Thursday, October 25, 2012

I Promote Godly Patriarchy

Godly Patriarchy

Without presenting supporting scriptural references at this time, I will attempt to describe as fully as possible, my understanding of “Godly Patriarchy” as being unique among any other status called “Patriarchy”.

I promote Godly Patriarchy that is based entirely upon the example found in the Bible.  The specific example is that of God with His people: both Jewish and Gentile believers.  I intentionally am not appealing to the Biblical passages that occur in Israel from the time the Law was given to Moses until the coming of Christ.  My reason for doing so is that those passages are in relationship to what I consider the civil law of the nation of Israel.  As a gentile believer in Christ and a citizen of the state of Arizona, USA, the civil laws of Israel have no jurisdiction here.  There are other forms of patriarchy revealed in the Bible, practiced by both Jewish and other people groups, pagans, heathen and barbarians as well as civilizations that were the peak cultures of the world at their time.  These other forms of patriarchy will not be discussed here, because I am not making comparisons or trying to salvage bits and pieces of their best.

I promote Godly Patriarchy that is based upon the foundation of God’s love and grace as demonstrated to His people.  The relationship of Christ with each of His churches reveals the relationship that God desires for a husband to have with each wife he may be married to.  This patriarchy reveals a man loving his wife and taking responsibility for her and their family in the same way that Jesus does for His churches.  Jesus did this voluntarily, of His free will, without coercion, not based upon any need that He had for the churches, not because any church was attractive to Him or had any benefit to offer Him.  The sole reason that Jesus takes responsibility of leadership and care for any church is His undeniable love for each church. 

The patriarchy that follows the example of Christ will never force or attempt to force any woman to be a wife to a man, no matter how godly or ungodly he may be.  No husband that identifies himself as a Christian has any right to demand a woman behave in submission or obedience to him and his leadership, or remain under the protective umbrella of his love and authority against her will.  She should always be free to remove herself from the blessing and benefit of her marriage relationship, as far as the man is considered.  Dealing with God may be another matter altogether.  No godly husband should ever consider controlling his wife by means of intimidation, fear or coercion. 

To understand his lack of control and her liberty, we need only look at the way Christ deals with His own.  As a believer, a child of the Father and in a type of marital relationship with Christ (part of the Bride to His Bridegroom) we are not held to our Lord Jesus by anything other than His love for us and our love for Him in return. 

A husband has not been given the authority or power to cause a woman to be his wife, much less his property against her will.  While she may become his wife by the means of promises, ceremonies and sexual intercourse, the husband has no means whereby he may force her to become or remain his wife.  He may endeavor to do so, but all he will accomplish by strength or force, is to cause her to comply externally, never reaching her heart.  Her heart (where the Holy Spirit is enthroned) is where the treasure of a wife is found and unless her heart is affected, she may well stray or escape such a relationship.  Even if she were to remain with him, she will be distant, cold or phony.  Her husband should endeavor to reach her heart with his love for God and her.

I promote Godly Patriarchy that gives a woman the opportunity to be the kind of wife that is demonstrated by the relationship of a church to Christ.  The key to understanding the role of a woman as a wife in Godly Patriarchy is recognizing the role of a Christian (as part of a church) toward the Lord.  If we can understand the Apostle John’s text where he said “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.  We love him, because he first loved us.” we are better able to comprehend what a woman’s focus is to be as she endeavors to excel as a wife.  A church responds to the love of Christ by loving Him in return.  A church will love Him, not because we feel loved or because He gives us things and grants our wishes, but because of whom Christ is.  The love of God working in her and from her will produce a uniquely Christian wife.

The role of a woman is not to become a wife based upon what her husband does for her, but because of whom he is.  Too often in our culture (in the USA) it is assumed that a wife may remain in or leave a marriage based upon her feelings or what she gets out of the relationship.  Such is not reflecting the church/Christ relationship.  Our cultural example puts the woman/wife in the driver’s seat of the marriage.  Is a church in control of its relationship with Christ?  No and for good reason.  Any human relationship between people of different abilities, strengths and visions, must, of necessity have a division of authority.  Partnerships are only for those that are equal in right and authority.  No church is on an equal stance with Christ.  He is God and we are not, not even close. 

In addition, Christ has taken upon Himself the leadership and protection detail of His churches, voluntarily, as being subordinate to the Father (yet equal in nature), yet superior to the churches.  He exercises authority over the churches, leads, protects them and provides for them as He sees their needs until He presents them all together as one chaste Bride at the end of time.  Jesus is the original guy bringing His girl home to meet Dad. 

This being so, what do we call Him?  The answer is, “Lord”.  We show Christ honor, respect, reverence and praise.  We relate to Him as one who respects His authority and position, appreciating who He is and rest secure in His protection, obeying Him as He directs us.  We do His will, not He doing ours.  We identify Him, relate to Him and submit to Him, as being our Lord.  We do not chide Him for having plans that are different from ours.  We do not criticize Him for acting independently from us or for not seeking our counsel.  We do not question His motives or actions when we do not understand His ways.  After all, the Father put Him in the leadership position over us.  To rebel against Christ‘s leadership over us is to rebel against the Lordship of our Heavenly Father. 

These same principles are overlaid on the husband/wife relationship.  Ephesians 5 teaches us that this overlay is God’s plan.  When a woman becomes a wife, there are certain characteristics, behaviors and responsibilities that go with the position.  These were designed by God and are not the idea of any man.  A woman/wife is not answerable to her husband for meeting the criteria of a wife.  She is answerable to the Lord.  She will fill her role as a wife to and with her husband, but not under obligation to him, but rather under obligation to our Lord Jesus Christ. 

The Bible makes reference to the husband being the head of the woman and or family many times.  These references are not indicating any superiority or inferiority of personhood, but are rather declaring that God has designed marriage and families with structure and order.  That design reflects the relationship of the Godhead with His creation and their redemption.  A godly woman that becomes a wife does not become inferior in character or value to her husband.  Both men and women were created in the image and likeness of God; we share equally in His love and care.  What she does have is a position in the family that is under the authority and protection of her husband, this does not demean her.  It is a voluntary position, a role she assumes in her service to God and one that God elevates to a place of excellency and honor as shown in Proverbs 31.  She answers to God for her effectiveness and accuracy in her position.  When God created Eve to be the helper to Adam, she became a valuable player in God’s great plan of the ages.

It is not the divinely designed role of the wife to exercise leadership, oversight, criticism or authority over her husband.  All those responsibilities fall upon the shoulders of his head, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Her role was spoken of by our Father in Genesis 2; He said, “I will make a helper fit for him”.  The role of a wife is to be: 1. Be a woman of God in all areas of her life, 2. Be a helper of her husband, a complimentary assistant to him, 3. To find satisfaction and joy in being who she is and in being a part of a great plan and program that may for some include being a mother and investing herself in the future through her children.  For all wives it will include being a bulwark of strength and resource to her husband as he follows the call of God on his life.

I promote Godly Patriarchy that displays the purpose and place of a man in the world as an example of the character and mission of Christ.  The first woman, Eve, was created to be a helper for Adam in fulfilling the great task that God had given him.  God declared the need for Adam to have a helper as Adam recognized his singleness. 

It is a rare man today that recognizes that need.  Perhaps he is rare because so few men recognize God’s claim on their life as Lord and Savior.  We seem quick to recognize our need of Christ as Savior, but are quite reluctant to acknowledge Christ as Lord.  As men we seem hard pressed to submit our selves to Christ as our Head, at least we have a hard time understanding the depth of that commitment.  We struggle with the identity of being under the headship of Christ and yielding to Him, while at the same time identifying our selves as the head of our wives and children.  At the same time we expect our wives to make that level of commitment to us. 

It is my opinion that most of the problems that exist between husbands and wives would be solved if both parties recognized the authority of Christ in their lives.  God gives every man a mission for Christ and usually blesses him with at least one wife to be his helper in that task.  The mission given to men is not always, or even usually, that of being a pastor, teacher or preacher of some kind outside of his family.  But God does give those positions to every husband within his family, he is the priest of his family, God’s representative and agent in bringing his family to the knowledge of God, guiding them in His word and will.  He is also given a place of responsibility as a light bearer in the work place, to shine for Christ in behavior and spoken word, making an impact of some kind on our secular world.  These are formidable tasks, added to the responsibility of making a living and growing in his relationship to Christ personally.  His greatest support and encouragement, besides the Holy Spirit should be his God given helper, his wife, who is often the agent the Holy Spirit uses to succor and support him.  It is impossible for a wife to be a helper to a man that doesn't know that he has a series of tasks and responsibilities and is not doing them.  Men, we need to be busy about the Lord’s work before we get concerned about our helpers effectiveness.  Leave that to her Lord and your head, Jesus Christ.

I promote Godly Patriarchy that demonstrates the love of God for His own redeemed ones and the love of those redeemed ones for Him.  This love is most surely demonstrated by God sending His Son Jesus to take our place in judgment against our sin on the cross.  Our only appropriate and acceptable response to His love is to love Him in return as noted in the above quote from I John.

Godly Patriarchy – Godly Marriage is the arena where we as mere human men and women are given the opportunity to teach each other about the love of God.  We are also to demonstrate in this arena, the love of God with His order and relationship to us and each other; the message of grace and salvation to our children, grandchildren, relatives and the lost world around us.  This will never be accomplished if husbands and wives are struggling for control, of each other and of leadership of the family.  We can overcome the natural tendency to struggle for control by personally yielding our own lives to Christ and following His divinely ordained structure for marriage, finding the place He has for each of us.  Human will and wisdom alone will not suffice to construct the divine design for marriage, our Lord, with His word is required to bring about that development.  If each will not submit to Christ the divine order is impossible.  The next best scenario is pressurized chaos, with the strongest will temporarily in control.  Control will always be a contest of wills and endurance.  In the divine order, peace reigns, the peace of God, because ultimately, He is in control, not us.

In summation, Godly Patriarchy Is:
·       God being in control of our marriage.
·       Men being in submission to Christ.
·       Women being in submission to Christ.
·       Men in leadership.
·       Not about mere human control.
·       Filling our role from God.
·       About peace in the family.
·       Not designed for chaos.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Feminism Isn't ALL Bad

One of the biggest complaints that I hear against patriarchy is that it demeans women.  According to the complainants, women are browbeaten into a mousy type of submission.  This is not an apt description of the women in monogamous and polygynous marriages as revealed in the Bible.  They are women of strength and character.  The Bible is our first resource for information on every aspect of the Christian life. 

Before we look at the Bible, let’s identify what we are talking about as “Feminism”.  If we mean the movement to secure for women the right and opportunity to develop their personhood, to experience the rights of citizenship in our country, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I am for it.  If we mean that women should expect the same opportunity under law as their male counterpart, to expect equal wages for equal work, I am for it.  If we mean that women shall be able to expect the opportunity to express themselves on an equal level with men, I am for it.  This is a feminism that any man with his wits about him would gladly endorse and even battle for.

But, if we mean a feminism that provides for women privileges and opportunities that are not also extended to all adult citizens, then I am opposed to this brand of feminism.  If we mean that men are to be debased for the purpose of giving women an unfair competitive edge in business, law enforcement or the military, then I oppose it.  If we mean a feminism that has as its goal, to subjugate men and women that disagree with their philosophy to the ash heap of humanity, accusing them of impure motives and injustice, I am definitely against such.  If we mean a brand of feminism that has the avowed objective of erasing the God ordained gender distinctions between men and women, then I am vociferously opposed to such a travesty.

The latter, I will call militant feminism.  The former, I will call civil feminism.  Civil feminism has a legitimate foundation of equity and justice, based upon some Biblical principles as well as sound logic and compassion.  Militant feminism has no foundation in equity or justice, but rather desires supremacy of women over men.  Militant feminism is in direct rebellion to the Word and will of God.  I believe it has its roots in Satan’s deception of Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Looking into the Bible
Many impressions that permeate our culture are assumed to be Biblical, yet when they are sought for, they are nowhere to be found.  One of these is the relationship between husbands and wives, the image of the domineering, abusive husband and the cowering, mousy wife.  While the Bible does contain the teaching of God regarding the roles of men and women in marriage, it bears little resemblance to the many concepts floating around our western culture.  I would like to explore the Biblical teaching with you.  I am excited about the surprises you may find.  I would like to watch your face as we explore this and see the truth dawn in your eyes.
There is a term, based upon Greek vocabulary, which is used to describe the type of family structure God has designed.  Before we say that word, let me caution you to understand that I, in no way expect our culture, society or even most churches to accept this truth.  Reason?  Our world has had an un-Biblical view become so ingrained in our thinking that the truth is too preposterous to accept.  Change, for truth’s sake is not for the faint of heart.  It requires a brave heart that loves God and truth, to behold truth that is genuine, but uncommon.  Somewhere in God’s dealing with me, He has planted within my heart a love for His truth that will not let me be comfortable with anything less.  If He has given you the same gift, you are blessed indeed, though it may have you standing alone occasionally.

The Word Is Patriarchy
Patriarchal family structure is based upon God’s relationship to His creation and particularly to His family of faith.  It is evidenced with His dealing with people before the flood and through Noah, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as well as with the nation of Israel, the descendants of Jacob and his 12 sons.  It is displayed in the New Testament scriptures by the Father’s relationship with His son Jesus and their relationship to believers.  Jewish and Christian culture is solidly based on God’s patriarchal pattern.   In both cultures, before they were contaminated with secular and ungodly ideas, husbands and fathers were the uncontested leaders of the families, synagogues and churches.  This is what patriarchy means in its simplest terms, “father rule”.  It does not mean oppression, meanness, bitterness, selfishness or brutality.  It does not mean in any way that women do not count or are less than valuable members of the family of God or their human families.
Before we look at civil feminism, let’s look at what the Bible really says about the role of men in a godly culture.  Keep in mind that we do not have this kind of culture today except in microcosms of church and family situations where the members are sincerely seeking to know and do the will of the Living God.  In God’s design, the husband is responsible for his family’s physical, emotional and spiritual welfare.  This does not mean that he can make everyone healthy, happy and holy.  But it does mean that he is responsible for giving them information, direction and motivation to help them on to the goal of maturity and health in all these areas.
The husband is answerable to God for providing the means and leadership to his family to enable them to become all God intends for them to be.
Family members are answerable to God for being the man or woman that He has called them to be.
Both parents have responsibility for the education of the children, spiritual, social and scientific, yet it is the father that will answer to God if it is lacking.  Patriarchy does not give men the right to enslave the minds, bodies or souls of their families.  Men do have the authority of God to lead their family aright, under the auspices of the Word and Spirit of God.  Neither the family of God nor the human family, as designed by our Heavenly Father, is a democracy.  Rather, both are a theocracy, with order and structure, according to God’s design.
Here is where the rub between patriarchy and feminism begins to chafe.  Secular culture has contaminated Judeo-Christian teaching with an un-Biblical philosophy of family.  Secular culture has conceived the idea that each family member is autonomous and only dependent on each other so far as such dependency serves to fulfill the individual’s goals and desires.  It has created a nation of self-centered loners that live their lives in confusion and frustration.  Even Christian institutions and churches have bought into this self-defeating philosophy.  When God designed the first family, Mr. & Mrs. Adam, He made them the prototype for the entire human race.  Changing His design results in flawed reproductions of God’s desired product.  As mentioned above, one of the changes that result in skewed families and dissatisfied people is the relationship between husbands and wives.  A proper understanding of the benefits of civil feminism will enhance our understanding of God’s design.

Harmony Rather than Strife by Understanding
God has created every man and woman with certain potential that may be reached with effort and direction.  God Himself has provided most that is needed to reach our potential.  He has given us intellect, the opportunity to become a child of God through faith in Christ, His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, to empower us and teach us His Word.  God has given us the resources of this world that are available to us that we may use them to make something useful of our lives.  One day we who are sons and daughters of God in Christ will give an account to Him of what we have done with the tools, resources and opportunities afforded us.  As Christian men, we are familiar with this concept and would do well to use them to the greatest advantage possible, that we may please our Lord.  But, do we afford Christian women the same opportunity?  Usually not, because we misunderstand the roles established by God in the godly family unit.  We understand that men are to be the patriarchs in our homes and that wives are to be in submission to the husband’s leadership as they would to Christ Himself.  Where the misunderstanding comes in is regarding the submission to the husband.  We assume that she is to do so because he is the patriarchal leader, but this is in error.  She should be in submission to her husband because she is serving the Lord and that such a relationship is God’s will for her life.  Wives submit to the husband, not because he says so, but because Christ says so.  Husbands are frequently unworthy of such a submissive trust, but Christ is always worthy of the same.  This understanding frees men and women to develop their God given potential without trampling on each other.  Every man that will love his wife as Christ loves the church does so, not because she is lovely and loving, but because that is God’s will for his life.  Every woman that will submit to her husband as unto the Lord does so, not because he is worthy, but because that is God’s will for her life.  When each partner in a marriage strives to please the Lord by doing His will and takes their God given role and responsibilities as their service to the Lord, harmony and joy is the result.

Nagging is Negative
Often people marry with stars in their eyes and those romantic stars obscure the clear light of reality.  The stars restrain us from seeing our partner as they really are, as well as the issues that will later bring about conflict.  When the stars begin to fade as the light of reality dawns, it is not uncommon for women to think that they can change the man and “help” him become what she knows he is really capable of being, forgetting that this is the Holy Spirit’s job.  Men tend to ignore the conflicts that emerge in realities clear light.  Just assuming she will come around or that it is just a mood she is experiencing.  When the desired changes do not take place as expected, nagging is the next step (ignoring the Holy Spirit’s ministry).  We must learn to let the Holy Spirit of Heaven work in the life of each of His children.  We cannot do His job, but we are called and taught to co-operate with His efforts, by loving and submitting as God’s Word instructs.

Civil Feminism
Civil feminism is the means whereby a godly woman becomes the woman that God created her to be.  She will be a woman that a godly man would be proud to have for his wife.  No man in his right mind and spirit would want a wife to be diminished in her potential to make him look better.  A godly man will love his wife, desiring her to reach her potential.  I have long said that nothing makes a man look good like a lovely woman on his arm.  Nothing makes a husband more successful in his ministry before God than a godly woman that is striving to reach her God given potential.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.  The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.   She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”  Proverbs 31:10-12

The woman of Proverbs 31 is often held up as an example of a good wife and rightly so.  But please look at some of her characteristics.  She is of good character, intelligent, industrious, decisive, determined, strong, creative, attentive, gracious and generous.  She can function without spousal oversight because she is trustworthy and is aware of her husband’s desires and goals and has his best interests at heart.  She has cultivated all the best traits to make her not a good wife, but a great wife.  Her husband trusts her and he is in a place of prestige partially because of her faithfulness.  What she is not is independent.  She is able to accomplish all the great things she has done because she operates under the umbrella of the security of her husband’s love, protection and authority.  Who is going to trouble her when they know they will have to answer to her husband?  Read Proverbs 31 again and notice that there is not one verse where she is on the defensive.  Her husband is a blessing to her and she to him.

Lettuce For Men (let us)
Men, let us encourage the women in our life to attain God’s potential for their them, whether she be wife, daughter or sister in the flesh or in the Lord.  Let us not be afraid of God’s potential for them, it will only enhance their blessing to us in the family of God.  Let us not try to do the Holy Spirit’s job by micro-managing their time, efforts and activity.

Traffic Signs For Women
Change lanes from the secular understanding of feminism and merge with the Holy Spirit to reach your godly potential.  Stop operating independently of your husband.  Yield to the blessing that God designed him to be in your life.  Slow down and enjoy being a godly woman following the Lord’s leading in co-operation with your husband.    Keep right and you will avoid many of the road hazards ahead.  Stay on the roadway and the trip will be joyful and your destination sure.  Women drivers are among the most capable and safest on the road.

God has blessed us all with the wonder of His creation, both in ourselves for who He designed us to be and in the uniqueness of the opposite gender.  It is high time that God’s people stop complaining about the opposite gender and be thankful and praising Him for His unique and marvelous design.  God is glorified and we are blessed.  You just can’t beat that deal!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Christian Polygamy

Polygamy, specifically polygyny, has been a part of most of this world’s cultures since before recorded history.  Polygyny is the practice of one man having more than one wife simultaneously.  There have been many variations of the practice found throughout geographic locations and historic times.  I do not wish to enter into a study about all the ways polygyny has been or is being practiced in various cultures.  Such a study is beyond the scope of my interest and desire.  However, I do desire to present a Biblical concept of Christian polygyny/polygamy.

Christian polygamy is the term that I will use in this discussion, but please keep in mind that I am referring to polygyny, which is the only form of poly marital relationships that can possibly be considered Christian, regardless of the excuses that some would try to foist upon us.

Christian polygamy is multiple marriages by the same man.  It is not one marriage with several women.  The Bible is quite clear that marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.  What the Bible also teaches, but we have ignored in our Roman Catholic influenced Christian culture, is that a man may have (not must have) simultaneous marriages.  This is demonstrated by the example of Christ and His headship, spousal relationship with His churches.  This is evidenced by Ephesians 5:25, where we read “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”.  This was written to the church at Ephesus and is applicable to each New Testament church, each of which is His body and He is their head or husband.  Further evidence is found in Old Testament scriptures where we see that many men, blessed of God, had multiple marriages without a single word of condemnation from God.  There are detractors that will admit this is true, but claim that they all had problems in their marriages.  I will admit that is quite probable, but monogamous marriages have problems as well.  As a matter of fact the very first marriage, of sinless people, living in Eden, introduced sin and death into the world and their first son murdered the second son.  Evidently families have problems, regardless how many wives and children are involved.  King David was a man after God’s own heart and he was a polygamist.  Solomon, son of the same polygamist, David, was the wisest man that ever lived and was Israel’s greatest king.

Christian polygamy is not some form of deviant marriage.  Everything that pertains to a Biblical monogamous husband pertains to a polygynous husband.  Culturally, we have problems with polygyny because we fail to understand what is acceptable to God in marriage as revealed in His Word.  The corrupt, Roman Catholic Church has influenced our thinking about marriage.  In turn the Roman Catholic Church was and still is influenced by pagan practices as well as ungodly doctrines from its early history.  In great periods of its history, the RCC taught that marriage was altogether sinful.  They have bantered this back and forth for centuries.  Still today, their priests and nuns are not allowed to marry and we see the results of such a fraudulent doctrine.  One of the biggest residual issues from the RCC is our concept of “Romance”.  This carries the image of marital love where the man is the center of the woman’s world and the woman is the center of the man’s world.  Our culture has taken this concept to heart and built a huge group of industries around it.  Still, men and women find that it is impossible to live up to the images that are built around it.   They usually conclude that, “they lived happily ever after”, requires more work than it does magic.  No man or woman is able to bring satisfaction to the soul of the other.  That task is reserved for God, for only He is capable of meeting our deep-set needs.  Spouses are surely to be loved and treasured, but we are not to expect them to be our source of happiness, that we find primarily in our Lord.  This relates to monogamous marriages as well as polygamous marriages.  Christian polygamy is one man having several marriages, plain and simple, nothing else is unique to it.

Christian polygamy is not a place for women to be involved in same-sex relations under the umbrella of the husband’s identity.  Let me say again, Christian polygamy is not about any form of deviancy.  It is normal marriage, multiplied.  The developing relationship between wives of a polygynous husband may or may not be the same in each family.  The relationship that most often develops is that of close sisters or best friends.  The ladies are better able to develop their own interests and follow dreams that are compatible to married life because more women share domestic efforts and they do not have to devote themselves to their husband as intensely as a lone wife finds necessary.  Contrary to popular opinion, women benefit more from polygyny than do the men.

Christian polygamy is based on a Biblical structure that promotes security for the family.  In our modern world, marriage and family is based upon a philosophy that has proven to be destructive to families and society as a whole.  That structure is identified as being matriarchal and is the result of the militant feminist movement.  As a result of this pattern, the traditional family is rapidly facing extinction (a goal of feminism).  The number of people marrying is in rapid decline, divorce is consistently high and growing, with the majority of children being born to and raised in single parent homes, most of which are the Moms.  This places a greater burden on women and is contrary to the fallacious dreams touted by the militant feminists, “You can have it all”. 

The structure designed and implemented by God is a patriarchal family, based upon God’s relationship with His creation.  I will not go far into the concept of patriarchy here, but I must say that compromising this principle leads to most of the marital problems found in families today.  In the God designed family, patriarchy is demonstrated this way:

1.      The husband leads, protects and is responsible for providing for his family in the same way that God does for His own.  If a man is not behaving toward his family in a godly manner, he is not being a patriarch.
2.      The wife follows, supports and assists her husband, yielding to his leadership in the same way that believers are duty bound to serve God.  She is to set an example of godly submission to her husband’s authority before her children and other women.  This task is one of the greatest means of teaching children to love God.  She is to love and be loyal to her husband above all others, thus demonstrating our relationship to God.
3.      Neither husbands nor wives are perfect.  We must allow for applications of God’s grace to keep the wheels of marriage working smoothly.  While we’re not perfect, we do have the ministry of demonstrating God’s love and grace to others.
4.      According to I Corinthians 11 headship is important.  This chapter indicated that God the Father is head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man and the husband is the head of the wife.  Gods order works, we mess up when we deviate from it.  This is the sequence of relationship for sound operation of families and society.  However, we must not forget that both men and women have their own personal relationship with God.  That relationship to our Savior is one of submission to His Lordship, loving Him for who He is.  We are called of Him to be obedient to His will; for husbands that involves taking the leadership and the accompanying responsibility for the family, for the wife that means taking the role of a helper, willfully following her husbands leadership as her service to God.

Some benefits of Christian polygamy are:

For men, the opportunity to find fulfillment of the basic nature that God has placed within you at creation and your birth.  Men were designed by God to replicate some of God’s own characteristics.  They are, to be creative and productive; a man is not truly fulfilled if he does not have a purpose for living.  That purposeful creativity and productivity is best displayed in making a difference in the lives of women.  This is why young boys (old boys also) go to such lengths to impress girls; it is built in to men.  Men were made to provide for and protect women; this is demonstrated in a man’s nature by his effort to take charge, it is what he does!  God has designed men to exercise headship, it is in their genes.  Christian polygamy enables a man to reach his full potential.  Many people think it must be about the sex for men, yet what I am hearing from polygynous men, it is about fulfilling God’s calling.

For women, the benefits would also include fulfilling God’s calling.  However, it would appear so from a different direction.  In our culture, so deformed by militant feminism, the opportunity for godly women to find a good, godly man is extremely difficult.  One of the tragedies of militant feminism is that boys are raised in a matriarchal society and do not often have the opportunity to learn what a man is to be, most boys are raised by Moms and Grandmothers.  The consequence of this is that there are few real men in the marriage market.  Must a godly woman settle for feminized man?  No, one of the benefits for women in Christian polygamy is the opportunity to be the wife of a good, godly man, even if he already has a wife.  Actually, a man that is already married at least once is able to show that he has the capacity to be a good husband.  Another benefit for women in Christian polygamy is the comfort of a larger family and security for her children, should something incapacitate her.  The time to devote to some of her personal special interests is another benefit to women in plural marriage.  Shared labor in the home is another benefit reported by ladies in Christian polygamy.  The greatest benefit to both men and women involved in Christian polygamy is the love of God manifested in each and to each other.  This is not just the addition of love but rather compounded love, multiplied.

Problems in Christian polygamy do exist.  Most of the problems are found in two areas, fear and carnality.  Fear encompasses the problems that most people consider.  Fear of what family and friends will say or think; fear of legal consequences and most of all fear of the unknown “How do I do this, can I?”  Generally, honesty and boldness will carry the day with family and friends.  Legal issues are rapidly changing in this country, but even now families that do not try to defraud the welfare system and are willing to be careful about what they claim to be (correct terminology with honesty is important) can live securely.  However, what will cause the most problems is being a carnal Christian.  It is not possible to love our families like Christ, if we are not sold out to Him and serving Him with our whole, honest heart.  Without question or exception, every Christian polygamous family with problems, that I have consulted with has had problems because the husband did not submit himself to the Lord and love and lead as Christ.  A close second to that is a wife who has allowed her relationship with Christ to deteriorate and that deterioration is then reflected in her relationship to her husband.  In either case, restoring Christ as Lord of our life is the answer to these problems.
                                                                                                        ... John L. Whitten - Pastor

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Church In The Cloud

Descending into the valley that is Clarksburg, WV on Highway 50, I see a few mountain peaks, treetops and an occasional chimney peaking up through the blanket of clouds that cover the valley, hiding the city beneath.  The morning sun, just cresting the eastern horizon brightens the clouds giving them the appearance of a pure, soft, gentle coverlet that tenderly embraces the valley.  Underneath this blanket of clouds the business of life was slowly stirring.  It happens gradually; lights coming on, showers running, breakfasts cooking, lunches being packed, Dads leaving for work, kids getting ready for school and Moms overseeing it all, as well as planning for their day.  Each home, awakening with a stir of activity, is isolated from all the others on the streets of the city.  Yet, above the clouds, all was serene, simple and clear; a sweet beauty that sang out to my soul, that all was well with the world.

As the highway dipped lower into the valley, I too entered the cloud and for a few moments my Chevy Vega and I were enveloped in the misty body of the cloud itself.  It was ethereal, illusively obscuring my vision, filling me with a sense of uncertainty.  Unable to gauge distance or find my bearings, I carefully made my way by following the lines painted on the center of the highway.  Soon I emerged into the bustling activity of the city.  Driving past neighborhoods, schools, places of business, labor and commerce, I couldn’t help but wonder at all the lives that moved, mingled and functioned with such necessary diversity.  The mental image was mind-boggling.  How can they keep it all straight?  In the mix, both saints and sinners needed order and organization.  The logistics of providing utilities, roads and police protection to all these people seemed a gargantuan task.  Who is in charge, who keeps it all together?  Ah, how I wanted to go back above the cloud where it was bright, clear and uniquely simple in its beauty.

When you are in a plane high above the earth, looking down upon the clouds they look solidly substantial, like you could step out and walk on them with springy steps.  But, when you are in the cloud, it is an obscuring mist.  An intangible, illusive something that remains just out of reach.  When you are in the city beneath the cloud, in the midst of all the busyness of life, the cloud looks like a canopy reigning over all that live beneath it like some medieval monarch.

When I set out to describe the vision of church, that I believe the Lord has taught me; this is the picture that was recalled from my distant memory of a particularly glorious morning.  I have struggled for sometime with the images that are consistently put forth by preachers, teachers, writers and scholars of all sorts regarding God’s glorious institution, “The Church, the Body of Christ”.  Most everyone that I have spoken to in recent years and everyone that I have read in the same time span hold to the idea that there is one church, universal and invisible.  They also acknowledge that there are within that institution, denominations and local congregations as well as independent congregations of the same names and in addition all kinds of non-denominational churches.  Without fail each of them lay claim to Biblical authenticity and doctrine.  Many of them are gracious enough to allow that some of the others are also acceptable, even if not quite as good as their own specific group.  I do have a distinct position that I have received from the Lord, through multitudes of hours in Bible study, prayer and meditation on the same.  However, before sharing my insight, let me point out what troubles me most about the commonly held position of  “The Church”.

I once read a story that went something like this. A small town had an issue with potholes in the streets.  ‘Everybody’ thought something should be done and ‘Everybody’ thought ‘Somebody’ would do something about it.  As a consequence ‘Nobody’ took care of the streets.  You get the point; vagueness of responsibility generally leaves the job undone.  This is the trouble I see with the commonly held position regarding “The Church”.  People from all spiritual persuasions, even unbelievers, have no problem with identifying the problems of “The Church”.  It is common to hear ‘The Church’ blamed for everything from apathy to gross immorality and to hear people say, “something must be done about it”!  But, whom do you take it to?  What is the address of “The Church”, where is the office in charge of problems?  Who has the authority and ability to make changes in an invisible body?  The end result is that there is a great clamor for change and no feasible way to see it take place.  Again, ‘Nobody’ is the one that gets the job done.  There is genuine concern in the hearts and minds of many people, but the ability to effect change escapes them.  What remains is a mystical hope that something deeply spiritual will overcome the world and somehow magically transform the souls of mankind.  That sounds good, even very spiritual, but such an idea is greatly conflicting with the Word of God.

It is not my purpose to try to persuade everyone to my point of view.  It took quite sometime for the Holy Spirit to instruct me of this and I feel insufficient to teach you something that is so different from modern traditional Christianity and it's position on ecclesiology.  Therefore, I will share as simply as possible what I have learned and let the Holy Spirit do the teaching.  I know where I have learned this and my accountability to Him is sufficient for me.  However, I do expect that you will see the practicality of implementing at least some of these principles for the Lord’s work. 

The word in the Greek New Testament that is translated as church and churches is, ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah); from a compound of NT:1537 and a derivative of NT:2564; a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation (Jewish synagogue, or Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both): translated as assembly and church.  The above is from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.  We can see from this that the idea behind church is that it is an assembly of people called together for a specific purpose.  It was used for town council meetings as well as various religious affairs.  When this Greek compound word was applied to identify God’s institution, certain things must apply, i.e. doctrine, faith, dedication to God and the great commission to identify the group as being uniquely God’s.  Yet, certain aspects of the secular usage must remain the same for the word to be effective, those aspects are: 1.  A group of people meeting together in one place at the same time, 2. Being called together for a purpose.  Does this describe an invisible institution?  No pun intended, but I can’t see it.  Perhaps you wish to cling to the universal, invisible institution for some personal reason, very well, but please consider also these other issues that may help ‘Somebody’ assist ‘Nobody’ in getting the job done.

In the twenty-one New Testament Epistles, nine of them are addressed to “churches”, eleven are addressed to individuals and one to the Hebrews at large.  None of them are addressed to ‘The Church’.  Of the epistles that are addressed to churches, Romans and Galatians are addressed to multiple assemblies of believers in a geographical region and metropolitan city.  Others include an address such as “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth”, or “all the saints that are at Ephesus, or Colosse, or Philippi. “The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house,” I Corinthians 16:19.  There are thirty-seven references to “churches” in the New Testament.  Obviously there is a major emphasis in the Bible on the congregational status of assembled believers.  I contend that all believers in the world exist as the kingdom of God.  All believers in Heaven and Earth make up the “Family of God”.  These are distinctive terms used in the Bible and they are not synonymous with each other, or the Lord, who is The Word, would not have used them so precisely.  Church is uniquely an assembly of believers, under the authority of God’s Word and Spirit with Christ as the head of each assembly.

What is the origin of the idea of a universal church, “The Church”?  This idea most likely had its inception when the Bishop of Rome achieved prominence among churches in Italy.  He was looked up to with an aura of excellence because of his prosperity.  When Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire, the Bishop of Rome became its ecclesiastical head, head of ‘The Church’.  Other churches that did not subscribe to the elevated authority of the Bishop of Rome (later called the Pope) have been persecuted consistently down through the subsequent ages.

What does this concept of individual churches do for the problems plaguing Christianity today?  It gives us an address to take the problems to.  It gives us a focus for change and a scale to measure progress.  It gives us a place where ‘Everybody’ and ‘Somebody’ can be involved for the good and ‘Nobody’ is excused.  There is no point of complaining if there is no plausible solution; now complaining has a purpose, so do something about it where you are.  Please note the emphasis on the seven churches in Asia as referenced by the Lord in the first three chapters of the Revelation.  Christ addressed problems and needs of each congregation and the letters were sent to the specific messenger of each church (the angel of the church, the pastor).  This reveals great concern and efficiency on the part of Christ, who is the head of each church.  When we read in the Epistles, references to church, please keep in mind that the writer was speaking in the context of that particular body of believers; a body where the members can actually rejoice together as well as suffer together.  The seven churches of Asia were peaks in the kingdom of God.

Just as the mass of people in Clarksburg were one great city under the cloud and the activity seemed to have no visible order, there were those unique, identifiable points that reached up through the clouds to greet the sun.  The same is true for churches, congregations of real people, people that think, care, pray and serve God.  Don’t waste your time on the invisible, unknowable, mystical whatever.  Get involved in a congregation of Bible believing Christians where you live and make a difference.  Let me save you some time in your search, THERE ARE NO PERFECT CHURCHES!  However, the church you select needs to be a group of people that honor the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to His headship, not an ecclesiastical hierarchy.  They need to be concerned about defending the integrity of the Word of God.  Most of all they must have a compassion for lost souls and care for each other.  If you cannot find one of these churches in your community, start one in your home.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it, be the ‘Somebody’ that gets it done.  Men, be the Pastor, Priest of your home and invite others to join you as opportunity arises.  Stand up through the clouds and greet the sun of God’s grace.  Some will tell you that some sort of apostolic authority is needed to start a church.  However, Jesus said in Matthew 18 in the passage on church discipline, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Matthew 18:20 When Jesus promises His presence in assemblies as small as two or three, He qualifies them as His Body and He functions as their head.
If you are one of those that find my position untenable, can you at least see the importance of focusing our attention and energy on congregations rather than complaining about things that can never be fixed in the invisible realm?  Let us be “Somebody” for God and be a part of “His Body” in your community.

If you read this paper as a theological argument about ‘The Church’, you have missed the point altogether.  This is written to encourage us to focus on being a part of an active congregation of believers, benefiting people and honoring the Lord.  When we change our focus from the invisible to the visible, changes become possible and our lives have a greater opportunity of counting for eternity.

Pastor John Whitten

Monday, March 12, 2012

Marriage By Design

Marriage is a designer relationship.  Regardless of how the Johnny-come-lately designers wish to redefine this designer relationship, the original designer has created a unique relationship, different than any other relationship experienced by humanity.  His design has worked marvelously since the beginning of time.  Sure, there are people who attempted to live this designer relationship and failed, but it is always because of the neglect, of one or both parties, to follow the guidelines of the designer.  Truly, if one doesn’t follow the recipe, then the cake comes out of the oven, noticeably different than the picture in the cookbook.  We cannot blame the designer, if we don’t follow the plans for His design.  Hopefully, we aren’t na├»ve enough to believe we can mix ingredients willy-nilly off the shelf, throw the mix in the oven and expect it to come out looking and tasting like the carefully designed and tested original recipe?  I would hope not!

Why then would we expect that a unique relationship like marriage, designed by God, would turn out successfully, without following the design of the relationships creator?  As a disciple of Christ Jesus and a Bible believer, I look to the Bible for basic information on everything and do my best to allow my Lord to give me direction for my life, including marriage.  What I find is, that the first marriage described in the Bible is in Genesis 2:15-25.

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.  And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
This is God’s basic requirement for marriage. It is one man and one woman, under the authority and design of God, for life.  He did not include an escape clause if life got hard (divorce).  He did not give control of the design to any human government, either civil or ecclesiastical.  He did not give the authority to declare a couple married, to any of the above governments.  Human cultures and governments have taken God’s design and placed it under the umbrellas of either civil or ecclesiastical powers to be valid.  I maintain that a marriage does not require or benefit from a license granted by church or state.  An embossed piece of paper or a pronouncement by pastor, priest or probate does nothing to cement the union of marriage.  If the man and woman do not have the commitment to each other and God’s design, no piece of paper or ceremony will make it stronger.  Rather, the license appears to many that have it, as a sentence of confinement.  Somehow our culture has gotten the idea that the license and ceremony, in some way, make the marriage valid and concrete.  Sadly, the statistics for the last seventy years show that to be false.  The divorce rate in our western culture has continued to climb unabated.  For a time, those in churches and religious in their lifestyle held the line on fidelity, but now there is virtually no difference in the divorce rate between secular and religious.  Such statistics prove that neither license or ceremony have any validity in securing a stable marriage.

What has changed is that we have allowed our culture, secular and religious, to redefine and attempt to redesign that which God gave us as a designer relationship.  For us to have the designed results, we must follow the designer’s plan (recipe).  God designed marriage to be the closest thing to a heavenly relationship possible on Earth, but for many, many, people it is closer to Hell than Heaven.  The marriage relationship is the only institution created by God, before the fall of mankind into sin, yet it endures.  Marriage endures in a sinful world and because of sin; married people have problems that would not have existed before the fall into sin.  The answer to this problem is not to redesign the relationship, but rather to adhere as closely as possible to the original design of the first “designer relationship”.  We are foolish, indeed if we can expect God to bless our design over His own design for marriage.

Let’s look at God’s designer relationship as found in the Bible, for a pattern for ours.  In the scripture verses above and everywhere else in the Bible, we find that there are only two people in the relationship, one man and one woman.  According to the scripture, even in-laws are not in the marriage, hence the instruction for a man to leave his parents and cleave to his wife.  The two become one flesh, both in their sexual union, and also as starting a new family unit.  Here is what we see in Genesis 2 in order of occurrence. 
1.      God made the man and put him in the Garden of Eden.
2.    God gave the man a job (dress and keep the garden).
3.     God gave the man a commandment.
4.    God acknowledged that it was not good for the man to be alone and committed to making a helper for him.
5.     God made from the ground, a sampling of all the creatures listed there, for the Adam to name them, but there was no one like Adam to be a helper for him.  Humorously, I think this was to dispel the later myth that a dog is aman’s best friend.
6.    God put Adam to sleep and removed a rib.
7.     From the rib, God made the first woman.
8.    God brought the woman to Adam.
9.    They were both naked and unashamed.

God, not being the author of confusion, would have us learn from the order of His creation for His design for marriage.  Because of what we see in this list, we are able to join with other scriptures and come to a good understanding of His designer relationship.
1.      Note that God made Adam first; He gave him the task of dressing and keeping the garden, along with that was the commandment about the two trees in the middle of the garden.  This reveals to us that in God’s design the man has the role of leadership and ultimate responsibility for the relationship.  See also the words given by God for the Apostle Paul to write to the Corinthians and for our benefit:  1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.  For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
2.    No matter how many men think that they are independent and self-sufficient, God has another opinion and He said that it is not good for the man to be alone.  His opinion is the one that counts and God designed women to be very important in a man’s life.
3.     The woman (Eve) that God created for Adam is unlike any and all of the animals in creation.  Both Adam and Eve are created in the image and likeness of God.  She is most like Adam, different, but complimentary.  That’s why the pieces of the body fit together.  That is why skills are not duplicated but compliment each other.  That is why personalities are unique and different, not the same.  They are to be a blessing to each other.
4.    The woman is to be the helper of the man in his God given tasks, not pursuing a separate career path.  He leads, she helps.  In today’s world, one of the biggest design errors is the lack of direction or mission for the man.  Too many flounder and the women are unable to help.
5.     The man and the woman were of one flesh, by way of original creation.  The man was made from the dust and the woman was made from his flesh and bone.  They and all subsequent couples become one flesh again, via copulation, not a license or pronouncement of any external authority.  If the man and woman do not have the commitment to each other and God’s design, no piece of paper or ceremony will make it stronger. 
6.    “They were naked and unashamed”.  Sexual relations between spouses are not in any way sinful, dirty, immoral or any other negative description that can be conceived.  Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”  Marital sex ought not to be a public exercise, but private.  Within that privacy there is a part of the designer relationship that reflects the intimacy and delight of Christ with His people.
7.     The relationship between the couple reflects not only the intimacy that exists between Christ and His people but also the love that He has for His people and their glad submission to Him.  Ephesians 5:32-33,  “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”  Men are to love their wives as Christ loves His churches; standing in front to protect, provide and embrace them.  Women are to treat their husband with the same respect, fear and admiration that they offer up to Christ.  Failure on the part of either party detracts from the effectiveness of God’s design.

In light of the above information, we may come to these conclusions:
·       Marriage is a divinely created institution for the benefit of mankind.  It is between one man and one woman only.  Old Testament saints that were clearly and certainly, under the blessing of God, were also frequently polygynists (sometimes commanded to be so), but each marriage was between one man and one woman.  In this type of situation, the designer relationship is unchanged; it is just that men may, for certain purposes have multiple such relationships. 
·       In our world today, there are many individuals and large groups that would attempt to redefine marriage to include relationships between same sex couples.  This is not new to our time.  Such relationships existed even in antiquity and up to modern times across the world.  It is not the business of governments, either civil or ecclesiastical to be involved in the personal lives of private citizens.  Many good and honest people are involved in such relationships.    I would like to see our culture exclude giving particular benefits to married couples that are not extended to couples in other styles of relationship.  I do not want to see marriage redefined, to enable all to have equal benefit under the law.  I am neither advocating nor attempting to control the type of interpersonal relationships available to consenting adults.  We should be able to exercise our liberty to proclaim the Biblical concept of marriage without forcing others, by virtue of legal authority to conform to our point of view.  Liberty for one requires liberty for all.  Accepting the Biblical rule must be a matter of conscience.
·       Marriage licenses or ecclesiastical approval are not required for a couple to be genuinely married under God.
·       For God’s designer relationship to be successful we must operate according to His instructions.  This involves His order.  Men must have a mission and purpose that the women can support them in.  Men are to be the leaders in their families and not foist that responsibility on to the shoulders of their helpers.  Helpers are to help, not direct or criticize.  Be a blessing, not a barrier.

Final thought:  When a man and woman come together in this designer relationship, it is their personal integrity that keeps them together.  Do not rely on hopes of changing someone or legal status to make a successful marriage.  Make the commitment, celebrate with friends and family, then go on and live your life to the fullest.