Why Would You Do That to Your Wife?

There are any number of things that this question might rightly asked about:  violence of any kind against a wife, cheating on her, etc., etc.  However, they aren’t the subject of this post about “puzzling or ‘problem’ passages.”  This question is about two Bible verses recently mentioned by an atheist as reasons why we should reject Christianity.

I will admit that these verses are very hard to understand, especially in the loose and promiscuous times in which we live.  However, as I’ve thought about them, I’ve decided they might have something to say to our degenerate society, even though I may be lighting a fire.

These verses are found in Deuteronomy 25:11, 12:

If two men fight together, and the wife of one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of the one attacking him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the genitals, then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall not pity her. 

What in the world is that all about?  …cutting off her hand??

The question that heads this post was asked by an atheist who was using this and other verses as reasons why we shouldn’t follow Christianity.  The action in these verses wasn’t to be done by the husband, lest some take that as an excuse.

I don’t normally do this when writing a post, but I checked some commentaries and study Bibles about what others might have said.  MacArthur pointed out that this is the only case of mutilation in the Bible.  It certainly gives no excuse for the wholesale mutilations we hear about from ISIS.  Some thought it might have something to do with harming the reproductive process.  Some commented that it follows the section on Levirate Marriage.  This was an arrangement in which a brother was to marry his brother’s widow if there had been no children.  This was in order to insure that the dead brother’s line would continue in the first child that would be born of this second union.  The Pharisees challenged Jesus with this practice in Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-39.

Because it follows the section on Levirate Marriage, some thought that perhaps these verses were intended to prevent women from thinking they have a disproportionate amount of freedom.  I really don’t see that at all.  The Geneva Bible (1599) taught that it was to reinforce the idea of “shamefastness” in women.  This word means that the “shame” of doing something would hold women “fast” against doing it.  Kind of like “stand fast” against evil.  Some have suggested that that’s actually the word that should be used in 1 Timothy 2:9 (KJV), In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness [shamefastness] and sobriety,… Newer translations translate it as “godly fear” or “propriety.”

“Modest apparel”.  At the risk of “chasing rabbits,” let me say that women have nothing to be ashamed of.  God made them as they are.  At the same time, I wish they would read the words at the beginning of this paragraph.  And follow them, in church and everywhere.  Short skirts, tight clothing, cleavage.  I think you know what I mean.    And  we men aren’t exactly champions of coverup, either, especially this time of year.

Even at the beginning, after the Fall, God clothed Adam and Eve with coats [tunics] of skin.  I doubt very much “showed.”  And they were married!  No longer did they have the liberty to run around naked.

Feminism has convinced women that they have the right to be as vile as men think they have the right to be.  The point is that God set some boundaries around intimacy.  There are many, many things said about who and who may not be intimate with each other.

And Paul has something to say about this, as well.  In the chapter on marital rights and responsibilities he wrote, [before or outside marriage]it is good for a man not to touch a woman, 1 Corinthians 7:20.   He followed this up in v. 4, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.  And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

What this basically means is that there is only one person in the whole world who has the right to satisfy a person sexually, or to be intimate.  For the man, it is his wife[female]; for the wife, it is her husband[male].  Not any other person, period.

That may not be popular with our society, but I think it’s part of the message of our verses.  Even for such a good reason as defending or protecting her husband, a woman could not stray over the line of propriety.

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“He made them male and female.”

There is a lot of confusion about this simple declaration of Scripture.  (Of course, that’s the main problem in contemporary society – it’s Scripture.  Very few people really think the Bible has any relevance to or place in 2014.)  This confusion is exemplified in the recent decision by a popular social medium to add a large number of choices for folks to check in this regard as they make their profiles.   Nevertheless, no matter how you dress it, homo sapiens only comes in two models: male or female.

A few weeks ago, the popular star of a reality TV show talked about this in an interview.  I don’t know who was more upset and offended by his remarks: the gay community for disagreeing with their viewpoint, or Christians for talking about the physiological realities involved.  Granted that he perhaps could have been more careful in his choice of words, but he was just telling it as he saw it, the incompatibility of the human body with same-sex relationships.

The human body truly is an amazing organism.  It has a number of “systems” to keep it going.  The skeleton provides the framework which supports all the rest.  Muscles, ligaments and tendons hold it all together and make it possible to move and do things.  The respiratory system brings in oxygen, which the circulatory system distributes to every cell of the body several times a minute.  Not only does the circulatory system distribute oxygen to each cell, but then it picks up “waste” like carbon dioxide, which it transfers to the respiratory system, which then exhales it.  This is all done without our thought, for the most part.  True, one can hold his breath, but eventually will have to breathe.  The body will not allow you to hold your breath long enough to commit suicide.  If nothing else, you will pass out – and then the body will automatically begin to breathe.  Have you ever thought about how amazing the respiratory and circulatory systems are?  How would you like it if the same trucks which picked up your trash, say on Wednesday, then delivered your groceries on Thursday?  Then there’s the reproductive system, by which homo sapiens continues as a species.  It’s heavily muscled, to allow for the exertion of sexual activity and for the rigors of birth.  It’s specifically designed for that.  God made them male and female, and told them to bear children before the Fall. Sex isn’t just some sordid result of it.  Men have turned it into something sordid, but that’s not God’s fault.  Then there is the nervous system, which gives us a sense of touch.  The digestive system allows us to enjoy a thick steak or nice veggie burger, digest it and distribute its nutrients to every cell of the body, and to get rid of what the body doesn’t or can’t use.

The thing is, with all these systems, and others we haven’t mentioned, that while these systems are all interdependent, they are not interchangeable.  Each system has a definite role to play in the life and well-being of the individual.

Further, there’s more to the individual than just the body.  While some may dismiss this as just the result of chemical processes or genetic disposition, where do works of art come from?  Musical masterpieces?  Works of commerce and industry – good or bad. Science, which explores and seeks to explain the world in which we live?  You may say, well, they come from the brain.  That’s true, but every animal has a brain.

The Robin’s nest I wrote about a few months ago is a marvel of construction, still firmly attached to the top of the porch light through wind and rain and 8 feet of snow (not all at once!) though it is protected by the roof’s overhang.  In fact, I couldn’t remove it without literally tearing it twig from twig.  It’s stuck!  I’m waiting to see if Robins use it this spring – if it ever stops snowing!

There was a story several years ago about a chimpanzee.  This chimp was given a handful of rice mixed with grains of sand.  The object of the experiment was to see how she would cope.  There was some water nearby.  She threw this mixture into the water and was then easily able to pick out the grains of rice.  Now, that is truly something to think about – how this chimp figured out how to solve her problem.  But I don’t know of any animal that has figured out how to plant rice.

Given what she did, and there are other stories as well, still, there are no “Collected Works of Apespeare.”  No animal writes books or builds libraries.  Birds can fly and some squirrels can glide, but no animal has ever built an airplane or hang-glider.

There is a difference.  In spite of the evolutionary viewpoint which tells us that we’re just advanced primates, it’s obvious we’re different.

The idea of male and female brings up the topic of sex.  I’m sorry if that phrase offends you, but where do you think you came from?  If you’re uncomfortable with the subject, though I’ll try to be a little more careful than the reality TV star, perhaps you ought not to read the rest of the post.

I recognize that many people don’t believe the Bible.  I can’t help that; it’s there we’re going.    God made every part of His animate creation to yield seed and to reproduce itself.  Every part of animate creation does.  At the same time, sex was never meant to be an end in itself.  For every species except humans, that’s true.  Marlins and moose and myna birds don’t have “gentlemen’s clubs”.  Only humans take sex down into the sewer.

Having said that, make no mistake about it, God made sex to be enjoyable.  If it were like having a root canal, how long would the race have survived?  Even women are meant to enjoy it, contrary to that religious view which practices female circumcision.  In Genesis 18:12, after God had promised Abraham that he would have a son through his wife, Sarah, who had been eavesdropping, said, “Shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” 

“Shall I have pleasure?”  The word translated, “pleasure” is from the same root as the word translated “Eden,” as in the Garden of Eden.  Because of their sin, Adam and Eve suffered “paradise lost.”  Satan tries to convince fallen men and women that unbridled sexual activity is “paradise regained.”  It’s too bad he seems to have succeeded.

In His wisdom, God put some limits on human sexuality.  

The first limit was that it was to be between a married man and woman, married to each other, that is.  It was meant to be a privilege, the consummation of a lifelong commitment of one man to one woman – and one woman to one man.  It was never supposed to be “casual,” or the commencement of a “relationship,” or even just “a one night stand.”  It was something designed for a lifetime.  The Bible never countenances the idea that “it’s just sex,” as if it were of no more importance than selecting which clothes to wear for the day or which sandwich to have for lunch.

God made them male and female.  For that reason, same sex sexual relationships are forbidden.  Even human physiology shows their incongruity.  Male/female matches.  Male/male or female/female do not.  It’s like the two poles of a battery.  Opposite poles attract; corresponding poles do not.

The differences between male and female were to extend even to clothing.  It was forbidden to wear the clothes of the opposite sex.  I remember when pantsuits came out. In the church we went to at the time, the pastor was all up in the air about women wearing men’s clothing.  The thing is, pantsuits were designed for women.  I don’t know that I ever saw a man wearing them.  In many cultures, men and women dress similarly, but you can still tell the difference.  If we’re not supposed to wear the clothes of the opposite sex, how much less are we to try to become or live like the opposite sex?

It’s sometimes argued that we’re born with a particular sexual orientation and so can’t help it.  That may be true.  However, we’re also born as sinners, and God holds us accountable for it.  God holds us accountable for every part of our lives.

It’s sometimes argued that Jesus never talked about any of this.  That’s only partly true. Because He was a Jew, born under the Law, Galatians 4:4, He had no reason to mention it.  The Law is quite specific.  Cf. Leviticus 18 and 20, where the word nakedness refers specifically to the genitalia.  Sexual relationship between other than husband and wife – or with animals – was strictly forbidden.  Jesus had no reason to mention these things.  The laws were on the books.

He did, however, confirm the Old Testament’s original statement that He made them male and female. Matthew 19:4, 5; Mark 10:5, 6.

Sex is the one place where mankind can be the most like God, that is, in the creation of life.  Granted, there are huge, insurmountable, differences between us and our ability and God and His ability. Nevertheless, it’s the only way we can bring life into being.   

The second limit follows from the first.  Without getting into the discussion about “birth control,” sexual activity results in children.  In the Bible, children are a blessing, not a burden.

Human children are unlike any other offspring in the world.  Other offspring mature and are able to live on their own in just a few days or weeks.  In some rare cases, it may be a year or two.  Not so with human babies.  They take years.  

The baby robins who were born on my porch were grown and gone in just a few weeks. When I was growing up, we kept tropical fish.  Mama guppy was as likely to eat her offspring as not.  Precautions had to be taken to prevent her from doing so.  The male Siamese Fighting Fish was a joy to watch as he carefully built his nest of bubbles, then gently enfolded the female, squeezing the eggs from her body, at the same time fertilizing them.  Then he would carefully gather the eggs into his mouth and put them into the nest.  It was no “family affair,” though, because after the spawning was done, he was done with her and we had to put her into a different aquarium to protect her.  As the little ones hatched, he watched over them and made sure they didn’t wander too deep into the aquarium.  The pressure would have harmed them or killed them.  However, when it became more than he could handle, he was likely to put them on the menu himself.  So far as I know, there are no “granchildren” in the animal world.  After I was married, I tried to get back into the hobby.  We had some zebra danios who became heavy with eggs.  When momma danio began to lay those eggs – in a community aquarium – the other fish went wild.  Danio caviar!

I joke about it, but children are no joke!  Among our grandchildren are some teenagers. Though they’re getting there, they’re still not adults.  It may be true that children learn the majority of all they will learn in the first few years of life, but no five-year-old is ready for his own apartment.

God intended sexual activity to be confined to marriage, and marriage was to be the foundation of family and the cement which held it together.  Family was to be the foundation of society.  I understand, especially in our day, there are a lot of single mothers – and fathers.  I also understand there are reasons for this, but the main one is that society has thrown out the idea of “the traditional family” to a large extent and made sex an end in itself.  Children are just an unfortunate “byproduct.”  The woman is usually the one who gets stuck with them.  She suffers and so do the kids.  This has become an acceptable norm.  At a place I worked, one of the young women had either become pregnant, or knew someone who had.  One of her co-workers asked who the father was.  The tone of her voice was no different than if she had asked where the first girl got her outfit.  At another place, one of the young men was bragging about the fact that he had eight children by five different women.  He was rejoicing that he had now become a man, because he finally had a daughter!  It doesn’t take anything special in a man to get a woman pregnant.  It does take something to commit to that woman, stay with her, take care of her and help raise the children the man fathers!

There’s something else.  There was a story on the internet about a man who had just discovered that the family he had been in for many years was not his real family.  He was trying to find his original family, in part so “he could find out who he was.”  Our family forms our first sense of identity.

It’s a great shame that the concept of “family” is more far likely to be molded by Tuesday night “comedy” on TV than it is by Scripture. 

Fathers have almost become irrelevant, except as sperm donors, and even that is often done impersonally through third party “sperm banks” or fertility clinics.  Men might want to rethink that, though.  A judge recently ruled that one such sperm donor was responsible for child support (!)

In the original creation, it took male and female to be “complete”.  Eve wasn’t created with some perceived inferiority in herself, but because of the incompleteness of Adam. There’s more to it than this, of course, but a man – or a woman – can’t conceive by themselves.  Neither are they supposed to raise children by themselves.

It’s in the family that we get our first lessons of living with others.  We learn to share – at least in theory.  We learn to get along with others.  We also learn about something called “authority.”  Too often in our society, it’s the kids who run things, but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.  Parents are there to teach kids that not only is there such a thing as authority, but that there is an ultimate authority – God.  We need to learn that we can’t just run around doing whatever we want without regard for others.  The chaos in our society and among our youth is there because this basic truth has been discarded and kids grow up with the idea that they’re number one.  This carries over into adulthood and we see the ruin that accompanies that viewpoint all around us.

There’s more to our lives than what happens in the bedroom.  That is why He made them male and female.  

Love Is Not A Four Letter Word.

“Sure it is!” someone might say.  “L-O-V-E.  Four letters.”

That’s true, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  The “four letters” to which I refer are those short four-letter words which express profanity and/or obscenity.

“Love” has been so dragged into the cesspool of our modern society that it’s really hard to find true examples of it.  Or to get a correct definition of it.  Hollywood has no clue.  Sadly, neither do a large percentage of people of all ages.

Especially in Hollywood, or on what passes for TV in our time, “love” is almost always limited to the physical – how quickly A and B can get into bed.  Sex has become just “casual,” with couples meeting together, maybe only once, for no other reason than to satiate their physical desires. Even where there is a “relationship,” instead of the consummation of something in which a man and a woman have pledged themselves to lifelong fidelity, it almost seems as if sex has become the commencement of a relationship, which no longer is “til death do us part,” but “til desire does depart,” and one or the other or both go off to find greener pastures.  Or “the love” turns to hate, usually on the part of the male, and he begins to abuse the woman.

There is an OT example of this in 2 Samuel 13 (NKJV): the incident of Amnon, a son of David, and Tamar, the sister of another of David’s sons.  Amnon lusted for Tamar because she was lovely and pure.  Instead of Amnon being honorable and seeking to marry her, 2 Samuel 13:13, a friend of his devised a stratagem whereby Amnon could satisfy his lust.  Without going into the sordid details, we’re interested only in the result of all this.  After he raped her, we read in v. 15, “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,” and he had her thrown out.

You want to know why there has been such an increase in “domestic violence”?  2 Samuel gives us a lot of the answer.  A distorted definition of “love” has permeated our society, but where there is only a physical attraction and nothing else, the attraction can turn to loathing and hatred.  Since the moral foundation of our society has pretty well been destroyed, violence is often the result.  Even when the couple stays together, because the man has no understanding of his responsibility toward the woman, he often makes her life miserable, with verbal and physical abuse.  There is no excuse – ever – EVER – for a man to hit a woman.

Now, lest we be misunderstood, God designed and created men and women as sexual beings.  One of the first things He told them to do was to have children, and this was before they sinned against Him.  Sex is not some sordid result of their Fall, but an integral and vital part of their creation.

We ought to be thankful that God has made those things which are necessary for the survival and continuation of the human race is pleasurable, not painful.  If eating, for example, always produced severe nausea, or sex was painful like a root canal, or sleep, instead of being restful, was filled with nightmares, how long would the race have survived?

Because sex is pleasurable, and can result in children, God set boundaries in which, and only in which, sex may be enjoyed.  Hebrews 13:4 says Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.  It is only in marriage that sex may properly and with God’s blessing be enjoyed.  And I say, “enjoyed.”  Proverbs 5:18b-19 says, …rejoice with the wife of your youth.  As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.  And this isn’t just for the husband.  In Genesis 18:12,  after eavesdropping on the conversation of three strangers with her husband, in which they assure him that his wife Sarah would bear his child, she said to herself, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”   And marriage isn’t just two people living together.  In John 4, when talking to the Samaritan lady, Jesus told her that she had had five husbands and the man she was now living with wasn’t her husband. Jesus gave no sanction to her relationship.

Because children may be the result of sexual activity, it is only in marriage that such activity is permitted.  Children need the stability of a family, mom, dad, maybe brothers and sisters in which to grow and learn to live in society.  The woman needs the stability of marriage in order to be able to properly “mother” her children and raise them as they ought to be raised.  The man needs the stability of marriage to settle him down to the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. The children need the stability and security of marriage and the family as they navigate the shoals of growing up and going through adolescence.   And, yes, I can hear the howls of the feminists at such patriarchal “male chauvinism.”  What does the Scripture say, Romans 4:3.

At work one day, I heard a young man boasting about the fact that he had eight children by five different women.  I don’t know if he were telling the truth or not, but he was now talking about having become a “man,” because he finally had a daughter.  He probably had no idea that “a man” would take care of those women and children (even though polygamy isn’t favorably portrayed in Scripture.  Though I doubt he was married to any of the women).  Another man, one of his “achievements” in life was that he had 21 children.

Beyond that, there is the spread of STDs, the poverty of single women trying to raise children by themselves, the misery of the children as they are often neglected or subjected to a succession of men in their mother’s lives.  Debauchery, deviancy, degeneracy, disease, death.  These are just some of the sad results of the abandonment of God’s wisdom in this part of human life.

You see, there is wisdom in the limitation of sex to within the boundary of marriage.

Love is not simply an emotion, or emotionalism, or sentimentality.  It isn’t just feelings, or hormones.  It might involve feelings or hormones, but it is so much more than that.  Even at the physical level, it is so much more than that.  Love is an attitude.  So much of the world thinks that love is about “me,” if you “love” me, you’ll let me do what I want.  It’s all about my happiness, my wants, my satisfaction.  Seldom if ever does such an attitude really think about the other person.  This is not love, it is selfishness.  True love thinks mainly about the other person.

On the other hand, true love is not to be confused with indulgence.  Even God’s love, and perhaps especially God’s love, is not mere indulgence.  Hebrews 5:5, 6 says, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, not be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.  Read the section down to v. 11 to get the whole thought.  This has something to say about the relationship between parent and child.  Although this post isn’t primarily about parenting, “love” is.  The world has the idea that the child should be able to do, apparently, whatever it wants.  The parent can’t discipline the child, just give him or her a “time out.”  Any sort of physical discipline, i.e., “spanking,” is strictly forbidden.  I remember listening to a lady radio psychologist several years ago when the subject of spanking came up.  The caller was in favor of it.  The lady became so upset and irate at such a thought that she was practically incoherent in her response.  That’s a lot of the attitude today.

There is a difference between a spanking properly administered and abuse, which is often how it’s categorized.  Actually, the abuse comes in, partly because the parent doesn’t understand discipline at all, or because the parent becomes so frustrated that he can’t do anything to the child without getting into trouble that he finally lashes out and oversteps the boundary between discipline and abuse.  Society contributes to this by encouraging the child to turn his parent in if the child doesn’t like what they do to him.  No child is going to like a spanking.

My grandmother used to tell a story.  She was born and raised in Indiana, a few miles south of where I live now.  Became a school teacher.  She never said why, but she moved to Boulder, Colorado – now affectionately known as “The People’s Republic of Boulder.”  (I lived in Denver, 30 miles away, a good part of my life.)  There was a school there looking for a teacher.  She applied for the job.  Remember, we’re talking about 1918 or so. She was around 20.  The school board warned her that there was an unruly student in the school who had driven out the last three teachers.  Did she still want the job?  Would the school board back her up?  They would.  So she took the job.

Sure enough, the boy began to make trouble.  Grandma was the youngest of 11 brothers and sisters, so she knew what to do.  She grabbed him by the ear, or arm, and took a yardstick to him.  Took one to me a few times, too.  I deserved it.  Anyway, fast forward about 30 years to 1947.  On vacation, Grandma and Grandpa were driving through New Mexico on their way to Carlsbad Caverns, when the car began to overheat.  Grandpa stopped at a gas station to get some water for the car, went around the back of the building, and fell over, dead.  The assistant district attorney for this little town out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, who came to help, turned out to be this same boy, now grown up!  He thanked her for whipping him all those years ago.  Said that without it he probably would be on the other side of the law.

You know what would happen if a teacher were foolish enough to try that today.  She would be the one in trouble and the boy would be soothed and pampered because he was “a troubled youth,” physically abused by an out-of-control school teacher.  You know as well as I do that that would happen.

That’s what’s wrong with our youth today – no discipline.  “Love” has been redefined as indulgence.  I know that not all “troubled youth” go on to lives spent in jail, but that’s no thanks to society.

Ephesians 5:25-29 says, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church,…holy and without blemish.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies….  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord the church.

We husbands are pretty good about v. 22, where the wife is to submit to your own husband, as to the Lord, but we fall down pretty badly on the nourishing and cherishing and loving her the way Christ loves us.  This post really isn’t about marriage or parenting, but it is about love, love that is concerned about the other person and seeks their welfare.  That’s where it starts, humanly speaking, between a husband and wife and then between them and their children – and children and their parents.  I appreciated my own mother a lot more after I had kids of my own than I ever did growing up.  But by then it was too late to tell her that.

Finally, love isn’t about “tolerance,” that is, we’re not to judge another person’s beliefs or lifestyle or anything.  It is said that there are no absolutes, at least not the ones taught by Scripture.  While it may be true that love covers a multitude of sins, it is also true that love doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, 1 Corinthians 13:6.  John, “the apostle of love,” wrote in 1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  There’s a lot out there that claims to be from God that has nothing to do with Scripture, or Him.

Love, when properly understood, is the best of human characteristics.  Misunderstood, it can become the worst.

I understand that a lot of what I’ve written is controversial, because it goes against the grain of current thinking.  I can’t help that.  What does the Scripture say? Romans 4:3.