Category Archives: Marriage

A Small Game

If you are a Christian and attend church regularly, I have a small game you should play every year.

On Mother’s Day, if the church you attend has a service which honors mothers, you win the game.

On Father’s Day, if the church you attend has a service which honors mothers and tells fathers to man up, you win the game.

I’ve won the game every year since I started keeping track in 2010. Pretending to win something keeps me sane.

Advertisements

Feminist Eisegesis

When you encounter a command in Scripture that you don’t like, you have a few options available to you. You can reject it, accept it, or take a more creative approach and impose a new meaning on it.

Here’s an example of the latter approach.

The passage in question is 1st Corinthians 14:34:

“…women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak but must be in submission, as the law says.”

The blogger is upfront about his bias:

It’s embarrassing because it so out of step with our understanding of equality and the value of women in our culture today.

This is a fairly loaded statement, because it implies that if anyone were to take Paul seriously and not try to read his meaning in a way that comports with our post-feminist society, that person doesn’t “value women” or “understand equality”.

He suggests that this statement, if interpreted literally, contradicts Paul’s theology generally, in particular his statement in Galatians that “… there is no longer… male or female”. This passage is often (ab)used to put a rubber stamp on all of the modern, often intentionally anti-Christian movements to attempt to remove distinctions between men and women. I suggest that it’s an abuse of the text, because Paul isn’t making metaphysical statements; he is saying that the Gospel is for everyone. This is obvious from the context, but if you strip that out, you can make the passage in Galatians into a Marxist toolkit.

If you decide to read the entire post, you’ll note that the author takes into account the history of Corinth, the linguistic circumstances of the day, and pretty much every piece of context that fits his case.

What he neglects, however, is the context of the passage itself as well as any parallel passages. Here’s the passage in full:

As in all the congregations of the saints, women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they wish to inquire about something, they are to ask their own husbands at home; for it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in the church.

Did God’s word originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, let him acknowledge that what I am writing you is the Lord’s command. But if anyone ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

Since these are Christians and Paul is an Apostle who has no problem taking badly behaving Christians to task, Paul could have said “Some women in your churches are misbehaving and talking out of turn, and talking out of turn isn’t good for order, so I do not permit them to do that.” Paul could not have been more clearly not saying that, though.

But it doesn’t stop there. We have a related passage in 1st Timothy 2:

A woman must learn in quietness and full submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman who was deceived and fell into transgression. Women, however, will be saved through childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

I strongly suspect that the reason this passage was skipped was because Paul explains his rationale here, and it doesn’t fit the blogger’s interpretation. Paul doesn’t say “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet. For your churches have women who are misbehaving”. If that’s what he meant, he easily could have said it. Instead he traces his reasoning to the very nature of man and woman. Eve was deceived and Adam was not – and this is a huge deal.

Finally, there’s this gem summarizes his thoughts, and I think it explains what’s really going on. A feminist, thoroughly imbibing on Marxist toxin, doesn’t like the passages in Scripture that contradict feminism and all his pet liberal causes, so he imposes new meaning on them. At least in this instance, his motive is clearly stated:

Unfortunately, since many of the dominant voices throughout church history, have been straight**, white*, males, this has meant that the church has been slow in pushing past the flimsy exegesis, and damaging assumptions of our past.

Instead of being the sexist, misogynist many have taken him for, I believe that Paul brings the challenge of feminism to the Church.

It’s worth remembering that if this is true, 2000 years of Christians were women-hating, racist, homophobic, sexists  who couldn’t understand Paul. It took secular anti-Christian feminist and sexual revolutions to get the church to finally see the light. Paul was, in his mind, obviously a far-left radical.

What I’d prefer, though, is for those who think all of these things to stop reinterpreting Paul and just say what they really think: Paul was wrong. Honesty is much better than manipulation.


* Most of the early church fathers were not European.

** I bet this blogger would also support the notion that the Bible has nothing meaningful to say about sexual ethics (except those cherry-picked portions that support feminism and egalitarianism). Who knew obedience to Christ’s commands about sexual activity was an unfortunate thing?

The Immoral Gag Reflex

The harbingers of the sexual revolution within conservative circles often point to disgust and gag reflexes as symptoms of bigotry.  One of the more insidious efforts of the sexual revolution was to shame people for their natural gag reflex.

The term “homophobia” is a bizarre neologism. No one “fears” people who are attracted to the same sex, so its meaning is left intentionally ambiguous. For most on the Left, it means any disagreement with same-sex acts at all. But on the Right, which has become simply a loyal opposition to the Left (moving Left with them) instead of standing on something concrete, “homophobia” has morphed into a term to guilt people who are disgusted by the acts performed in same-sex relationships.

But one need not fear (no one does) nor hate (few do) same-sex attracted people to be repulsed by the acts. Little do conservatives know that by giving in on this term, they have made the baseline for sexual attraction to be bisexual. If you are shamed for having disgust at same-sex acts, they become acts that you know are forbidden by divine command, but for no other reason. If the only reason to avoid an act is because you are commanded not to, you are far more likely to engage in it or to lessen your hatred for it.

We see the same thing in other places. If you command someone to eat better (maybe a doctor trying to help a patient), they will likely fail at dieting. But a vegan who is convinced this meat is to be reviled is probably going to stick very strictly to a diet.

Shame (when we do something wrong) and disgust (when we see someone else doing something wrong) are God-given.

But exclusively on “consensual” sexual issues, we are told that disgust is oppressive, mean, and “phobic”. We are told no such things when we see a murder, a theft, a scam, or a rape. With those things, we are encouraged to be disgusted.

This doesn’t even get to the far-reaching damage that the liberalizing perspective causes. There’s a vast distance between a man who finds same-sex acts repulsive and one who happily engages in them. If that repulsive reaction is beaten out of the man through coercion, that distance is reduced to nothing at all. By being forced to accept same-sex acts as perhaps immoral but not intrinsically disgusting, the man who has so far avoided the acts is now has lost his strongest defense. It is our revulsion of evil that protects us when our wills and our hearts, evil and weak as they are, fail.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christian charity requires disgust and revulsion at evil acts of all kinds. Only by passionately hating evil can we love people who engage in it. Anything less than a passionate revulsion of evil will make us tolerate sin, which is the opposite of charity.

The Gospel Coalition Guide to Undermining Christian Marriage

(h/t to bdash 77 over at Dalrock’s blog)

The Gospel Coalition has published a step-by-step guide on how to reject the Biblical rules for marriage and then, to throw off anyone orthodox enough to try and stop you, they demonstrate how to hide your tracks with bombast and exaggeration. There’s an epidemic of men locking their wives in closets! (pay no attention to the conspicuous lack of lawsuits)

“A Hidden Epidemic God Hates”, written by one Steve Hoppe on May 11th of this year, begins with what appears to be a horror movie still and this quote, which is also meant to scare you:

Tom micromanages his wife Sarah’s physical appearance to fit his personal tastes. He picks out her clothes, tells her how she can do her hair, and restricts her diet so she remains thin. When Sarah confronts him on his controlling behavior, he cites Ephesians 5:22: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.”

The word “submit” appears only once in this article, and it’s in this opening paragraph. Steve never addresses Ephesians 5:22. In fact, he never cites a single passage in the Bible regarding marriage to make his case.

Sarah, if she is a real person, doesn’t want to submit to her husband when it comes to her physical appearance or her diet. Whatever it is that constitutes her diet, it apparently keeps her healthy, though she is described as “thin” so we don’t accidentally misread this attempt at a horror story. Sarah obeys her husband, as she is commanded in Scripture. This obedience is framed as victimhood.

A real Sarah – Abraham’s wife – was praised by the Apostle Paul himself for her obedience. She planned to commit adultery at the request of her husband (it’s the only example of her obedience we have). Paul apparently doesn’t have the insights of The Gospel Coalition. Had he known what they know, he would have condemned Abraham for his spiritual abuse, rather than praise Sarah for her obedience. As we’ll soon see, Steve condemns husbands who ask for sex even for themselves, so this isn’t a stretch.

Miranda is an overprotective mother. She homeschools her 17-year-old daughter, Kate, to prevent her from being exposed to rebellious teenagers. She won’t allow her to play sports, attend dances, or get her driver’s license. She cites 1 Corinthians 15:33 as her justification for parenting this way: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

The only thing noteworthy in this story is the use of the term “overprotective mother”. I presume Steve had to include the term “overprotective”, else readers would scratch their heads wondering what was wrong here.

Bill forces his wife Angie to have sex against her will. He’s rough in bed and occasionally strikes her when they’re being intimate. He cites 1 Corinthians 7:4 as his allowance for doing so: “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.”

“Force” is an interesting term in a relationship in which sex is pledged at the start. Steve has decided, for whatever reason, not to use the clearest passage in Scripture regarding sexual duties, that being the next verse: “Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

I suppose if he included the full context, then a wife who had to be forced against her will to have sex would clearly be a wife rebelling against her husband and God.

All three of these stories are attempts by the author to illustrate “spiritual abuse”. What are his specific examples of spiritual abuse? If nothing else, they are revealing. Here are some of the more interesting selections:


Physically harming you.

There’s no limits on this one. Spanking a child or slapping a face are both “spiritual abuse” here. Forget about the rod of Proverbs.

Pressuring you to engage in sexual activity.

A wife can apparently deny her husband sexual activity for the duration of their marriage, and not be guilty of spiritual abuse. After all, as Steve explicitly states, spiritual abuse can only occur when someone is in spiritual authority over someone else. That would always be husbands. Wives are not even capable of spiritual abuse. They can disobey every command regarding sex and remain innocent here, while their husbands can ask just one time too many and be condemned.

Insulting you or calling you names.

Insulting or calling names seems fair enough, until you consider that both are easy accusations for anything you don’t like to hear. “You called me fat!” is an insult and a name, and an obvious accusation to make when your husband suggests you go on a diet. Speaking of…

Forcing you to diet or exercise.

Heaven forbid. Steve has a particular problem with evil husbands demanding that their wives stay healthy.

Threatening you.

This makes most of Scripture a form of spiritual abuse. God threatens people all the time. God’s prophets make threats. Christ’s Apostles make threats. If you are forbidden from making threats, you cannot exercise spiritual authority. You can only passively wait for people to listen to you if they choose to, which puts the authority in those who are commanded to submit. This role-reversal is a common feminist Christian tactic.

Restricting your ability to access financial information.

I’ve known several marriages that have ended when the husband or the wife (almost always the wife) has spent money behind her husband’s back and bankrupted the family. Apparently, a husband who seeks real safeguards to this is abusive.

 

Preventing you from working.

Are you noticing a theme here? Any time a husband wants his wife to do something, any time a husband expects his wife to submit to him about something, it is a form of spiritual abuse. Steve doesn’t provide a single meaningful example of a husband who has spiritual authority over his wife acting in a practical way.

Telling you what you can and cannot say in small groups, church, or other social settings.

This is too all-encompassing. Are we really to presume that parents can’t tell their children what to say when they are around other adults?

Locking you in rooms, closets, or basements.

This one is meant to shock you. It’s meant to catch you off guard in case you’ve been questioning this list.

Taking away your access to transportation.

Grounding your child is a form of spiritual abuse.

Blocking your contact with counselors, mentors, or other spiritual figures.

Does this include Imams? How about psychologists who advise your wife to divorce you because she is unhappy?

Punishing you for your sins.

Remember the book of Proverbs? Every time it provides instructions for disciplining your children, it’s actually teaching you how to spiritually abuse them.


 

It became apparent to me, as I read through this article, that Steve wasn’t sure if he was writing against husbands who exercise their spiritual authority or for parents who exercise authority over their children. I suspect he came up with his definition and realized it applied to parents, so he tossed in a story about an overprotective mother and then forgot that near half of his examples of spiritual abuse are actually things that are commanded for parents when dealing with their children.

It goes further, though. Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands in the same way children are. A wife is not a child and isn’t to be treated as a child, but she is in the same position of spiritual submission. Many of these supposed forms of spiritual abuse, then, are simply real acts that a spiritual authority can use over those he oversees.

Steve hates these things, but Steve hating these things isn’t very profound. He needs to find a way to say that God hates these things. So what does he do?

In Titus 1, Paul rebukes Jewish Christians who were teaching heresy for selfish gain (sounds a lot like spiritual abuse, doesn’t it?):

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. . . . They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:10–11,16)

God detests spiritual abuse.

He finds a passage that has nothing to do with marriage or parenting and claims it applies to the home. Condemning heresy is framed as an equivalent to condemning patriarchal family structures and the acts which enforce that structure. This doesn’t work, though.

He should have chosen a different passage for another reason. Part of Paul’s condemnation of these heretics is that they are “insubordinate”. They refuse to submit. This passage is the condemnation of insubordination to real spiritual authorities, not of spiritual authority wielded for selfish gain.

Pastors and church leaders, it’s long past time we stand up against all forms of abuse. This includes spiritual abuse in the church and the home. Domestic spiritual abuse is far more common than you think. It hurts innocent sheep daily. It destroys the fabric of families and churches.

Steve ends his post against the role of husbands in marriage by calling pastors to help him bring down the patriarchy. Having established that spiritual abuse just is that set of acts which give teeth to spiritual authority, his condemnation of spiritual abuse and his call to arms is an inquisition into any real forms of spiritual hierarchy in the churches of his readers. Since only men can be spiritual abusers in marriage, only wives can be the victims of spiritual abuse. In this way, Steve has found the ultimate Christianesque form of a get-out-of-marriage-free card. Wives need only identify a single example of their husbands attempting to exercise spiritual authority and BAM, spiritual abuse.

Without even feigning respect for the passages of Scripture that describe how Christian husbands and wives are to live together, he condemns them all. After all, who cares about Paul when we have these millions of women locked up in cages?

Is Marriage Possible?

For Christians, marriage involves a husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife who submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ. The husband is to love his wife even unto death, and a wife is to submit to her husband in everything. There are no exceptions.

These are impossible standards for mere humans to live up to, but that’s the nature of perfect moral standards. It isn’t a defect in them.

Husbands are also to teach their wives about spiritual things. They are to “wash [their] wives with the word [of God]”. Paul says that only men are to preach because Eve was deceived; naturally then, this role falls to men.

I’m convinced Christian marriage doesn’t exist in the West. Christian marriage isn’t just difficult today. It is actually impossible. We have only clumsy attempts, and can get nothing more.

In the military and in other hierarchies where real submission to authority takes place, there are safeguards to enforce the structure. Punishments exist for those who disobey orders. The mere fact of these consequences is enough to deter the majority of those who might be tempted to disregard their superiors.

In Western marriages, there have also been safeguards against disobedience. Husbands had tremendous control over their wives. While the modern mind might be tempted to think of physical violence, there were more effective ways to accomplish the goal. Women needed husbands to have any political voice, as only men would qualify to vote, serve in officer corps of the military, or in the court of a king. Christian civilization had mercy for widows, but none for adulteresses. It had roles for women who abstained from marriage, but disdain for women who abandoned their vows. Husbands could rely on all of these things to get the job done so they could focus on Christ’s command for them: to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

None of these things exist today. There are no negative social consequences for women who divorce their husbands, who sleep around while married or not. In fact, women who unilaterally divorce their husbands are often rewarded by courts stacked in their favor. Women don’t have to break their family apart on the outside to rebel, though. With universal suffrage, a house can be divided on the inside; husbands and wives can vote against each other, bringing the government into their home like some totalitarian’s dream.

There are no social restraints to keep a wife submissive toward her husband. And there are no legal actions available to men to do so on their own. In fact, a man who tries to enforce his authority in any way will bring only scorn.

Submission is impossible to enforce, so we are required to trust that women will simply submit out of their own good nature. But women are sinners, just like men. And women, as Paul says, were the first to be deceived, being more likely than men to be manipulated. Our fundamentally feminist culture has honed its skill in manipulation.

Since submission is impossible to enforce, and impossible to produce without enforcement, and since submission is fully half of what makes a Christian marriage, I posit that Christian marriage is not simply difficult in 2018. It is impossible.

The Divorce Deluge

I overheard an unpleasant conversation recently and before I could regret having been close enough to hear it, I came to believe it might be worth thinking about. It was one of those one-sided conversations where one person says all of the nouns and verbs and adjectives while the other person merely confirms that they are still awake with occasional affirmations.

The topic of this dismal monologue was divorce, at least at heart. The guy doing all of the talking was complaining that his ex-wife demanded credentials for a babysitter he had hired to take care of his children. He jokingly suggested just how absurd it would be if his ex-wife asked for similar information about anyone he dated.

But is this really something to joke about? Divorce causes immeasurable damage to children and adults, and it never seems to lack in the ways it does so. Why should the people invited into the lives of one’s children suddenly be outside the realm of discussion just because the parents of the children are divorced? I’m not arguing that anyone is legally obliged to make any effort on this. The legal system treats sacred vows like junk mail and throws them away only when it doesn’t have enough time to shred them, so this isn’t surprising.

The well-being of children should not be compromised even further than the divorce itself by allowing total strangers to have access to children with the consent of only one of their parents, but such access is legally permitted. Any attempt to limit it is met with mockery. “It’s my life, I see who I want and hire whichever babysitter I like”. But the welfare of a child is the responsibility of both the mother and father. Why do we instinctively mock attempts to protect children as nothing more than sticking our nose in other peoples’ business?

There are no easy answers to these problems because there is no easy answer to a severed vow, especially one that has produced children who are tied as much to the vow and relationship of their parents as they are to each individual parent. For children of divorce, the rejection of one parent by the other will always be in part a rejection of the child. Our civilization seems to care so little for children that after dragging them through the hell of divorce, we still show no concern for their well-being.

Divorce, and particularly its Satanic no-fault incarnation, is just a deluge of suffering for children. Every time you think you’ve been able to list all the ways it harms children, you’ll find another waiting. When Christianity is replaced with the Worship of Self, it is no wonder that the least and poorest in spirit are crushed. Whatever children escape the horrors of abortion often find families broken by selfish, pleasure-seeking adults. It is one of those things that makes hell seem lenient.

Marriage is Inevitable

No matter what people do, no matter how much feminism is entrenched in modern thought, there seems to be no way to avoid the necessity of marriage. Or, at the very least, a pathetic marriage substitute.

From Breitbart:

According to the language of the bill, “consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter, and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”

Aside from such an absurd law being unenforceable, dependent on one witness against another, based on feelings, and so easy to break that any sane and self-controlled man would just skip it altogether, it’s also kind of like marriage. A marriage devoid of its best parts, but a marriage nonetheless.

And now California is having students learn about the process:

Gov. Jerry Brown has approved legislation aimed at making California the first state in the nation to bring lessons about sexual consent required at many colleges into high schools, his office announced Thursday.

Last year, California became the first to require colleges and universities to apply an “affirmative consent” or “yes means yes” standard when investigating campus sexual assault claims. That policy says sexual activity is only considered consensual when both partners clearly state their willingness to participate through “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” at every stage.

This pathetic marriage substitute called “yes means yes” is apparently pretty important to the anti-marriage crowd. It’s interesting that within a century of feminism dismissing marriage for being restrictive and suffocating, a marriage substitute that is even more restrictive and suffocating, not to mention clinical and sterile, should replace it. It’s marriage without force and meaning.