Money & Our Faith – Let’s Get This Straight…

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matt 6:24)

I am going to put this passage into full perspective and find out what Jesus meant by saying this – since this is hugely overlooked and mis-interpreted in Christendom. It’s a value we need to start setting in it’s correct place. This whole chapter from vs. 1 – 34 is tied together by this central theme – money.

Firstly, you have the 3 passages about hypocritical faith and ‘reward’. In ‘giving to the poor’ (vs.2), when you ‘pray’ (vs.5), and when you ‘fast’ (vs.16) – do not do these things to be noticed by ‘people’ – as Jesus states ‘they have their reward in full’. What reward? Public attention? Looking holy? Gloating? I actually think that is a piece of it – but it is no small stretch to also see that these same people that ‘looked righteous’ also did it for public show so people would give to their ‘faith structure’ (knowing they were ‘holy men of God’). It seems their reward is the actual money they recieve from the un-knowing people that think these people are ‘doing good’ – when all in all – they are not quite what they claim.

Vs.1 sets the actual precedent for the chapter “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
Basically, is it that – God does not care about the amount of wealth we can build? Have at er’ – so to speak. No. The people were using their religious system to guarantee they would have money – and likely accumulate quite a bit of it – so as to secure themselves a position in society. They get noticed for doing good – people admire that – they give to that system cause it looks ‘godly’ (trend keeps going until someone points it out). Jesus is pointing it out! And we wonder why he is hated in his day? Never get between someone and their ‘cash cow’.

This is further pointed out in vs.19-24 (so as to hammer the point home). Vs. 19-21 talks about storing treasure in heaven, not on earth (accumulation of wealth) – why? Cause your ‘heart’ will be tainted by the very thing you admire – at some point God chases ‘wealth’ or becomes void due to it. Vs. 22-23 talks about the eye and how it see’s light (perspective). If the light becomes ‘darkness’ or ‘shaded’ then rhetorically – ‘how great is this darkness!’. Basically, money can shade people’s very views about religion and society – and make them change what is actually being said for personal gain. Vs. 24 wraps it up – you can’t serve both money and God (since perspective is skewed in the process). Jesus seems to be stating very clearly – money can jade even the finest religous person – so much so – they betray the very thing they hold dear – God.

Verses 25-34 are passages about ‘don’t worry’ concerning food, clothing, drink, life span, and time – these things God does ‘care about’ concerning you. This is in complete contrast to the idea of wealth building for personal use/gain. I know it’s not the norm in a capital-ist society to think like this but if you read closely it all makes a lot of sense.

See what if the system worked as it should? What if the teachings did not have to badger people about their personal ‘love of wealth?’. It’s not that far off that these same people (religious folk) would develop a system/society where that wealth is shared with one another (including the poorest of them) – in area’s like clothing, shelter, food/drink, and security. We would actually see a faith system something like this in Acts? If you check that Acts passage out you find they are people of faith – devoted to the ‘teachings, prayer, and passover/communion’. They ‘had all things in common’ (shared) – including shelter, possessions (clothing very possibly), food/drink, and friendship. We just might find our anxieties wash away too ‘Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe’ (the people in this passage hardly look ‘worried’). Could this be what Jesus was pointing to in this passage in Matt 6?

So some logic…1 + 1 = 2 – normal math we all know is true. Now if I keep finding passages like this in the gospels and letters – then at some point if the addition keeps adding up (and not subtracting) – then we must have a consistent theme: Matt 19:21, Luke 12:33, Luke 16:1-13, Acts 4:34, Rev 3:16-18, Matt 5:3, I Cor 4:8-14, Mark 4:19, I Tim 6:17-18, Luke 6:24, I Tim 6:9-10, James 5:1-6, James 2:1-9, Luke 12:18-20, Matt 21:12, Luke 16:14, I Tim 3:3, 2 Tim 3:2, Heb 13:5. 3 gospels, a history, 4 letters of Paul (if Hebrews is), and James and John. All of these passages tie into this theme in one way or another concerning wealth and religious hypocrisy (and it’s dangers).

My Verdict for the teachings: Capital-ism and faith cannot be partners together to make one believe they are adopting the values of the teachings of Christ – this is contradiction.

Advertisements

Is Jesus’ Teachings All That Bad?

“What we cannot do (in my opinion) is disregard the “Jesus bits” we don’t like, simply under the method that we don’t like them. They ARE there.” (Dagoods)

I think Dagoods raises a good point – we cannot forget one piece of Jesus teachings when we look at the whole thing – agreed. I have looked through the gospels with my own eyes and I cannot find a single teaching – via Jesus – that seems all that bad. There is the Luke ‘hate‘ passage, I have seen Jesus calling out the ‘Pharisee’s‘, and even the lady called a ‘dog‘. I have actually went into various explanations about each verse on my own blog – hate, pharisee’s, and the dog passage (actually I never blogged on this – commented on another site about it).

I actually stand by something I said in other comments – find me one single place where Jesus actually teaches something horribly wrong (that will ruin society)? I have yet to see one single passage as of yet – I can look harder – but what’s the use – I have read those gospels at least 50 times each – and nothing about vices as virtues is ever supported. Now this may happen in current society (churches and religious groups) but the texts themselves do not support it.

Things I learned from Jesus’ teachings are: love my neighbor (even if he is someone who dislikes me), compassion, treat others how I want to be treated, problems start as thoughts, equality of men and women/everyone, the rich need to care for the poor, we are to be subject to the justice system, seek justice, don’t be a hypocrite, forgiveness & mercy, judging my own behavior (or don’t judge at all), being a peacemaker vs. a troublemaker, integrity, knowing about religious hypocrisy, freedom, sincerity, fake oaths & lying should not be done, doing something instead of merely believing something, wisdom tempered by peacefulness, charity, an outlook of hope, etc…this list can go on and on.

Just showing that the things Jesus actually taught are meant to result in good ends – peace, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, honesty, and a belief system that has at it’s core value love. That can’t be all that bad?

“I agree that there is nothing wrong with borrowing from Jesus’ teaching. I say we can do better than Jesus teaching!” (Dagoods)

I think it is a hopeful outlook to hold onto – when looking at ‘we’ as ‘those involved in the conversation’ – but for one side of this convo (myself) – the place I honed my values was from the teachings of Jesus (from my teens even until now). I would like to think I can ‘do better’ (as you suggest) – but I would be quite mind-boggled to figure out how that might even look – or how I could actually teach a whole new innovative system that reflects values even shades higher than that of Jesus’? I have a tough time figuring out something higher than ‘love’?

Maybe it’s just me – but the bible’s values are quite alright and can help to shift someone’s life from a certain destructive pattern to one of peace – it can happen you know.

Big Brother & Faith

Recently I have been watching Big Brother 8 and there are a few people on there that are trying to defend their faith…to someone else on that show (an athiest). There is one obvious problem with the whole thing – it is all theologically biased.

First off, they are playing a game – in which the basis is for each person to compete to win (and only 1 person can win). Am I to believe that God wants the Christian people to win over and above anyone else on there? I am not sure scripture even backs that claim up. Apparently, all things being equal (rain/sunshine) – shows God treats all people equal irregardless of their belief systems.

Secondly, why should God even be concerned with a tv show/game? It’s like that old conundrum when two teams pray before the games – should God help one team over the other? Also, with these games meaning very little to the totality of life – just makes no sense that God would be concerned?

Thirdly, I cannot find in Jesus’ teachings good reasons for anyone to even so as think he would be concerned with a game-show. We are talking about a national show (watched by millions) for the enjoyment of the watchers – isn’t that type of exposure ‘reward enough’?

I watch the show and I saw the Christian people do things that run contrary to their very belief systems – as in calling people vicious names (bitch is an example) and outright flaunting of their belief system before others. I sometimes have to stop and wonder if they feel alright by merely ‘believing something’ and not by ‘living something’? All I am saying is theologically speaking – the beliefs they proport as Christian just might not be all that is to be said on the subject.

Presbyterians – Lied On Their ‘Outdated’ Website

I was going through the Presbyterian of Canada’s website and noticed they look horrible in their FAQ page about Aboriginal people – and to be perfectly honest – they lie and seem smug in a few places about their claims. Anyways, I wrote their website and their national Native leaders a few questions – maybe they can answer me – likely not but heck – someone has to do it?

**Note this was sent to the National Presbyterian Church…just trying to see if any church involved in the genocide of Aboriginal people will ‘try it’s own members for their crimes’.

Hi, I was just reading your FAQ on your National website about Residential Schools and I have some serious questions about the whole thing.

“As at November 2000: Approximately 16, representing about 80 plaintiffs” (came forward and filed suits against the church)

This is an old statistic – has this grown in the past 7 years? I notice you only ran 2 schools in Canada (which would account for the low amount of cases) – but I have to think these numbers have grown. (I have now found out the Presbyterians ran 9 schools across Canada – so this is an ‘out and out’ lie about their past. Top that off this church worked with the United church and could be even more involved than the 9 schools mentioned).

“None have gone to trial, nor any to pretrial or discovery. Initial statements of defense have been filed in 3 suits…All allege cultural abuse, all are civil suits and a few allege physical and/or sexual abuse. No criminal charges or convictions have been present with respect to these suits, or related to our schools.”

Interesting, is this for marketing purposes or is this church trying not to come clean about the things they did to Indian children? How can you guys be paying money out for things that ‘no one did’? So if it is found out that members of the Presbyterian church did rape (pedophilia) and beat (physical abuse of a child that is not theirs) – will those people be tried by the laws of Canada and labelled appropriately? What if it is alleged that kids never made it home – are you guys willing to look into that? I am only talking about the church being as Christian as it is supposed to be – no more and no less – even if it can even be said you still represent Christ in Canada? (All in all – they do admit to certain crimes happening but as to there being any people tried – it is this aspect they seem glib about).

PS: My dad attended Birtle – and he came out a very messed up person…was actually the same attributes he recieved while in your school (physically and emotionally abusive). Thank God for your church!

“it is unlikely that the financial viability of the denomination is in jeopardy…The Presbyterian Church in Canada, under the agreement, will see its financial obligation for compensation drop from $2.1M to 1.32M”

Interesting that the gov’t settlement would work out in your favor (and why not – they allowed you to exist in the first place). Secondly, finances do not equal actual justice – trying people for their crimes does – or does all your fancy healing ministries with Aboriginals mention this? I couldn’t find it anywhere! (Is it just me or do they seem proud that financially they will pay less for crimes they committed?).

“will be cautious about entering unless we are certain that they will be of benefit to the Church, insofar as possible, our relationship with aboriginal people” (with concerns to alternative answers to the school problems afterwards)

Why not to the benefit of justice…God forbid a little of that should actually come out of a ‘Christian church’ and someone be found guilty for their ‘hate’. As for relationships with Aboriginal people – are you sure even have one? How much of that is predicated on them not knowing your history in full detail? If that is possible – can I view the full history of your church with regards to Aboriginals in your schools? If not, what you hiding and who you hiding? (If that statement I bolded don’t take the cake and reveal their intentions – I don’t know what will).

“Saskatoon Native Circle Ministry”

I will make sure to contact them to with these questions. Maybe he can visit a little website called http://hiddenfromhistory.org/ (along with those jails he goes to) also and get some real perspective on what justice is too. Actually upon further review – I am not sure this dude even is still in Saskatoon…is he?

Are these questions answerable? Either way ‘We support healing processes that arise from Aboriginal peoples themselves‘ (from the national website itself). I propose we seek out any and all clergy that committed sexual, physical, or any other offenses against Aboriginal people and have them tried in a court of law (full disclosure of what happened) – easy enough?

United Church – Beliefs (A Harsh Critique)

1. The Bible: As a source of wisdom, personal prayer, and devotion, we believe the Bible can bring us closer to God…one of our best ways of experiencing God’s continuing work of creation and liberation in the world, while offering us forgiveness, healing, and new life in Jesus. We often refer to a passage as “the Word of God.” By this we mean the writer was inspired by God.

**I really can’t say too much about this – actually I agree.

2. Sacraments: A sacrament is a symbolic action, or ritual, by which people of faith encounter the presence and goodness of God. In a sacrament, ordinary things like water, bread, and wine are used to point us to God and God’s love, reminding us of the sacred in life.

**I slightly disagree – only to say that ‘the presence’ and a ‘reminder’ are 2 different things.

3. Baptism: Baptism is a symbolic action that signifies the new life God gives us as we join the church community. Baptism uses water as a symbolic cleansing that signifies the acceptance of new life within the church family. The sacrament of baptism is the single rite of initiation into the Christian community, the church.

**I also agree with the theology here – the symbolism of it. It is used an acceptance ritual – of which most churches are up front about. They do also admit to the baptism of kids and that no baptism in no way assures someone condemnation. The kids thing I am not sure about (but I have very little qualms with it either) and I like their stand on the issue.

4. Communion: A symbolic meal. Communion is celebrated at a table that suggests the dining table in our homes. At the communion table, we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the host and all are guests.

**I like the inclusion of the meal and that they can recognize it’s symbolism in the event. They acknowledge Jesus in this process and it leaves me little room for any serious issues.

5. Inclusiveness: Jesus welcomed everyone, whether they were poor, rich, or just getting by; ill or healthy; self-made or educated; popular or a loner; secure or full of doubts. The United Church of Canada prides itself on welcoming everyone the way Jesus did, regardless of age, race, class, gender, orientation, or physical ability.

**Ha ha…oh man…for a second I thought they were serious when they said this. What I find totally odd about this church making this statement is they still have not taken full responsibility for their crimes against Aboriginal people in Canada and just recently booted out a United minister (Kevin Annett) for his stand on looking into the issue (actually persecuted him over it). They treat gay people as equals but have very little room for the Aboriginal contingent within Canada. I mention this in a previous blog.

6. Children: The church works hard to appreciate people of all ages, from grandparents to newborns.

**Cool – sounds awesome to me!

7. Marriage: We see people as unique, loved creations of God. We also see relationships as living things that require preparation and nurture. The United Church marries: previously divorced people & couples of different religions. We believe God intends loving relationships to be faithful, responsible, just, healing, and sustaining of the couple and those around them. These relationships may be between a woman and a man, or between people of the same gender.

**I could really care less what a church does on this issue – since I am under the current belief that no institution has the official right to either sanctify or grant the rights of something that has always existed – irregardless of said institution. So who cares.

8. Multi-Faith Relations: The United Church of Canada views the religious practice of all people of goodwill with respect and gratitude. We believe the Spirit of God is at work in many different faith communities. For Christians, Jesus is the way we know God. Our understanding is nonetheless limited by human imagination. God is greater still and works in our world by a mysterious Spirit that knows no distinction at the doorway of a Christian chapel; Buddhist, Hindu, or Sikh temple; Aboriginal sweat lodge, Muslim mosque, or Jewish synagogue.

**I like the inclusion aspect of this belief but it fails to represent true honesty – what if those other faith systems have serious holes in them? Do we address that? Do they address that? I am all for all of us working together – but I am also game for the fact each religion has it’s own problems to work out also.

9. Social Justice: Caring for one another was central to Jesus’ teachings: Feed the hungry, satisfy the thirsty, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit those in prison. To this end, we cooperate with other churches, faith traditions, and people of goodwill to eliminate poverty and protect those who are most vulnerable. Throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the United Church works with 143 churches and organizations we call partners by supporting work they see as vital to their well-being.

**I like their theology on this issue and agree 100% – but this church is hypocritical. Look at all the wonderful work they do in 143 other countries meanwhile back in Canada – they have never had a single member of their residential school system pay for the crimes they committed in God’s name upon Aboriginal people. These people are even so audacious to say they support Aboriginal people’. When in fact they are trying to cover-up the past abuses they visited upon Aboriginal people – including rape, murder, torture, cultural extermination, etc (no one has been tried and convicted).

Kevin Annett brough this up to them – he was fired, excommunicated, had his divorce paid for, and was stalled at every measure by this church when he simply looked for ‘justice‘ concerning the United Church’s past (all this in the mid 1990’s – based on crimes ranging from the 1910’s – 60’s). Is this a church that sounds like it follows Christ or it’s own institution now? Either way – I will boycott them until they come clean on the whole issue and quit trying to ‘save face’ for the sake of membership.

What did Paul say once ‘I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.’ (I cor 5:5-7). Even this church cannot out-run the very bible and passover they so dearly commend in their faith statement. So I commend their church for destruction/cleaning until they can become ‘even again’ – and this for the fairness Jesus taught within his teachings – the same teachings (and people) he died for! Now…get me some justice!

Alliance Doctrinal Statement – A Critique

1. There is one God,(1) who is infinitely perfect,(2) existing eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.(3) ([1] Deuteronomy 6:4, [2] Matthew 5:48, [3] Matthew 28:19)

**One God (agreed); Perfect being (I think this is a mis-quote about what Matt 5:48 says); existing in 3 persons (which by logic means 1 = 3 – and 2 of the 3 are Spirit beings). I am not totally sure about the Trinity idea (as of yet) – I have some questions about it – either way I agree – our focus needs to be at least 2-fold (Jesus’ teachings which point us towards God).

2. Jesus Christ is the true God & the true man. (4) He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. (5) He died upon the cross, the Just for the unjust, (6) as a substitutionary sacrifice, (7) and all who believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood. (8) He arose from the dead according to the Scriptures. (9) He is now at the right hand of Majesty on high as our great High Priest. (10) He will come again to establish His kingdom, righteousness and peace. (11) ([4] Philippians 2:6–11, [5] Luke 1:34–38, [6] I Peter 3:18, [7] Hebrews 2:9, [8] Romans 5:9, [9] Acts 2:23–24, [10] Hebrews 8:1, [11] Matthew 26:64)

**This is a decent over-view of Jesus’ life – actually leaves out his whole ministry while on earth but I am sure that’s a simple mistake on their part – actually they go right from birth to death in this statement (just how important is the ‘now’ exactly? 0% devoted to it in Jesus’ life). True God and true man…hmmm…this makes little sense also and most Christians themselves cannot logically figure this out about Jesus (actually they use his god-ness as an excuse to not follow the teachings at times). If he was sharing God and human characteristics at the same time – he was not fully human then (by our standard anyways) – which isn’t all that bad and bothers me very little. But what if he was fully man empowered by God’s Spirit – thus making him fully man? Either way, this is inconsequential – what is important is the teachings.

3. The Holy Spirit is a divine person, (12) sent to dwell, guide, teach, empower the believer, (13) and convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. (14) ([12] John 14:15–18, [13] John 16:13, Acts 1:8, [14] John 16:7–11)

**This is a new twist for me even – spirit = person? So if the spirit dwells in someone that can mean they are 2 people? Why can’t they just be honest about this instead of trying to nail down a set belief – no one knows how the spirit truly works (John 3:8) or what it truly is? I am sure we have limited knowledge in this field of study and about God’s spirit.

4. The Old & New Testaments, inerrant as originally given, were verbally inspired by God and are a complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men. They constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice. (15) ([15] 2 Peter 1:20–21, 2 Timothy 3:15–16)

**I actually like the Alliance’s verbal wording here about inerrancy and inspiration – they seem to be saying they do not support the idea of ‘no errors’. I think I am fairly close to this stand in general and I see very little problem with this statement.

5. Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God:(16) he fell through disobedience, incurring thereby both physical and spiritual death. All men are born with a sinful nature,(17) are separated from the life of God, and can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ.(18) The portion of the unrepentant and unbelieving is existence forever in conscious torment;(19) and that of the believer, in everlasting joy and bliss.(20) ([16] Genesis 1:27, [17] Romans 3:23, [18] 1 Corinthians15:20–23, [19] Revelation 21:8, [20] Revelation 21:1–4)

**Oh brother, where to start here. I think Romans 3:23 is mis-interpreted here to be honest. What does spiritual death mean anyways? The idea of hell is for the unbelieving (which chalks it up to ‘what you believe’ about Jesus and ‘not about living’ out his teachings). Man and woman are created by God in Genesis BTW (not just man). I love how the faithful ‘believers’ are totally rewarded while the ‘unbelievers’ are totally tormented – now that’s justice (lol)! This is long over-due for a re-write.

6. Salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all men; and those who repent and believe in Him are born again of the Holy Spirit, receive the gift of eternal life, and become the children of God.(21) ([21] Titus 3:4–7)

**It’s Jesus the Christ (Messiah) – this was not his last name. Why not use ‘follow him’ as the pattern instead of the idea of ‘believing’ (the idea of believing can be mis-interpretated so easily)? if salvation is ‘for all men’ (what about women?) – then isn’t it their right by birth to be a part of this kingdom and they have to choose to leave it? I am not in disagreeance with the statement so much as I am not sure about the theology.

7. It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit and be sanctified wholly,(22) being separated from sin and the world and fully dedicated to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy living and effective service.(23) This is both a crisis and a progressive experience wrought in the life of the believer subsequent to conversion.24 ([22] 1 Thessalonians 5:23, [23] Acts 1:8, [24] Romans 6:1–14)

**So here’s the pattern: conversion, sanctification, and seperation – this can be so easily used in such a way as not to seek God’s will (namely how much seperation we talking here and how much in each area of our lives?). This is seen as a ‘crisis’? How so? Cause they don’t want to say salvation even after recieved is not altogether what it means (saved always)? The progressive idea I am all down with – I think as we go we grow in life – continually refining our faith – but if that’s a crisis – then isn’t growth a bad thing (wouldn’t accepting this statement be good enough and ask no questions about it)?

8. Provision is made in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of the mortal body.(25) Prayer for the sick and anointing with oil are taught in the Scriptures and are privileges for the Church in this present age.(26) ([25] Matthew 8:16–17, [26] James 5:13–16)

**Healing – now there’s a slippery issue. What if this is all done and someone does not get healed? Their bad or bad theology? Shouldn’t we be pointing people to the hospitals if they are sick 1st (we have this privelege also), then maybe prayer afterwards? I am all for healing but as for this being in the doctrinal statement – this can equal big mistake.

9. The Church consists of all those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, are redeemed through His blood, and are born again of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church, (27) which has been commissioned by Him to go into all the world as a witness, preaching the gospel to all nations.(28) The local church is a body of believers in Christ who are joined together for the worship of God, for edification through the Word of God, for prayer, fellowship, the proclamation of the gospel, and observance of the ordinances of Baptism & the Lord’s Supper.(29) ([27] Ephesians 1:22–23, [28] Matthew 28:19–20, [29] Acts 2:41–47)

**First off, the church in no way resembles that community from Acts and I can name a variety of things but firstly – they were communalists (vs.44 – 45) – not capitalist (tracking numbers and marketing – lol). Secondly, Jesus in Matthew (and even the Acts passage) mentions ‘observe all that I commanded you’ – and this is spreading the ‘gospel’. Oh we are witnesses alright – but why is preaching the main way of witnessing? Isn’t living the morals the best witness (which is clearly mentioned by Jesus and the Apostles)? Which church is Christ’s church? What if all the things in point #29 are being done but the people in no way represent the teachings they claim to follow…then what? Is that still a church?

10. There shall be a bodily resurrection of the just and of the unjust; for the former, a resurrection unto life;(30) for the latter, a resurrection unto judgment.(31) ([30] 1 Corinthians 15:20–23, [31] John 5:28–29)

**I agree (more or less).

11. The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent(32) and will be personal, visible, and premillennial.(33) This is the believer’s blessed hope and is a vital truth which is an incentive to holy living and faithful service.(34) ([32] Hebrews 10:37, [33] Luke 21:27, [34] Titus 2:11–14)

**Does imminent mean in the apostles lifetime or just ours? If so I can hardly define imminent as 1900 years of waiting. Why is this an incentive to ‘live a better life’? Isn’t the idea we are helping our fellow humanity to achieve a better life incentive enough?

This is the church I am a part of and I totally disagree with the scripture pasting they do to form a centralized belief system (isn’t that wrong to do?). I think their system is fairly decent but then imagine asking 1/2 the question I did and see what kind of re-writing they might need to do. This is part 1 of an on-going series.

Submissively the times a changed…

Heather got me thinking about a few scriptures about the role of the wife in the Christian realm – and here is what conclusion I have so far come to (again I am open on this one).

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands” (Eph 5:22)
“But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (Eph 5:24)

This is where the story begins in this discussion – women being subject to men in marriage. I have no problem with the idea – subject – but I would say the obvious here – men also need to be subject to their wives (in everything). Marriage is about compromise anyways – but we have grown to see it works both ways now. I think back in Paul’s days this was not the case – women may not have been as educated as the male populace or part of the working class so much – this has changed dramatically in the 21st century (women and men are partners in all things in the household from bills to child-rearing).

“Husbands, love your wives” (Eph 5:25)
“So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it” (Eph 5:28-29)

Husbands are commanded here to ‘love’ and ‘look out for the best interests’ (nourish and cherish) of their wife – as they would for themself. But the idea is to love your wife and not objectify her – or treat her as a 2nd class citizen because she is ‘part of you’ (even if women were considered lower then men in that society – this was the new norm). It is possible that in this era women were recieving a less than better class than they deserved and I think the writer is pointing to the idea of equality for the woman – or at the least – a huge step up.

“each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33)

I think this sums it up beautifully – love and respect are to be present in the marriage. One can take the stand of inequality on these passages but the summary is quite clear – men are to treat women as themsleves and women should respect their husbands – I think this can put each other on equal footing if the man does what he is supposed to and actually ‘loves’ his wife. What is love? – see I Cor 13:4-8 but apparently it is kind, patient, not jealous, not arrogant, is prudent, forgiving, not provoked, seeks the interests of the other, rejoices in truth, perseveres, is faithful, hopes all things, endures, and never fails. That sets a good course for both people involved irregardless.

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7)

I think Peter backs up the point also – even he speaks of the ‘subject’ idea – but his central point is that of understanding and honor the wife as a ‘fellow heir’ of life. The idea is equality – since they are ‘joint heirs’ in this faith and work to the betterment of society around them. Peter even mentions overlooking the ‘weakness’ of women here – if this means the societal status of the woman or strength I am not sure – but what is clear it is not the focus of the marriage and needs to be set aside for unity.

“However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.” (I Cor 11:11-12)

Again we see Paul talking about men and women in the context that both are equal (in some regards) in this faith. A lot of the stuff in this same chapter seems to point to cultural norms of the day concerning women and what is correct – but Paul’s point in the matter seems to suggest men and women are equal – even from a Genesis point of view – they needed each other – and neither is independant from the other.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28)

I think this is the idea behind the majority of the teaching – problem is it is so coded in cultural teachings for certain regions and for establishing a ‘norm for the people’ it gets lost. But Paul makes it abundantly clear here that male or female is not to be regarded as determining one’s status in the faith – they’re all equal (one) in the same faith system. This is the ideal I shoot for in my own theology – I am quite aware that Paul was dealing with a whole new system of teachings and needed to lay down some ground rules for the people to treat one another decently – people (gentiles) that were new to this faith system and likely had ideas about women that were not so progressive as Paul’s. If Paul doesn’t go far enough in the marriage teachings – he does here. And BTW – he also mentions slavery as something not to be considered a status marker of the faith either!

So am I off? Am I on? Just what do you think is being said in the passages?