Jesus, The Servant Savior


Painting_of_the_Foot_WashingIt seems one of my online atheist friends, violetwisp, took umbrage at my characterization of marriage and the role husbands are to play which I spelled out in my article article “Headless Families, Headless Church.” As she read my depiction of the Biblical role of husbands as the self-sacrificing head who mutually submits to his wife, she saw an unintelligible tangle of contradictory ideas:

Let’s ponder this utopian vision for one second: “mutual submission even as she recognizes his responsibility as the head”. He’s the boss, he’s in charge, he’s the head … but he’s not a patriarchal dictator, because he loves selflessly and mutually submits (but is still the head). Anyone spotting a jitter on the nonsense-o-meter (NOM)?

And why wouldn’t she think the idea of a sacrificial head was contradictory? Who else has modeled this kind of leadership other than Christ?

So it dawned on me that the husband who loves his wife like Christ loves the Church and gave His life for her, would not make sense to someone who doesn’t know Christ. All the more reason, of course, for Christian men to step up and be the image of Christ to their neighbors and family and friends and coworkers in the way they love and serve their wives as the head of their home.

But there I go again, giving the same contradictory image. Maybe the best way to explain this “leader-servant rolled up in one husband-package” is to look more closely at Christ. What do we know about Him—specifically about His character—you know, things husbands can emulate?

First, He was humble. Paul spells this quality out in Philippians:

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. (Phil. 2:5-7)

God, yet willingly taking the form of a bond-servant. With His disciples, Jesus showed Himself as their rabbi, willing to take the job of a lowly slave when He washed their feet

Jesus was also obedient. Paul again:

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:8)

Obedient to whom? The Greek word used here, hypēkoos, only appears two other times in the New Testament, both times referring to obedience to God.

And who else would Jesus obey? Hebrews says He who was God’s Son “learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8).

I don’t think it’s a reach, then, to say that a husband, if he is to be like Christ, is obedient to God.

Jesus was also self-sacrificial.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 3:21-24; emphasis mine)

In another passage, we’re told Jesus, for the joy set before Him, despised the shame of the cross. The joy would be the salvation of believers. His own shame and humiliation meant nothing to Him in comparison to the restored fellowship with His people.

One more, though there are any number of other things we could say. Jesus loves. It is His love for the Church that husbands are to emulate. In Ephesians Paul elaborates on the connection between how Jesus loves the Church and how a husband is to love his wife:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. (Eph. 5:25-30)

One thing should be pretty clear: Jesus being the Head of the Church means He goes all out for us. He’s not selfish or domineering or harsh or demanding. His role as Head looks nothing like patriarchal tyranny. That kind of behavior comes straight from the pit of hell.

Don’t forget, Satan knows Scripture, as he proved in his confrontation with Jesus in the wilderness, and he’s not above twisting it to make people think God is saying something He’s not saying. It’s the same tactic he used against Eve.

So atheists can think all they want that the Church has changed our tune because of the feminism of our times (something Violetwisp alluded to), but it’s not true. Sure, professing Christians have got a lot of things wrong down through the ages, but that doesn’t mean God had it wrong. If I misunderstand Him, it’s not His fault. It’s mine. If I ignore one command in favor of another, that’s on me; it’s my sin, not an evidence that God has a poor plan.

But this approach toward God is also not new. Adam tried to pin his sin on God—“the woman You gave me,” he said, implying that had God only got it right, Adam himself would have kept away from sin.

All these accusations against God are spurious. Jesus proves Himself to be humble, obedient, sacrificial, loving and He wants husbands to follow His example and treat their wives the same way.

The thing that confuses people, I guess, is that Jesus is . . . well, Jesus. You know, God! The King, Sovereign of the universe. “He is the head over all rule and authority,” Paul says in Colossians.

So the King washes feet? God dies? The Sovereign learns obedience? Yes, yes, and yes.

It’s shocking, really, so much so that it’s probably easier for people to discount it as make-believe. Because who else acts like that?

But that’s why it’s so important for Christian husbands to get it right: by treating their wives with the love Christ modeled, they are, in turn, showing the world a picture of Christ.

It’s maybe the best way, and perhaps the only way for some, to let people know Jesus.

Published in: on March 11, 2015 at 7:38 pm  Comments (5)  
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I’m Sick Of Fifty Shades Of Grey


BattleofthesexesNo, I haven’t read the book or seen the movie. But pretty much wherever I turn, someone is commenting or writing about it. I’ve ignored most of the blog posts and comments. The nightly news continues to report the box office success of the movie, and mentions it for who-knows-what-other-reasons, though, so it’s hard to be oblivious to the phenomenon.

I’ve seen comments from some, shocked that Christians would even consider watching the movie or reading the book. Again, I put on my blinders and ignored the issue. It’s hard for me to imagine Christians walking into a movie knowing full well that they’d be seeing explicit sex, and not just the regular titillating copulation scenes. This movie was about sex involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism, better known as BDSM.

But now we have to talk about it. Endlessly. Some decry the moral collapse of our society that allows such a movie to make it to the big screen as if it is just any other film for adults.

Others blame a patriarchal society for creating the atmosphere in which this kind of book and movie could reach such a popular level. Still others apparently blame the rejection of patriarchy for this “edgy,” explicitly sexual movie.

The whole thing is actually a symptom, not a disease. It’s evidence, as if we needed more, that God is giving us over to our own desires.

I don’t have to see the movie or read the book to know that the relationship this story shows is contrary to what God desires for us. Scripture talks about a husband and wife submitting to one another, about the wife being subject to her husband “as is fitting in the Lord” (Colossians 3:18), about the husband showing his wife honor “as a fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7b), about both of them being “harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Peter 3:8).

The greatest problem with a movie or book that puts bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism into the public arena as if this is a normal option for couples, is that it contradicts God’s word. It sells a lie.

And it’s no surprise that this lie is once again an attack on the proper relationship God intended for marriage. Marriage is a unique picture of God’s relationship with His people. He, the head, sacrificing himself for the Church He loves, even as the husband is to be the person in his home taking the responsible position as he unselfishly gives to his wife to express his love for her.

It’s the most brilliant, beautiful symbiotic relationship ever conceived. If only we humans didn’t think there was something we could do to make it better—like emphasizing a wife’s submission over and about the husband’s love for her. Or like tossing out a wife’s submission as archaic, or any number of other changes in what God told us was His standard for marriage.

And now we have the contradiction of His standard, shown on the big screen for all to consider as an option. I don’t pretend to understand it.

All I know is, God doesn’t let us down. His ways are true and right and good. They lead to joy and health and wholeness. Taking a path that’s headed in the opposite direction of God’s way can only lead to sorrow. How could it be anything else.

The prophet Isaiah warned Judah what going their own way would bring:

As they have chosen their own ways,
And their soul delights in their abominations,
So I will choose their punishments
And will bring on them what they dread.
Because I called, but no one answered;
I spoke, but they did not listen.
And they did evil in My sight
And chose that in which I did not delight (Isaiah 66:3b-4).

The crazy thing is, there are good marriages with a husband and a wife who both believe God’s word and work to follow what He says. Those are the stories that are joyful and uplifting (here’s one by InsanityBytes: “My Invisible Husband”).

These stories don’t get made into movies any more, though. Our society wants more thrills; a greater, more explicit, visceral experience. Here’s what one writing instructor said was part of the success of Fifty Shades Of Grey:

Once the reader/viewer is taken into that world, it all becomes astoundingly VICARIOUS.  It takes us somewhere we haven’t been before, to which will (for some) never go, or (for some) you desire to go, and for others, are afraid to go yet curious about, and and when you get there it is a literal, visceral, passionate experience, as shown the story’s “red room of pain” scenes. (Larry Brooks,“What You May be Missing about ’50 Shades of Grey’ “

That’s what our pleasure-seeking culture has come down to. We want relationships like the roller-coaster ride instead of the ocean cruise. We want the X-Games version of “love” instead of a team rowing in tandem.

But underneath our search for some sexual thrill greater than the last one is this unspoken belief that God’s way simply isn’t good enough. And that’s the real problem. People going to watch kinky sex is simply a symptom.

So, yes, I’m sick of hearing about this story, more so because of what it means for our society, because of how it shows our disregard for God and His word and way.

May God have mercy on us. He can bring revival, which we desperately need. He can forgive and wash us clean. He can restore a right spirit within us. May He be at work in our culture to bring us back to Him.

Words Have Meaning, Or Do They?


Deconstruction _ LEGO PhilosophyWords have meaning. Of course they do, or people would never be able to understand each other. If I say, Thanks for visiting my blog, no one is going to mistakenly think I’m saying you’ve stopped by my home. My blog address is one of my online locations, but it’s not where I reside physically. It doesn’t take any special level of language acumen to understand this.

And yet we are living in a time in which the meaning of language is up for grabs. Postmodern philosophy has played a role in the deconstruction of language.

Here’s a brief summary of what was and what is replacing it:

Western philosophy is in this sense logocentrist, committed to the idea that words are capable of communicating unambiguously meanings that are present in the individuals mind.

Words are capable of communicating unambiguously. Sounds similar to words have meanings.

For the postmodern thinker, however, there’s deconstruction:

deconstruction, a method of textual analysis . . . which by means of a series of highly controversial strategies seeks to reveal the inherent instability and indeterminacy of meaning. . . . Deconstruction is best approached as a form of radical scepticism and antifoundationalism. (quotes from “Postmodernism”)

And why deconstruction?

Postmodernists believe that people are trapped behind something in the attempt to get to the external world. However, for them the wall between people and reality is not composed of sensations as it was for Descartes; rather, it is constituted by one’s community and its linguistic categories and practices. One’s language serves as a sort of distorting and, indeed, creative filter. (from “Truth, Contemporary Philosophy, and the Postmodern Turn”)

If language is distorting reality, then it needs to be deconstructed.

And so, we have a culture–Christians and non-Christians alike–that systematically goes about redefining words. I’ll mention some of the hot-button issues by way of illustration, not to make a point about them necessarily, other than to say, deconstruction is effective.

First, the Mormon church has for years effectively deconstructed a number of terms from the Bible: Son of God, Father, atonement, redemption, salvation, and Christian to name a few. The apparent intent is to shake the identification of cult. Rather than trying to deconstruct the meaning of that word, Mormons instead have couched their doctrines in terminology that means something very different to Evangelical Christians than it does to Mormons.

So in the Mormon community “Jesus Christ” refers to a god, not a member of the Trinity.

Words have meanings, until someone deconstructs them.

For centuries now here in the US, marriage has meant “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.” For the last fifteen, twenty years, however, this definition is being deconstructed. Consequently, same-sex relationships now claim marriage, though clearly the traditional definition contradicts the concept.

Other words have undergone a similar deconstruction: the concept of glorifying God, for example, and even the meaning of worship.

Most recently “natural” took a hit in order to explain away Romans 1:26-27. The thinking of the author of a recently published book roughly states that God said in Genesis, it is not good for Man to be alone. God then saw there was not a fitting partner for Man, so He gave him one.

For the gay man, the only fitting partner is another man, so this means what is natural for him is a male partner, not a female partner. Therefore when he is joined in “marriage” to his partner, that is good in the same way that Adam and Eve’s union was good.

Extrapolate that then to the Romans passage and you see that in reality for the gay person, same sex activity actually is what is natural.

I undoubtedly have mangled the explanation, but it serves as a good illustration. According to postmodernism, language takes on meaning from within a culture or community. So within the gay community, “natural” has come to mean the opposite of what it means to the rest of society. Or should I say, what it had meant to the rest of society.

The thing is, words actually do have meaning, so society at large either accepts the deconstruction of marriage and natural and Christian or it rejects those re-definitions.

If it accepts them, then the words will have come to mean a new thing.

Living languages, in fact, do change the meanings of words, so there’s no shock there. But the fact is, this manner of deconstructing language seems to carry with it intention. It would seem there are those who wish to a) destabilize culture and/or b) reverse meanings.

What I find so fascinating in all this is that the Bible told us we’d be right where we are:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Thoughts On President Obama’s Evolving View Of Marriage


Yesterday, in the wake of North Carolina passing a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and amidst his plans to attend Hollywood fund raisers, President Obama declared that his evolving views on marriage now lead him to believe that same-sex partners should be allowed to marry.

My thoughts about these developments in the US culture will be somewhat rambling because I haven’t had time to process everything into a cohesive whole. So as they come to me:

Words. Words matter. Yes, definitions evolve over time, but not because someone imposes a new definition from without. In the case of marriage, thirty of the fifty states — thirty-one, if the courts hadn’t gotten involved in California — have passed laws or amendments (we passed both) defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. In fact, every time the issue has gone before the electorate, the people have voted for the traditional definition of marriage. The only states in which same-sex marriage is legal, legislatures (and perhaps the courts?) have dictated it.

The fact that we need the qualifier, “same-sex,” shows that in the minds of those discussing marriage, there’s a distinction between marriage and same-sex marriage.

Learning from children. In explaining his new position, President Obama said he believes it is a generational thing. His daughters have friends whose parents are same-sex partners and they think nothing of it. Since when did adults surrender standards of right and wrong to our children? If President Obama’s daughters thought nothing of teens street racing, would his view on that subject evolve?

Relativism. The concept of evolving views of right and wrong fits so perfectly into postmodern relativism, so I’m not surprised at the President’s shifting opinion. (I have to admit, I’m also cynical enough to wonder whether or not Mr. Obama didn’t want to insure that the big donors in Hollywood would be liberal in the amount they give to his campaign. But that’s a side issue.)

Relativism basically says there is no moral standard other than the one a particular group of people agrees upon at any set time. Hence, in this day and age of equal rights and tolerance, those values trump all else. Except when it doesn’t.

According to a relativistic way of thinking, countries that permit sweatshops should not be flagged for human rights violations because there really are no such things as human rights. Who gives humans any rights?

I suspect that’s where Western culture is headed, but it’s not there just yet.

Evolving Definition of Marriage. If a societal institution like marriage can be redefined once, why not twice, three times, or as many times as we want? So in five years (or sooner), someone will want marriage to include a man and multiple wives or a woman and multiple husbands. Why not a man and his dog? Or how about a man or woman and a consenting child? Who is to say that these can’t also be considered marriage if marriage becomes a fluid term?

Marriage and Sin. I’m always dismayed when I hear Christians talk about homosexuality as if it is the unpardonable sin. The truth is, the Hollywood movie stars so many people revere, or many of the sports figures who get caught up in the celebrity lifestyle, engage in “fleshly lusts.” Meaning, homosexual individuals are not in a special class. All of us, homosexuals or straight, have gone astray. We all stand in need of forgiveness and redemption.

Homosexuality does not make a person sinful. A sinful person chooses to sin and that might take a wide variety of forms. Is a person more sinful if they cheat on their income taxes or sleep around or engage in homosexual behavior? Answer: there is no “more sinful.”

There might be more consequences, but the one issue each person must resolve is what do they do with Christ? Is He the very cornerstone of their faith or is He a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”?

The Distraction of President Obama’s Declaration. All the discussion of President Obama as the first President in favor of same-sex marriage (as if this was an issue thirty years ago, or even twenty) has taken the focus off some other critical developments.

In California, for example, there’s a bill in the Senate that would would ban children under 18 from undergoing “sexual orientation change efforts.” (You can read about it here.) In other words, parents could not seek help from a professional for their children in an effort to steer them away from homosexuality. Would the parents themselves be unable to counsel their children in this way? It’s a frightening thought, but most people aren’t talking about it because they’re talking about Mr. Obama’s evolving opinion.

There’s also a courageous man in China who stood against forced abortion and has sought asylum in the US. What are we hearing about his situation?

Unfortunately, the President seized the bully pulpit (what a politically incorrect term!) and his opinion has overshadowed other stories that are newsworthy. (Sort of like the Secret Service scandal overshadowing the General Services Administration scandal).

The Place of Leadership. One more reflection on our President’s “historical” stand. When God sent prophets to Israel and Judah, declaring their sin, He pointed the finger at the priests, false prophets, and kings who led His people astray.

I think the leaders in America are letting down her people as well. The Supreme Court did so in 1973 when it issued the Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion. Countless religious leaders have done so by buying into health-and-wealth messages or deconstructing the Bible or re-imaging Christ.

What’s so incredibly sad to me, though, is that we have the Bible available in our own language, translated over and over again to make it easy to understand. In other words, we are without excuse. It isn’t the leaders’ fault when we ignore the best and primary source that gives what we need for Salvation.

In the end, that’s where we’re at, isn’t it. As Peter says, “for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word and to this doom they were also appointed” (1 Peter 2:8b).

Published in: on May 10, 2012 at 6:41 pm  Comments (7)  
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