“Just A Wife”

“One time when Eva inquired about my long-term prognosis, a nurse told her, ‘Honey, you don’t need to know all of that.  You’re just a wife’.”

This is a quote from Don Piper’s book, “90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN,” 10th anniversary edition, p. 147.  If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend that you do.  I picked it up the other day at WalMart while I was waiting for my wife.  I read it through at one sitting.  I’m not ashamed to admit that the tears flowed freely.

The quote comes in the middle of a section in which Don explains what happened when he was finally able to come home after many months of lying immobile in a hospital bed and how those long months had affected his wife.  I’ll not go into all that because you can read it for yourself.

But the quote really struck me.  I’ve often made the comment that no woman is ever “just a mother.”  I’m going to have to expand that to say that no woman is ever “just a wife.”

I’m sure the nurse didn’t mean her remark as an insult.  She probably was just trying to spare Eva Piper some of the painful details of her husband’s recovery.

At the same time, though, it’s a reflection of current attitudes towards women and marriage.

“Just a wife.”

How little, sometimes, we clunkers of husbands value the women God has been gracious enough to put into our lives.  Oh, I know they’re not perfect…

Neither are we.

Like Hannah’s husband Elkanah, we’re so often unable to understand the heart needs of the woman who shares our life, 1 Samuel 1:8.

If any man does think he’s perfect, he needs to ask his wife about it.

When Adam was by himself in the Garden, God said that it wasn’t good that he should be alone.  So He did something about it.

He made a wife.

Not simply a woman, though that’s how we think of her, and, indeed, how Scripture describes her.  But she was so much more than that:  she was a wife.

It’s true that things happened we wish wouldn’t have and their perfect harmony and happiness was disrupted.  Paradise was lost and has never been regained.

Nevertheless.

It just occurred to me as I was thinking about what to write next, that marriage (and family) is the one of the few things Adam took with him from the Garden.

He still had Eve.

There’s a lot more that I could write, how Christ’s love for us is pictured in marriage, how that love is the pattern we husbands are supposed to follow as to how we view and treat our own wives.  How Adam was made complete by Eve.  She was in no way “inferior” to him, but he was incomplete without her.

Let me just close with this – a loving wife is the greatest blessing, short of salvation, that God can give a man.

Her worth is far above rubies, Proverbs 31:10.

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Violence Against Women

A lot of attention has been paid recently, and rightly so, to the video of the despicable brute who knocked his fiancee against the railing of an elevator and then dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator.  This “man” (I can’t think of a word that as a Christian I can use to describe him otherwise) is a sports figure and a lot of discussion has centered around what should happen to him.  My own opinion is that at the very least he should be banned from participation in any sport at any level and in any way, for the rest of his life.  And to be held up to disgust and revulsion as the scum that he is.  Probably, neither will happen.  In fact, I understand that there’s some talk about making him a “mentor” to younger players on the team.  *sigh*

Unfortunately, he isn’t the only perpetrator of violence against women and there have been several incidents since then in which men have been asked to resign for their positions because of it.

What does one expect in a society where women are referred to as “bitches” and “hos”?  Where there is no respect whatever for them as women?  Where they have no respect for themselves, but have been persuaded by feminism that they have a right to be as vile as men think they have the right to be?  Violence against women is only a small part of the price of “free love”.  And I’m not blaming them for what happens to them.  It should never happen to them.

There was a time, not so long ago, when such violence was generally unthinkable.  It happened, to be sure, it’s always happened, but there was an overriding understanding that a man does not hit a woman.  Women were to be protected, to be cared for, to be respected.  They were the wives we swore to love, honor and cherish, the mothers of our children, the heart of our home.  All this has pretty much been relegated to the trash heap of history.

There’s an Old Testament incident which, in my opinion, illustrates perfectly one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why there is so much violence against women.  It’s found in 2 Samuel 13.  Though I won’t quote it here, you should stop and read it.  It won’t take but a couple of minutes.

Briefly summarized, the story is this:  David had several sons by different wives, as well as at least one daughter, a beautiful girl named Tamar.  One of her half-brothers began to lust after her and it began to affect him physically.  One of his friends noticed this and asked him what was wrong.  The brother confessed his desire for his half-sister.  This friend gave him an idea about how he could satisfy that desire.  Well, he did so and there is a telling verse which is the verse I’m thinking of for this post:

Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her, 2 Samuel 13:15.

When she protested against this treatment, he had her bodily removed and the door locked after her.

This OT incident speaks perfectly to one reason for violence against women today.  When the main thing a couple has is their sexual experiences, when that’s gone or diminishes, there little or nothing left.  They have nothing else in common to keep them together.  Often, as we saw in Amnon’s case, “love” quickly turns to hate.  The man feels cheated or disgusted or something, so he takes it out on the woman.

Sexual fulfillment was meant to be the consummation of a marriage, not the commencement of a “relationship.”  That word in itself speaks volumes.  No longer is a couple “courting,” though that phrase went out before I was born.  They’re in a “relationship.”  They’re not married; they’ve just moved in together.

Life consists of so much more than what happens in the bedroom.  Make no mistake; God created us as sexual beings, but because of what happens when it all goes sideways: violence against women, among other things, He also created the situation in which it’s to be enjoyed.  If there’s nothing but sex in a “relationship,” when that goes, then there’s nothing left.

As long as the attitude prevails that “it’s just sex,” the situation will never improve.

This no doubt is a complex problem, but the main cause is the promiscuous and immoral attitude so prevalent in our society.  Until that improves, the situation will remain the same, or get worse.

The few words of this post won’t solve the problem, but they propose a starting place.  Nothing physical without or apart from being married.  And it doesn’t deal with the problem of abuse of the wife in marriage.  My own view is that such men ought to be shot, but then I tend toward an Old Testament view of justice.

This would also mitigate the situation with rape.  The current discussion about “when does yes mean yes?” etc., would be greatly reduced if there were no sexual expectations apart from marriage.  I understand, as things are currently going, that this will never happen again.  It would, however, be a start.

 

“An Eye for an Eye”.

Here is the first time such a phrase occurs in the Old Testament:

If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.  But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,  burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe, Exodus 21:22-25.

“A woman with child.”

Not “a fetus,” not “a byproduct of conception” (!), not just a lump of cells, but a “child.”

Our world may have decided that the unborn are disposable at the convenience of the mother, but God considered them to be deserving of the same protection against harm and injury as anybody who had made it through the birth canal.

And, yes, I know what the Lord Jesus said about “an eye for an eye” in Matthew 5:38-42.  I doubt that He had this particular situation in mind when He said it.

There’s a lot that could be said about the text in Exodus, which we’ll not get into.

Scripture uniformly says that God is interested and involved in the development of a child from the moment of conception.  We grant this normally is through DNA and the process of development in the mother’s womb – a “natural” process.  But because it is “natural,” science says that “God” can’t possibly be involved – there is no God to be involved.  It’s a “natural” process.  That’s all.  But where did the DNA and the process come from?  Did they just conveniently evolve “naturally” along with everything else – all those countless “everything elses” that are necessary for it to work?  And all at the same time, so that it could work?

Blind, random chance?

Mutation?

It seems to me it takes a great deal more “faith” to believe in that than it does that God created it and sees to it that it keeps on working.  It’s strange how the evolutionist and the Christian can look at the same “evidence” – the marvels of “nature,” whether through the microscope or the telescope, the intricacy and complexity of the human body – and arrive at completely opposite conclusions.  The evolutionist says, “Well, that’s just because Christians are ignorant.”

I guess it depends on what one chooses to be “ignorant” about.

Here are just a few of the Scriptures which speak about God and an unborn child.

Genesis 25:23, And the LORD said to her [Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, who was having a difficult pregnancy], “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body.” 

“Two nations.”

Not just two little boys, but “nations”.  God looked at their descendants, as well as at them.  When an unborn baby dies, he or she’s not the only one.  All those who would have descended from them also, in effect, die.

Have you ever thought about how many people it took to get you here?  You think of your parents, your grandparents, perhaps even your great-grandparents.  Just for fun, take it back 20 generations, to about the time of the Reformation.  You might be surprised at how many people were alive then, not necessarily all exact contemporaries, who contributed part of the DNA that you carry, which they got from their parents and ancestors.  They had a part in what color your eyes are, the color of your hair, how tall you are, whether you’re musical or can’t carry a tune, etc., etc.  It’s really mind-blowing when you think about it.

This generational “identity,” if you will, is how the Scripture could say that Levi paid tithes in Abraham, cf. Hebrews 7:9, 10.

Genesis 29:31, When the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, He opened her womb…. Here is just one of several verses which describe the Lord as opening or closing the womb.

Judges 16:17, Samson, in his foolish dalliance with Delilah, “…I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb.”  Indeed, his mother had been instructed about what she could or could not eat while she was carrying him, cf. Judges 13:13, 14.  The idea that a mother’s diet could affect her child is not a new idea.

Job 31:15, in describing why he couldn’t be harsh or unjust to his servants, male or female, Job said, “Did not He who made me in the womb make them?  Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?” 

Psalm 22:9, 10, a prophecy of the Messiah, perhaps as He hung on the Cross, cf. v.8, But You are He who took Me out of My mother’s womb; You made Me trust You while on My mother’s breasts.  I was cast upon You from birth.  From My mother’s womb, You have been My God.  If it’s argued that this refers to Messiah’s birth and infancy, that’s true, but how was the Messiah conceived, that is, if Scripture is reliable?  (Just to be certain, I believe that it is.)  Cf. Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 1:18-25.  God was directly involved in this conception.

Isaiah 49:5, another Messianic prophecy, “And now the LORD says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His servant,….”   This takes us again to the virgin conception, for after His conception, the Lord Jesus developed like any other child in the womb.  All that’s mind-blowing to think about, too.

Jeremiah 1:5, the Lord speaking to Jeremiah the prophet, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”  Cf. the similar remark by the apostle Paul, But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace…, Galatians 1:15.

Ministry, whether the prophets, the Lord’s, yours or mine, may not “begin” until after we’re born, but the preparation for it starts at conception.

We don’t usually think of it like this, but there’s an entire world involved in that little “baby-bump”.

God said to take care of it.

“Thou Shalt Not Kill” – And the Death Penalty.

There are a couple of verses of Scripture that unbelievers and skeptics accept, and are quite insistent should be followed.  One, Exodus 20:13 (KJV), is in the title of this post:  Thou shalt not kill (KJV).  The other one is found in Matthew 7:1:  Judge not…. 

They don’t seem to mind adultery or dishonesty or using the name of God as a swear word, but the sixth commandment must be followed.

Never mind what they say about the rest of Scripture – these verses must be followed.  There may be other verses they “like,” but I think these are the two main ones.

So, when some killer is to be put to death for crimes he has committed, or when the execution is botched, as has happened recently, these folks get all worked up and say, “Oh, the poor man!  How can such things be done?”

It would be nice if they could show such concern for the victims of this “poor man.”

I certainly don’t advocate “suffering” in execution, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind about the sixth commandment.

First, the Hebrew word translated “kill” comes from a root meaning “to dash in pieces,” and refers primarily to murder or manslaughter. That’s how newer translations put it.  “Thou shalt not murder.”

Second, there are over forty “death-penalty” sins in the Old Testament.

These sins include such things as idolatry, spiritism, hitting or continual rebellion against a parent, kidnapping, false witness in a death-penalty case.

The criminals and their lawyers didn’t run things, like they do today.  Careful examination was indeed to be made as to the truthfulness of the charges against a person.  And two or three witnesses were required for an execution.  One only wasn’t enough.  And there was a recognition of what we call “technicalities,” only back then it was called “degrees of bloodguiltiness.”  These were used to determine the level of punishment, not as reasons for the offender to go free.

Some people can’t understand how the two ideas of “not killing” and the death penalty could coexist like that.  It’s simple.  Life was valued.  Individuals were valued, as being created “in the image of God.”  Those who took life forfeited their own.  Those who caused harm to others suffered harm themselves.

Some folks argue that we’re not under the Old Testament law.  I myself have made that point.  The Ten Commandments were given to a people in a certain historical and geographical setting.  They were never given to mankind in general; there’s never been a “dispensation of law.”

The Mosaic Covenant, which includes the Ten Commandments were given specifically to the nation of Israel at Sinai.  It forms, if you will, her constitution and bylaws.  In the situation in which it was given, there are a lot of things which seem very strange to our “modern” thinking. The idea that crime should be punished apparently has become one of them.  Our idea that violent criminals should be housed at taxpayer expense and “rehabilitated” would seem very strange to them.

Others argue that Jesus taught that we should love our enemies, so “love” has become the current buzzword.  Never mind that what passes for love in our society bears little resemblance to what the Lord Jesus actually taught.

Another favorite incident of opponents of the death-penalty is Jesus “forgiving” the woman taken in adultery in John 8:2-11.  We’ve done a post on this, so will just try to summarize here.

This woman had indeed been caught in the very act, v.5.  Now Jesus had often set Himself against the Pharisee’s interpretation of the Mosaic Law, so the Pharisees who dragged her into the presence of Jesus wanted to know what He said, it’s emphatic,  about this situation, because Moses said that such should be put to death, cf. Leviticus 20:10.

Uttering no word, the Lord simply began to write on the ground.  Since Leviticus 20:10 required that both parties be executed, I think He wrote, “Where is the man?” though that’s only supposition on my part because we’re not told what He wrote either time.

After what must have been an embarrassed silence, the men all left and the woman and Jesus were left alone, standing in the midst, v.10.  Note very carefully what the Lord asked her and the conversation that followed:  “Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.” vs. 10, 11 (emphases added).  Not a word about “forgiveness.”  Indeed, the Lord told the men to go ahead and kill her – if they were innocent themselves in this particular matter.  I think they had set her up, and were trying to set the Lord up.  They failed.

Now, the woman was indeed guilty.  However, the Law was very specific about such matters.  Though the Pharisees had all testified against her and could have in fact killed her, their own consciences in the face of the holiness of the Lord Jesus prevented them from carrying out the sentence.  They, therefore, did not “condemn her.”  Because the provisions of the Law were not carried out, neither did the Lord.

The incident has nothing to do with “forgiveness” or “not judging,” as it’s often used.

Regardless of what He might have taught about these things, the Lord Jesus also taught that we were to render…to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, Matthew 22:21.  See also Mark 12:17 and Luke 20:25.  The fact that three Gospels record this incident show the importance the Lord placed on it.

Paul echoed the Lord when he wrote in Romans 13:1, Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.  Among other things, that authority does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil, v.4.

“Execute.”

“Wrath.”

“Vengeance.”

Ideas certainly foreign to modern jurisprudence.

So we have felons walking around free who have murdered or raped or done other violent crimes, but they’ve “served their time,” and so they’re free, while ordinary citizens hide behind locked doors and windows and women are afraid to go out alone at night.  How often do we hear of some man whose been arrested for a crime, only to also hear that he’s committed violent crimes before, perhaps several of them.

I’m sorry, but it’s time to rethink this idea of “rehabilitation” for felons who obviously have no interest in being rehabilitated.

It’s often commented by opponents of capital punishment that it doesn’t “deter” crime.  That’s only because it takes decades and multiple “appeals” before the sentence is carried out.  If criminals were actually executed who deserve it, without all the modern coddling that goes along with it, people might begin to understand that felony is serious.

Besides, if a felon is executed, that certainly “deters” him from committing other crimes.

I know there’s a lot of heat generated by this topic, and this is only part of the discussion about the death penalty, but it’s high time to take our justice system out of the hands of criminals and their lawyers.

Stripping the Slain*

Old-fashioned? Perhaps in its historical reference. But it’s right on, otherwise. How we need preaching like this today!

Morning Light

Bibliology
Guest Writer Thomas DeWitt Talmage

“And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in Mount Gilboa” (1 Samuel 31:8).

Some of you were at South Mountain, or Shiloh, or Ball’s Bluff, or Gettysburg, and I ask you if there is any sadder sight than a battlefield after the guns have stopped firing? I walked across the field of Antietam after the conflict. The scene was so sickening I shall not describe it. Every valuable thing had been taken from the bodies of the dead, for there are always vultures hovering over and around about an army, and they pick up the watches, the memoranda, books, letters, daguerreotypes, hats, and coats for their own use. The dead make no resistance.

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Why Should Men Get Away With It?

This is the flip side, so to speak, of my post: “Why Would You Do That to Your Wife?”

Ladies sometimes get irritated by what they see as a double standard in moral issues in the Old Testament.  Men seem to get away with a lot more than women.  I don’t mean to be flippant, but men could have many wives and concubines, a woman might have to prove she had been a virgin on her wedding night, nothing gets cut off if a man messes around, and, last, but not least, there’s “the water of jealousy.”

Though we’re not going to develop it, Numbers 5 describes a ritual in which a jealous husband can prove or disprove whether his wife has been unfaithful to him.  There is no such ritual for the husband.  A woman might ask, “Why not?”

Though it might not seem like an answer to the question, was it a matter of being “unfaithful” to her if her husband was intimate with his other wives?  As for “messing around,” we’ll have more to say about this in a moment.

As for the multiple wives, but only one husband, there have been societies where a woman could have multiple husbands, but Israel wasn’t one of them.  Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that lineage was of paramount importance to the Old Testament Jew.  Since it’s unlikely that the Old Testament had DNA tests, it would have been very difficult to know who the father was in a case of multiple “fathers” in a family.  Besides, thought this answer won’t satisfy some, that’s the way God ordered it.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam one wife.  At that time, He said that a man was to leave his parents and be joined to his wife (singular).  The Lord Jesus affirmed this, Matthew 19:5.  In addition, Paul taught this.  In teaching about marriage, he said, let each one of you in particular so love his own WIFE as himself, Ephesians 5:32, emphasis added.

Taken overall, the Old Testament doesn’t paint a very good picture of the idea of multiple wives.  It reveals a lot of trouble and jealousy between the various wives and siblings.

As for “getting away with it,” Leviticus 20 lists several sins for which a man was to be killed, the woman also, or, in the case of homosexual acts, the other male as well.  In the case of bestiality, the animal was also to be executed.

Our society has largely rejected these ideas.  Indeed, certain sexual sins have now been given “protected” status by the “judgocracy” which has taken over the laws in our country.   “Living together” is commonly accepted and practiced.  Heterosexual marriage has to a great extent been relegated to the trashcan in favor of “domestic partnerships,” etc., etc.

It may seem like we’re “getting away with it,” but even a casual glance at the paper, or the TV or the computer, indicates that’s not really so.  Child abuse, spousal abuse, infanticide, disease, degradation, rampant crime and violence – these are just a few of the costs of “free love.”

This says nothing of the eternal cost of such practices.  When all is said and done, there will be no “getting away with it,” no matter how much that seems to be the case today.

However, there’s no use pointing the finger at those whose lives we might not agree with.  They’re not ultimately the ones with whom we have to do.  Scripture says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.  Other folks’ sins won’t get us into heaven.  Other folks’ sins aren’t an excuse for our own.

There’s only one way any of us will ever stand uncondemned in the presence of God, and that is if we have been forgiven through faith in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.   He willingly took the place of sinners, took their sins upon Himself and paid the price – the cost – of what it would take for them to be saved from their sins.

Even those sins for which there was no OT sacrifice – murder and adultery – will be forgiven that one who comes to God through the Lord Jesus.

Oh, that some might read these words, consider their lives and turn to the Lord Jesus for cleansing.  Is there such a one reading these words who feels like he or she needs a shower because of how they live?  Oh, listen, there’s only one “bath” that can cleanse away the filth and stain of sin:  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 2:9.  …the blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 2:7.

This means that we have faith in the death of the Lord Jesus.  He alone is able to take away sins.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…, Acts 16:31.

“Why All This Hammering and Cutting?”

Christians sometimes wonder why they have to suffer so much.  And there are a whole flock of people making a good living convincing them that they don’t have to, that they should have everything they want, if they only had “faith.”

Dear friends, some of you are suffering things I can’t begin to imagine.  Over the Labor Day weekend, my wife and I went to visit a dear, dear sister who was recently diagnosed with ALS, after a lifetime of suffering with lupus, among other things.  I think she blessed us with her cheerful spirit more than we blessed her.  I can not imagine being completely unable to do ANYTHING for yourself, but having to depend on others for EVERYTHING, though, thankfully, she can still talk – and smile and laugh.

So, why suffering?

If we could imagine a block of stone suddenly finding its voice, we might hear something like the following:

“Oh, why all this hammering and cutting on me?  This chipping and sanding and buffing?  Why me?”

The artist replies, “Be patient.  There’s a beautiful statue inside you.”

Of course, there is a considerable difference between a block of stone and a human being.  The stone is sometimes better at being a stone than we are at being human.  The stone doesn’t fight the sculptor, nor try to make something else beside what the sculptor wants.  And the stone is inanimate, without will or emotions or intellect.  It is just a stone.  It just sits there.

There’s another difference, too.  There’s no “beautiful statue” inside us just waiting to be let out.  Oh, I know.  People talk about “the divine spark” in us that just needs a little fanning to burst into a brilliant blaze.  They talk about “human potential,” as if there’s some god-like ability within ourselves to make something of ourselves.  And there is a certain amount of truth to that, though we’re not at all “godlike.”  There are some who rise to heights of amazing heroism.  Alas, though, there are others who sink to depths of unbelievable barbarism and wickedness.  Some of us are “devil-like.”

Most of us can probably, at least to our own satisfaction, find someone whom we believe is worse than we are.  And we might be right.

The problem is, compared to Jesus, we’re all worse.

God has nothing to “work with.”

He doesn’t come to us and fix us up a little bit.  He doesn’t just slap on a new coat of paint or put down a new carpet.  He makes us a “new creation.”  As in the original creation, He started with nothing, so in the new creation, He starts with nothing.

But “in Him,” we have everything.

And He will finish what He started.  He chips, and cuts and hammers and buffs and polishes to get rid of what we are in order that we might see a little of what we are to become.

Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1 John 3:2.