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)