Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fort Caroline: Murder, Mystery and Mayhem

The first protestant prayer offered on North American soil occurred on on June 30, 1564. French Huguenots, evangelical Christians who followed the teachings of John Calvin rather than Roman Catholicism, came to the southeast coast of what is now the United States and built the first fortified European settlement in the New World, calling it Fort Caroline. These French men, women and children were not professional soldiers. They were carpenters, traders, scholars, farmers, and laborers -- most of them middle to upper class -- and had come to the New World for both freedom of religion and adventure. Upon arriving

The Best Statements about the Supreme Court Decision

Roberts: No court should ever care about this issue.

Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be. The people who ratified the Constitution authorized courts to exercise “neither force nor will but merely judgment.

Roberts: The debate on same-sex marriage has been shut down.

Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens — through the democratic process — to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept. […]

Indeed, however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause. And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.


Roberts: The decision invents a new concept of justice.


The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial “caution” and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own “new insight” into the “nature of injustice.”

Roberts: What about the Aztecs?

As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?

Roberts: Marriage is only about children (and the couples who can biologically have them).

The premises supporting this concept of marriage are so fundamental that they rarely require articulation. The human race must procreate to survive. Procreation occurs through sexual relations between a man and a woman. When sexual relations result in the conception of a child, that child’s prospects are generally better if the mother and father stay together rather than going their separate ways. Therefore, for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond.

Society has recognized that bond as marriage. And by bestowing a respected status and material benefits on married couples, society encourages men and women to conduct sexual relations within marriage rather than without. As one prominent scholar put it, “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.”
Roberts: The dictionary says so.

In his first American dictionary, Noah Webster defined marriage as “the legal union of a man and woman for life,” which served the purposes of “preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, . . . promoting domestic felicity, and . . . securing the maintenance and education of children.”

Roberts: It sure seems like this leads to legal polygamy.

I do not mean to equate marriage between same-sex couples with plural marriages in all respects. There may well be relevant differences that compel different legal analysis. But if there are, petitioners have not pointed to any. When asked about a plural marital union at oral argument, petitioners asserted that a State “doesn’t have such an institution.” But that is exactly the point: the States at issue here do not have an institution of same-sex marriage, either.
Roberts: The opinion isn’t very nice to opponents of same-sex marriage.

Perhaps the most discouraging aspect of today’s decision is the extent to which the majority feels compelled to sully those on the other side of the debate. The majority offers a cursory assurance that it does not intend to disparage people who, as a matter of conscience, cannot accept same- sex marriage.

By the majority’s account, Americans who did nothing more than follow the understanding of marriage that has existed for our entire history — in particular, the tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage — have acted to “lock . . . out,” “disparage,” “disrespect and subordinate,” and inflict “[d]ignitary wounds” upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. These apparent assaults on the character of fairminded people will have an effect, in society and in court.

Roberts: Have your fun, but you just soiled the Constitution.


If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.
Scalia: We just destroyed democracy.

A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.

Scalia: The majority think they are smarter than everyone else.

They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since. They see what lesser legal minds — minds like Thomas Cooley, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly — could not.
Scalia: I’m not a bigot.

These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is
contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, 21 cannot possibly be supported by
anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies, stands against the Constitution.

Scalia: The majority are pretentious narcissists.

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so. Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.

Scalia: The majority is trying to overthrow the government, similar to the Nazis in Germany.

But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch. The five Justices who compose today’s majority are entirely comfortable concluding that every State violated the Constitution for all of the 135 years between the Fourteenth Amendment’s ratification and Massachusetts’ permitting of same-sex marriages in 2003.

Thomas: Gay people already had it great!

Petitioners cannot claim, under the most plausible definition of “liberty,” that they have been imprisoned or physically restrained by the States for participating in same-sex relationships. To the contrary, they have been able to cohabitate and raise their children in peace. They have been able to hold civil marriage ceremonies in States that recognize same-sex marriages and private religious ceremonies in all States. They have been able to travel freely around the country, making their homes where they please. Far from being incarcerated or physically restrained, petitioners have been left alone to order their lives as they see fit.

Thomas: We have set up a war between religion and the government.

In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples.

Thomas: The majority probably destroyed religious liberty.

Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this Court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriage to be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.

Thomas: Gay people are fine without government recognition, just like slaves.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity)
because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied
governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Alito: Opponents of marriage equality will be vilified.

It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.

I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.

By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of
gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.

The Republic's Gone and What's Next Is Chilling

When the invalid eighty-one-year-old Benjamin Franklin was carried out of Philadelphia's City Hall at the conclusion of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, it is said that a woman stopped the caravan carrying the most famous American of the 1700's and asked "Mr. Franklin, do we have a monarchy or a republic?" The response came:
"A republic, Madame, if you can keep it."

I'll never forget my fourth grade teacher asking us if the United States was a democracy or a republic. Most of us didn't know what either term meant, but the majority of us answered "A democracy."

Our teacher then asked us to stand and face the American flag, place our hands over our hearts, and cite the Pledge of Allegiance.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands..."
Our teacher stopped us..., "Listen to what you just said - 'and to the republic.' Boys and girls, never forget the United States of America is a republic, not a democracy."

After we sat down, a boy raised his hand and asked the question, "How is a republic different from a democracy?"

Our teacher rightly responded - "A republic is a rule of law, established by representative leadership. The ancient Roman republic was the model our American forefathers used in establishing America's republic form of government. Democracy was feared by our forefathers, not favored."

That little exchange when I was ten years old began a lifelong love for republicanism. I began to learn what our forefathers believed. For example,  during the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph reflected on the multiple discussions the delegates had during the four months of debate regarding the "evil" in governments and the "evil" in political systems. He reflected
 "...that in tracing these evils to their origin every man (at the Constitutional Convention) had found the origin of evil in the turbulence and follies of democracy."
John Adams said,
"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
John Marshall, who later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court observed,
"Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."
The reason Benjamin Franklin responded, "A republic, Madame, if you can keep it" is because he--along with the other Founding Fathers--believed that a republic would eventually descend into a democracy, a democracy would quickly dissolve into anarchy, and anarchy would ultimately lead to totalitarianism.

As of last week, the rule of law in America (i.e. "the Constitution") has been abandoned. We are no longer a country governed by law (i.e. "a republic"), but rather, a government ruled by the wishes of people (i.e. "a democracy"). The trifecta verdicts by the Supreme Court last week are important because the "rule of law" was set aside by Supreme Court activists who decided it was important that people have equal outcomes.

This is cause for celebration by many Americans. It's not my desire to damper anyone's party, but it is my responsibility  to remind those who love our country of what our Founding Fathers believed about the descent from a republic to a democracy.

What comes for America next is anarchy.

Then what follows is totalitarianism.

The good news is for believers in Jesus Christ is that we belong to "holy nation" (I Peter 2:9), are citizens of a "city not built with human hands" (Hebrews 11:10),  and are "pilgrims on a journey through this world" (I Peter 2:11).

Remember to whom you really belong, because the republic you once knew and loved has fallen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fight It Back, Tullian Tchividjian, This Fade to Black

I've never met Tullian Tchividjian, nor have I had any conversations with him via email or phone. However, I've read enough of what he's written to take up a defense of his gospel preaching. On a side note, I am sometimes asked "What is your favorite post of all the posts you've written?" The one where I defend Tullian Tchividjian's gospel preaching is always my answer.

When information from an anonymous blogger went public last Sunday that Tullian stepped down from his pastorate at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church because of an extra-marital affair, my heart was saddened. I don't know any details of Tullian's sin, but there's enough information out there to know that the decision to step down was wise and necessary..

The moment I heard Tullian stepped down as pastor I began following Tullian on Twitter.

Here's the first tweet from Tullian I saw:


Amen. Tullian. What you've said is gospel truth,

Then, 24 hours later, I read Tullian's second tweet since his sin became public.


Again, amen, Tullian. This gospel truth is sometimes difficult to understand for people who've always equated horizontal consequences with vertical favor. We both know that a believer in Christ has had his sin nailed to the cross, and God's condemnation is borne by Christ. However, since our sins occur in time, the horizontal (human) consequences that result from our sin are often painful. Surrender early indeed. The muscle of self-discipline grows weary quickly, so it's better to avoid temptation than to fight it after it's risen. And we all succumb to temptation and sin -- even as believers in Christ. You are so on target about horizontal consequences being different from vertical consequences.

Then, Tullian tweets a few hours later.


Bingo.

Grace would only be grace if we were undeserving. Otherwise, God's favor would be merited and couldn't be called grace. God feeds off  the bottom of humanity. "Not many self-righteous are called...."

But, alas, Tullian tweeted a final tweet this past Tuesday, less than 48 hours after his resignation, It is this tweet that has caused me some turmoil.



Tullian, I don't know if you are reading this post or not, but I'd like to share with you a conversation my wife and I had the other night about your "fade to black" tweet. We both believe your desire to fade into the background is the result of the criticism you received for your statement to the Washington Post regarding your wife, as well as the public humiliation your sin has brought to you.

The other night I couldn't sleep. My wife sensed it, and she questioned me.

"What's bothering you Wade?"

"Tullian Tchividjian" I replied.

"Why?"

"His statement, 'I'm so sorry. I love you all...fade to black..'"

"Why is that bothering you?"

"Because the message of grace is too powerful in and of itself, regardless of the failure of the messenger. Tullian has preached grace powerfully, but his statement 'fade to black" indicates to me he struggles understanding the difference between the message and the messenger."

"What do you mean?"

"Grace is for sinners. Tullian, like all of us, is a sinner. The message hasn't changed, so why "fade to black?"

"Because he's failed Wade. He's violated his covenant with his wife. He's an adulterer. He's disqualified as a pastor."

"I don't disagree. That's not what's bothering me. It's the message "Fade to black..."  Why "fade to black"? Right now the message of grace is needed more than ever. Tullian should know that at this very moment he has the opportunity share the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that it will impact the woman who sold herself into prostitution, or the young girl who had sex with her boyfriend and had an abortion, or the married man who committed adultery on his wife, or the businessman who stole from his company and is headed to jail..."

"But people aren't going to listen to him because of his sin, Wade. They'll call him a hypocrite. I understand why he feels the need to 'fade to black.'"

"Maybe that's our problem with church today. We have created an environment where we must have preachers who pretend they're perfect in order to deliver the powerful message of grace, and if they aren't, then the people refuse to believe their message. Maybe the real sin is church people or church leaders who create religious environments where people can't be real about their struggles, transparent about their failures, and open regarding their weaknesses. In other words, maybe what we've done is create a culture of celebrity preachers who must be perfect in every way - looks, speaking, marriage, etc...-- or else they must "fade to black."

Silence.

"So what's bothering you Wade is not that Tullian stepped down, but that he went silent with his message of grace."

"Absolutely."

"Well, what in the world could Tullian Tchividjian say right now?"

"Exactly what grace teaches him to say. I screwed up. I'm a sinner. I committed adultery. Worse, I blamed my wife. I am a bottom feeder in need of Divine favor. I'm not going to white wash it, lie about it, or justify it. I broke my marriage covenant. I committed adultery. But my "big sin" didn't just happen overnight. I walked through multiple smaller doors before I reached the exit door. I loved the adulation of those who thought me inspired. I sought the praise of men. I built a culture at both the church and the ministry I lead that revolved around me. My sin of adultery is only the last step up the ladder of personal pride. My adultery happened to be the step that actually broke my life and caused my fall from ministry, but it's only the last public sin of a long list of personal private sins. I'm a sinner just like you in need of God's grace now more than ever"

"Wow. Wade. That's too long to put on Twitter."

"Yep. I think maybe that's the issue for me. The message of God's grace is too complicated, too profound, too messy to fit into 140 characters on Twitter."

"So, what would you have preferred Tullian tweeted?"

"Something like this: 'My adultery may have disqualified this messenger from the pastorate, but it's certainly not disqualified my message about Him. Truth be known, I need more gospel now; more of Him now; not less. I'll be tweeting more about Jesus.'"

That, more or less, was my wife's and my conversation the other night.

To Tullian and my pastor friends who wish to "fade to black" when it comes to the gospel in the face of our sins, I offer some words that I wrote a few years ago about Jesus:

"In Hebrews 10:17-18 the Lord says, “This is the covenant I will make with them (us)… I will remember their sins no more.” For the life of me I can't understand why pastors would put emphasis on remembering what God forgets. There’s no denial Christians struggle with ‘indwelling sin.’ There's also no denial that sin is destructive. The question, though, is "How does a believer defeat indwelling sin?" I am absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent convinced that every Christian leader who places more emphasis in his ministry to Christians on indwelling sin than he does Jesus Christ, will ultimately lead his people down the path of religious bondage, emotional pain and spiritual abuse. Sin's power and influence are only diminished by displaying the beauty of Jesus Christ. Focus on sin and it entices you; focus on Christ and He enraptures you. An easy way to remember this axiom of the faith is: "There's no high like the Most High!" When God's people regular taste of Him "and see that He is good," every false high that sin brings will be recognized as a sorry substitute for the real thing. The ancient people said as much when they asked of Philip, "Sir, we would see Jesus" (John 12:21).

Tullian, your adultery has cost you a great deal in terms of this world and your human relationships. However, I urge you not to "fade to black."

We would like to continue to see Jesus in you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

One Walking in Grace Out of Marital Subordination

It's been a privilege through Istoria Ministries to meet many people whose stories are powerful confirmations of God's truth and grace. In a previous article on eternal subordination, an anonymous comment was left by a woman that instinctively gave me a sense that there was something to her story. She fulfilled my request and sent me her personal story, giving permission to share it publicly using "One Walking in Grace" as her name. Today's post will be her story. Later this week I will publish a letter "One Walking in Grace" wrote to the church that led her down the path of belief in eternal subordination.

______________________________ 

"I must tell you, I have never told my story outside of my family, who have faithfully walked through the entire ordeal with me. Writing is my form of creativity, but most of my stuff is just for me, as I cannot imagine anyone being interested in what I have to say.
.
Now, my story.

First, you must filter my story through the lens of abuse at the hand of a distant relative. I believe this is where my ability to accept this doctrine of eternal subordination originated for me, as my amazing Christian parents modeled egalitarianism, even though we have always attended a Southern Baptist church. Drugs and alcohol were introduced to me at the age of 11 by my distant relative; I was not raised around it, so I was na├»ve in knowing that I was being groomed.

By the time I told my parents of the abuse, two years had passed. That’s the lens you must always look through, as you have many people just like me hiding in your congregation. My self-worth was shattered, and I became easy pickings for this doctrine of subordination as it is my belief that women who embrace this theology often have lurking in their past things that have either happened to them, or they have done, or both that compel them toward this as a form of punishment and devaluation.

I met my first husband (I'm now remarried) in school, We began dating in high school, but it was not a relationship that I would classify as safe. He was not faithful while we were dating, but because my self-worth had been altered, I took any affection thrown my way. He set the tone for the relationship by threatening to throw me out of the car if I didn't shut-up. I took it. I was his victim once, but for the remainder of my story I now realize I was a willing participant in my own destruction.

We were married after I graduated, and I tried to adopt his lifestyle, as I had through high school. The abuse as a child left me feeling dirty, so I backed away from church, although I knew the Lord. My husband's anger was always a problem, as was his drinking. He left me several times, as well as other abusive tactics such as calling me names, locking me out of the house, and threatening me.

I was not raised in a dysfunctional home, so I think I must have expected him to change. I am still not sure what I thought. But I knew what I was taught about divorce, that it was always wrong. I knew I had made this bad choice, but I also believed I had no other choice but to stay. By the time I had our second child, I had been attending church for five years, by myself. I didn't fit in anywhere within the church, Looking back I realize my life was really too messy for the good people of the church to get involved. I attended various churches looking to fit in somewhere. 

That’s when I found “the church."

This was the one that had the answers to all my prayers. They welcomed me and my children. They prayed for my husband. They taught me to be submissive at all times to my husband, The pastor would say that I “struggled greatly in that area.” For a while, things at home seemed to get better. My husband eventually "got saved" (I have no idea if it was real). 

It went down hill from there.

I struggled with the teaching of headship,submission, patriarchy,homeschooling, etc... So I received special attention from pastor’s wife, who taught me the ropes of complete submission. I even was held after church one Sunday morning so that our little group could pray for me, since it was obvious that I was having difficulty fully submitting. Nothing will tear a woman down further who already has lost her sense of worth then being singled out as a failure in her only calling of submissive womanhood. So the group of church women got around me and prayed that I would learn submission. 

You can bet that I kicked myself into high gear after that front-of-church prayer meeting. But its weird how it happened, Slowly it all seemed to make sense to me and I began to fully embrace that complete and total submission to my husband was the only true biblical way to live, and anyone else who did not live according to this structure was “in sin.”

I lost my ability to make decisions, and slowly became a spectator in my own life. I was relegated to the role of a child: asking permission to purchase clothes, permission to go visit my family, permission for everything, often receiving a "no". All this was endorsed by our pastor, who taught that men “were sovereign in their own homes.” It didn't matter what you were asked to do, you were supposed to do it.

When my family would try to talk to me about the situation (which they saw as abusive) I would lie and tell them how good it was and that we were all a family at the church. In truth, we were more like a cult. All the men had their own hobbies, their own things to do by themselves, while our lives were surrounded with homeschooling children, keeping the house,budgeting, and anything else that needed doing. There wasn’t any alone time forme, as my job was my home. Proverbs 31 woman was beat over our heads. An you weren’t supposed to question the use of finances for hobbies, as that is disrespectful to husbands. You must take your concerns to your Father, and leave it in his hands. You also weren't supposed to ever talk bad about your husband, ever share struggles in your marriage to anyone, ever reveal things from home,as that too was disrespectful.

I have decided that patriarchy makes great men good, good men bad, and bad men worse. Can you imagine the power my husband had, with God on his side now? I was destined to endure whatever he dished out, for Christ’s sake, because Christ had suffered for me. I was to keep silent at church, as the bible spoke. I was to be a stay at home mom, as the bible taught. I was to dress how my husband wanted, as the bible taught. I was to never deny my husband, no matter what, as the bible taught. In the marriage my role was all about denying myself, for his sake.

Eventually you realize that the only one that matters in that house is the husband. He is king, sovereign, and you end up being his subjects. The list was endless. Little by little, I became a shell of who I used to be. My family was distraught, but I just dug my heels in deeper, believing by now that to live any other way would be against the will of God.

And then the illusion lifted and real life hit me in the face. I could no longer deny the abuse or marital unfaithfulness. I looked to my church for help, but found only encouragement to stay. I was told that if God was my true source of happiness, then the adultery wouldn't hurt me. Again, it seemed that I was being asked to be a joyful victim, and I failed there as well. But I tried. I was constantly aware of my failures,constantly looking for ways to improve my marriage, as I equated the sin of Eve (which we heard a lot) and the wreck that followed with my current situation. So I felt the full responsibility for the situation, as crazy as that sounds to me today.

Finally he was confronted. And he “repented.” We received counseling through the pastor, which I would never recommend now. We were not counseled about the adultery,abuse, or emotional wreckage in our little family. We were talked to a lot about our source of happiness. I was put on display as the poster girl for adultery, choosing the “godly” path. I was used to encourage others who were having this “struggle” in their marriage. We renewed our vows, and I was determined to be the kind of wife that would not cause her husband to stray.

That was my thinking. And he pretty much got a free pass. And during this time, I came to the knowledge that all was not well in our pastor’s household, which would explain a lot. But we kept getting taught submission, and my children and I lived isolated lives except for church. About that time there was a disastrous break in the church. There was so much lying, manipulation, and abuse by powers that be that we left, and not on good terms either. But by that time, I was so lost, had no sense of worth, and was just as near a breakdown as I could be. We quit homeschooling, and then I went to school. My husband quit attending church, and I don’t believe he has attended since then. I was never able to get over the affair, and he was never willing to go to counseling with me.

I thought long and hard before I ever divorced him. During that time, I knew that I could not live like this anymore. After my second time to be tested for STDs, I just felt God tell me that I didn't have to live like that anymore. I counted the cost, realizing that being divorced meant that I could no longer participate in church life, and I have always loved a discussion on theology, its my thing. But I could only have those discussions with women. I had my feet under me by now, and was beginning to wake up from this long nightmare. I remember the night I told him he would have to leave. My daddy offered to take care of it for me, but I knew that part of not being a victim anymore was standing up for myself on my own. And I did.

But its funny. I could hear the condemnation in my head, the voice that stated I was to stay no matter what in order to portray Christ and his willingness to submit to God in his suffering. It haunted me for a long time. It kept me from leaving for many years. And it is still the voice I often hear, as many years later we are still feeling the effects of this abusive teaching in our families.

I do not know if my relationship with my grown children will ever be normal, due to this teaching and his abuse of it. A lot has happened since then, but the fear of that system and the people involved is very real. That pastor still preaches, and I am still afraid of him. All of the young families that were involved in that teaching are now divorced. 

To say that I was bullied into staying is not an understatement. I will never know if things in that marriage would have been different under a teaching of gender equality, but I do know this: I would have found my value, worth, and voice a lot sooner and would have known that no one is created to be dominated. I would have known that I mattered to God, instead of being taught that my husband mattered to God. I would have known that mean behavior is not okay with God, even from a man. But when you boil down what I was taught it came to this: men matter, women don’t,sucks to be you – a woman.

I also will never know what would have happened to him if he had been in a place that was healthy, a place of grace, compassion, and healing. It not only was a chance for the church to stand up for me and my children, it was also a chance for the church to reach an obvious wounded man. Wounded people wound people. But we will never know if that would have made a difference in his life. All I do know is that doctrine was more important than real flesh and blood people. Since I now believe that this doctrine is most fully embraced by men and women who have had some form of abuse, why in God’s name would we ever embrace a teaching that makes fertile ground for abusers to hide or flourish? 

Why would we, in God’s name, tell half of the population you don’t matter, your voice doesn't matter, and your future doesn't matter? What matters is that you stay in your place, which is always going to be a place of inferiority. But I know the teaching very well: God first, then man, then woman, then children. There is no getting out of your station, as again your role in that marriage is to exemplify Christ, who fully submitted, now and forever, to God.

There is so much more abuse involved in my story than I am comfortable to tell. Spiritual abuse: threats of being labeled a heretic when I didn't see things “biblically,” as well as being shunned. My children still suffer, but my daughter even more so. Counseling for her has helped, but the belief in female subordination devalued her as well and put her on the path of self-destruction. But again, there is so much more to my story that I am just too afraid to write down. It makes my hands sweat. I fear those people involved to this day. To this very day. They wield a powerful weapon, for no weapon formed against them shall prosper, and one cannot touch (or question) God’s anointed. Just too much to reveal, too much to sort through.

But now know this: my story is being redeemed. My mind has been given back to me. I began attending a church where people believe in full restoration, instead of disqualification. I slowly began to come alive. But it continues to be along, hard process for me, and the roots of this teaching run deep in me and allowing myself to feel value and worth has been an uphill battle. And I have remarried a man who believes in us walking side by side in Christ together. 

As I stated before, patriarchy/submission/headship teaching makes great men good, good men bad, and bad men worse. 

Don’t tell me it isn't so, because I have lived it."

One Walking in Grace

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Schools and American Public Education


Cincinnati Water Front on the Ohio River (1838)
America is no longer as it once was in terms of educating our children. This is more fact than judgment.

Prior to the 1840's, wealthy Americans used private tutors to educate their children, or paid to send their sons and daughters to private schools. Children of the urban poor worked in factories, even as young as five and six years of age, their parents unable to afford their education. Farming families usually sent their children to the fields to work, or in some cases, to neighboring villages to learn skills through apprenticeships. Only children of the privileged received formal education. Abraham Lincoln, born into Kentucky backwoods poverty in 1809, would later describe his lack of formal education as "the short and simple annals of the poor."1

Cincinnati Water Front on the Ohio River (2015)
But during the late 1700's and early 1800's Christians on both sides of the Atlantic grew burdened for the uneducated children of the poor.

Robert Raikes, a Christian businessman in Gloucester, England, started "schools on Sunday" in July of 1780 to help educate the children who spent twelve hours a day, six days a week, in the factories of Gloucester, England.  The story of how God led Raikes to start Sunday Schools is inspirational on many fronts.  "We'll teach the kids to read and write part of the day and teach them the Bible for the rest of the day," Raikes pledged.  After three years of success, Raikes published a series of articles in the Gloucester Journal on the success of Sunday Schools in transforming the character of an entire community,

The enthusiasm for the Sunday School system of education quickly spread across the Atlantic. For the first one hundred years of our American republic, children of the poor learned to read, memorized the Bible, and studied history from a Christian world view in Sunday Schools. Not many Americans realize that the great forefathers of our country who rose up from poverty, men like Abraham Lincoln, received their only education through effective Sunday Schools. I still believe the two greatest political speeches ever given by a United States politician were Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, both written by Lincoln himself. Read those speeches and marvel at the education given to the poor through Sunday School.

The American Sunday School Union

During the early 1800's American population rapidly expanded westward toward the Mississippi River Valley.  By 1830 an estimated four million Americans lived on the western frontier of the Mississippi Valley. However, these western pioneers had very little access to the books used as curriculum for American Sunday Schools in the east. In 1830, the American Sunday School Union (Philadelphia) sent out a plea to England for help in establishing "a Sunday school in every destitute place where it is practicable, throughout the Valley of the Mississippi."

My maternal grandfather (3x), Charles Tinsley Cherry, answered the call and became one of the Sunday School missionaries sent from England to the United States to help fulfill the Mississippi Valley Emphasis.

Shoreditch Church, London 1830
Charles was a product of Sunday Schools himself. Born to a poor family in Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire in 1801, Charles attended the Sunday School sponsored by his Anglican parish throughout his childhood. He moved to London in his early twenties, and on December 26, 1824, he married Mary Foreman at Shoreditch Church in London. Anglican curate Robert Crosby performed the marriage ceremony. For the next five years, Charles and Mary Cherry volunteered their time at Shoreditch Church, their home parish, instructing the poor children of London in Sunday School.

The couple's pastor, Robert Crosby of Shoreditch Church, was known for his ecumenicism and zeal for the gospel. While many Anglican clergymen sought to segregate from other denominations, Crosby allowed the Shoreditch Church building to be used by Methodists and other dissenters for all occasions. Crosby's charitable spirit brought him criticism from some of his fellow Anglican clergy, but his love for reaching the poor put Shoreditch Church at the center of Sunday School missions.2  From the beginning, Sunday Schools were advocated by "Christian laymen of different creeds, aided here and there by clergymen who had the grace to perceive, and the grit and greatness to declare, that Christ's kingdom was larger and more important than anyone or a score of sects into which Protestantism had divided."3 

America's plea to Great Britain for help in establishing Sunday Schools in the pioneer areas of the Mississippi Valley reached the British Sunday School Union during their 1830 preparations for the Jubilee Anniversary (50th) of Sunday Schools. Charles and Mary Cherry responded to that plea, and with funds raised by members of Shoreditch,  Charles, his wife Mary, and their only surviving child, five-year-old Mary Ann, sailed across the Atlantic to the United States in the spring of 1831.

To commemorate the British Sunday School Jubilee and the sending of Sunday School missionaries to America, British poet James Montgomery wrote the following poem, published the year the Cherrys came to America:

For the 1831 Sunday School Jubilee
Love is the theme of saints above;
Love is of God, for God is Love;
With love let every bosom glow: --
Love, stronger than the grasp of Death,
Love that rejoices o'er the grave,
Love to the Author of our breath,
Love to His Son, who came to save; --
Love to the Spirit of all grace,
Love to the Scriptures of all truth,
Love to our whole apostate race,
Love to the aged, love to youth; --
Love to each other -- soul and mind,
And heart and hand, with full accord,
In one sweet covenant combined,
To live and die unto the Lord.
Christ's little flock we then shall feed,
The lambs we in our arms shall bear,
Reclaim the lost, the feeble lead,
And watch o'er all in faith and prayer.
Thus through our isle, on all our bands,
The beauty of the Lord shall be;
And Britain, glory of all lands,
Plant Sabbath schools from sea to sea.

After arriving in America, Charles Cherry received help from Rev. Crosby's brother, who lived in Zanesville, Ohio. With Mr. Crosby's assistance, Charles T. Cherry arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio in the summer of 1831. Charles took the very important position of Western Agent for the American Sunday School Union. Over the course of the next several years, Charles T. Cherry headed the American Sunday School Union's efforts to establish Sunday School's throughout the Mississippi Valley. Charles established the western ASSU office and book depository at 186 Main Street, Cincinnati, Ohio (see above map with red dot), an address that now marks the location of Joe Morgan's statue in the plaza of Cincinnati Red's All-American Ballpark (see picture of ballpark at top of page).

After establishing the western American Sunday School Union's office less than two blocks from the Ohio River, Charles T. Cherry set about recruiting some of the leading businessmen, politicians, and preachers to help him establish Sunday Schools along the Mississippi Valley.

The Mississippi Valley Enterprise

Cincinnati, Ohio during the 1830's was called The Queen City of the West. People from the east desiring to get to St. Louis, the Gateway to the West, would  have to pass through Cincinnati via steamer on the Ohio. Following the Ohio River to its confluence with the Mississippi River at Cairo, Illinois, the steamship would then turn north and go up the Mississippi 160 miles to St. Louis. Traveling by steamship on riverboats during the 1830's was much faster than going by old fashioned stage coach. Cincinnati was the destination for all those traveling to the Mississippi River Valley from the east.

The ASSU library shipped by Charles Cherry to pioneer schools
Charles T. Cherry built wooden bookcases at his American Sunday School office on the riverfront in Cincinnati. He then filled those bookcases with 121 specifically chosen books, and shipped them down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River Valley to pioneer school districts, families, or churches. The individual books in the libraries had uniform bindings, and each volume was numbered to correspond with its number in the American Sunday School Union catalogue:  C. S. L. stood for common school library; P. S. L. for public school library, F. L. stood for family library, and C. L. stood for children's library.  The case would be shipped with a lock and key and all the necessary hangings and fastenings. Upon the door would be painted the words SCHOOL LIBRARY, words which the book agent could change upon request.

 On the inside of the door Charles Cherry would paste a catalogue sheet with the entire 121 volumes listed by title and author. Charles  he would also enclose another fifty catalogues which could then be passed out to families in the community where the bookcase was shipped, so that Sunday School teachers could know which individual books in the community library had been checked out.

The library case was placed into a shipping container and packed so that it could be transported safely down river. The entire library was sold for THIRTY-THREE DOLLARS which included shipping. When the book case reached its destination, the entire case would be removed from the shipping container, taken to the building where the Sunday School children would gather, and be suspended from the wall. The books, having been be approved by a  committee of two Baptists, two Episcopalians, two Methodists, and two Presbyterians, would be ready for immediate use and loaned freely to students and their families.




The Men of Cincinnati Who Served on the ASSU Board

As Charles Cherry worked hard to establish new Sunday Schools and to provide curriculum for those living all along the Mississippi Valley, he also began recruiting others to assist him. In January 1836, Charles established the Western Board of Agency for the American Sunday School Union (see picture left). He asked 22 Cincinnati civic leaders to serve on the board, promising to help him raise funds, prepare Sunday School bookcases for shipping, and work on recruiting volunteers to establish and strengthen Sunday Schools up and down the Mississippi Valley.

The men who served with Charles T. Cherry on the Western Board of Agency of the American Sunday School Union reads like a "Who's Who" of early American leaders. The fact that these men were involved in the establishment of Sunday Schools in pioneer areas shows how important early Americans considered the education of children from a Christian world view.

Though each of the twenty-two men listed as officers and members of the Western Board of the American Sunday School Union has a unique story, I would like to highlight just four men and the influence they have on American history.


Salmon Portland Chase (1808 - 1873)

In 1830 Salmon Chase moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became well known as an abolitionist lawyer. He was asked by Charles Cherry to work with the American Sunday School Union, a position which he accepted (see above chart - S.P. Chase). By 1840 Chase had been elected to the Cincinnati City Council, the beginning of what would become a long and illustrious political career.  In 1849 Chase was elected to the U.S Senate from Ohio. During his service in the United States Senate (1849–1855), Chase was an anti-slavery champion. He spoke ably against the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Chase sought the Republican nomination for president in 1860, but lost to Abraham Lincoln. However, Lincoln chose Chase to be his Secretary of Treasury, and so Salmon P. Chase became a member of Lincoln's legendary Team of Rivals Presidential Cabinet.  Chase's Treasury Department created the U.S. Greenback (the American dollar) to fund the Civil War. It was Chase's picture, not George Washington's, that framed the first American dollar bill. After his service as U.S. Secretary Treasurer, Lincoln chose Chase to be the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. One of the largest banks in America today, Chase Bank, is named in his honor. Charles Cherry and Salmon Chase worked closely together in establishing Sunday Schools throughout the Mississippi Valley during the 1830's.


Benjamin Jennings Seward (1793-184)

Benjamin Jennings Seward was the brother of the more well known William Henry Seward (picture left). The Seward brothers were very close, and when William Seward decided to enter New York politics in 1838, he contacted his brother Benjamin (see above chart - B.J. Seward) and asked him to leave Cincinnati, Ohio and return to Westfield, New York to take over the family land business.  Benjamin was eight years older than his brother William, and had worked with Charles Cherry in Cincinnati to establish Sunday Schools all along the Mississippi Valley during the mid-1830's. But when his brother was elected Governor of New York, Benjamin Seward moved from Cincinnati to the Seward farm in upstate New York to take over the family business. William Seward moved to Albany and served effectively as the abolitionist governor of the largest state in the Union. William Seward was the odds on favorite to win the Republican nomination for President in 1860, but like Salmon Chase, lost to Abraham Lincoln, Seward also became part of Lincoln's Team of Rivals Cabinet, being appointed as Lincoln's Secretary of State. It is said that nobody was closer to William Henry Seward than his brother Benjamin Seward and the President, of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, the conspirators targeted William Henry Seward as well, brutally stabbing the Secretary of State and several members of his family. Charles Cherry's close relationship with the Seward family began in the 1830's while living Cincinnati and continued throughout the 1840's and 1850's when Charles T. Cherry also left Cincinnati and moved to New York to become the eastern Agent for the American Sunday School Union in Rochester, New York.



Thomas Brainerd (1804 - 1866)

Thomas served as pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian church in Cincinnati during the 1830's, and was a close personal friend to Lyman Beecher and Albert Barnes. His ancestors were the famous Indian missionaries David and John Brainerd, and Thomas would write The Life of John Brainerd, the Brother of David Brainerd.  Thomas gave up the study of law for theology, and graduated from Andover Seminary in 1831. He served as pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati from, 1831 to 1837 and then pastor of the Pine Street (Third) Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1837 until his death. He was a leader of the New School branch of the Presbyterian Church and distinguished himself for his patriotic ardor and services during the Civil War. He was an excellent writer and published many articles in religious periodicals, served as editor of the Cincinnati Journal, a Presbyterian religious paper (1833 - 1836), Thomas Brainerd and Charles Cherry worked together for four years to establish Sunday Schools along the Mississippi Valley, and their friendship continued throughout the 1840's and 50's, when Thomas lived in Philadelphia and Charles in Rochester, New York.



Edward Deering Mansfield (1801 - 1880)

E.D. Mansfield was born in New Haven, Connecticut and graduated from West Point in 1818, but he declined to enter the army and chose rather to study at Princeton, from which he graduated in 1822. In 1825 he was admitted to the Connecticut bar, but then moved to Cincinnati in 1835 to become professor of constitutional law at Cincinnati College. However, shortly after arriving in Cincinnati, he abandoned the legal profession and took up journalism. He became editor of the Cincinnati Chronicle (1836–49), Atlas (1849–52), and the Railroad Record (1854–72). E.D. Mansfield also wrote and published several books including Political Grammar of the United States (1835); Life of Gen. Winfield Scott (1848); History of the Mexican War (1849); American Education (1851); Memoirs of Daniel Drake (1855); A Popular Life of Ulysses S. Grant (1868) and Personal Memories (1870), an interesting social and political chronicle reaching to the year 1841. While editing the Chronicle and Atlas E.D. introduced many young writers to the public, including Harriet Beecher Stowe.


Harriet Elisabeth Beecher Stowe (1811 –  1896)  was an American abolitionist and author. At the age of 21, Harriet Beecher moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1832 to join her father, who had become the president of Lane Theological Seminary. There, she also joined the Semi-Colon Club, a literary salon and became friends with E.D. Mansfield. Harriett came from a prominent religious family, but is best known for her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). It depicts the harsh life for African Americans under slavery. It reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and Great Britain. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South. She wrote 30 books, including novels, three travel memoirs, and collections of articles and letters. She was influential for both her writings and her public stands on social issues of the day, and it is said that when Abraham Lincoln first met Harriet, he remarked, "So there's the little lady who started this war." E.D. Mansfield and Harriet Beecher Stowe worked with the American Sunday School Union in Cincinnati for the establishment of Sunday Schools along the pioneer areas of the Mississippi Valley.

The above four men and one woman only represent the more than  22 Cincinnati civic leaders who served with Charles T. Cherry on the Western Board of Agency for the American Sunday School Union. All of them were devout in their Christian commitment.

The greatest change in the education of American children may be the declining interest and involvement of civic leaders in the moral and intellectual instruction of children from a Christian world view. Everyone sees the world through mental prism. Educating children from a secular viewpoint without reference to God will reap generations of leaders with broken moral compasses. 

We may be actually reaping what we have sown since the 1870's and the cessation of Sunday Schools in favor of free, public, secular education.

________________________________________________________

1 William Lee Miller,Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography (New York: Random House/Vintage Books, 2002), p. 17.

2 Melanie Barber and Gabriel Stewell and Stephen Taylor, eds., From the Reformation to the Permissive Society (London: Boydel Press, 2010), p. 309.

3Edwin Wilbur Rice, The Sunday School and the American Sunday School Union, (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1917), p. 3.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Eternal Subordination and the SBC Divorce Rate

In 2010,  the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution entitled On the Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce. The resolution states "that conservative Protestants in the United States of America are divorcing at the same rate, if not at higher rates, than the general population." The resolution further states "the acceleration in rates of divorce in Southern Baptist churches has not come through a shift in theological conviction about scriptural teaching on divorce but rather through cultural accommodation."

Very often we never look back at resolutions passed by the SBC, but on this fifth anniversary of the "Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce," I'd like to encourage you to think about why this resolution may actually reveal the real reason many SBC marriages--especially among pastors--may be in trouble.

Let's begin by asking a question.

How can the divorce rate in every state in the union be declining while at the same time the Southern Baptist divorce rate is accelerating? Because divorce rates are in the culture at large are declining, if Southern Baptists were "accommodating culture," then our divorce rate would be also declining.

Pay close attention to this categorical statement in the resolution:
"The acceleration in rates of divorce in Southern Baptist churches has not come through a shift in theological conviction...
I disagree. I propose one of the major reasons for the increasing divorce rate in the Southern Baptist Convention is precisely because of a shift in theological conviction during the 1990's and early 2000's.

Many of those who were in positions of leadership during those years promoted a doctrinal error called The Eternal Subordination of the Son.  Few Southern Baptist lay men and women even know what that doctrine is, but when you go to a church led by a Southern Baptist pastor who believes it, the emphasis of the teaching will be on "the authority of the husband" and "the subordination of the woman to her husband." This pastoral demand that a Christian wife alone (not the husband) is called to be subordinate and submissive is based on the false belief that Jesus the Son is eternally subordinate and submissive to the Father.

The Word of God teaches a mutual submission of husband and wife to Jesus Christ--the creator God who became Man (Emmanuel)--and a mutual submission to each other (see Philippians 2:3,5-7; and Ephesians 5:2 and 5:21).

When the emphasis in any Christian environment--be it a church, home, or ministry--is on one's alleged superior authority and demand for another's unconditional submission, a separation in relationship is imminent.

A desire to exert power, control others, and demand submission is unnatural to God's design for His creation.

When Adam and Eve rebelled against their Creator, the radial effect of their rebellion included an increasing and ultimately innate desire to dominate and control one another. The curse of sin causes those who are under it to concentrate on establishing an air of authority and demanding complete and unquestioned submission to that authority. This is true of both men and women. Jesus calls this "lording control over others," and said this should not ever happen among His followers (Mark 10:42-43).

Here's the catch. Southern Baptist leaders have made the tragic error of believing that a husband should rule and a wife should be submissive because the Bible demands it. Truth be known, the Bible calls any desire to control and dominate--be it the husband or the wife-- "the curse." The divorce rate increases when Southern Baptists call "the norm" what the Bible calls "the curse." When the first man (Adam) sought to rule over the first woman (Eve), Adam was manifesting a curse, not meeting a commandment (Genesis 3:16).

Jesus came to reverse the curse. Redemption causes curse-filled people to become grace-filled people. Those who seek to rule over others by exerting authority, when they come to see what Jesus says about life, will turn loose of trying to control other people and will only seek to love and serve, NEVER exerting any alleged authority. Again, Jesus said that "the Gentiles lord over others" and "exert authority," but "it shall not be this way among you" (Matthew 20:24-26).

Southern Baptist Convention leaders have wrongly pushed for men to lord their authority over their wives, and called on wives to submit to the authority of their husbands because of a belief in and promotion of "the eternal subordination of the Son." I've written about this doctrinal problem among Southern Baptists for years, but I recently came across a brilliant article by Dr. Keith Johnson (Ph.D. Duke), the director of theological development for Campus Crusade for Christ.  Johnson's article is called Trinitarian Agency and the Eternal Subordination of the Son: An Augustinian Perspective.

Dr. Johnson's article is long, but in my opinion, it gives a definitive refutation for any claim that the woman is to be subordinate to the man in a marital relationship because the Son is subordinate to the Father. Dr. Johnson's summarizes the critical error of those who hold to the eternal subordination of Jesus to the Father (Paige Patterson, Al Mohler, Danny Akin, Bruce Ware, etc....) when he writes:
Bruce Ware claims that “inherent authority” and “inherent submission” constitute the Father/Son relationship; however, this misreads Augustine. “Authority” and “submission” are not “personal properties” for Augustine. To the contrary, “eternal generation” is what constitutes the Son as Son. Augustine is unequivocal on this point. Ware... rejects eternal generation as the distinguishing property of the Son. In Ware’s theology (eternal subordination), “submission” effectively replaces “eternal generation” as the distinguishing property of the Son. Augustine is then read through the lens of this alternative understanding of personal properties.
I'd like to close this post by summarizing for Southern Baptist men and women the practical application of seeing mutual submission of a husband and wife based on the biblical view of mutual submission of the eternal Trinity.

(1). Nobody in marriage has any inherent "authority." Christ has all authority, and He sends His Spirit to live within us, dispenses spiritual gifts for us, and provides loving watch care over us so that we might learn how to love and serve each other.

(2). Submission in a marital relationship is "putting others needs before my own." The submission and subordination of Jesus Christ to the Father was never about 'greater authority' because Christ had "all authority." Christ put the Father's plans first, submitting Himself to the cross in obedience to the plan of redemption (i.e. "If it be Thy will, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, Thy will be done"). Jesus Christ also submitted to us (the church) when He sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane and died in our place. Submission is never about 'greater authority,' but rather, it is always about putting the plans, desires, and needs of others first. In marriage, both the husband and the wife are to be mutually submissive to one another (see Ephesians 5:21). Sometimes what is in the best interest of your partner is to say no! In every decision, your partner's best interest comes first. Don't give up on your marriage until you have sweat blood looking out for your partner.

(3). When we stop trying to control our spouse, and we learn what it means to love and accept him or her the same way Jesus Christ accepts us, then we begin to build a marriage on grace and love instead of domination and control. When that happens, the curse is reversed.

We Southern Baptists do a great many things very well. We do missions well. We perform acts of mercy well. We also -- since 2005 -- are doing well in the election of new leadership in the SBC.

I predict we will see the divorce rate of Southern Baptists decline in the next few years, and it will not be because of cultural accommodation. It will be due to our new leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention laying aside the doctrinal error of eternal subordination.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Artemis Redux: Women and I Timothy 2:9-15


A cult is defined as a group of people who follow a particular system of religious behavior established by an authoritative or revered person. Lest someone argue that Christianity is a cult, remember that Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Jesus frees people, cult leaders bind people. Jesus speaks truth to people, cult leaders lie to people. Jesus empowers people, cult leaders oppress people. Christianity is not a cult nor is Jesus a cult leader. He saves His people from systems that bind.

Some Christian men, however, have set themselves up as authorities in the institutional church and implemented systems of control that turn pockets of evangelicalism into cultism. The most prominent example of cultism within evangelical Christianity is the system of behavior imposed on women within the ekklessia (assembly) of Christ. Christian women are told by some authoritative church leaders that "women must never teach men; women must be silent in the assembly; women  must not have any authority over men, and women should seek to be passive servants to, and receivers of, male leadership, but should never exhibit characteristics of vibrant leadership when males are present." This system of behavior for women is cultic; for it is definitely not Christian nor is it consistent with the teachings of Scripture.

The Scriptures and the Freedom of Women

The New Testament gives many examples of women teaching men (cf. Luke 2:25-38; Acts 21:9John 4:28-29). Women served as deaconia in the early church (cf. Romans 16:1-2). Women were co-laborers with men in Christ's kingdom (cf. Romans 16:3) and at least one of Christ's apostles was a woman (cf. Romans 16:7). Males and females accompanied Jesus throughout His earthly ministry (cf. Luke 8:1-3).  Gifted men and women spread the good news of the kingdomGod first used women to preach (proclaim) the resurrection of His Son (cf. John 20:1-2). Male disciples later proclaimed the resurrected Christ in the same manner female disciples first preached Him (cf.  Luke 24:1-11). Women in the upper room at Pentecost received the same Spirit and the same gifts as men (cf. Acts 1:14-15). God is emphatic that in the days of the New Covenant both males and females will prophesy of Him (cf. Acts 2:17-18). The Apostle Paul encouraged men and women to teach, to pray and to fully participate in the assembly (cf. I Corinthians 11:4-5 and I Corinthians 14:23-24).

God clearly reveals to us that Christian men and women should serve as they are gifted by the Spirit. Any imposed restrictions on women speaking, teaching, or leading in the assembly of Christ is contrary to inspired revelation of God's word. So if the New Testament teaches that men and women are gifted by the Spirit to do the work of the kingdom, why do some put a system of restrictions on women, a system totally contrary to the overall tenor and explicit teachings of holy Scripture?

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

Several years ago I was called by the Tulsa Police Department to a home where a young man committed suicide by cutting off his right hand with a pocket knife and bleeding out. We found him dead with his head slumped to his chest and a pool of blood at his feet. Before the young man died he laid his pocket knife on the middle of an open Bible with these words underlined: "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown in hell" (Matthew 5:30).

I will never forget the gruesomeness of discovering the young man's right hand in a trash can, nor the words of the lieutenant as he walked around the room muttering under his breath, "Stupid, stupid, stupid." We were later told that the man had struggled for years with pornography and masturbation. The man took the words of the Bible and obeyed them. However, there is something mighty stupid about a man who reads Scripture and acts on words without taking time to look at their meaning, particularly when the overall tenor and teaching of Scripture is opposite of the action he is compelled to take!

If anybody ever tells you that women should never teach men, or that women should never be in leadership over men, or that women should be silent around men, then you should be kind to person (as always), but possibly mutter under your breath about such ideas, "Stupid, stupid, stupid." These people, well intentioned as they may be, are committing spiritual suicide by acting on words of Scripture without looking at their meaning. The system they seek to impose is opposite to the overall tenor and teachings of Scripture on the subject of women (see above). Here are the words some misuse and create environments conducive to spiritual death:
"In like manner also, see that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."( I Timothy 2:9-15: emphasis mine)
I recently had a Christian man paraphrase for me  I Timothy 2:9-15 and then tell me, "I will never have a woman lead me, teach me, or allow myself to be in a position where women usurp my authority over them because I believe the Bible!My friend has the problem of reading words of Scripture and acting on them without taking time to understand their meaning.

Until you understand the problem Timothy faced (the man to whom the words in I Timothy 2:9-15 are written), and until you are familiar with Ephesus (the place where Timothy lived), and until you have a working knowledge of the Amazons (the warrior women that the ancient Greeks believed founded Ephesus), and until you comprehend the influence of the cult of Artemis and the Temple of Artemis which was in Ephesus, the meaning of the Apostle Paul's words will never be rightly understood.  F. F. Bruce once wrote, "Subjugation of a woman is a system of man's fallen nature. If the work of Christ involves... breaking the fall, then the implication of His work for the liberation of women is plain." Jesus Christ came to liberate subjugated women. The cultism in evangelicalism regarding women's behaviors will only be broken when people lay aside stupid, false obedience to I Timothy 2:9-14 and realize the meaning of Paul's words to Timothy.

Ephesus and The Temple of Artemis

Rachelle and I went with a group of friends to visit the ruins of ancient Ephesus (located in southwest Turkey) recently. Ephesus was the location of the most magnificent of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World--The Temple of Artemis.

This is the first temple in the world made completely of marble. The richest man in the world in his day, King Croesus (595-547 B.C.) of Lydia (modern Turkey), ordered the Temple of Artemis be constructed in honor of the Greek goddess Artemis. Work on the Temple of Artemis began in 550 B.C. and took over a century to complete. King Croesus lived long enough to stuff the foundation of the Temple of Artemis with tens of thousands of gold coins to serve as talismans, ensuring the Temple's protection from destruction. Generations of people, even in America, have used the phrase "Rich as Croesus" to describe wealthy people in their day. King Croesus is given credit by many historians as the inventor of cold and silver coinage. His wealth is legendary, and he gave his riches to fund the building of the Temple in Artemis.  Croesus was a contemporary of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. Cyrus was the king who defeated the Babylonians, freeing the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, enabling them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Solomon's Temple.  Therefore, the Temple of Artemis and the Second Temple in Jerusalem were built during the same time period (the 6th century B.C.).

However, it was only the Temple of Artemis that became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World because of its stunning beauty. The Temple of Artemis was a temple dedicated to the power, beauty and strength of women. Marble artesians from all over the world carved Amazon women into the base of the 120 columns. Amazons were "warrior women" from an area north of Ephesus and the Black Sea (modern Ukraine). These Amazon women were known for their fierce fighting ability and had been made famous by the Greek poet Homer in his portrayal of them in The Iliad.

Homer (c. 750 B.C.) also gave tribute in The Iliad to Artemis, the Greek goddess of women and of war. Artemis is called by Homer "Artemis the Hunter, Queen of the Wild Beasts" (Iliad 21.470). Artemis is also presented as the goddess Phosphorous or Light (Strabo, Geo. 1.9.). If worshipped properly and prayed to during childbirth, Artemis promised to deliver women from death while giving birth. For this reason, women in the ancient world revered and worshipped Artemis. Likewise, men worshipped Artemis during times of battle and war. Since the ancient world was always at war, Artemis was often on the lips of men during times of battle. The Greek men (and later the Romans) prayed to Artemis (the Romans called her Diana), not Apollo in time of battle. In Greek mythology, Zeus fathered the twins Artemis and Apollo through the Titaness Leto. The Artemus cult taught that Artemis was superior to Apollo because she came (was born) born first.

When men and women entered the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, the women would wear fancy hair braids, bedeck themselves with jewelry and ornate clothes as they prayed to Artemis. Heliodorus said, "Their locks of hairs carry their prayers." There were no sacrifices in this Temple. The women worshipped Artemis with their clothing, jewelry, and their words. Artemis, in turn, gave them their sexual prowess over men and their deliverance during childbirth. Likewise, men came to Artemis, acknowledging their need of her strength during time of war. The men would hold up hands, palms up, just above their waist as they prayed for victory in battle. Not surprisingly Ephesus, above all other places in the ancient world, celebrated the power, strength and beauty of women and their ability to use their sexual prowess to manipulate and dominate men. The Temple operations, which included prostitution and craftsmen who sold gold and silver idols of Artemis, drove the economy of Ephesus. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the city annually.

Paul and Timothy's Presence in Ephesus in the Midst of the Artemis Cult

Acts 18:24 through Acts 20:1 records for us that Paul and Timothy spent three years in Ephesus (c. A.D. 55-58), by far the longest time Paul spent in any one city during his three missionary journeys. Paul almost lost his life during a riot in the city because silversmiths who made little statues of the goddess Artemis were upset that Paul and Timothy were cutting into their business by winning converts to Christianity. Paul would later write in I Corinthians 15:32 that he "fought wild beasts at Ephesus."  Did he fight lions, tigers and bears? No, the wild beasts were the people of Ephesus who were devoted to Artemis, "The Queen of the Wild Beasts."  When Paul left Ephesus in A.D. 58, he traveled south for about 30 miles to the island of Miletus and then called for wise leaders of the church in Ephesus to join him at Miletus where he said to them, "After I leave, savage wolves will come among you and will not spare the flock. Even some among you will arise and distort the truth to draw away disciples after them" (cf. Acts 20:29-30).

Sure enough, less than five years later (A.D. 63)  the Christians in Ephesus were in trouble. There were some women or maybe even a single woman, most likely a new convert out of the Artemis cult, who had begun to teach false truth in the assembly at Ephesus. Timothy is sent to Ephesus to help the church and give some correction. Timothy sends to Paul a letter from Ephesus, giving Paul an update on what is happening and asking some specific questions about how he should proceed (a letter that is not extant). The Apostle Paul sends a response to Timothy, a letter we now call I Timothy. It's important to remember (as we have seen) that nowhere in Scripture does Jesus, Paul or any other apostle restrict women in the assembly. In fact, when a false teacher nicknamed Jezebel begins to have influence among believers in the city of Thyatira, Jesus does not reprimand the church for having a female teacher, but rather He upraids the church for not doing anything about her false teaching (cf. Revelation 2:24).

The Meaning of I Timothy 2:9-15

Now, let's put up I Timothy 2:9-15 again in order to discover the meaning of the words in light of what we know about the Artemis cult in Ephesus:
"In like manner also, see that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."( I Timothy 2:9-15)
(1). "Let the woman adorn themselves in modest apparel" (v. 9).

Obviously, there were women coming to the assembly of Christ in Ephesus similar to the way they used to go to the Temple of Artemis, dressed to kill, with braided hair, gold, pearls and fine clothing. Paul is letting Timothy know that this mode of dress, particularly in the city of Ephesus, was not conducive to the worship of Christ. What Christ desires is the beauty of goodness toward others, not the drawing attention to oneself in public.

(2). "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection" (v. 11).

The reason I believe the problem in Ephesus is a particular woman who is in a teaching position within the assembly of Christ is because the noun "woman" is in the singular, not the plural. In verses 9 and 10, women is in the plural, but in verse 11, Paul switches to "the woman" or possibly that woman about whom Timothy has written Paul. It can't be a universal prohibition for all time against all women ever teaching men in the assembly because (a). That would violate the tenor and teaching of the rest of Scripture where women frequently taught men, and (b). Paul has elsewhere encouraged men and women to teach, to pray and to fully participate in the assembly as they are gifted (cf. I Corinthians 11:4-5 and I Corinthians 14:23-24).

Further, the word translated silence is hesuchia (quietness). It is used in I Timothy 2:2 to describe what the character of every believer should be, both males and females. It never means "don't speak," but addresses the character of humility. This woman in Ephesus, coming out of a society saturated with the power, strength, abilities and even domination of women through the Artemis cult, needed to realize that she had a great deal to learn about Christ and His kingdom.

(3). "I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (v. 12).

This is the key phrase. First, the phrase translated "I suffer not a woman to teach" is literally in the tense of "I am not now permitting a woman to teach." Again, the woman not now permitted to teach is in the singular. It is the same woman of verse 11. This woman needs to learn in quiet humility before she ever presumes to teach, because she is still too influenced by Artemis cultic beliefs. This verse can NEVER be used as a proof text for women never teaching men or having "authority" over men.

(a). Deborah gave counsel and taught men and women about the Law of God (cf. Judges 2:16-19; 4:1-5:31). Huldah prophesied to Israel the word of the Lord and led the men of Israel (2 Kings 22:14-20). Priscilla and Aquila explained more perfectly to Apollos the way of God in Ephesus (cf. Acts 18:19-26). Most importantly, when Jezebel was teaching error to the church in Thyatira, Jesus never once told the church they were wrong for having a woman teach or lead them; He simply said they were wrong for not rejecting her false teaching (Revelation 2:18-29).

(b). "I suffer not a woman .... to usurp authority over the man" (v. 13).

This phrase "usurp authority" translates one Greek word authentein. This word is used only one time in all of Scripture--let me repeat that again--this word authentein is used only once in the entire Bible, right here in I Timothy 2:12. This word was used, however, in classical Greek literature and it meant "to murder someone." Paul could have chosen nearly fifty Greek words to speak of the ordinary exercise of authority, but he chose a word that more represents someone "dominating, controlling, or subjecting one to harm." Of course, this is precisely what the Artemis cult taught women to do. Artemis was the female goddess of fertility and war. Women in Ephesus were taught to use their voices, their charm, their sexuality and their beauty to dominate, control and subjugate men. It seems that this woman in Ephesus was causing trouble in the church by behavior in the assembly of Christ that was way too similar to the ways of the Artemis cult from whence she came.

(4). "For Adam was formed first, then Eve."

Timothy, tell the woman causing problems that her notion she should always have the floor and direct the assembly because she believes women are superior to men--since Artemis came first and Apollo came second--is a misguided belief. The truth is God created man first then He formed Eve from Adam, so it is very appropriate for her, a woman who considers herself a descendent of the Amazons, to sit quietly and learn from those who are older and wiser, even if they are males! Artemis taught the power of women to dominate men through sexual prowess, but Christ teaches that men are equal to women and there's nothing wrong with a woman learning from others (even men) before she begins to teach men.

(5). "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (v. 14).

And Timothy, remind her that the Scriptures teach that Eve was decieved. Contrary to what she learned in the Temple of Artemis, males are not always her problem. To be deceived and in need of correction is just as much a possibility for her as it was for Eve. She must move away from her belief in female superiority, a belief reinforced by the Artemis cult.

(6). "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety" (v. 15).

Timothy, tell this woman that she will be okay during childbirth, even if she totally and fully renounces her trust in Artemis. Yes, she lives in a culture that teaches Artemis alone saves a woman from death during childbirth, but the truth is Christ holds the keys of life and death. When women continue in faith, hope and love--avoiding the sexual immodesty and looseness on display in the Temple of Artemis and the worship of the goddess of fertility and war--it will be the one true God who delivers them from death during childbirth, not Artemis.

(7). And finally, Timothy, I wrote this letter to help you with the problems in the assembly in honor of "Him who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen or can see" (I Timothy 6:16).

The people of Ephesus called Artemis the goddess of Light. The men approached Artemis in the Temple with hands raised above their waist praying for victory in battle and in war. Paul reminded Timothy in this same chapter that Christian men should approach Christ in worship with their hands raised and pray for peace with all men, not war. (Timothy 2:5). Christian women, come before Christ with a sense of modesty and humility, realizing that the ways of Christ are opposite of the ways of Artemis. Paul's entire personal letter to Timothy was an encouragement to him to "fight the wild beasts of Ephesus" and be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and correct the errors brought into the church by "savage wolves" who were remaining under the influence of Artemis theology.