Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Open Topic Tuesday

OTT is a chance for every reader left, right or middle to post their thoughts.

Just keep it clean and keep it relevent to the overall theme of the blog.

41 comments:

  1. so sexuality in a parallel universe wouldn't fit your criteria?

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  2. Maybe if you're creative, you could make it fit :)

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  3. Yea, it's conceivable that your parallel universe has some parabolic implication for our own. Give it a shot...

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  4. That's true liberty! Giving an anonymous stranger freedom to run with a topic like that. My respect for both of you blogging gents just went up.

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  5. I have 230 unfinished emails in my draft box. Some of which are just notes to myself. Some are things I want to write about but couldn't explain myself very well or became bored with the idea before I finished. Whatever. Here is one of them:

    Speakers giving personal examples -- I agree that one’s personal examples are going to come from a limited set of experiences. Messages without personal examples can be lame. There is going to be a certain amount of the speaker in the message. Made-up scenarios, though, should encompass more than one POV. Think about what is happening -- God’s Word says a certain set of things, but if a speaker always picks out his pet ideas and/or slants a message in a particular way, he is truncating what the Bible says or he is adding to what the Bible says. It’s not intentional necessarily, but it still happens MOST OF THE TIME and not with just ideas of gender. There’s bias toward American culture. There’s bias toward western ways of thinking. There’s bias toward logic. [[that last one sounds funny, but it isn’t]] There’s a bias towards action (doing vs. being; doing vs. knowing). There’s a bias toward a macho masculinity. There’s a bias toward a frilly femininity. There’s a bias toward being reactionary toward modern movements (be contrary to everything presented in the media -- especially global warming). There’s bias toward being rightist. There is bias toward being political. There’s bias toward being denominational.

    We have to ask ourselves -- are these biases correct? Does the Bible explicitly support them?

    Here is an idea that I’ve seen the bias switch (at least sort of) and maybe you’ve seen it, too. Recycling. There was a huge push against the “granola tree huggers” when I was growing up. Legislating recycling was ridiculous because we were meant to subdue the earth. Now, years later, environmental problems have increased and we are more aware of them, the Christian idea is switching to stewardship: We have to be good stewards of what God has given to us.

    Which is biblically correct? We’ve been taught both -- either subliminally or overtly. I point this out, not to discuss recycling, but to show a case where biases exist within what Christians teach as biblical truth and that these biases are fluid. The funny thing: We are taught that biblical truth is NOT FLUID.

    I think the problem comes from someone picking their pet idea and emphasizing it. How do we know what to emphasize and what not to?

    Having an expository versus topical sermon methodology can help alleviate the problem of overemphasizing something, BUT at my church the pastor is pretty adamant about doing expository sermons, but very few ideas are taken from the passage. Somehow, there is always salvation, going to church, witnessing & tithing found in most all passages that we are taught. Listen through the sermons and tell me it isn’t so. So, I see various biases overtly foisted at my church, and I’m sure that it happens at some level at other churches.

    How do we break free from the bubble we’re in and know what God wants us to know? I’ve said all of this to point out that I’m caught in the middle. There are religious rebels that say that gay is OK with God and there are those that hold fast to the hard line. My experience tells me that it’s innate and natural. There are those who exclude more than what God prohibits to fit what they themselves are comfortable with. Masculinity and femininity are skewed and this marginalizes those found in some grey area. There are those that include way more than what God allows and this sucks in those that were marginalized by the other people. There are those who desire to include, but only after some ill-defined transformation takes place. It’s a tug of war -- a culture war -- everyone is seeking a token -- an example to show that they are the ones that have it right. . .

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  6. Not the other anon,

    I don't know how to respond without you assuming that I think that I have it right. I know I have it right :) J/K

    If I am understanding you correctly, you are basically saying that everyone has a soap box to stand on and has some type of Scriptural support for it. When these soap boxes collide, how do we know who is right?

    The Bible makes it clear that we as Christians are to "Study to...RIGHTLY divide the word of truth." In Acts, the Apostle Paul praised the Bereans for "Searching the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so." The Apostle Paul is one person who we could say had it right. He had the advantage of the Word of God being inspired through him. Even he said to check the Scriptures.

    Unfortunately, many preachers do add their biases into their messages. Some people believe that the only Bible that should be used it the King James Version, and they have "Scriptural support." Others say that women should wear skirts or dresses all the time, and they also have "Scriptural support."

    Truthfully, the only bias that we should have is the recognition the the Bible is our Authority. All other biases should be set aside. Our thoughts and ideas should be formed by the Scriptures, not morphing the Scriptures to our thoughts and ideas.

    Let's take a look at one of your statements. You said, "There are religious rebels that say that gay is OK with God and there are those that hold fast to the hard line. My experience tells me that it’s innate and natural."

    In a way, you are right. Homosexuality is innate and natural in one regard. It is natural for man to rebel against the laws of God. God has made it clear that homosexuality is and abomination to Him (Read Romans 1). Every human has the potential to commit any and all acts of sin because we are, by nature, the enemy of God. We desire to do those things that God hates. Any lines that God has drawn is considered to be restrictions and natural man wants to be "free to do as he pleases."

    If you want to say that I have a bias against homosexuals, then you will be making an incorrect assumption about me. The bias that I do have is against homosexuality. The Word of God cannot be more clear about homosexuality being a sin against God. But don't take my word for it, study it out yourself to see if this is so.

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  7. "If you want to say that I have a bias against homosexuals, then you will be making an incorrect assumption about me."

    My concern is not with saying that homosexuality is wrong or a sin or an abomination, but with how people define homosexuality itself.

    People that find themselves in the middle (those not man or woman enough to be accepted by people) are marginalized in churches all the time.

    It's easy to say, "Just follow the Bible as the true authority," but it is something else to do it bias-free. I'm talking about small biases -- ones that may only exclude a small number of people. I dare say, the homogeneity found in churches is based a lot on convenient and unchallenged biases of the group.

    I guess everyone is supposed to find a group that thinks like themselves.

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  8. Well then, that argument is a bird of a different feather. I have met many men who are very intelligent, kind, and thoughtful, but who have a few quirky mannerisms or whatever causing some to think they are effeminate. And I have met plenty of women who seem to care nothing for things that are considered feminine in dress or conduct but enjoy pursuing "manly" activities instead and so are shunned as "weird." Some of my dear friends fit into these categories and have themselves been the brunt of some of the hurtful rejection you mentioned as pervading our churches.

    In these cases, the worst thing we can do is to pre-judge these people, ignore them, or accuse them of homosexual tendencies. But this is not a problem with pastors preaching against homosexuality. It is a problem with people misjudging people and failing to care enough to discover the truth and deal with it gently and wisely as it comes to light. Prejudice is a sin prevalent throughout the world and not just the church regardless of where you turn or what issue is at hand. As Christians, prejudice should not be found among us. There ought to be a "homogenity" throughout our churches that is based solely in the kind of Christian love which accepts folks as they are AND kindly helps them to grow from there through prayer, love, godly exhortation, example, and faithful friendship.

    There is a difference between a chosen attitude or conduct of effeminism and just a natural, but rare, degree of gentleness in men (or conversely in women: rebellion against godly womanhood versus a rare strength of personality and general disregard for the culturally accepted "girlie" norms). Many times it is not evident to an outsider whether a person behaves differently because of a bent toward a sinful dissatisfaction with and rebellion against the sex God gave them, or because they are simply and genuinely interested in the different things in life that culturally pertain to the opposite sex. This does not make them gay or lesbian. It doesn't necessarily even make them effeminate and confused. But it may mean they need someone to befriend them an encourage them to consider the culture a little more in order to show respect to others as well as protect themselves from inevitable prejudicial rejection.

    Clicks in churches happen. They are not necessarily sinful by themselves. But they are rarely evidence of hearts of wisdom and maturity either. Those of us who recognize the problems surrounding these things need to take it upon ourselves to confront the issues God's way and lead by example to change things. (Prayerfully so, of course; taking heed that we ourselves need to be wise in our conduct as we go about these things lest we also fall into sin. "Ye which are SPIRITUAL restore such an one in the spirit of meekness and fear.")

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  9. Not the other anon: I hope you know that nothing is farther from what we espouse at "Case4theRight." The baser, animal instinct of humanity is to find a place to fit in, "a group that thinks alike," and this instinct is enabled by the identitarian, egalitarian policies of the Left. "Level the distinct ones!" is not--and never should be--the cry of the Right. And you're absolutely right about biases: as Herbert Butterfield says, "The worst bias is not admitting you have one."

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  10. The Fairness Doctrine

    There has been some talk of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. This was once an FCC regulation that stations had to present controversial issues in a fair and balanced way. This doctrine was done away with during the Reagan era due to free speech issues.

    Liberals, most notabley House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want to have this doctrine reinstated. This specifically attacks the medium of talk radio, since conservative talk radio is so widespread.

    It is interesting that this doctrine is being championed by liberals who want to silence the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. But where was the outcry as a result of the obvious media bias on the major news networks? How will this doctrine force liberal media outlets to become more fair and balanced in their news reporting?

    Regardless of the free speech issue, there are capitalistic ramifications. Liberal talk radio has been a failed enterprise as evidenced by the failure of Air America. If stations are forced to air equal amounts of time toward both conservative and liberal talk shows, the station will lose money. Advertisers won't want to pay for advertising slots on a show that no one listens to. Chances are that the stations will switch away from political talk shows and move into areas where no balance is required.

    The free market should be able to run its course. If there isn't a market for liberal talk radio, why should one be forced upon us? The laws of supply and demand come into play. If I produce a widget that no one wants, I'll go out of business, unless I can figure out a way to convince people that they cannot live without my product. The same is true for liberal talk radio. If their is really a desire for it, then the supply will eventually meet with the demand. You can't force it on an undemanding public.

    On the positive side, from what I've been able to determine, it doesn't appear that Obama is in favor of reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Frankly, I don't see why conservative talk radio should concern him anyway. He won the presidency in spite of it.

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  12. Re the homosex thread:

    I think the issue can go both ways. Not only can a man purposefully choose feminine behavior against God’s design, but also he can choose an exaggerated masculinity as if it’s some kind of idol. Both are sin. The latter happens more than you realize. It’s actually expected and encouraged.

    The personality traits I'm referring to go beyond hobbies and interests and how gentle a man is. There are emotions, ways of thinking, attitudes about others and oneself, talents, communication, etc.

    I would have to say the schism between me and my church exists partly because of a disconnect between masculine and feminine. Leaving sexuality out of the equation, why is it that when I’m around gay guys, I sense a certain level of inclusion that I don’t have in any other group? I think it comes down to how I relate to other people and how they relate to me.

    Think of all the differences (generally speaking) between men and women:

    * What needs to happen in order for a woman to feel accepted / for a man to feel accepted
    * What needs to happen in order for a woman to feel loved / for a man to feel loved
    * How do women show that they accept someone else / how do men show that they accept someone else
    * How do women show that they love someone else / how do men show that they love someone else
    * How does a woman judge herself / how does a man judge himself
    * How does a woman view others / how does a man view others
    * What types of things do women like / what types of things do men like
    * What do women tend to think is funny / what do men tend to think is funny
    * What kinds of talents do women have / what kinds of talents do men have
    * What do women want to be good at / what do men want to be good at
    * How much communication do women do / how much communication do men do
    * How much communication do women need / how much communication do men need
    * What do women consider logical / what do men consider logical
    * What types of emotions do woman have / what types of emotions do men have
    * Etc.

    I exhibit the feminine side of things for most of those. I don’t want to be a leader, I want to be led. I don’t want to make a place for myself among men, I want to be included. I feel fat and ugly instead of out of shape. I want to throw a killer dinner party, not throw a spear at a killer whale. I enjoy hugs, not wrestling. I cry when rejected more than spurred to prove myself. I describe myself as a delicate flower not a cowboy, nor a titan; not even a "bangle." I like to go for walks, not hike the Mt. Everest. I’m embarrassed for people when they wear two shades of green that don’t match rather than wonder how two shades of green can’t match...

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  13. Being as though this thread shifted to a personal matter from a public matter it may be on the line of being "relevant to the overall theme of the blog" as John requested. I'm going to give this a shot anyway.

    Believe it or not, I've been praying about how to respond to you. From what you said in your original post, I pray that you don't brush me aside as "just another person who thinks he is one who has it right." Contrary to what I joked about in my first response to you, I am far from having it all right. I'll be the first one to admit that I struggle with biases. By God's grace alone, I pray that I will overcome those and be fair and loving in my assessment of others.

    Please keep in mind that I only have the information about you that you have provided. That being said, "If the shoe fits, wear it." Please don't take offense if I say something that misrepresents you. It most likely means that I have misunderstood you. I think that you will admit to the fact that it is impossible to understand a person completely via a blog.

    My council to you will come from my understanding of Scripture as the Authority in all matters of life.

    First of all, I want to encourage you to keep God first in your life no matter what. If you truly desire to know what God wants for you to know, as you asked in your first post, you need to be in the Scriptures daily. Only by studying the Bible and practicing what we know to be true will we be begin to understand the mind of God (on a very limited basis of course). As you do that and you find yourself struggling with sin, realize that He loves you and will provide a way of escape from temptation.

    1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    Now, concerning the issue at hand and please hear (read) me out. God has outlined in Genesis that He made man and woman in His image (Gen 1:27). God made man first and gave Him authority over all things. As Adam beheld God’s creation, he discovered that there was no one like him and God said that this is not good. God made woman for man as a help meet (or suitable) for him. When Adam sinned, God held Him responsible.

    Let’s skip ahead to Job. When Job was going through his trials, he never did curse God but he did accuse God of being unrighteousness. When God confronted him, He said, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me” (Job 38:3). Paul uses the same type of phrase in I Cor 16:13. He says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit [act] you like men, be strong.

    My point is this, God expects men to be men. That doesn’t mean that you have to go and spear your dinner or eat pizza on the couch and watch football, etc. It means that you need to honor your role as a man. Make yourself accountable to God. In the end, we all are accountable to Him anyway, but be accountable to Him on a daily basis.
    To be continued...

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  14. Part II

    I left of with, “God expects men to be men.” I agree that there is such a thing as “exaggerated masculinity.” The role of a man is not to do “guy things” but to honor God in his being. I Cor. 10:31 says to do all to the glory of God. God has given man an array of personalities. Everyone is different. Some men exhibit more “manly” characteristics than other men, but there is a line and you have to be careful not to cross it.

    1 Corinthians 6:9 says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor EFFEMINATE, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

    1 Corinthians 11:14 says, “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame to him?” (I understand the “long” is relative to different cultures but the point of this verse and the particular sin listed in the previous verse is that men are not to act like women.)

    Be careful not to justify your actions by saying, “This is the way God made me.” A person with an alcoholic tendency could use the same argument. God’s children are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We were “bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” Also, God calls His children to examine themselves (I Cor 11:28). The context is before you partake of the Lord ’s Table but the implication is to examine yourself to make sure that you do not have sin ruling in your life. A Christian man who acts like a woman is using his body as his own and this dishonors God Who bought him with a price.

    You need to examine your life and your desires. Are your desires honoring to God or are they selfish? You listed your tendencies above and they are not necessarily wrong in and of themselves. Let’s look at some them.

    1) You would rather be led the lead. God does not always put you in a position of leadership but if He does, will you obey?
    2) You want to be included. Who doesn’t? The question is, is it hindering your fellowship with God? Your focus needs to be on Him as your all in all.
    3) Who cares if you are fat and ugly or out of shape? I know that you are using this as an example of how women think vs. how men think but either way, it is a focus on self. Our focus needs to be on God and others.
    4) Your dinner party comment is opposed by an extreme as is your walk vs. climbing Mt. Everest. That is just sheer personality. There is nothing wrong with that. (Jacob stayed indoors while Esau was a hunter)
    5) To the crying when rejected comment, I would say the same thing that God said to Job when he was whimpering before God. “Gird up thy loins now like a man.” It sounds harsh but the issue is self pity. Jesus Christ was “despised and rejected by men” he died for us instead of looking out for His own being.

    All these tendencies fall under one category, selfishness. We are to die to ourselves and live for Christ. The rest of the stuff is things you’d rather do. Your list that you gave does not imply homosexuality. The part that worries me is when you said that you feel accepted when you hang around gay guys. Don’t let the sin of homosexuality tug at your heart. Don’t put yourself in the position of temptation if you feel a weakness in this area.

    Please don’t walk away from this post thinking that I think I have it all right. We all struggle with selfishness. If we are true children of God, we need to trust the Master Potter that He knows what to take out of our lives. We all have things that need to be overcome. Our selfishness leads to pride when we refuse to allow God to work in us. I am not trying to judge you, especially because I don’t even know you. I just want to encourage you to look at your life and judge yourself through the lens of Scripture. This is all easier said than done because our sin nature is very strong. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    As I said in the first post, this should not be discussed in any more depth here. If you want to continue the discussion just click on my blog name and send me an e-mail. I’ll be praying for you that the Lord works in your heart and gives you understanding of His desires.

    Psalms 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (The emphasis is giving you desires not what you desire.)

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  15. The topic of gender identity is not considered to be a good topic for a socially conservative conversation?

    I think it is a very relavent topic and the fact that it is personal rather than acedemic should lead to some credibility, nevertheless this is your blog...

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  16. Discussing gender identity isn't a problem at all. And if you would like to discuss it personally that's up to you. Credibility . . . yes, absolutely. I think JDS's point was that to delve much more deeply into one person's experience may prove too revealing for that person in a public, internet discussion. He was trying to be diplomatic and protect you from furthering a discussion that could become too personally invasive.

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  18. "nevertheless this is your blog..."

    It's not my blog. I am a follower as you are. I was just trying to respect John's wishes. If you will pardon my ignorance, I'd be happy to keep up the conversation. Sorry for the misunderstanding. :)

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  19. To Not the other Anon...

    I feel your pain. I just got finished with a gender class, and if I learned anything, I learned that you really can't stereotype men and women as being one way or another. We had an exercise where we were supposed to come up with traits that are typically assigned to either the male or female gender. The net was that you really can't autocratically say that any of the traits are exclusive to one gender or another.

    To get more personal (if the blog police don't arrest me), I struggle with some of the same issues with inclusiveness. Many times, I don't feel included with either gender. I work in software--a typically male dominated profession, I enjoy spirited debate and intellectual discussions, I enjoy playing sports (not watching them), I am a leader, I am assertive, I make good money, and (generally) have fun doing it. Conversely, I love being a girly girl and all that it entails: hair, makeup, clothes, nail polish, etc. I hate any sort of housework whatsoever: cooking, cleaning, you name it, and I don't have kids--I'm not a stay-at-home mom. These traits somehow alienate me from many people. Men don't know what to do with me and women don't understand me. I am who I am, I can't change that. I do try to fit in where I can, but most times I feel that it is just too hard to be a square peg among a bunch of round holes.

    I really think that God made us all unique with different strengths and weaknesses. I agree with most of what JDS communicated, however, I don't agree that it is effeminate for a man to show emotion. What is wrong with a man crying? God gave tear ducts to men as well as women. Jesus wept in the Bible over the unbelief of the people. I understand what is being said of self pity, but there is no reason that a man cannot cry when he is grieved, and he should not be looked down upon for it. I don't believe that holding in one's emotions is a sign of strength. In fact, I believe that it is a form of weakness. A man that is self-conscious of showing emotion to the point that he holds it in is too intent on making sure no one can see the real person on the inside. How can we help others who are grieving or hurting if we are not able to tell that they are? The Bible says to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. It does not say rejoice with those who rejoice and ye women, weep with those who weep. If I am honest with myself, crying over rejection can lead to self-pity (I do it too), but rejection hurts. To cry over it isn't wrong, to wallow in it is self-pity.

    In regard to homosexuality, I believe it is wrong. That said, I feel extreme sorrow for Christians who struggle with this sin. I was just talking to someone today and pointing out that a Christian who struggles with the sin of homosexuality is stuck between a rock and a hard place. We are encouraged as Christians to bear one another's burdens. I wonder what would happen if someone stood up in prayer meeting and asked for prayer because they were struggling with the sin of homosexuality? It is just not done. And I'm sure more than a few judgments would be passed. However, people are free to ask for help with a multitude of other sins such as pornography, addictions, lust, lying, cheating, stealing, you name it. It is the one sin that the people struggling with cannot ask for help on. Sin is sin and we need to embrace the sinner, not the sin, regardless of what it is. I am praying for you and encourage you to search the scriptures as JDS has suggested. If your heart is in the right place, God will reveal Himself to you.

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  20. As a woman, I can understand tears too. But regardless of being man or woman, there is a time to cry and a time to be strong.

    I'm the kind of woman that cries very easily. I feel so strongly about some matters that I hesitate to discuss them in public: because I cry. Discussing my personal testimony, sharing the works of God, my personal struggles, or the specific burdens I carry for others who are dear to me: these are all the catalysts for one of those embarassing crying-in-front-of-strangers experiences. Because of that, I'd usually rather reserve those topics for a close group of friends whom I know won't be incredibly unnerved by my tears. But because I'm a woman, I also know that if at any point I do feel compelled by the Lord to share these things in public, I will probably not be "marginalized" by a group in the same way I would were I a man responding in like manner.

    Bu-u-u-u-t . . . then again, I have known many a man who does shed selfless tears because of his love for God or passion for godliness. And if anything, that just jacks that guy up a tad in my estimation of him.

    For example: Thanksgiving is coming up. Thanksgiving at our church is a season for many testimonies of gratitude shared by both men and women. And many of these testimonies are accompanied by tears. My husband jokes that, on Thanksgiving morning, our church fellowship hall is changed from a banquet hall to a "bawl-room" because so many of us, man and woman alike, cry as we talk about God's dealings in our lives over the past year. My father too is one of those guys that cries. He is a preacher--a weeping preacher. We kids sometimes teased him as we were growing up that he was the "Jeremiah" of our generation since Jeremiah the prophet was well documented as having been a weeper.(My father knew we respected him and appreciated his sensitivity, so the teasing was well received.)

    So all that to say, crying doesn't make you girly either.

    However,it isn't a good idea for either a man or a woman to let themselves cry because of rejection. (Perhaps that point could've been presented a little better in JDS's post; though as I reread it, I do think that is what he said.) I'm not saying that we don't ever cry for ourselves. I'm just saying that we shouldn't. Instead, all of us need to "gird up" in those cases as Job was required by God to do.

    Tears are sort-of, well, all encompassing. When I shed tears, I show that I am completely consumed by a particular perspective. While this often shows great strength in the matters of righteousness, it reveals an incredibly narrow, selfish perspective when the matter is my own pride and "self esteem." And those tears reveal that perspective to be so deeply entrenched in my heart as to be difficult to reverse in my life.

    As a wife, one of the cruelest things I can do to my husband is cry for what I want. One of the most immature things I can do as a friend is cry because I feel my friends aren't understanding me for who I feel I really am or giving me the attention I deserve. One of the most unworthy things I can do as an employee is to cry because I have not been given the recognition that I feel I deserve. One of the most crippling things I can do as a sinner is cry and complain because someone confronts me about my sin. Why is this true regardless of the fact that I am a woman? Because it reveals me to be a self-centered, manipulative woman. It reveals my opinion to be so one-sided as to vehemently disregard all other possibilities. And it interferes with the composure of mind and body which is necessary for reasonably dealing with my attitude and sinfulness in those matters.

    In these cases, my tears are an act of judgment and accusation. In shedding selfish tears, I accuse my husband of insensitivity and failure to care for me properly. My tears reveal my having cast judgment in my heart against my friends' motives and actions toward myself. These sort of tears reveal my unwillingness to recognize and rejoice in the successful efforts of others in the workplace when their efforts are recognized over my own. These tears prohibit my spiritual growth through the godly exhortation of a friend and build walls that cause others to avoid helping me grow when I need it most. These tears cripple me and cripple my testimony for truth.

    So it doesn't matter that I am a woman or that you are a man. There is a time to weep, and there is a time to refrain from weeping. There is a time to "gird up your loins like a man." I have a responsibility to be self-controlled in the matters that instigate selfish tears. I need to turn that sensitivity to personal insult around to a sensitivity to God's Spirit as He changes my selfish heart to a selfless servant's heart.

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  21. Melodie:

    I understand and agree with your statements in regard to tears. However, until we all become like Christ, we are going to be subject to the natural inclinations of our sinful hearts. Some of the most valuable spiritul lessons I have learned in my life are because I have opened my heart up to those friends that I know will exhort me in love, not just to dry my tears. Not everyone is blessed with the ability of being able to analyze their emotions at the time they are having them. Sometimes the only way the emotions are even known is through our tears.

    I tend to think logically. Emotions generally are not logical, so sometimes I have a hard time examining what is behind my tears. In some people self examination and introspection take time to develop. By God's grace I am learning how to examine the thoughts and motives behind my emotions. I have a hard time making sense of them otherwise. I feel what I feel. Why? It isn't logical--it doesn't make sense.

    The thing to be careful of is a false sense of spirituality that may result from stoically holding back tears in an effort not to appear selfish. Some may read your post and may interpret what you say to mean that if they want to be a good Christian, they need to hold their tears in check. This is very dangerous b/c holding back our tears can lead to unacknowledged emotions and beliefs that pave the way for hardening our hearts to others.

    For example, my friend hurts my feelings. I don't want to cry because it is selfish to cry. I feel something but if I examine it too closely, I may cry. If I stay around this friend any longer, I will cry and it will show them how selfish and unspiritual I am. I have now put up a wall between myself and that person. Instead, a few simple tears would open up the door for the friend to see that they have hurt me and give them the opportunity to make it right. Or give me the opportunity to see the selfishness of my feelings. By not addressing the situation, there are walls put up that hinder our fellowship.

    Galations says to bear one another's burdens. It does not give the caveat that we should only bear them if they are unselfish or not sinfully motivated. Hebrews says to exhort one another daily, but how can we do that if we don't know each other's hearts? And how can we know each others hearts if we are communicating to them that their pain is sinful? God gives us the people in our lives to be our spiritual support system. We can learn from the wisdom of others who aren't afraid to point out when we are acting or feeling in a selfish way. These are the types of people we should have as a part of our support system.

    As I said earlier, the danger here is succumbing to the legalistic aspect of holding our tears in check. It can foster a false sense of spirituality when in fact, it is just a facade. 1 Cor 10:12 says 'Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.'

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  23. Melodie said...
    "Hebrews says to exhort one another daily, but how can we do that if we don't know each other's hearts?"

    Dayzeegirrl,

    This is why I don't like discussing personal issues on blogs. You can't know a persons heart fully through thoughts. You gotta meet or talk on the phone or something where you can hear a tone of voice or see facial expressions, or be able to explain yourself instantaneously if you observe that the other person misunderstood you. I certainly did not mean that you cannot cry. I cry and have cried on several occasions.

    Not the other Anon,

    My advice to you is to find a man who you know to be a man of God, someone that you know will interpret God's Word correctly and seek his council. This way you can ask your questions and not have to wait 24hrs. to get an answer and then try to interpret what He was trying to say.

    If you want to continue sharing here, that's up to you and I'm game to keep conversing. Just remember that on a blog you need to take everything with a grain of salt.

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  24. "JDS" has actually cried on several occasions! Ha-Ha!

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  25. JDS,
    I agree. I would just encourage you and Melodie to add a bit of compassion to your exhortations and to try not to talk on sensitive issues as you would to a robot. There was some awesome dividing of the Word of Truth in your posts. Praise the Lord. But some people feel comfortable in their anonymity, especially when discussing such a touchy issue of struggling with homosexuality. So at the moment, God has given you the medium of this blog to exhort and encourage. All we can do is pray that our anonymous friend will continue to seek the truth and that he will find someone outside of the blogosphere from whom to receive counsel.

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  26. *Sigh* I have reread the posts, and I can't really see that there was a lack of compassion in JDS's posts. If anything, I see lots of it throughout. Granted, he could've spent a moment or two longer on the "crying" issue to make it perfect. But then, none of us are perfect. I am willing to assume the best of him in that one instance in light of all that I see in the rest.

    On my own part, I thought I was being compassionate. Actually, I was shedding my own tears as I wrote. I certainly did not intend to paint a picture of false spirituality. Holding back emotion for the sake of upholding a false reputation is yet another issue entirely. I think that your post approached it very well. My purpose was to clarify what it appeared as though JDS was getting at. I don't apologize for what I said in my post, but that I failed to express the compassion behind it clearly in writing is my fault. I apologize. I will work on presenting things more carefully so that the message is softened.

    Whew! Personal issues used anecdotally may have a place, but I think JDS is right! To deal with them on blogs can really get frustrating simply because, unless you are an amazing writer, your words can only express so much of your heart without the help of your voice or face. So let's not argue about this. Let's just give each other the benefit of the doubt and take the good we can from each other.

    Compassionately written in hopes that you will understand :),

    Melodie

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  27. Hi Mel,
    I definitely didn't view it as arguing, just amazyingly good discussion--iron sharpening iron. I definitely appreciate your insight into some of the reasons behind our tears b/c as I said earlier, it takes me a while to sort through the emotions and figure them all out. And I definitely need the exhortations of my friends to gain valuable insight. Your comments were very encouraging to me as I struggle with why certain things hurt me so much--other then the continual reminder that I am too sensitive.

    I fully understood the intent of your posts (and JDS's), and both of you are right that you cannot always determine intent and emotion when reading blogs. But I did try to read them, as well as my own, from the perspective of someone struggling with homosexuality or effeminate issues. Some people reading them may not be as strong in their faith and to be hit over the head with the brick of selfishness might be just a little strong. My intent was just to get you both to think about it and to encourage you to soften the message just a bit. Selfishness is a serious issue in all of our hearts and should not be taken lightly, but sometimes when attempting to help someone see something about themselves, it may be helpful to introduce it more circumspectly.

    Earlier today, I anonymously (although not anymore!) took C4tR author Joe to task for making light of the struggles of homosexual men by advising them in a trite way to essentially cure themselves by getting to know a woman. I knew the spirit in which he meant it, but someone struggling with it may not. And since our words in the blogosphere lack emotion, I did not think the comment was appropriate. If you don't know Joe, you may not know that the intent of his comment was to lighten the conversation. He was able to clarify himself, so hopefully those reading the posts will understand his point of view better now. He had such great insight in his post, but then to close it like he did may cause people to tune out the message. And while we cannot control how someone will read something, we can exercise discretion in what we say or how we say it.

    Great conversation, Melodie!!! Please don't feel like I don't appreciate your wisdom. I have taken it to heart and the next time I cry, it will be easier to analyze the origins of my tears (although I may not appreciate it in that moment!). I do pray that this insight will help make me become more Christ-like, as that is my goal.

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  28. joe: thanks for the "herbert butterfield" quote. I love you.

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  29. Not the other anon: Thanks for your posts. Your original post was extremely interesting to me. How are we to find the truth that God has entrusted to the Church amidst human bias...

    But i'm just wondering... are you content with the preaching at your church? do you think it is possible to find a pastor that is more "exegetical"? From your description of your pastor -

    "very few ideas are taken from the passage. Somehow, there is always salvation, going to church, witnessing & tithing found in most all passages that we are taught"

    he sounds like he is not preaching exigetically.

    I am optimistic that there are many pastors out there who, being human, are not free from bias, but will still try their hardest to communicate and illustrate what the Bible passage is saying and only that. If you are not being fed in your church, don't give up on church! If you love your specific fellowship, there are also tons of good sermon podcasts...

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  30. melodie and dayzeegirrl: not to trivialize the discussion on tears, but, you two sound like you are fun people. can we hang out sometime and discuss this further?

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  31. becky:

    I would love to hang out and discuss this and any other of the world's problems that we can solve in one conversation or less. How about a date for a mocha latte? That is, of course, as long as you can handle tears and anything else that might ensue during a heart-to-heart girl chat. :P

    BTW, I also thought your comments about exigetical preaching were right on as well. I do not generally condone switching churches for the sake of finding a preacher that--"quivers your liver,"--if you will. But it is important that truth be presented as accurately as possible from the pulpit. The idea about sermon podcasts is a very good one too. Thank you for your input.

    dayzeegirrl:

    Oh, O.K. We are on the same page then. Thank you for clarifying your criticisms. I welcome them in the future and hope that you will understand my own to be much more sensitive and heart-felt than my writing skills may imply. :)

    Back to the topic at hand, your comments spurred yet another rabbit trail of thought on the subject for me, but it is such a rabbit trail that if you think I should save it for another Open Topic Tuesday, by all means, just say so.

    It's just that it struck me as a little surprising that selfishness would be considered such adifficult issue to deal with when it is so universal. (Though, perhaps I could've spent more time discussing the universiality of selfishness in my post to deliver this aspect of the message better.) If anything, I would think that since selfishness is at the heart of everybody's problems that it would thus be a "safe" subject. (The kind that might be confessed in a prayer meeting as you suggested, for example. In fact, by personal experience, I can verify that it often has been.) And hence, I would think that revealing this might succeed in opening a door of commonality. After all, someone who fears he is being pulled by a sin which carries a strong social stigma such as homosexuality is likely to be terribly daunted by the weight of it all. It may be that the fear and guilt surrounding such a struggle may overwhelm a person so as to consume him by the temptation to give up and make him feel cornered into the sin. But when we reveal the root of the matter to be as simple a sin as one that everybody and his brother deals with daily and can conquer by God's grace, it may provide him with the hope of a cure and thus the strength and faith to walk through the trial to the overcomer's end.

    Just my $.02. That is not to say that you are not right. Just another philosophy of approach, I guess.

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  32. NToA & JDS: I have no issues with where this conversation has gone. It certainly seems to be well within the scope of the original post.

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  33. Becky,
    We are cool. You'd be privileged to hang out with us!!! JK :)

    Melodie,
    I think selfishness must be difficult to admit b/c there are so many selfish people out there, who continue with their selfishness even when faced with human condemnation for it. My husband's ex-wife for example has been married 4 times so far and even the latest marriage has failed. She has never accepted any type of responsibility for her actions in these marriages and continues to look for someone who will make her happy. She has left her children to their own devices and when faced with the necessity of their discipline has decided that it is not worth her effort. She would rather see her children fail than to see them given the opportunity for success by living with us. Fortunately, God took that one out of her hands. I have never met a more selfish woman in my entire life. Any yet, she continues in it, thinking and believing that everyone around her is the problem.

    It is only God who can reveal to us the extent of our wickedness. And he can use our words to help others no matter how much we bungle them. So, after reading your last post and doing a little more thinking on the subject, I propbably shouldn't have been so senstive regarding yours and JDS's previous posts. If people have the right heart, they will understand what is being said, regardless of how it is said. And if they don't have the right heart, only God can work on it anyway.

    Interestingly enough, in my gender class, we read Larry Crabb's (not my favorite author by the way) Men & Women book. 99% of the book expounded on the subject of our selfishness and the depravity of it. One of his main points was that we tend to think of our own selfishness as not that big of a deal, and therefore excuse it in ourselves. His book continued to talk about how most of our issues related to men's and women's roles would be solved simply by each person dying to their own selfishness and living selflessly toward our spouse. He felt that we would naturally fall into our God-given roles. A bit of a stretch in my opinion, but he is right-on with the seriousness of our own selfishness. The root issue in all relationships is our selfishness.

    Enjoyed your $.02!!!

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  34. Please know that I’m not being glibly contrarian to your posts.

    The three passages you site are pretty flimsy to support a fleshed out role for all men.

    First, I am not married and never will be, so the passages that refer to what a *husband* ought to be are not necessarily for me (Although there ought to be some application because all Scripture is God-breathed and given for doctrine, reproof, instruction, etc).

    In the second example, God expected *Job* to be a man with girded loins. Perhaps, God wanted him to be grounded in truth more than macho in some way (Eph 6:14).

    Third, I have to be honest, I haven’t read the context of the verse, but if Corinthians isn’t talking necessarily to men only, then women also ought to stand fast for the faith?

    “Honor my role as a man” is a vague directive. The phrase “Be a man” has assumed meaning. For you it may mean something different than it does to Mark Driscoll or me or Thomas Jefferson or Genghis Khan or Ken Hutcherson or someone else.

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  35. OK, that last post was for JDS. . .

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  36. NtOA,

    1)Actually, Genesis 1:27 and the verses leading up to it are the strongest support for my argument. I didn’t approach it at just the right angle though. When God created mankind on the 6th day, everything up to that point that was created was good and very good. Mankind was the only creation of God’s that He declared to be “not good.” Mankind was incomplete. He needed a help suitable for him; a help that would complete him. God did not create a companion like him but different (beyond just the physical differences). Mankind was incomplete until God made woman. It was more than the institution of marriage. It was the institution of the human race. God made male and female to be different and to perform different roles in order to complete the creation of man. God made a distinction between the two genders.

    2)How about Job? God pretty much told Job to act like a man twice. Once in Job 38 and then again in Job 40. The word for “man” in the Hebrew language literally means, “valiant man” or “warrior.” All throughout the book, Job accused God of injustice. He wanted to plead his case. When God finally confronted him on it, he cowered in fear (I would have done the same). God is not telling Job to be macho nor is he instructing him to be grounded in truth (as you inquired about Eph 6:14), He is telling him to be a brave man and answer His questions.

    3)Speaking of brave that was the language that Paul used in I Cor. 16:13. The Greek word translated “men” literally means brave. Paul is saying, “Be brave.” That same Greek word is derived from the Greek word usually translated, “Husband”. That is why the translators translated it, “men.” We can conclude that Paul was literally saying, “Act like brave men.”

    Both instances do not give the command to be macho but to be brave. Certainly women are to stand for the faith but God has instructed that men are to be the leaders of His church (I Tim 2). That does not mean that there is no place for women. The woman’s role in the church is a different topic though. The entire context of I Cor, and other Pauline epistles, is how a church should conduct itself. If men are the ones leading the church, then it would make sense for Paul to always use the masculine nouns. Yes, he was speaking to the church as a whole, which would include women, but more specifically to the leadership, which was to be men.

    The whole point is that God made men to act like men and women to act like women. Your last paragraph is a valid point though. Acting like a man is different for every man. That is why I contrasted Jacob with Esau. Jacob, in the American man’s view, was a mama’s boy whereas Esau was the “macho” type man. Yet God chose Jacob over Esau.

    More coming…

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  37. Point 1) Your point here would indicate that there is no room for single people, but the Bible makes it clear that being single is OK. I have heard an argument many times and wonder what your thought is about it: It is not good for man to be alone. I'll let you know now what my problem is with the argument -- the quotation is wrong. The Bible actually says it is not good for THE man to be alone.

    If you are only trying to exclude the homosexual case with Point 1, I agree.

    So, men are to be brave. What else?

    BTW, I like your point about being called to leadership and obeying the call. Do you think that God would call someone like me to leadership (based on the little that you know about me)? Or another question would you want to follow someone like me, or put me in a leadership position?

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  38. NtOA,

    “Honoring your role as a man,” as we have discussed, does not mean to be macho. It means to be a Godly MAN. You obviously have some masculine qualities because you said in the other thread that no one that you know of has accused you of being effeminate. You are not giving anyone reason to believe that you are not a man therefore effemininity is not the issue. That was the issue that my previous post was addressing.

    1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” Other than God, you are the only person who knows your heart. Are you doing all things to the glory of God? Are you presenting yourself as a living sacrifice? Are you loving them who despitefully use you? Are you sitting in the council of the ungodly or is your delight in the Law of the Lord? Are you glorifying God in your body which is His? Are you obeying His precepts? Are you content with whatever state you are in? I think every Christian who is honest will answer, “No” or “Not as much as I should be.” But that is the attitude that we must have. We must strive to be more Christ-like.

    It seems to me that the root issue that you are struggling with is building relationships without feeling dejected. You don’t seem to relate to OSA men so you associate yourself with SSA men. Question! Could that damage your testimony for Christ? I’m not saying to shun your gay friends but those who watch you need to know that you are not approving of their lifestyle.

    The two times in Scripture that have been mentioned about being a man has proven to mean, “be brave.” The apostles prayed for boldness when they knew hard times were coming. Maybe being a man for you is boldly letting your friends know that you believe homosexuality is a sin and a reproach against God. Of course anything that you say to your friends has to be backed up with a Godly life. Let your friends know that you do care for them and that you do respect them as individuals. Keep in mind that ungodliness will feel uncomfortable around Godliness.

    Because you are the only one who knows you, you need to examine yourself. I don’t know you so please don’t take offense at this next set of questions. They are question for you to ask yourself as you examine yourself.

    Are you searching the Scriptures to know how to be a Godly man?

    Are you content in the Lord?

    Do you pity yourself when you don’t fit in with OSA men?

    How do you respond to those who judge you falsely?

    One of my favorite books of the Bible is Philippians. The theme of Philippians is Joy through trials. There are several sub themes like having the mind of Christ, being content in the whatever state you are in, esteeming others better than ourselves, putting Christ first, and more. These are the issues that we all need to learn and re-learn.

    Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

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  39. I didn't say that there is no room for single people. My point was that mankind was incomplete without the woman. God made male AND female in His image. It is the two of them that constitute the human race. However, male and female were distinct in their making.

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  40. God called Jacob didn't He? What is your family life like? Do you have younger siblings? How about at church? You may not be the pastor or even a Sunday school teacher but the youngins are watching you! As well as new believers. To say that you are not a leader is like when Charles Barkely (sp?) told the press that he was not a role model. (He is a future NBA hall of famer who played for Philly and then Phoenix)

    Paul tells Timothy to be an example of the believers in word and in conduct.

    As far as following you or putting you in a position of leadership, that would all be based on your Christian growth. My father-in-law always said, "It doesn't matter where a guy is in his growth as much as where his feet are pointed." If you were to exemplify the Christian walk than yes, I would follow you.

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  41. NtOA:

    It is interesting that you should bring up the issue of singlehood. If Gen. 1:27 speaks only of marriage, then we could easily assume (as many mistakenly do) that unmarried men and women hold lesser roles in humanity or can never come to positions of wholeness and contentment until they find the "one" who will complete them. But if this is so, then how could God have used men like Daniel (who was made a eunich in Nebuchadnezar's courts), or Paul the apostle, or even Christ Himself when they were so "incomplete." But I don't think that marriage is the entire thrust of the passage. On the contrary, we learn of marriage through it, but the marriage relationship is outlined consequently not causatively in that passage. As JDS said, the passage is talking more about mankind in general as created in God’s image than it is about male needing female.

    It is in understanding this unity yet distinction within the creation of God that helps us to understand our positions before God. Single or not, we need to know who we are in God's eyes. (That said, I hope that you will consider studying the marriage relationship in your search to know God’s truths concerning your quest to know God better as well. Before I met the man who would become my husband, I struggled deeply with the roles of womanhood and singlehood in God’s over-all plan for myself within His church. Discovering what He had to say about marriage helped me to understand better His relationship to me. He wanted us to understand marriage to help us understand the love and compassion Christ has toward His church as well as the ministry we have to the world in portraying these truths to others—regardless of our individual marital statuses.)

    You asked about leadership. YES! We are all to be leaders eventually. Remember Paul's chastisement of the Corinthians? He said that by that time, they should have reached a point in their spiritual walks where they should have been teachers. Paul's beef with them was that instead, they had stagnated in their growth and remained babes needing to be fed rather than mature men and women preparing themselves to feed others. The Corinthians? The church with all the problems with immorality and hypocrisy and fighting and false spirituality? Leaders? Yet that is exactly what Paul was saying. They should have been ready to lead at that time! Instead, they were wallowing in their pasts and making themselves believe that they were more spiritual because they continued to simply seek truth from men rather than actually beginning to divide the Word of truth for themselves and share those truths with others.

    From some of the things that you have revealed about yourself, I think there are many things that God could use about you to affect others for Christ. For example:

    You seem like a pretty smart guy.

    You have articulated your situation and positions very well.

    Your questions have been very thought provoking revealing you to be a deep thinker.

    Your arguments are valid (you have an ability to discern between strong and weak arguments). You have a strong ability to reason and communicate, which will help you to discover the truth for yourself and eventually, to break those truths down effectively for others as you find yourself teaching and sharing the same with them.

    You seem to be a caring person with a desire to be fair and balanced in your assessment of others.

    You recognize bias to be inevitable and are not to proud to admit you have a few of them yourself (a huge part of being a leader since nobody wants to follow a man who thinks he's got it all together when everybody else knows he doesn't). Yet you appear to want do everything you can to readjust your thinking when confronted with your biases.

    You even have good insight into the actions of others which reveal their need to be more sensitive to the people around them. This is essential in the realm of friendship as God expects friends to sharpen friends as iron sharpens iron.

    All that spells incredible potential for ministry to me.

    But remember that God is not so interested in your ministry potential as He is in obedience. If God can raise up stones as children of Abraham for the sake of bringing Himself praise, He is not going to be too concerned about your abilities or your personality alone. It all comes down to your determination to love the Lord your God with all your heart and do all things heartily as unto Him.

    So here’s one woman rooting for you (a nameless stranger though you may be) to be a man. Be brave enough to obey. Be bold enough to influence others to know Christ. Be Godly enough to love. Be friendly enough to attract men to Christ and not to yourself. Do all you can to distract men from yourself and direct them wholly to Christ alone. In that, you will become a valiant man of God.

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