Christ our Identity, not our Marital Status

Reflecting on the previous post, I think a corrective, or perhaps an addendum is in order.

This world is cursed and fallen, and this curse affects us in all kinds of ways.  Some women don’t have husbands, or husbands who are unbelievers.  Some women are gravely ill for much of their lives.  Some women married men who turned out to be wicked and divorced them, and wisely chose for various reasons to stay single after that.  Some Christian women throughout history have been slaves in the houses of unbelievers.  A great many situations have existed, and those situations always need to be taken into account.

Our goal in this life is not the achievement of particular goals, particular career or ministry success.  Our goal is Christ, and our identity is Christ.  Talking in that previous post about God’s design for husbands and wives, it is important to recognize that this is an ideal to strive for, but we must be realistic about the circumstances we all must find ourselves in, and accept them as from God.  Our providential circumstances may prevent us from ever getting very close at all to the aforementioned ideal of a husband and wife mutually respecting each other, or of a wife being able to contribute a great deal to a husband’s earthly success.  But our identity is not primarily as wives or as husbands, or even as men or women.  Our primary identity is Christ, and our primary goal is becoming Christlike, and that can and does happen in any kind of circumstance God places us in.

I don’t wish to retract anything I wrote in that previous article, for I believe it is Biblical.  But I also know that Paul told his followers in Corinth to be content where they were- if married, stay married.  If single, stay single.  Not that Paul is forbidding marriage to the single, or even necessary divorce, which he teaches in other places.  But too often Christians have communicated the idea that the valuable Christian life can only be lived in a specific set of circumstances- in the Middle Ages, the best Christians were all single, and in the current age the best Christians are all married.  But Paul speaks differently- Christians are seeking Christ in whatever circumstances they are in.  You don’t need to change your marital status one way or the other to be pursuing Christlikeness- you can do that right where you are.

Part of seeking Christ means learning His law, and learning how He has made things, as guided by Scripture.  The providential design for humanity is male and female, and maleness and femaleness are very good.  But marriage is a temporary state.  There will be no marriage in the resurrection.  But there will be Christ in the resurrection, and above all and in all, regardless of our circumstances, He must be our identity and our goal.

Protect your supply line; Value your wives

They say, “Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics.”  Or also, “An army marches on its stomach.”  I actually found a whole page of quotes along these lines here, the jist of which is that if you don’t know your logistics, you lose.  It goes all the way back to Sun Tzu, who said in the Art of War, “The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…”  One of my personal favorites comes from Alexander the Great: “My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.”  Even as mighty as David was, he knew his soldiers couldn’t fight if they were starving so he visited the priests of Nob to find some bread.

It doesn’t matter really how fierce or skilled your warriors are.  If they are not at the battlefield, you lose the battle.  And if they’re not fed well, you lose the battle.  And if they have no ammunition, or boots, or guns, you lose the battle.  Napoleon lost at Waterloo because his artillery wasn’t there.  Hitler lost in Russia because he hadn’t planned on the massive Russian logistical advantage, their superior understanding of weather and terrain conditions in their own country, and the vulnerability of his very long supply lines.

Every army has a whole support apparatus.  It has cooks, wagonmasters, medics, mechanics, paymasters, and the like, or whatever you call such people in whatever kind of military you’re fighting in.  But they’re always there.  It might be the warriors that make it into the history books more, because history books are by necessity oversimplifications of the real story, and because people are lazy and prefer simple stories of the grand charges and the fierce duels.  But the pros know that the difference between victory and defeat is often far more prosaic than that.

The wagon train is always weak, though.  It has to be protected.  Disrupting supply, attacking the rear and hitting the supply train, is a time-honored tactic of war.  The weakness and vulnerability of the supply train doesn’t mean it’s less valuable, however.  It’s crucial.

I draw this out to make a particular point about women.  I don’t think it’s an accident that there’s a great similarity between one of those quotes- “Behind every great leader there was an even greater logistician,” and one you might also know, “Behind every great man is a great woman.”  Women are particularly gifted to enable men to succeed.  They provide emotional support and stability.  They are great at remembering all the details.  That’s why you often see women in support roles- secretary, nurse, housewife.  I think of those roles like the wagon train- maybe not as glamorous, but absolutely vital to success.  Fewer women make it into the history books than men, but that’s because history books are oversimplifications.  I bet if we knew more about the stories of history, we would consistently find women as vital but overlooked parts of the stories, in far more cases than we now know.

The Bible tells us that women are the weaker vessel, but are to be honored for that.  They are to be protected and cared for, because they are vital to men’s success.  The gifts of women are often not as obvious as the gifts of men, and the simplistic stories tend to favor the man who tends to excel at one thing rather than the woman who tends to excel at keeping all the different pieces together behind the scene.  They are also often the soft underbelly, and the devil will attack them.  Women away from the protection of men are often easy pickings, which is why false teachers often build their ministry on such women as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:6.  The devil targeted Eve first in his deception, but the blame falls mostly not on her, but on Adam.  Women were created to partner with men to enable their joint success.  Even Jesus had a lot of women around that supported him.  So did Paul (read Romans 16).  And in an imperfect world there are exceptions, women who have accomplished great things on their own, single men who achieved much.  But we ought not be guided by exceptions but by the rule.

I have two main applications to make here.  To men- value your wives.  Cherish and protect them.  He who loves his wife loves his own flesh, and the more cherished and protected your wife is, the more beneficial she will be to you.  Realize how important to your success she is, and tell her that, frequently.  A wife that feels valued and vital is far less likely to stray.  And to women- don’t envy what you are not.  Value what you are.  Every cook and mechanic in an army has it drilled into them constantly in training that though they may not get the glory, everyone who knows anything knows how absolutely vital and crucial they are to the success of the army.  But a cook who envies the limelight and goes trying to fight battles on their own is likely to get slaughtered.  And every experienced pastor I know knows how vital a good wife is to success in the ministry, and how crippling a bad wife is.  Don’t tear down your own house; build it up.  Value the protection of your husband and build him up to help him provide that protection.  Feed and supply him well!

We are not all warriors, and we are not all cooks and mechanics.  And that’s OK- God made us to need each other, not to be self-sufficient.  And I’m not saying every woman belongs in such-and-such a role, or every man.  But I am saying, value what God has made you, submit yourself to His will, realize the excellence of God’s different design for men and women, and explore, in faith and prayer, what this means for you in your particular life and situation.  And seek to excel in whatever role God put you in, knowing that every part of the army is vital to success.  The devil hates women in particular, I am convinced, recognizing their power but also their vulnerability, and attacks women with contempt for what they are and envy for what they are not, and at the same time attacks men with contempt for the weaker vessel and pride over the ways they excel, and in doing so the devil destroys both the woman and the man.

But through the gospel we can see the excellent design of God for both, and value both, precisely because they are different.

The Eighth Day

“Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work, but the seventh is the Sabbath.”
 
The Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles was a week-long celebration, remembering God’s preservation of Israel through the wilderness and the gift of the Promised Land, culminating on the eighth day. The Year of Jubilee, a freedom from all debt and slavery and a return to the land promised to their ancestors, happened on the 50th year, after a cycle of seven Sabbath years, seven sevens. A child in Israel was circumcised on the eighth day in Israel.
 
In Luke 4:18 Jesus told the Jews of Nazareth that the Year of Jubilee, the Year of the Lord’s Favor, had come.
 
Jesus came into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover week. He did His final week of work, finishing it on the sixth day. He rested in the grave on the seventh day, the most perfect Sabbath ever kept, and He rose again on the eighth day. This is why the ancient church typically spoke not of worship on the first day of the week, but the eighth- not a mere moving of the Sabbath Day, but a completion and transcending of the whole system, something many elements of the Old Testament Law anticipate, and something we celebrate every Lord’s Day.

The Blunt Answer of Job to the Problem of Suffering

Reading through the book of Job recently, I was struck once again with how different the book’s answers are to our questions about why things happen, especially suffering, than the way we answer those questions ourselves.

Compassion is a good thing, and we certainly ought to show compassion- to weep with those who weep, to bear each other’s burdens.  But this book is a really key book in understanding why suffering happens, and its answer sounds downright blunt and uncompassionate.  But often the kindest thing we can do is give people the truth.

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Stop Crying Wolf

This is perfect.  From a liberal, atheist Jew Hillary voter.

Stop fearmongering. Somewhere in America, there are still like three or four people who believe the media, and those people are cowering in their houses waiting for the death squads.

Stop crying wolf. God forbid, one day we might have somebody who doesn’t give speeches about how diversity makes this country great and how he wants to fight for minorities, who doesn’t pose holding a rainbow flag and state that he proudly supports transgender people, who doesn’t outperform his party among minority voters, who wasn’t the leader of the Salute to Israel Parade, and who doesn’t offer minorities major cabinet positions. And we won’t be able to call that guy an “openly white supremacist Nazi homophobe”, because we already wasted all those terms this year.

Stop talking about dog whistles. The kabbalistic similarities between “dog-whistling” and “wolf-crying” are too obvious to ignore.

Stop writing articles breathlessly following everything the KKK says. Stop writing several times more articles about the KKK than there are actual Klansmen. Remember that thing where Trump started out as a random joke, and then the media covered him way more than any other candidate because he was so outrageous, and gave him what was essentially free advertising, and then he became President-elect of the United States? Is the lesson you learned from this experience that you need 24-7 coverage of the Ku Klux Klan?

Read the whole thing.  It’s long, and every sentence is brilliant.

Promoting God’s Law is More Important than a Successful Trump Presidency

From Calvin’s commentary on Isaiah 1:23-

…no disease is more injurious than that which spreads from the head into the whole body, so no evil is more destructive in a commonwealth than a wicked and depraved prince, who conveys his corruptions into the whole body both by his example and by the liberty which he allows.  Hence, too, comes the proverb, “like mistress, like maids.”

I confess to being optimistic for the possible good things that may be done by President Trump.  We know what Hillary’s presidency would have brought.

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Riots Are Not Protests

I agree with this wholeheartedly:

  • Let police use the time-tested, old-fashioned methods to quell riots.

  • Prosecute and jail those calling for the President-elect’s assassination.

  • Toss vandals in the hoosegow. Give them the maximum sentence.

  • Arrest those who illegally block traffic and disturb the peace. Truncheon those who resist arrest. Insist on large monetary penalties.

  • Prosecute for conspiracy and racketeering those who funded illegal riots and disturbances of the peace.

  • Institute martial law (when necessary). Restore order.

The second someone throws a brick at a protest, they should be treated as enemies of civilization with all that entails.  The second someone throws things at police or at windows of shops, they lose all right to express any political opinion at all, for they are at war with the country.

Counterpoint- Socialism Ruins Countries

As a counterpoint to my last post, I am not saying politics don’t matter.  They do.  Read this heartbreaking story of the collapse of Venezuela.  And it is socialism that has killed them.

But politics is always downstream from other things.  The good of the society will always depend more on the way people as a whole think and act.  Venezuela stole people’s property back in the ’70s, and kept doing it for years.  People thought they could get something for nothing.  Now they are paying the price, and how.  And it would be nothing but racism to think that such a thing could never happen here.  We’re going down the very same road.