Vashti: Hidden Heroine of Freedom

Queen Vashti is an unsung heroine in the struggle against man’s political Authority. Continue reading “Vashti: Hidden Heroine of Freedom”

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Christian Abuse

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Christian abuse should be an oxymoron, and it is, so how does it happen in Christian churches and Christian marriages?

My guess? Nobody wants to talk about it. Abusing and being visibly upset by abuses suffered reflects poorly on the idea that God’s grace is all sufficient. Since God is able above all we can ask or think, then God can make the abuse stop. Also, if God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, then we must be able to take what we’re given, drink the bitter cup, and trust God. It hides behind a veil that is either faith or denial, perhaps both.

Continue reading “Christian Abuse”

Maybe It Is Good for a Man not to Touch a Woman

Image courtesy of bulldogza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of bulldogza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The issue of touch keeps coming up. It was in the Mikvah/Niddah lesson about husbands and wives not touching during the Niddah and Purification days. Then a friend pointed out that the first use of “touch” in scripture is from Eve’s answer to the serpent in the garden–with interesting implications still under review. In the meantime, I ended up learning a little about practices of yichud (not secluding oneself with one person of the opposite sex outside the immediate family–a doctrine I first encountered in the United Pentecostal Church, interestingly enough), and that led right back to the touch issue and Paul, who says to the believers at Corinth that “It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (ESV 1 Cor.7.1).

Boy, there are a lot of wild theories about what not touching means in that verse. Continue reading “Maybe It Is Good for a Man not to Touch a Woman”

Removed Links to Mikvah and Niddah: A Woman’s Guide to Family Purity (videos)

Links… and a window to my humiliation at attempting a Powerpoint + Audacity -> Windows Movie Maker = Youtube video. But I tried, and have far more respect for those who can do it well.

This is the original small group Bible study I led on Leviticus 15 and menstrual impurity. In part 1, you’ll see some NT scriptures related to purity and holiness. Part 2 gets to my favorite part: the picture that goes along with my analogy of niddah as a bubble.

Mikvah & Nidah Part 1  and Part 2—- Inactive! I will post a password if I reload these.)

(I disabled all comments on Youtube because I’m so embarrassed about how it looks & sounds, but I am willing to discuss the content of the videos over here on the blog.)

Take care, friends.
-Heather

Paul Addresses the Agunah in Corinthians (Divorce Part 3)

We’re in part 3! As we saw in part 2 of the divorce series, there is no such thing in the Bible as a divorce that does not allow a person to remarry. However, a person can be legally married and yet “put away” from his or her spouse. It is the plight of the agunah, the chained or bound spouse—not a nice image, and if it brings to mind suffering, it should. It’s horrible. The agunah is separated from his or her respective wife or husband but not divorced.

Continue reading “Paul Addresses the Agunah in Corinthians (Divorce Part 3)”

Divorce Court and Defilement? (Divorce Part 2)

Here’s part 2 of the divorce series (part 1 about the possibility of a holy divorce is here). Part 2 discusses arguments that I don’t agree with even though I think the arguments look good at first glance. They come from the same man, J. Carl Laney, who is a professor of Biblical literature, and they are the best counterarguments I’ve seen. If you have better counterarguments regarding specifically Deuteronomy 24:1-4, post or link to them. I am interested in learning about them.

In light of how I have answered Laney, I started thinking about how different the torah’s view of divorced people is from how people tend to view divorced people, and I was ashamed, so I ended there, though it was not originally planned to be part of this post.

Continue reading “Divorce Court and Defilement? (Divorce Part 2)”

Hope for Lot, His Daughters, and Us

I’ve written about Lot’s righteousness before, in brief, to say Lot and his daughters appear to me to be classic moral relativists. They are in that category of people who are in trouble (though not without hope). Paul tells us that the “damnation is just” for those who say, “Let us do evil that good may come” (KJV Rom. 3.8). Lot does that. His daughters do that. So I think we can agree there is evidence in the text that all three of them are naughty. (That can’t possibly surprise us; we have all fallen short of the glory, no?)

Incidentally, in some commentary on the passage about fleeing S’dom, someone pointed out the ironic twist of the story: Lot offers his virgin daughters for sexual abuse by the mob at his house; instead, Lot himself becomes sexually abused by the very same daughters in a cave. What goes around comes around, as they say, and the apples do not always fall far enough from the tree to save us from feeling the consequences of our own sins. Parents beware.

I’m inspired by Ama’s post “I Have Questions” to say a few more words about Lot. She finds something inconsistent about God not punishing Lot’s daughters when God does a lot of punishing elsewhere and even seems to punish those who don’t deserve it. There are a couple of ways to address that.

First, is it true that Lot’s daughters themselves go unpunished? I am not at all sure. That we don’t read of something fantastic like fire falling from heaven doesn’t mean they didn’t suffer consequences. The personal consequences–whether they were there or were not there–are simply not part of the story.

Second, are we sure that Mo’av and Ammon are not punishment enough? We do know things don’t go well for them. Something goes terribly wrong. Is it a generational curse? Something wired into their DNA from springing from that unholy union? I don’t know. But I do know it is a forbidden union. And I do know that Lot benefited from being Abraham’s nephew in a way that does not transfer to his children.  

Not to create my own “What if” channel, but bear with me for a sec. Could the daughters have justified themselves to their children and instilled in their descendants a bitter heart against the God who sent judgment and pushed their mothers to such desperate acts? That’s pure speculation, of course. I’m not saying they did that. It is human nature, though, to pass the blame, even to the point of maligning God. The reasoning would go something like this: “We cannot rebuke the daughters of Lot who intended to save the world when the God of Abraham set out to destroy the world (or so they thought). Surely the daughters of Lot are righteous and the God of Abraham unrighteous” [God forbid!]. What if a spiritual rebellion manifested in physical rebellion? That would be a kind of punishment.

But there is a third way to think about why we don’t see Lot’s daughters punished (if we don’t). There’s a difference between what we’re told and what God approves of. Some of the Bible is descriptive, describing what happens, and some is prescriptive, telling us what to do. Sometimes people think that because events are reported without moral commentary that God approves. I can’t see any reason to make that assumption. What Lot’s daughters do to him is reported. If we want to think about God’s perspective on it, we have to go elsewhere to see what God says about incest and put it together.

At this point, I have to return to the parenthetical comment I made at the beginning, which is that Lot and his daughters are not without hope just because they were naughty. In fact, in 2 Peter 2, Lot and his daughters are examples of  how God is able “to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (KJV 2 Peter 2.9). Lot–and his daughters–have a righteousness. They had enough believing faith not to fight the angels and be destroyed. Let’s not forget to grant them that.

Beloved, is it possible that we who believe also sin–even grievously at times? Is it possible that some of us don’t know our right hand from our left when it comes to doing the right thing even though our hearts desperately want to please God? Is it possible that we are like children, always growing in knowledge and faith along with hope and love, but sometimes falling way short?

Back to the “What if” channel for another segment: What if the cave incident propelled Lot and his daughters to extreme repentance? What if that was the final straw? Remember the darkest part of your life, the time you finally humbled yourself enough to accept grace from the Living God? Who’s to say Lot and his daughters didn’t find that moment at some point after the cave? They may have. And in the end, they may have retained the description of “godly” to the end, not because they were perfect but because God’s forgiveness is perfect. 

In the end, the gospel is about hope for sinners, Lot and his daughters included. We were all without hope once, but now we have hope in Christ’s faithfulness. Thank God.

The End of Romance, the Beginning of Pleasure: in a Word, Marriage

Marriage is not the stuff of romance. I told this to one of my classes last week. One student supposed that by saying that I meant to imply that he would always be wanting other women, never fulfilled, so to speak. So I told him what G.K. Chesterton might reply to that anxiety. Here’s what Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy:

I could never mix in the common murmur of that rising generation against monogamy, because no restriction on sex seemed so odd and unexpected as sex itself…. Keeping to one woman is a small price for so much as seeing one woman. To complain that I could only be married once was like complaining that I had only been born once. It was incommensurate with the terrible excitement of which one was talking. It showed, not an exaggerated sensibility to sex, but a curious insensibility to it. A man is a fool who complains that he cannot enter Eden by five gates at once. Polygamy is a lack of the realization of sex; it is like a man plucking five pears in mere absence of mind…. Surely one might pay for extraordinary joy in ordinary morals.

My interpretation: a man should be so lost in the ecstasy of discovering all the pleasures of his own wife that he doesn’t have time to think of other women. If he can’t find a lifetime of pleasure in one woman, he will never be satisfied with any number of women: he simply doesn’t know what he’s doing.

He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing.

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