Sunday, December 29, 2013

"Man-up" ??

It has been a while since I have written a blog post; mainly due to the amount of time I need to spend studying.  But now that I have a bit of time between semesters, I distilled a bit of Scriptural wisdom to share with you.

For the last several years, there are some who say that Christianity has been “feminized”; that women are in some way to blame for the Gospel not being preached to our congregations with boldness and strength, that today we need warriors for God; strong and courageous men as role models to build the kingdom of God.

So I decided to add my "two-cents-worth" to this conversation, a
nd since many men have written their advice to women over the years, I thought that it was high time a woman get the chance to tell you men how to “man-up” according to the Word of God.

Let's look at Deuteronomy chapter 20, and the rules of warfare given by God to the Nation of Israel.  These were the final words of Moses given to the congregation prior to crossing the Jordan. 

In this section is what would be called “the order of battle”; where the priests come out to speak words of encouragement to the army, prior to some battle in the future; in order to remind them that God goes with them to give them the victory. (vs. 3 and 4)

Yes, I really liked "Brave-Heart" too!
Then after the invocation by the priests is the speech by the general, or some heroic figure, to inspire the men before the battle; telling them to overcome their fears in the face of death; the speech that tells them to “Man-up,” that they must be BOLD and even if they should die in battle, they will be eternally remembered in glory!

Oh gee, it doesn’t say that at all!

But what it does say is this: “…Has anyone build a new house but not dedicated it? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another dedicate it. Has anyone planted a vineyard but not yet enjoyed its fruit? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another be the first to enjoy the fruit. Has anyone become engaged to a woman but not yet married her? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another marry her.” (vs. 5-7) Furthermore the official is to say (vs. 8) “…Is anyone afraid or disheartened? He should go back to his house, or he might cause the heart of his comrades to melt like his own….”

This sounds nothing like “man-up”.

This sounds more like God’s infinite grace in the face of a possible war; not wanted or looked for, but dreadfully necessary in that ancient age.  Internal to this passage is a disavowal of warfare as a way to gain glory for one’s self (contrary to all other surrounding cultures.) This sounds like God’s heart towards the things which make for a prosperous kingdom; the home, a peaceful farm (or some vocation), and focus on a new family, rather than bringing your life to an end to gain glory, treasure, or to make a name for yourself or for your kingdom. There is no Valhalla here, no life on Mount Olympus earned by a noble death, and no paradise with libertine rewards.

It sounds more like the quiet, peaceful life, (“sissified” ?), with no glory seeking, either for yourself, or even the Kingdom of God; by leaving all behind for the bold battle cry that duty calls over and above the love of family.

Loving families and a peaceful community is God’s heart for humanity, His ideal for us all and this is what brings Him Glory.

To believe that manliness is all about the the courageous warrior is a fiction of the 20th and 21st century, and standard fare in adventure movies, books, and a whole host of television advertising; but this is not a part of God’s economy.

To feed the poor, care for the widows and orphans is what “True religion” is, and for men and women together, spreading the Gospel: person to person, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor is what the Kingdom of God is, and THAT is what gives glory to God. This is what will win those workers the imperishable wreath and the sweet “Well done” when crossing that final finish line.

So men, the next time another Christian tells you to “man-up”, why not ask them “Where is that written in God’s Word?”

And honey, if it does say that, you need a better Bible!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Quote from "On the Trinity" by St.Augustine of Hippo

This was a spectacular fall semester: enjoying both Metaphysics and Single Philosopher: St. Augustine. I want to round out my St. Augustine quotes with this memorable passage from On the Trinity Book VIII, 3 § 4

"Certainly you love only the good, because the earth is good by the height of its mountains, the moderate elevation of its hills, and the evenness of its fields; and good is the farm that is pleasant and fertile; and good is the house that is arranged throughout in symmetrical proportions and is spacious and bright; and good are the animals, animate bodies; and good is the mild and salubrious air; and good is the food that is pleasant and conducive to health; and good is health without pains and weariness; and good is the countenance of man with regular features, a cheerful expression, and a glowing color; and good is the soul of a friend with the sweetness of concord and the fidelity of love; and good is the just man; and good are riches because they readily assist us; and good is the heaven with its own sun, moon and stars; and good are the angels by their holy obedience; and good is the lecture that graciously instructs and suitably admonishes the listener; and good is the poem with its measured rhythm and the seriousness of its thoughts.
            Why should I add still more? This good and that good; take away this and that, and see good itself if you can; so you will see God who is good not by another good, but is the good of every good."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Quote from "The City of God" Book XIV

 “And since this is so—since we must live a good life in order to attain to a blessed life, a good life has all these affections right, a bad life has them wrong. But in the blessed life eternal there will be love and joy, not only right, but also assured; but fear and grief there will be none. Whence it already appears in some sort what manner of persons the citizens of the city of God must be in this their pilgrimage, who live after the spirit, not after the flesh—that is to say, according to God, not according to man—and what manner of persons they shall be also in what immortality whither they are journeying. And the city or society of the wicked, who live not according to God, but according to man, and who accept the doctrines of men or devils in the worship of a false, and contempt of the true divinity, is shaken with those wicked emotions as by diseases and disturbances. And if there be some of its citizens who seem to restrain and, as it were temper those passions, they are so elated with ungodly pride, that their disease is as much greater as their pain is less. And if some, with a vanity monstrous in proportion to its rarity, have become enamored of themselves because they can be stimulated and excited by no emotion, moved or bent by no affection, such persons rather lose all humanity than obtain true tranquility. For a thing is not necessarily right because it is inflexible, nor healthy because it is insensible.”

City of God, Book XIV,  9 (emphasis added)