitely testifies that a woman a man wants will surely get a man to work, and cause someone else (oftentimes the woman herself: manipulation that a man should “earn” her in some way) to use that fact to harness a man’s productivity! In this godless interaction, she is used like an object or a trophy, and a common corresponding attitude on the woman’s end is to be a trophy–the “trophy” woman (and by this I mean in terms of her efforts to find a man) spends a great deal more effort on her appearance, along with making sure she knows how a man ought to preserve her as a precious trophy and sitting on a pedestal than her femininity, her virtue, and her capacities to serve a man as his “suitable helper.” In the case of Jacob, that was 14 years of his adventure that a “life partner” (Malachi 2:14) missed out on experiencing with him, and the same goes for a cowardly woman who demands a completed journey from her suitors. All of this extends large-scale, as women being treated like prizes for a man to obtain, the prettiest girl, or many women as notches on the belt of an accomplished man. The female form appears in media in the form of being associated as a prize–to make men feel compelled to move (and thus harness their productivity). Men and women both are party to this ugly scene. It’s the interaction that resulted in the stereotypical insensitive brute of masculinity and dainty airhead of femininity–both dehumanized.

And yet, God’s will for husband and wife is not that a woman’s love is a “prize” based on performance. Just look at Eve–did Adam have to hunt her down or work for her? Did Boaz have to struggle to find Ruth? What about Isaac and Rebekah? People usually married very young in history, and arranged marriages are more the norm overall. Are Godly wives just prizes who sit at home and look beautiful like a possession that sits on a shelf, or does she work with you, struggle with you through all the mess of the daily grind like the woman of Proverbs 31?

Yes, we are attracted to outward appearance for marriage, because of aspects of appearance that make us think of feminine love (i.e. her feminine appearance). A woman is quite literally predisposed to being “softer,” which is easily symbolic of feminine personality traits.

But not necessarily! For example: “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22) As lovely as a gold ring may be, well, hopefully we get the point–a woman (or man’s) body IS an object in that it can only be a delivery system for feminine (or masculine) love. A body on its own cannot love, nor can one belonging to the prostitute with false motives but cooperates, for money’s sake, to offer an illusion.

But your wife: “a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” (Proverbs 5:19) All of those things work BECAUSE they are working together: her female body, her femininity, and her willing, devoted love to you. Yes, someone can “fall in love” with someone other than his/her spouse, but that person cannot offer that kind of love to anyone other than his/her spouse.

And yet again, this can be a trap if we make a false association; as she is a woman, she is capable of feminine love expressed through her body and the feminine predisposition. Unconsciously, we might think, the more feminine/beautiful her body appears, the more feminine she must be. But that doesn’t mean that she has either femininity or love, and may even be that “snare and a trap.” Here is the point: don’t unconsciously superimpose “love” or “femininity” on an appearance. It’s exactly the same phenomenon as building an idol, which is an object but you imagine it to be more than what it really is as you behold it. To look at a woman lustfully is to superimpose your notions of love upon an object–yes, a male or female body IS an object, but a lustful look injects a power into an object in one’s own vain imagination.

I mean, demystify it: you see an image of a woman’s body (whatever way she may be dressed), I don’t advocate an attitude of fear of “oh no, I’m helpless before this image.” Some people worship stone or wooden statues, thinking they’re more than they are, while others say, “whatever, wooden statue.” Maybe it even looks interesting. Likewise, I advocate a retraining of saying, “a woman’s body, whatever.” It doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all. “Beauty is fleeting, and charm is deceptive.” The “pretty girl” has been cruelly dangled in front of men as a trophy, verifying his virile quality–and you don’t need that!

I DO think men and women both notice a “pretty woman,” just like men and women both can appreciate a man’s appearance without any traces of lust involved. Likewise, that’s a fine alternative. We need to face the fact that anything beyond that is our imagination, not some mystical power inherent to an image.

But I am saying, the image itself has no power: the visual association is within you and it’s in your power to change that (difficult as it may be, especially with the world being doom and gloom about it). When I was a kid, cookies, ice cream, McDonald’s burger and fries and soda–the sights, smells, and even tastes of these things–meant one thing. They mean something completely different today, now that I apply knowledge for what such things do to my health.

Married or single, it is important to understand femininity–feminists will criminalize you for it, while other women love to be appreciated for the beautiful creation they are which originated as a response to Adam’s needs. I will post more on feminine beauty to follow up on this because it is so vitally important to the subject versus the vain, trophy femininity. But briefly, a feminine woman is accommodating, adaptable, and responsive to people; she never challenges a man in any “sharpen the antlers” fashion or bosses him, makes a concentrated effort in making others comfortable around her; wherever she goes, she creates a peaceful sanctuary with her quiet and gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:4). She knows disrespect is a huge and damaging offense and avoids conveying the appearance of it. She is discrete, not abrasive, not loud, not forcible or aggressive but graceful. The subtle damages that women cause men on a daily basis in today’s world is sinful and the harm is apparent, and yet the same women who cause the damage will complain without compassion for emasculated men. A godly feminine woman will always be merciful and compassionate with others’ faults, and will be eager to inspire the best of what is in them. A feminine woman is absolutely submissive to her husband “as unto the Lord,” reminiscent of the manner in which Christ’s bride–the church–is absolutely submissive to him, and ministers to him as an example to her husband as well as an amplifier to him. She never competes with a man; she is not contentious (Proverbs 25:24, Proverbs 27:15, Proverbs 21:9, Proverbs 19:13)

As most anyone can tell, genuine femininity is very rare, especially in the modern West.  And then there is Proverbs 31, containing a description of a woman who makes herself so busy and productive even I find it downright scary. She is busy, productive, generous to others (“She extends her arms to the needy”), and courageous (“she laughs at the times to come”).

Though it’s common for women to complain about the phenomenon about being treated like prizes (under-appreciated for what they actually produce), it is so common for women to exploit this attitude of culture: get a man to “earn” her in some fashion. They seek the powers of sitting on the pedestal in such a non-human elevation, from which she can take from men and judge them, be preserved and protected, but not held accountable for her the manner of her contribution herself; they seek such a super-human elevation, without the self-degradation that comes with the same selfishness and proud heart. This is to women’s detriment and disempowerment as well, that there is such a lack of accountability, as well as a hateful sentiment toward men that men are not nearly so much worth protecting (fixing this in our hearts is KEY to understanding the need to preserving our dignity and self-respect and instrumental in achieving sexual purity, among other things). And, I’m a little hard-pressed to find too many examples of women who have a generous attitude towards men in general. The reality is that many women seek all the advantages of the “trophy” role, minimizing their need to give back to a man or men in general while they contemplate their endless demands for a man and for men collectively. It never ceases to astonish me as to women’s sheer capacities to complain on their own behalf as if men need to be performing better for them (in some form or capacity) and then how seldom it occurs to them to contribute anything to men even in a commonplace “love your neighbor as yourself” love that Christ commanded; even amidst the complaints of female objectification, the attitude prevails that they (women) are mostly to be their precious selves while men perform and fix everything; meanwhile, even collectively as well as in marriages, men contribute a great deal to the well-being and protection of women. A precious rarity is a woman with a selfless, generous, defensive, loving attitude towards men–thank God, they do exist. And let’s remember, Proverbs 31 was written by a woman to her son, obviously for his protection, as is so much in the Bible yet so little of a protective spirit for men can be found in the world or Christianity.

To drive the point home, consider a person (nevermind gender for a moment) who says they want to be appreciated as others, but does not want to be held equally accountable as others? This is an enormous subject deeply ingrained in our culture, but to touch on an illustrative point, consider the well-known inequality of sentencing for crimes for female criminals versus men (try researching the sentences for female pedophiles for a great example). Yes, this is pertinent to the subject, because we’re talking about depedestalizing women so as no longer to feel intimidated. We need things put in proper perspective and this is entailed in recognizing women as people, no more, no less, and the “no more” is almost always the missing piece of the discussion. As most people talk about curing men’s sexual problem, they say “see women as people” but don’t see the problem with proceeding to pedestalize women above men, and put men down without a protective sentiment toward men–otherwise we would be hearing Proverbs 6:26 preached which is a message that empowers men!

Understanding this is important for seeking purity, because we need an understanding of how we should not be treated in the project of comprehending a woman’s love–what it is and what it isn’t. Even Proverbs 7:11 describes the manner of the wayward wife: “She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house.” Look at any women’s ministry, and it will be covered with writing telling a woman to be protective of herself and how she ought not be treated by a man, and of course, how she should be treated, and then notice how unbelievably rare it is for men to be done the same courtesy; with the protection of men being such a non-priority in Christianity in general, and examples of Godly femininity being so scarce for men (or women) as models for understanding, we have a huge problem.

Now think about someone who hates you–male or female: would you want him to touch you? Would you want to have dinner with him? Would you want so much as to be in the same room with him? When you wrap your mind around that concept being the “woman who is a snare and a trap,” it should be obvious how empowering celibacy really is. But in the male-objectifying, female-pedestalizing culture, we feel privileged just to get any attention from anything female at all, like the spectacular trophy that verifies our quality and worth. We actually need love, period–the same kind that is so commonly offered to women, offered apart from performance.

If you are married, your wife’s appearance should be beautiful to you because she loves YOU and you especially, wholly devoted and holding nothing back, and no other woman can replace that. The use of a prostitute is to superimpose your imagination of love on a woman who has none, a woman who is actually so loveless to you that you SHOULD consider her (the prostitute) an object in such a way that she has nothing to offer you personally. (Proverbs 6:26)

It is crucial to take all of this mistreatment and exploitation away and discard for the comprehension of a woman’s love (regardless of whether or not it’s actually in your life). For one thing, identifying the sub-Christian attitude of the majority of voices coming from “Christian” women far beneath the concept of “love your neighbor as yourself,” at least with regards to men, as well as a sort of love expressed through femininity.

So the woman who is a snare and a trap–the prostitute, the wayward wife, the porn star–avoid her. You are loved by God, with your body esteemed as the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you ought to be interpreting her deception as a major offense to you, because she does not love you and she defiles your body. You are the victim of falling into a “snare and a trap” in which your beautiful body is abused, and granted, this usually doesn’t mean she grabbed and forced you, but she is a vicious predator in her own way. Just as Proverbs phrases it, “The wayward wife preys on your very life.” That predatory nature takes lighter forms when the “trophy” femininity approach can be seen in women who DO try to be the prize of a husband, who is merely provided for but not interested in sharing an equal risk, work, and struggle with a man as a life-partner and reduce him to an ATM. Again, what does Proverbs 6:26 say? “The prostitute reduces you to a piece of bread,” and sometimes, sadly, wives can do that too in conjunction with the culture.

This is what we, as men, need to understand: see yourself as a victim, because if you fell into the “snare and a trap,” that’s exactly what you are. Yes, really. De-pedestalize women as prizes or as measures of your worth in any way, so as not to be intimidated by women. “Love” is not earned–a prize is earned, and a woman is not a prize, and you don’t have to perform before you are completely lovable, to be loved by God, by the family of God, and your wife in the marriage relationship if you’re married.

If we see a woman as a prize, we objectify her and ourselves; we treat ourselves like appliances and machines whose value and lovableness is based on what we produce, and we treat her like she has no humanity so as to offer something as precious as her choice to love and join with a man as a true life partner, just as busy in so doing as the man.

Moreover, if we’re single and having thoughts about a relationship with a woman, the “pursuit” can be a to-do, I’ll grant. But what’s most important for a man is that he has his own goal, his own mission, not expecting a woman to BE his destination, but hopeful that God’s “suitable helper” to Adam will help him REACH his destination. I’ll repeat it yet again, the pitfall is not to think of a woman like a prize whose beauty reflects your performance and perfection. She makes a choice to love you and struggle with you through the down-and-dirty daily grind of life and her choice to love you is the real gift.

Brothers, please see that I have merely woven all that I have said through the explicit and implicit sound teachings of Scripture. And Scripture works. All corners of Christianity are freaked out about a “porn problem” and failing to understand that the forces acting on the problem are much more complicated and culturally induced. In general, they fail to protect men (and seldom demonstrate an effort), and sometimes contribute to a collective mindset that reduces a man to a piece of bread like the prostitute. Now I would advise you to think of sexual immorality as something that doesn’t exist (porn, prostitutes, affairs), not unlike the way a non-smoker just doesn’t consider the existence of cigarettes when he goes to a store that may or may not carry them. But the fact is, men are pushed in that direction for reasons beyond the culture’s desired results (porn addictions, affairs, etc.)–and as usual, we, as men, need to think of ourselves as more than just results, but human beings who need love and should be loved, worth struggling with in love like anyone else.

Use Scripture to reorient yourself, and you will reach the point where you simply no longer have a motivation for sexual immorality (whether you’re single or not) for understanding fully how it is counterfeit and futile, and a betrayal. In our modern world, in which men are barely protected and are under so much attack by feminism and gynocentrism, understanding what a woman’s love actually is and isn’t plays a vital role. A woman’s love takes a form that is rejected in today’s world–we can live without it like many men have been celibate. Unusual a recommendation this may be, I believe following men’s rights will help you and I strongly recommend reading such resources. Why? Because it’s almost the one place that pulls no punches when it comes to protecting men from women, prioritizing the protection of men for once in a culture that is blatantly terrible at it, where almost everywhere else the reverse is the only to-do. In your interactions with women, your perceptions of the way women treat or mistreat you, you will help develop an understanding of how you ought to be treated despite the modern world practically glorifying any spectacle of a woman hurting a man. That harm takes many forms of disrespect, bossiness, insensitivity, pervasive sentiments that you, your life and your feelings matter less, or that you are less beautiful or less sacred or less innately valuable or less worth protecting. Finally, then, you’ll be able to protect yourself spiritually from the “woman who is a snare and a trap” who means you harm (consciously or not), no longer feeling intimidated as if a man is merely lucky that anything female gives him any kind of attention whatsoever, like if our default state is to be beaten down and a woman’s approval is our trophy and proof of our worthiness as men or as human; you’ll no longer be intimidated by the woman who presents herself like a trophy who is “too good for you” until you prove yourself. I don’t care if a man is over 35 years old, unemployed, living in his parents’ basement, obese and with acne all over his face: he is too beautiful to soil on any prostitute in God’s sight.

What’s more, at this point of knowledge, you might decide to go the route of singlehood anyway if marriage seems like too much of a fuss for you, now that you know that you don’t “need” a relationship with a woman for the wrong reasons. Most importantly, you’ll achieve a self-respect on every level that cannot be put down by a woman. It may seem counter-intuitive, but to a Godly woman, that’s actually attractive, because it’s the stronger man who loves his wife and also does not compromise his mission–in which she is a suitable helper in every sense–rather than a man who seeks out women’s affirmation AS his mission. This is why sexual purity is empowering: that freedom and independence, and full devotion to God.

As far as the women’s end, some are confused as to their roles as well, as they are locked in this system too, unfortunately. As opposed to the worship of women, we can develop a deep appreciation for them, eschewing putting them on pedestals. A woman’s submissive nature can be a model for ANY man as to the way we submit to Christ as His bride, dutiful, busy, significant. Women, like men (married or not), have powerful functions in the Body of Christ should they so choose, with plenty to offer apart from sitting and being their precious selves, preparing to be a prize for which a man works and becomes objectified and dehumanized. Quite the contrary, a Godly woman is a bold worker prepared for a tough, risky journey just as Christ’s bride does for Him. The other end of this ugly mess, on the woman’s end, is to help them feel that sense of significance that they have for which the righteous woman cries out. As men, we can develop discernment with all of this, which helps women, and gets interactions healthy again, because finally:

1 Timothy 5:1-2
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

We can, men and women, look at each other as people, neither gender put on a pedestal in front of the other, demystified to one another, and both appreciated for all the good they really have to offer as family. That is the solution for the church as a whole. We are to learn that most male/female interactions are brotherhood/sisterhood and not in any way related to romance/marriage/sex. Again, this is a concept which I’m hard-pressed to find taught anywhere–we’re more overrun with “treat the opposite sex like an accident waiting to happen” which is a profoundly destructive message to the Body of Christ and training genuine sexual purity (a band-aid on an epidemic as it may be).

Marriage is an option. Restoring healthy interactions between believers is not, and the schism and dreadful systems we have in place exploit us all, where we should have restored love and function in the Body of Christ. Then, we will indeed better understand the humanity in each other and serve one another’s needs as the Body is meant.

In summary, regarding sexual purity:

1 Corinthians 6: 15-20
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[a] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[b]

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Sexuality’s capability is to join us in flesh with someone else. If we unite with something/someone that defiles us, we have hurt our bodies, and we have no right to hurt ourselves because we belong to God. Don’t unite with a prostitute who doesn’t love you, but instead meditate on being united with God who loves you intensely and cares for your flesh and its respect and dignity.

With sexual purity, everyone wins: FIRSTLY, your body is pure, kept dignified, respected, and honored. SECONDLY, since your body belongs to God, you honor God by staying sexually pure. THIRDLY, if you are married, your body also belongs to your spouse and you sin against him/her by defiling it and giving yourself to someone else when you are rightly your spouse’s for joining in flesh, and FOURTHLY, lastly, many sexual sins involve successfully tempting the other person to sin with you.

God Allows Us to Serve Him because He Loves Us

So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:10)

This is on my mind lately. I write stuff like this to myself as much as anything because I need to teach myself primarily, but want to share anything I have with whomever can benefit.

Just to say, maybe this obvious to others, but personally, I found a need to remind myself of this.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and He directs your path.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Sometimes we hit a fork in the road. We need to make moral decisions. Some of these are questionable, such as Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians where brothers in Christ contemplate whether or not to eat foods sacrificed to idols. Check it out (1 Corinthians 8, 1 Corinthians 10:27-31), but the short of it is, whether you take one path or the other on a moral matter, your choice is dedicated to the Lord and that’s what counts; either way, your choices, moment-to-moment, are made with the intent of serving the Lord.

We can’t do it on our own. We need the power of Christ and His indwelling Spirit. God gains nothing from us in the sense that He needs something from us. We need Him to direct our paths, trusting Him to do so, anxiety-free. I have to remind myself: don’t entertain guilt. What I’m talking about are some moments when you can see “pros” and “cons” one way or the other. That is to say, you’re not sure which decision is pleasing to the Lord. That’s not saying that any choice you make is okay (such as a blatant disobedience of the Bible). It means, we make a decision–as there is no avoiding making a decision–and dedicate it to God at all times. If we are flawed in so doing, we put our trust in His love to correct us, no anxiety involved. What matters in the meantime is that we dedicate our decisions to the Lord, acknowledging that He is our entire purpose.

I think about how much love there is in God allowing us to serve Him. We are unprofitable servants to Him; He has to hold us by the hand on everything that we do. After we acted like trash to Him, He suffered to restore us to Himself.

If I have a “favorite verse” in the Bible, it’s Romans 5:6-8:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I include these three verses together because of all that it implies in the full picture shown here. Firstly, there is such a thing as a righteous person versus a wicked person in this context (Luke 15:7 is another passage stating the difference between a sinner needing to repent and a righteous person). We were sinners and too weak to find righteousness apart from God’s Holy Spirit; not only are we guilty of the sins of our past, but we are powerless to become greater than we were apart from the power of the Holy Spirit afforded to us by Christ’s sacrifice. (Again this is noted in Luke 15, in which the Shepherd has to go and find the lost sheep).

We have to be completely dependent on Him and accept His love and total provision; that’s what He has commanded us to do.

Why does God do this for us? Because He’s a creator. It’s what He does. 😉 God is love (1 John 4:8), and love creates.

How wonderful it is to know that we’re part of something so amazing, vessels designated for honor in God’s Kingdom (Romans 9:21, 2 Timothy 2:20-21, Psalm 139:16), each having a significant story which God wrote for us.

Disassociating True Christianity with Christian Culture

Look at all the Christianity in the world–allegedly billions of Christians when counted as those who associate themselves with a Christian institution and those who claim to believe in Christianity. Stick your ear out in the world, and people who speak of their religion with a seriousness and earnestness will speak to the problems of genuineness in the group-think and individuals who are not “true” Christians.

And then we have denominations galore. Most Christians are not simply “Christian” in their self-labeling, but fit into a subcategory under the umbrella of those who profess Christianity. The label of Christian is incredibly problematic this day in age, and when people say “preach the gospel,” what does that even mean in a time when virtually everyone has some knowledge of the doctrine of Christianity?

Quite the ball of rubber-bands.

With regards to denominations, many might quote this passage to describe the problem of denominationalism:

1 Corinthians 1:12
What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”

This is partly accurate–partly. In my earlier post on masculinity and femininity, I discussed the problem of rebellion when feelings (femininity) attempt to subordinate truth (masculinity) rather than the reverse, of masculinity dominating femininity, as submission to a masculine God and truth who/that dominates the feminine church. Hence, many who bemoan the problems of division in the Body of Christ over doctrine will try to “solve” this issue by proposing a sort of tolerance of disagreement; that is, rather than being insistent on truth, we ought to prioritize peace, which is a paradoxical proposal because it is a statement of truth that attempts to subordinate feelings that divide the group with a “truth” of tolerance. Well, what do you do when people disagree with your “truth” of “tolerance,” then? We can see the problem of this paradox everywhere, where effectively those who preach “tolerance” turn out to be the most intolerant.

Well, then, what is going on such that we can find a solution? First of all, what’s the problem anyway? The problem is that error occurs on both the masculine and feminine front; first and foremost, much doctrine out there IS wrong–hence all the conflict over doctrine–and that’s not okay, as only truth will truly unite God’s people, just as only one God can unite all the church. The other problem is that the feminine objective, of preaching truth for others’ well-being, can get forgotten. That is to say, when we preach the truth to someone, our objective ought to be for that person’s good, right? The latter issue is not as straightforward to diagnose as some might like–one might protest, “you didn’t say that in a ‘Christ-like’ tone!” even if the statement is correct. To some of those objections, do you not remember the forcefulness in Christ’s tones? The urgency and insistence? And, the fact that some people took offense at him despite his good intentions for their well-being? When we speak the truth, we must be remember ourselves to do so in love, and also not be swayed by an accusation of an unloving “intolerance”–for that matter, sometimes when people’s message is wrong that does not necessarily mean their intentions toward others is malicious.

But what I find more apparent is a laziness on the part of the individual regarding the faith. What I mean is, there is a dependency on being members of a group-think: I’m a “Conservative” or “Liberal” or “Catholic” or “Lutheran” or “Pentecostal” and so on. The world is full of disagreements, and the lazy way out is forming associations: “do you follow Apollos? Great! So do I! We must therefore agree on everything!” And no more discussion need follow, because it’s a lazy way of assuming a like-mindedness. The other side of that coin is that those who do not follow Apollos make assumptions about everyone who says they follow Apollos. In both respects, honest discussion and communication is inhibited because of preconceived notions about the other’s beliefs and understanding. When you observe the overwhelming majority of Christian denominations–despite allegedly profound differences among them–what does it all boil down to in practice? Everybody sits in front of a pastor and lets the pastor do the talking, the dictator of your beliefs regarding Scriptures that are equal access to everyone. The ritual is the same in most cases. And how do more denominations form? Well, someone starts disagreeing with the guy on the pulpit with regards to his congruence with Scripture (so the story goes), they break away, establish another denomination, rinse and repeat.

Some of this can be expected, to be sure, just as leadership is a vital aspect of community. As I grew older, after studying my Bible for myself, I wondered where the church existed in which people were truly putting Scripture’s template for church ahead of this human ritual in which there is little thought or participation among its members. Incredibly, a church that actually fits the New Testament template–in my own experience–is impossible to find. A church should consist of individuals who study the Word for themselves and take their own personal journeys to find God.

Most important of all, though, let’s not forget what was going on in Jesus’ time:

Matthew 9:36
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

This situation warrants a lot of discussion for understanding what goes on in today’s world–everything about this verse. At this time, people had access to the Scriptures–a wealth of understanding available freely to them all the way through what is categorized as the “Old Testament” in our Bibles. They were led astray by false teachers; however, Jesus’ rebukes to those false teachers continuously used the Old Testament Scriptures to debunk their lies, exposing contradictions in the doctrine of the Pharisees in quite a scholarly fashion, knowing those Scriptures to which everyone had access. Why could not others do likewise before Jesus came around to help? Somehow, these people were harassed and helpless despite having all the tools available to stand up with the Scriptures. Like today’s pastors, Jesus did not ask people for much participation–“the church” organization with concepts like “the Body of Christ” did not get introduced until the epistles, as far as teaching is concerned. Of course, Israel’s religious traditions, rooted in old Scriptures, did, but the point being, Jesus pretty much did all the work–much like today; the pastor is expected to do all the real thinking and participation in “the church” in many, if not most, gatherings. While later apostles truly established communities in which people participated in ways discussed in some detail, today’s churches suggest that we are like the crowds in Jesus’ time: harassed and helpless, needing a shepherd who (in most cases) manages not to organize the Body of Christ like the later apostles did, according to the New Testament template. Most individuals can’t do much with regards to participation in the Body of Christ like in the early church, which is pretty much discussed as a theory more than practiced. In the Body of Christ, everyone is simultaneously unique yet a part of a larger operation. Most congregations today are both overly individualistic, not invested in a community, and collectivist in the form that identity in your typical “church service” with the “sit and listen to a pastor” participation hardly analogous to the movement of a Body.

My conclusion and solution isn’t really that simple, but here are some steps that I feel, on an individual level, can cause one to be part of a solution (fully admitting here, I am teaching these things to myself!):
(1) Study and know the Scriptures, be an individual with beliefs, not lazy and leaning on a group-think–with regards to group-think, be aware that part of the problem with a group think is that it can be a melting pot for contradictions, so be on guard and have a Scriptural answer for every belief you hold and/or accept. Allow the Scriptures to test and examine every one of your beliefs.
(2) Impart what you believe to others with a well-meaning intent.
(3) Discover what sort of “body part” you are, believe in your give-and-take role for interacting with community.

I want to touch on point #3 briefly because the matter pertains somewhat to the subject. In my self-diagnosis, my personality is extremely dominant, meaning that I don’t depend on leadership for initiative and energy–when I need to be a responder and a subordinate, it’s a highly deliberated choice more than the natural connection of a more submissive personality. The main reason I want to touch on this, however, is to address the fact that more submissive personalities (especially women, as I’ve mentioned previously) are likely to depend on leadership more than some. This day in age, people often like to suppose that a leader takes responsibility for the actions of his followers, and that is not true. Scripture repeatedly mentions false prophets, who are leadership personalities fully accountable for leading people astray, but those led astray are still accountable for their choice to follow the false prophet. The point being, for those in subordinate positions, theirs may be more socially-oriented thinking, but we all still respond to upper management as it were.

Also, I’m a huge fan of the MBTI, and what it suggests with members of the Body serving each others’ weaknesses with their strength, and becoming a strong unit.

Where today’s church culture gets treated more like a consumer item that compliments our usual daily grinds, we can start making the church something real by, individually, scrutinizing our beliefs with Scripture.

2 Corinthians 10:5
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ