Thursday, December 13, 2007

What the Church can learn from Video Games

...specifically World of Warcraft.

I started playing WoW a couple years ago when I started dating my last boyfriend. I enjoyed it. I was in a long distance relationship, and we used it as a means to interact with eachother. It was more than chatting on AIM or sending "love" letters back and forth through e-mail; it was a way that the two of us could actually play side by side. If he wasn't playing, then rarely was I. My draw to it was my relationship with the person on the other side...

About a year ago I started attending a new church. It was great - at first. I was getting what I needed. I was attending a Bible Study that encouraged us to be reading our bibles every day and to bring questions and/or insights to the bible studies and we would discuss them as a group. It was amazing. Praise and Worship was awesome, the studies were interactive, people were getting to know eachother. And stopped. The pastor leading the study started doing all the talking - still encouraging us to read our bibles every day, but we no longer had the interaction element. As I continued to grow and learn, I recognized a desire to get involved in the ministry of the church, and I told the pastor so. I was approached by the music leader (who happened to like my voice) and asked if I would be interested. I said "YES!!!" It was never followed up on. Six months later, and I'm still there, still a passive member of the church, waiting for these men to follow up on my desire to do more than just listen to them talk. I would show up to places that there was a need, and wait on the sidelines for someone to explain what my role was and what was needed of me, and nothing happened. And lately, my devotion to my bible study has decreased (though I'm working on this ardently), my motivation to attend church has dropped. And where did I go?

World of Warcraft. It was just a little bit at first. Then people in my guild started whispering me that they had missed me in the last couple months. Asked where I had been, and how I was doing. Then the guild in general was demonstrating a need for more raiders. And I wanted to raid with I worked hard to be able to. And then there was a need for Protection Warriors (the characters that take all the damage so no one else does) - I was one. They taught me the fights, they helped me get the gear I needed. Then a bunch of other people wanted to raid too...and now I'm leading a group of them into fights, getting them equipment, and teaching them how to be better players so we waste as little time as possible. I'm tired of it. But I keep going back...why? Here's why:

I am a needed component of a group of people. I am vital to the success of their mission - without me, it can't happen. My company is desired among those my age, as we interact, join new chat channels, and make plans to visit each other (one girl is coming to visit me in January). I am being mentored by the older people in our guild, being taught how to play my part better by some, taught how to better execute the missions by others, and even taught how to be a better leader by even more. AND they are giving me the oppurtunity to lead. Why are they doing this? Why are they investing so much of THEIR time in me? Easy - they saw my desire to interact by my showing up consistently; they saw my desire to be more involved by my being an active learner and participant in discussions; they saw my desire to build relationships by my attempts (though often weak) to socialize.

What did THEY do that my church didn't? Why am I suddenly more dedicated to them than I am to my church? And why can't I find a church that has these skills at building community? A church with these skills of DISCIPLESHIP.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bold Submission

The story of Ruth in the Bible was always a curious story. I wasn't certain what lessons could be learned there. One of the commenters on my Life Giver post mentioned that she finds it difficult to be noticed now that she's toned down her boldness - attempting to be less intimidating.

Is that the right answer? I don't know. But I think, finally, Ruth may have something to say.

Ruth was a woman from a different country going with her mother-in-law to a new land. The book portrays her as a quiet woman, she never seems to have a whole lot to say. She is no Rebekah or Abigail. She lacks the defiance of Michal and Tamar. She almost comes off as...dare I say it? A wallflower. Nothing is said of her beauty (that I know of) and she is described as a widow. Which she is. She doesn't sound like your typical heroine.

She notices a man who is kind to her. I wonder if Boaz took much note of her other than her being Naomi's shadow. She tells Naomi about him and Naomi claims he would be the best husband for Ruth! He is a kinsman and possibly the closest living relative to Naomi's sons. But first, Boaz must NOTICE Ruth.

Quiet, submissive Ruth. She fades into the backdrop of grain fields and sunny afternoons, lost in the hubbub of a threshing floor. No one seems to notice that she shouldn't be there...yet there she is. And lays at Boaz's feet. Such a bold move. And yet in a completely submissive way. What man wouldn't notice a woman boldly offering herself to him? Not boldly claiming him for herself, but boldly offering herself.

At the completely opposite end of the spectrum is Abigail. She is no wallflower. She is described as beautiful, daring. She is highly respected by the household servants, where her husband is not. She isn't described as disrespectful, but she does come off as very bold. When her husband insults David and he raises his army to come against Nabal, Abigail goes out to protect her household. And the first thing she does when she finds herself faced against David's wrath was to fall on her face in the dirt and cry out "My Lord!"

Abigail was not ashamed of her boldness. She never tempered it in any fashion, and yet she submitted her boldness to her King - never sacrificing it.

And what kind of men did these women end up with? Ruth ended up with a gentle, loving husband. Abigail gained the love and respect of the greatest King of Israel.

I think that if we as women make ourselves less than what we are, we will end up with men that don't have the capacity to let us be more than what we are. Be bold. Be brave. Be intelligent. But be willing to submit that boldness, bravery, and intelligence to a man who is capable of handling it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I will not weep

I weep.
Alone and cold, I fear.
A walk alone, a long dark shadow
And suddenly life's unclear.
Curled up in my distress,
Held tight by darkened irons,
I feel a stirring.
Oh God, why me?

I weep.
Pain and beauty, tightly woven.
Created with infinite care, placed with you, my love
And now he is undone.
A hope I placed in your heart
Left unheard, you failed to see
you felt a stirring
Oh child, because I love you.

I weep.
Lost and confused, I fear.
A love so hot, hands I trusted
And now I have nowhere to go.
Hidden from my world,
Masked by self-woven veils
I feel a stirring.
Oh God, why me?

I weep.
Death and life, closely knit.
You fell to lustful lies, I blessed with ultimate grace.
And now she feels no more.
A life to give you life.
Misunderstood, you rejected.
You felt a stirring
Oh child, because I forgave you.

I will not weep.
Created in love with tender mercy,
Destroyed in fear and confusion.
Ripped from your warmth, my life sustaining,
You chose to die and watch me die.
I will not stir.
Oh mother, why me?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Life Giver

The book of Genesis opens up with the story of creation. There are two accounts, one is more straightforward than the other, though I would argue that they do not contradict eachother.

In Genesis 2, when woman is created, she is referred to as a helper, help meet, or something along those lines. Not very complimentary sounding. Some of you might already know, but the hebrew phrase used was Eder Kenegdo. It is only used several other times in the entire Bible, all referring to God. And a more accurate translation (claim the ones who helped translate the word into help meet) is "Life Giver".

The obvious meaning of this is that woman have babies - they give life. But what if there's a more subtle, not so obvious one? One that to understand, you must be willing to accept and understand some truths about the male mind. I have been very blessed lately to have a man willing to discuss these things with me and he's provided some interesting points. I am not going to say they are generic and apply to all men, but throughout history, mankind has done some things and written some things that have been very consistent through out.

So, I'm going to start with looking at guys. I want to start with the King who started the Trojan War. Helen of Troy was considered the "face that launched a thousand ships" (so says Christopher Marlowe). I know there's much debate about whether Helen was really the cause for the war, but I don't care. Its a generally held theory. But could it be that men find life in Rescuing?

The next one, courtesy of my guy friend, was that boys will always act differently when girls are around. Mostly, trying to impress them. He mentioned that a math teacher who understands this will call up a girl to the board first to do a math problem - and hopefully the girl will do the problem right. After that, every boy the teacher calls to the board will do their best to outdo the girl. Not because they think they are supposed to be smarter than the girl, but simply because they want to impress the girl. Could it be that men find life in being Respected and impressing?

Now what about this one - what if men have an incredibly difficult time with rejection? Failure? Not being respected and failing to rescue? What if those fears prevent a man from taking a leading role in...anything? But for a man to truly find life, he must conquer that fear and lead? My father says it. My guy friend says it. My pastor says it. These men want to be leaders, but are afraid of doing so. And fear inhibits true life. So, could it be that women are supposed to be submissive in leadership roles so as to give the man the oppurtunity to do so? And when the man does, wouldn't she have fulfilled one of her purposes in life?

Could it be that being a Life Giver is more than just creating and bearing children? Could it be that being a Life Giver requires being the support rather than the leader? Isn't it possible for a woman to find fulfillment in supporting a strong man? And knowing that he is strong because she gave him the chance to be strong?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Face Value

Over the last couple of years, I've become incredibly passionate about spending time with real, solid, physical people.

Living in a new town with only a couple friends has made my time with those friends very valuable - I enjoy seeing their faces and hearing their voices. Being able to reach out for a hug or touch my cold finger tips to the back of their necks. Laugh at their milk mustaches or the mustard they dropped on their clean, white t-shirts.

I like online community, too. It is a world where how you look doesn't matter - just your personality. People get to know you without the initial reaction to physical appearance. And because people are more cautious online, they tend to reach out in friendship first more often then an immediate dating relationship.

The problem, though, is that online community seems to be dominating the world. I don't want a virtual relationship with my best friend - I want to talk and laugh with him or her and go see a movie. Drive the town looking for a good hangout. Tavel the world and find new things to enjoy.

I remember reading about community socials in local communities - oppurtunities for the people in the area to meet and get to know eachother. Play games and ice breakers. Anything to get to know the people around you.

However, real life has this tendency to put value on physical appearance more than what really matters. I think I would like to value what both have to offer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Value of Virginity

I was reading a blog post on and a couple of the commentors were saying how they are growing discouraged about finding a man who is a virgin and that they desire to marry a virgin. Another commentor pointed out that the men are also feeling discouraged in this. In response to them, I mentioned that their focus shouldn't be so much on whether the other person is a virgin, but whether they are. I was responded to by a young woman telling me that God (through the Bible, I suppose) values virginity and as Christians, we should value it as well - and desire it in our spouses.

This got me to thinking - what IS, exactly, the value of virginity as purported in the Bible? What does scripture lead us to believe about the value of virginity? Has our society raised up virginity to more than it should be, to the point of requiring it in our future spouses? Is this biblical?

I did a look-see and determined that the only place where "marrying virgins" is specifically required is in the Old Testament when commanding the Priests on who they can marry.

The rest of the Bible's expounding on anything related to the subject is on Adultery and is specifically directed towards the reader. Not the reader's spouse or the reader's children.

I think that it is very important to remember that scripture doesn't place the value on Virginity but on the Heart ( Protect the heart above all things, for it is the wellspring of life. ). To put value on virginity is glorifying a physical attribute that will be gone upon your marriage to someone and will be irretrievable (assuming you wait til marriage, as you should). If it were so valuable, it wouldn't last for such a small amount of time. The value, instead, should be what God values the most. It is obvious that God desires our hearts above anything else - not our virginity, not our blood, not our breath, our hair, our money. He wants our hearts - love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. The beauty and the issue of sex is that it binds two people into one - it is as much an emotional act as it is a physical one. Pre-marital sex is warned against so vehemently (and more than any other commandment) because it connects your heart to someone else's who isn't committed to you. We aren't warned against adultery because you should save your virginity for your husband - you are warned against adultery because you should save your heart, not only for your husband, but ultimately for God. Virginity is a SYMBOL of this and nothing more or less. Yes, it is important, but not out of this context.

I wonder if we have over-glorified virginity to the point of expecting it in others. I wonder if this is a wrong attitude. The person who you are going to marry is already aware of what the Bible says on adultery, and if he is not a virgin and is honest with you about it, Virginity should not be a pre-requisite to marriage.

The Bible warns against it for our own safety, good, and to preserve the relationship we have with the Father. Through our purity (not only in sex, but in other things as well), we are to glorify God. To lose sight of this goal in our own lives means to miss something very important in life. We should not be aiming to expect everyone out there to be perfect, but instead lovingly encourage them to pursue God with all their heart, mind, and soul - and sexual purity should be a by-product of that and nothing more.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Woman, Be Silent

Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. But women will be saved through childbearing assuming they continue to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.
- 1 Timothy 2:11-15

I think that this has got to be one of the most difficult passages in the Bible for any woman to digest. I finally have some insight on it, though! Before I go on, yes the author of the "insight" is a man. But I'd like to quote something he said before I begin.

This passage is not about male or female superiority. Any honest male knows thatthe grading curve was always messed up by the girls in his class. What man has not been out-thought, out-talked, and out-done by his female counterparts? Your experiences need be no larger than your family to know women who are superior to their fathers, brothers, and husbands.
-R. Kent Hughes

So, to begin, I know many people who like to say that Paul is just flat out wrong here. There is no way that Paul is preaching the word of God right here, no way that what he is saying is not oppressive of women, no way he is not being sexist. And we know God can't possibly be sexist, so Paul is in human error in this passage.

As Mr. Hughes pointed out in the article I read, Paul doesn't claim this on his authority. He uses the authority of God's creation to back up his argument. God created Adam first, then Eve. Adam is the head, not Eve. Then, the touchiest subject of all, it was woman who was deceived and then in turn deceived man.

Ok, so what am I getting at here? Paul thinks we should stay quiet because we are responsible for original sin? No. Paul doesn't want us to teach men or to have authority over them because it is not in the natural order that God revealed through creation. The sin of Adam and Eve was the original debunking of the natural order and the result was death. So, it would seem to me that Paul wants us to avoid death by observing the proper order of creation.

I got started on all this because this morning in my Bible study I came across a woman named Phoebe who was a deacon in a church (Romans 15 or 16, vs 1-2). I was confused, because Paul spoke very highly of her and told the church to help her in her duties. And yet, Paul is the one who said this as well. Why is he being contradictory? After further study, I discovered (largely in part due to Mr. Hughes, though other research played a role) that the "to teach men" was the same word usually used for disciples and meant preaching. Paul did not want women to be in a position where they could create doctrine or enforce doctrine. That role, as I'm sure many would agree, is one of incredible authority and leadership. Those roles are assigned, as Paul points out, in creation.

Now this whole theory on the original sin being the first debunking of the natural order of creation. God created Adam. God created Eve from Adam. God gave Adam and Eve authority over all the creatures. So, the order is God, Man, Woman, Creature. Sin entered the world like this: Creature teaches Woman that she can be like God if she eats the fruit. Woman listens to Creature, eats the fruit, and then instructs Man to eat. Man obeys Woman. Order introduced in original sin - Creature, Woman, Man...where's God?

So, Paul goes on to say, women can be saved through childbearing. Wait...what? I have to have a baby to have eternal life? Some interpret that to mean that they will be saved through the birth of Christ. Mr. Hughes points out that this is a little too abstract for Paul, and mentions that childbearing is the one indisputable thing that distinguishes women from men. Hughes claims that this verse says that women will be saved by recognizing their place in the order of creation. And he's right. Our place in creation is under God and under the authority of the Son of Man. It is only in recognizing that that we can be saved. Its kind of like honoring your father and mother. If you can't honor and respect the physical authority placed above you, how are you going to honor and respect an invisible God? If women can't submit and listen quietly to the doctrine and theology set before them, what makes us think they can submit and listen quietly to God's authority?

To conclude this controversial blog, I'd like to say that women are not without authority in the church. They are simply without authority in doctrine and theology. They are allowed to teach, but must submit to the heads of the church for doctrine. And the heads of the church must submit to the authority of God's Word for their doctrine.

I still don't think women should be preaching.

(The article is here: Living Out God's Order)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Did you say "SEX"?

First, before you continue to read this spiel, I would like to refer you to an article, A Peculiar People: Sex and the Young Christian.

Now, some quotes:
Two decades of coupling, uncoupling, hooking up, relationships and shopping around. [The teenage and young adult years aren't] a transition anymore. [They're] a sprawling life stage, and nobody knows the rules.
~ David Brooks, New York Times
Contemporary Christian teaching on this subject blurs the line between celibacy and singleness and leaves singles mistakenly believing that the two are the same. God is often painted as capriciously willing singleness for some and not others. Consequently and sadly, many Christian singles resign themselves to this less-than-ideal state. A more thoughtful and critical examination reveals that today's singleness is not some sort of divinely ordained, interminable state for a quarter of the population, but the result of a string of systematic impediments to marriage
~Debbie Maken, Rethinking the Gift of Singleness
Some of these impediments are a dating structure not geared towards marriage, but low-commitment relationships, a lack of male leadership, and (my favorite) a "redefinition or a defining downward of healthy biblical adulthood."

But oh, there's so much more. Apparently, there's a trend towards fewer marriages, fewer young adults in the church, and an increase in the preaching on the "Gift of Singleness". And young men seem to be gobbling it up. And young women, to some extent, are too. But the first article brings up a very valid point. In our "Gift of Singleness", how many of us are really pursuing what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 7? According to the article, we are not remaining chaste, we are not remaining sexually pure, and instead, we are falling into the same trap as our secular counterparts.

I'm very surprised that the article did not quote or even mention 1 Corinthians 7, so I'm going to quote some of it here:
1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.[a] 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:1 - 7
And two verses later, Paul adds this often forgotten verse:
But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
~1 Corinthians 7:9
Oh...wait, what was that? Paul doesn't say to stay unmarried if you find yourself "burning with passion". He tells us that we SHOULD get married. How many churches are actually teaching this little bit with their "Gift of Singleness" doctrine? Paul makes it quite clear that not all men are able to proceed with life-long singleness. He says it is better, yes. So that you can pursue God with all your heart, mind, and soul without being concerned about a wife. But if you can not control yourself, or if you have a desire to get married some day, than pursue it.

I know beyond all doubt that young men can not wait until they are 30 or 40 before having sex. I'm a 23 year-old woman and, in spite of all the claims that women aren't as sexual as men, I'm VERY sexually frustrated and in need and want of sex. I'm "burning with passion", but not just any passion; it is a desire to give myself completely to a husband and to satisfy his needs as well.

What is so ironic about this "burning with passion" bit, is that if you do suffer from a physical need and want for sex (or a relationship), you are going to be even more distracted from God and his calling for you then if you were married and finding that satisfaction. But the distraction won't be one that God created to be good and holy, it will be a distraction characterized by a constant battle against temptation and sin.

So, I must therefore follow Paul's command and "get married". But where are the men? They are embracing this so-called gift and, as one young man put it, indulging in a self-centered, irresponsible life-style. But I am going to add that it is an excuse to be cowardly and fearful and not take a position of leadership. Of course, the men aren't the only ones, as some young men that desire marriage have certainly discovered. There are women who embrace this life-style as well.

Now, I'm not saying that the gift of Celibacy is not a legitimate gift. I honestly think it is. However, it is not one to be taken lightly, it is one to be prayed about. Celibacy is not an excuse to live a self-centered life. It is not an excuse to remain unmarried and sexually promiscuous. It is not SINGLENESS. Singleness is the state in which you are free to pursue a committed relationship with another individual while pursuing a relationship with God. Celibacy is the state in which you pursue God and God only, leaving behind sex and a hope for a permanent, earthly relationship. I also believe that celibacy is not as common a gift as it has suddenly appeared to be.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New Chapter

Classes start today.

I have a convocation at 11:00, followed by lunch and fellowship with my new classmates. I'm going to pay a $200 deposit to attend classes there. Then I need to figure out which class I'm going to take.

Worship or History of Philosophy and Christian Thought? Oh which one to take!!! I have no idea. I'm leaning toward the Philosophy one simply because it's at 6:00 on Tuesday nights - opposed to 1:00 on Mondays.

I'm only a little nervous.

Just a little...