Life in the big city.
It seems to require miraculous intervention to get through such overt fortification that is characteristic of so many women today. Because if you’re a man who attempts to teach something about a single word written to women you are automatically disqualified. Disqualified by virtue of being a man. “You are not allowed to speak to that because you are a man”, the rhetoric goes. I’ve heard it many times. Even in attempts to ask women questions for research purposes I have been told not to write anything for women. I have no right. Or, my views are ‘outdated’. Because of this it could be argued that women are needed to speak for the truth of the scriptural precedents of womanhood. Unfortunately there are very few. My ongoing research into books on Biblical womanhood—written by women—turn up almost nothing that address these most crucial passages in the Bible. That is, unless they are against them.
The apostle Peter teaches the women,
“but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1 Peter 3:4
Two key words are used by Peter to describe that which has “imperishable beauty” and is of “very high value”. The word “precious” is poluteles in the Greek which is the same word used of the expensive alabaster box (Matt. 26:7) and the pearl of great price (Matt. 13:46). These are the two words:
Praus. Praus is translated gentle. Generally, Greek words are straight forward and reliable. This is because the Greek language has the longest documented history of all the Indo-European languages spanning 34 centuries. Greek was the lingua-franca of the ancient Mediterranean world much like English is of the modern world. Yet, suspiciously, whenever we come to a biblical verse that has something to teach the woman we must immediately arrange committees, recruit professors and scholars of antiquity, spend tons of money and resources, and search to the furthest reaches of time and space to find whatever we can to come up with an alternative meaning of the words that are used. A meaning that, suspiciously, fits with a particular modern narrative—one that says women need to be hard, dominate, fist-raising, lone wolves because they are oppressed. So it’s no surprise that the words are not much liked, and even woefully resented. Such is the case with the word kephale (head/headship) for which one could sift through thousands of documented instances in the ancient Greek. These words of the Apostle Peter cannot be so easily twisted. They are too basic.
This word is found in three other places in the NT. “Blessed are the meek [praus], for they shall inherit the earth…” (Matt. 5:5), “Take my yoke upon you, for I am gentle [praus] and humble…” Matt. 11:29, and “See, your King comes to you, gentle [praus] and riding on a donkey…” (Matt. 21:5). At first it doesn’t appear there is any overt definition given of what this ‘gentle’ means exactly, but looking at the immediate context in which the word was used I think we can get a really good idea. Praus-gentleness infers non-violent or non-aggressive.
If you replace each of the instances with the term “non-aggressive” or “not violent”, it fits pretty well with the context and the message:
Blessed are the non-violent, for they shall inherit the earth…
Take my yoke upon you, for I am not aggressive…
Behold your king is coming to you, non-violent, mounted on a donkey…
let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a non-aggressive and quiet spirit
Consider in the case of the first how those who have the earth, essentially have it by way of brute force—whether in defense or by stealing. Also in the case of a king coming and ushering in a reign… what king can do that non-violently?
Consider that this is not the same as delicate. Women are not being taught to be delicate, soft, mild, weak, or faint-hearted. In Luke 7:25 Jesus says about John the Baptist (a rugged man), “What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft (delicate, Grk. malakos) clothing?”
Later the Apostle Paul is heard saying that the “delicate” or “malakoi” will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Because malakoi is in the masculine form it explicitly refers to men who are “soft” or “effeminate”. For a more in-depth look into this word see the Liddell-Scott Greek Lexicon entry for malakos. If women are the “weaker” vessels as the Apostle Peter says elsewhere (1 Pet. 3:7), they are clearly not instructed or called to be weak. The Bible holds men accountable for their weakness. It does not accept it. Women, however, are off the hook. What women are not off the hook for is the gentle and quiet spirit.
Hésuchios. This is translated quiet spirit. It speaks of tranquility. Don’t overlook that this refers to the spirit. A tranquil spirit makes you think of a still lake in the morning and not a tumultuous river. It will be peaceable. While peaceableness and peacemaking is necessary for all Christians, tranquility is something women are specifically instructed in. If men were instructed to have tranquil spirits, how can they be instructed to have a fighting spirit, to stand firm and be strong (1 Cor. 16:13), at the same time? If women were instructed to have a fighting spirit, why is it that the tranquil spirit is so much more valuable (think rare pearl and the alabaster box) to God? These are real questions that have to be reckoned with. What if it was due to the fact that men are generally not prone to that fighting spirit—to standing firm—but are prone to passivity and giving in? What if it was because women are not prone to that gentle and tranquil spirit as seen in Mary, but prone to the restless disorganization complex as seen in Martha? If we were, would we need the instruction? If we were not prone to sin, would we need to be persuaded relentlessly to flee it from cover to cover?
This Greek word is used in one other place in the NT:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet [hesuchios] life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Tim. 2:1-2)
This describes the ideal life—one that is peaceful, undisturbed (Grk. eremos) and quiet (Grk. hesuchios). The NT concurs that this is appropriate for humanity, but that it must be prayed and interceded for. As we want things to be for us in life, under the authority of those in high positions, so God wants things to be for the women he made. That doesn’t sound oppressive at all. God, as always, seeks our good.
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
“And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” – Jesus
Church massacres are on a sharp rise like female suicide is on a sharp rise and I don’t think anyone is doubting that right now. Before the last decade such atrocities were hardly heard of. Most of the time they were coming from other parts of the world. Not America. I remember being brought to my knees at the unfathomable massacre of over 334 adults and mostly children that happened at a Russian school in 2004.
That sort of thing couldn’t happen here.
There was the slaughter of 7 at a Baptist church in Fort Worth, TX in 1999 but such a thing was far from the norm…then there was the Micronesian church shooting in Missouri in 2007…YWAM in Arvada, CO in 2007…the Unitarian church in Tennessee in 2008…a pastor shot in an Illinois church in 2009…a California church in 2010…an Aurora, CO church in 2012..
The people prayed, the pastors asked for healing… But the attacks grew darker. Dylan Roof kills 9 at a Charleston church in 2015…and today Devin Kelley killed some 26 worshipers at a Baptist church. These are just the Church massacres that have happened in the last decade.
While I wish not to downplay prayer at any level, I am reminded of the 17th century Christian colonialists who had no choice but arm themselves if they wanted to survive. The text detailing the ‘norm’ of church life in the 17th century is found in the following book written in 1891:
It’s a startling fact that Jesus had actually suggested his disciples sell their cloak and buy a weapon. For one, for them to be told to sell something in order to buy one seems to mean it was really important. Not having enough money shouldn’t be an obstacle. Secondly, Jesus wasn’t asking them to do anything illegal. The disciples carried their swords and Peter tried to attack an occupying Roman soldier in defense of Jesus. No punishments were enacted on the disciples for having ‘carried openly’. At this time (33 AD) Jerusalem had not been overthrown by Rome yet. They were forced to pay taxes to Ceasar (Matthew the tax-collector, et. al) but Israel was still under the jurisdiction of Jewish Law.
Jewish law, the books of Moses, certainly allowed for self defense and did not forbid having a sword, spear, or bow.
In Ecclesiastes 3:3 the great wise teacher taught, “there is a time to kill [Hebrew harag]”
That is an interesting verse to juxtapose with Exodus 20:13 which says, “thou shalt not murder [Hebrew ratsach].”
The idea of priests or pastors having to abstain from killing and fighting in battles is typically supported by passages such as 1 Chronicles 28:3 where David was told he was not allowed to build the temple on account of his bloodshed even though God commanded him to fight those wars: “But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war [Hebrew ish milchamah] and have shed blood.’ This is an interesting verse to juxtapose with Isaiah 42:13,
“The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war [Hebrew ish milchamah] he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.
Also Exodus 15:3,
“The LORD is a man of war [Hebrew ish milchamah]; the LORD is his name.”
So, God is an ish milchamah but David cannot build his temple because David is an ish milchamah? How does that work? I think the explanation can only be found in one thing: Jesus. Remember that Jesus is the builder of his temple, the Church: “I will build my church…” Matt. 16:18. Jesus was a non-violent man who didn’t lift a finger against a single person while he walked the earth. He would have forfeited his Church-plant if he lifted a finger, not because he would have been wrong to—he would have be right to open up the ground beneath every single one of his opponents and see them swallowed up and destroyed—but because he had to provide no occasion whatsoever for anyone to bring an accusation against him. There was only one accusation that anyone could bring against him in the end: his claim of being equal with God. For all his followers however, there is no such thing as personal innocence, for they are already done for, and their claim to righteousness and innocence is based solely on Christ, the innocent. Even if they should be forced to raise the sword against a monster to spare the lives of potential victims and shed blood…they will still be accounted righteous by their faith in Christ.
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” 1 Cor. 10:23
Before we can judge a follower of Jesus by how much said follower mirrors the life of Jesus in the Gospels, we have to understand that Jesus told his followers to do things he himself never did, i.e. take up swords. Just more interesting food for thought. Following Jesus isn’t necessarily mimicking the gospel stories. No one of us is ever going to be crucified on a cross for people’s sins. Or transfigured. Or walk on water. His story is absolutely and entirely special and 100% set apart from the entire human race. A human like no other human. Following him should instead be looked at from the angle of…those who followed him, his disciples. True followers of Jesus will reflect the transformation and habits of Jesus’ own disciples. Peter, James, John, Paul…they were all quite far from replicating Jesus. Quite far, indeed. But they held fast to his teachings. “Imitate Christ as I do,” said Paul. As you do, Paul?
“And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”
These are serious times that demand serious men. Men today are weak, afraid, and as soft as they’ve ever been. Effeminacy (Greek malakoi) is actually considered sinful behavior in scripture, a study for another post. We can no longer afford to put off the difficult decisions that demand nobility. Make your decision now how you will act.
I always pose the question to people, upon descending into the issue of Christianity and owning weapons, “Is it loving your neighbor if you refuse to defend them?” Or “If one neighbor attempts to murder other neighbors, which one do you attempt to love? In a short article, Dr. Joel McDurman of The American Vision sheds more light on the old America Puritan way of bringing guns to church. Of course he does not address the views held by the Quaker Christians (the other side) who were also settlers with their own colonies such as Philadelphia. Quakers typically did not defend themselves. They left their safety and that of others to “the will of God.” The subtle conundrum is that both worldviews seems to hold an annoying tinge of unlovingness toward somebody. Because in a critical life-and-death situation, under both worldviews, somebody dies. This is the world we live in and the life we live. It has been well said that life is a landscape of intense moral struggles and decisions to make. A journey that is not easy. Period. Happiness is not the meaning. Noble living is. But, do you know what noble living is? When a deranged man enters your sanctuary with a loaded AR-15, do you know at that very instant, what noble living is? The arguments around these issues have always had the more difficult, and heretofore unlikely, scenarios in mind. I found that pacifist-leaning Christians often excused themselves on the notion that such awful scenarios were simply too unlikely, too rare to affect their opinion. Well, society has changed and these once-thought-impossible scenarios are now kind of a norm. So the question remains, what will you do?
John Stuart Mill is known for three particular writings:
- On Liberty
- The Subjection of Women
He is called a philosopher and classical liberal. A classical liberal is not like modern so-called liberals in America. Some of the main tenets of classical liberalism are actually found in conservatism like individual liberty, limited government, and free markets. With all the political and philosophical “isms” there really is only one fundamental issue to recognize. The issue is individualism vs. collectivism. Political philosophies are shaped around this issue more than you can imagine.
In our most recent days the philosophy of collectivism has swung hard at our society with the Left’s insistence on viewing (and solving) social issues through the prism of collective identities (hence, identity politics) this is includes race, sex/gender, religion, etc. By this philosophy certain images and perceptions are ascribed to the individual based on those collective identities. We all do this inadvertently and sometimes intentionally as individuals because of how we are. We are highly judgmental creatures. Our need to judge is just that: a need. We don’t like not having an answer. We don’t like living in the dark. Even if it is an unsubstantiated judgment, as long as it makes us feel like we have an answer, it is acceptable to us. So we stereotype, judge, and cast individuals into massive nets of collective identities so that we we can feel like we know them.
But what a question. Are you a collective or an individual?
John Stuart Mill’s belief is that we are strictly individuals and thus formed his political philosophies around that maxim:
The maxims are, first, that the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. (Mill, On Liberty)
For him there is no collective by which we are ultimately bound. This has been a fundamental value in America for a long time. In armies across the West and throughout history a soldier would be shot for cowardice. 346 British soldiers were shot for cowardice in World War I. 15,000 soldiers were shot for dereliction of duty in World War II, and over 8,000 Russian soldiers were shot by their own army for cowardice and desertion. In America’s armies no one was ever shot for cowardice or desertion although General George Patton did slap a whining soldier in a hospital once, but was at once reprimanded for this by American society. He apologized.
Individualism in America is special, there can be no doubt about it. Much of this has to do with the Bible being in the fabric of American society. The Bible places value on the individual like no other religious literature:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matt 10:29-31
Don’t you know that God knows everything? Whatever it is that oppresses your mind or soul that God know it better than you do? You know you have hair, but God knows exactly how many at any given moment. Talk about value.
However what a lot of classical liberals and even conservatives of today have done with this value is they’ve run away with it. They have become like goats, on their own, doing their own thing, wishing to be left alone. This is essentially the basis of John Stuart Mill’s works. Utilitarianism says that right and wrong should be pragmatic and results based. The Subjection of Women is an essay built on that premise that men and women are not dependent on each other but independent of each other, and if independent then they must be allowed to go their own way. Mill’s philosophy is pretty evident here and I refer to it as “goat philosophy” because, well, it fits. For him we are the opposite of sheep, we should not be compelled to stick together, and we should be accountable to no one. The Liberal Left of today wants to re-create society completely based on collectives and hold you accountable to it in every way possible. This is why free speech, once an indisputable pillar of American life, has become a hot topic of debate.
Church life is not independent life and that’s were the question comes back to us as Christians in a much more profound way: “Are you a collective or an individual?”
The New Testament answers thus, “Wrong question. You are, in fact, both.”
A true Christian is a member of the body of Christ. He is at once both an individual of high value and a collective. Because Jesus compares the saved with the lost as sheep to goats we can easily surmise that there is in fact only one true collective. All others are imagined.
This brings me to the main point I want to make. Male and female roles, when looked at from the standpoint of anti-collectivism goat behavior seems pointless. And for goats, it is. But for a true collective consider the implications. That is, it’s no longer about you. It’s for the good of the collective, the Church. Male and female roles are not utilitarian, nor are they unfair as Mill would suggest. They create a collective. And they are accountable to it. The Church, unlike the government, is involved in the personal lives of it’s constituents. This is the reason for all of the NT instructions on church authority, protection, accountability, and moral obedience. Men and women in the church are not just a bunch of individuals who have something in common. They create and constitute the very body of Christ:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:22-30)
Notice in the aforementioned passage the direct comparison Paul makes between the individual male-female roles and the fact that we are all members of Christ’s body, a collective. These stated roles are ultimately for the sake of the body. This is a point that cannot be overstated in our times.
Perusing over some data from stateofobesity.org I discovered that obesity costs Americans $150 billion annually. That adds up to $1.5 trillion dollars every ten years.
Meanwhile $65 billion is spent on soda and $105 billion on beer each year in America. It’s hard think just how much money Americans literally throw away each year because they don’t care about their health.
As healthcare bills and debates are all the rage year in and year out, I don’t see this issue, this crisis, brought up much. America spends more on healthcare than any other country by a long shot. And it’s because their health is horrible.
Taking responsibility for our own bodies is important. The Bible teaches that our bodies are temples of God. I find that the word temple is significant in that Paul didn’t say something like mere containers of God. When you think of the word temple you think of something extravagant, beautiful, and majestic. The text tells us that though our bodies are corrupt they are still temples of the Holy Spirit and that should be our mindset. Take care of it.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Cor. 6:19-20
I think there is a reason why many of these “Men’s Rights Movements” and groups never seem to get anywhere influentially and always seem to be sulky environments that remind me of dank caves no one really cares to venture into unless they are those who have decided that they prefer dark holes. And it’s not because what they write or speak about isn’t true. In fact, most of their complaints are quite valid. But I think that’s just it….they’re organized complaining movements.
It’s when you get men so deluded to the point that they actually feign to fight for themselves you have succeeded in the complete, wholesale defeat of manhood and proving to everybody that men are useless to society.
It’s like a sound wave that cancels itself out and, though present, becomes silent. It’s like white noise which is used to create an inverse of another sound to block the ears from picking it up. It’s self-defeating.
Manhood is sacrificial initiation, not recumbent nay-saying or whining. It is not pandering to self-interests and perceived individual rights. Real men give up their rights. The greatest heroes we know, and whose legacies seem to never die, are those who who gave up everything including their very right to breathe. Show me that movement; I’ll join.
This is what makes manhood a bit of an oxymoron. William Wallace could be said to be a man who refused to give up his right to freedom. Except when he gave his life, he most certainly gave up his right to freedom on earth. He gave it up, and they took it. And sliced him into four or five pieces and sent his body parts to the four corners of the kingdom, to boot.
His spirit was the spirit of community and clan. His fight for freedom was intrinsic to his own people’s freedom. He did not fight for himself but for them.
He effectively told his enemy, “you cannot have my soul.” But his soul was not a a lonely soul lost in some abysmal, nihilistic nirvana and wandering in circles. His soul was a Scottish soul. This is where his cry for freedom was rooted. Identity runs much deeper than rights.
Identity is deeper than rights. “You can have everything, but you cannot have me.” If you don’t know who you really are, you will struggle with this (like our entire post-modern generation, presently).
The same thing happened with Jesus who, when confronted by his own enemy Satan in the wilderness, refused to surrender his soul. Jesus effectively told him you can take my rights and my earthly freedoms—which he did—but you can never have my soul. Jesus was, and always would be, one thing—the son of God and the first-born of all creation. Satan got him bound and imprisoned, tortured and finally crucified in the hopes, no doubt, that maybe Jesus would falter and sell-out to selfish feelings. But falter Jesus did not. The blood rushed out, his head nodded, his lungs gave out, and he became the greatest hero the world has ever known.
He showed the world exactly how a men’s movement is to work.
With the Nashville Statement the Church is finally taking a stand.
In my decade of research into all this, what I have found is that the culture of nihilism (birthed some 80 years ago or so) has reached a stage of growth that it is now dominating the cultural narrative and increasingly the powers that be. The culture moved away from objective meaning into the paradigm of “make your own individual meaning”. This is unprecedented in the scope of human history as far as I can tell. The West is on the verge of legitimizing whether someone wants to even define/identify themselves as a human or not. There are actually some young people who believe they are cats and they meow to each other. This is nihilsm running its full course. All meaning is subjective and changeable and dependent on internal feeling or desire.
The Church is split fundamentally on this principle. Many progressive Christian types simply do not want to hear many passages of the Bible in their objective sense BECAUSE—and this is key—of their FEELINGS. In the culture of nihilism nothing is real except feelings and emotions. I am still trying to figure out how feelings became so elevated as to be the only thing that’s real for people. But one thing I know, Christianity and the Church can never be built upon emotionalism or feelings because that equates with sand and not the immovable, objective ROCK. I for one am relieved that our leaders have released the Nashville statement. It is a ROCK upon which a fumbling Church can STAND. And the Church is commanded to take a stand over and over in the New Testament. It’s easy for many to see this as compromising our witness but that is because it isn’t taking account of *feelings*, whether theirs or others. I’m not sure why so many Christians are under the notion that making people feel good will lead them to repentance. There is nothing about being under the wrath of God that should feel good. It is a devastating and absolutely miserable feeling. Those who become Christians simply because they saw how nice other Christians were being end up at a church like Joel Osteen’s with no knowledge of their wretchedness. When I read “God’s kindness leads us to repentance” what I recognize is that God was kind to us by being incredibly “unkind” to his own Son by laying on him what was due to us. God’s fierce wrath is the inevitable wage for all sin. The culture must be made aware of the wrath of God that they store up for themselves. Man, it is so incredibly cruel and unloving to mislead them in this!!
I also think the Nashville statement was necessary, perhaps moreso, for the Church itself which has been slipping into confusion and floating around on shifting sands for half a century. The common Christian is simply unaware of fundamental, objective truths which are given to us to keep us from busting apart at the seams. Our families, communities, relationships, and marriages are blowing up because that’s what our emotions, unchecked and unbridled by the Word of Truth, do to us. Our emotions and feelings are like nasty little buggers. Do they ever work for us and not seemingly always against us? (cf. Romans 7) Oh wretched man that I am, a body of death! I often think about how the assortment of shish kabob emotions that run through my soul are nothing like the fruit of the Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are qualities and feelings that, in my mind, correlate directly with something that is solid, immovable, and unchangeable. I don’t believe the Spirit is some kind of hippy trippy cloud of feeling and emotion. That’s not what joy, or peace, or patience, or humility is like… The Spirit is a guy who is collected, together, and rock-freaking solid.