I have a new post up on my CSL On The Bible blog.
Category Archives: Christian Beliefs
In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.
~ Rabbi Hillel, Pirke Avot 2:5
A college professor tells how every spring he can count on having a stream of students come to his office for the annual Identity-Crisis Whinge.
“Professor, I don’t know who I am, I need to take time off to find myself. I need to peel back the layers that society has imposed on me and find out who I am at my core.”
He says that he’d love, just one time, to be able say, “What if you peel back all the layers and find that you’re an onion, with nothing at your core?”
Are You Your Roles, Or Something More?
There is a kernel of truth in the whinging of these collegial snowflakes (and yes, I know “snowflake” is a microaggression; I just don’t care.) There are roles for us that we are to grow into as we mature, as we move through the different stages of our lives, but instead of whinging about these roles, those who truly mature grow into these roles and learn to embrace them.
I get that I am an imperfect commentator on today’s society, but I’m pretty sure that much of what we are seeing from these whinging snowflakes is the desire to be like Peter Pan and never have to grow up and assume the responsibilities of being an adult. Instead of seeking to acquire skills to make a living for themselves and for any family they might create, what we are seeing is a collective flight from reality.
Starting with my generation, a rebellion against the “expectations of society” rose up, and society’s so-called norms were flouted as old-fashioned Puritanism. Instead, a follow-your-bliss mindset began to be propagated and was embraced by increasing numbers down through the following decades. We have finally arrived at the point where we are seeing the creation of a generation fleeing responsibilities of making a life.
I think that one of the reasons that Christianity is so unpopular with contemporary society is because it makes demands on its adherents to grow and mature in their faith, which includes assuming the roles and responsibilities of caring for yourself and for others. And by caring, I mean actually working for their benefit and support.
There is no other way to interpret such statements as:
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” (2 Thess. 3:10)
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Tim. 5:8)
The Role We Should Accept, And Gladly
Pure and simple, Christian men have roles and obligations that they have to grow into, as they mature and become men.
The quote at the beginning of this article is one that I’ve come across recently in my readings about the historical context of Christianity. It comes from the Pirke Avot, (The Ethics of the Fathers,) a collection of rabbinic teachings that predate Christ. Rabbi Hillel is considered the greatest rabbi ever (that’s why you will find Hillel Houses on most college campuses) and is obliquely referenced in the Gospels. (You will have to read my Scarlet Letter series to see his significance.)
I could attempt to tick off a list of the different roles that Christian men are called to fulfill: disciple, son/father, husband, church member, etc., but I would face the same difficulty of one preacher that I know of. He was asked by a man to give a list of sins that would keep a man out of Heaven. He refused to do so, saying, “I might accidentally leave off yours off the list.”
Instead, I’m just going to say that Christian men, be they meek or macho, must realize that there is a call on their lives to serve God and those whom God places in their lives. The apostle Paul studied under Rabbi Gamaliel, who was the grandson of the Rabbi Hillel I quoted, above. Given that rabbinic teaching was handed down from rabbi to disciple, and so on, it’s probably a given that Paul learned by heart, “In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.”
The reason I believe this is because the teaching showed up in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians…
“When I became a man, I put away childish things.”
It would be impossible to attempt to dictate what constitutes being a man, and I’m not going to try. But we do know that the Bible places on us the onus of growing in our faith and into roles of service and responsibility. If we can accept the moral strictures of Christianity, it shouldn’t be so hard to understand that we have a place within the societal structures of Christianity, as well.
After all, someday the older generation in the church is going to be you. It’s for darn sure that Peter Pan will have to grow up then.
Recently I received an email from a reader who, in essence, dropped a pebble in the well and asked, “Anybody there?” I know that I haven’t posted anything in over a month, and while not a full apology, I guess I need to at least account for myself, as I do see blogging as a responsibility now. Continue reading
Okay, to summarize my two previous posts: Paul Byerly, of Generous Husband, started a discussion among CMBA bloggers about pornography and the efficacy of the Church’s response. This is something I’ve been thinking about, and so did my first post on making the main thing the main thing, and not wandering off on crusades. My second post was a brief (for me, anyway) look at some examples of how Christians have affected society in the past.
Today, I want to try to tie those two posts together in a suggestion/rant (take your pick.) Continue reading
One of the items in the sidebar of this page is my Curmudgeonly Librarian twitter feed, and I feel I need to explain why the picture of Donald Trump appeared there, today.
Last year, in addition to my regular posts on marriage and sexuality, I indulged myself by writing about some of my other interests. However, I decided around the first of the year to create a second blog for those interests, which include theology and today’s political scene, so that this space could be completely devoted to Christian marriage and sexuality.
That new blog is entitled CSL On The Bible, and today, I did a post about creedalist Christians vs. notionalist Christians, and this year’s election. Since I only have one Twitter feed at this time, I pushed today’s post out on my feed. For the time being, those of you who are subscribed to my Twitter feed will receive tweets when I do a post on my other blog. I hope this is not burdensome to you, as I find that I am not writing as much over there, at this time. Maybe by the time I start doing more, I will have solved my dilemma.
One can only hope. 🙂
(A month later, I did a follow-up to this post which can be read here.)
Okay, I’m thinking that this has the potential to get ugly, real quick. I’ve written a number of posts on Bad Teachings in the church, concerning marriage, and I want to address another one that I keep coming across.
It’s no secret that, for decades, the topic of divorce and remarriage has been one of the hot-button issues in the church, even longer than the same-sex debate. Hester Prine wore a scarlet letter for having a baby out of wedlock; for much of the 20th century, anyone who was divorced felt that they were wearing a scarlet “D”, for divorce, in Christian circles. Continue reading
Today is Nov. 1, and in the Church calendar, this is All Saints’ Day, the day designated for the remembrance and celebration of the saints of God who have gone before us. I must confess that for most of my life, I cared nothing for church tradition, and gloried in being an iconoclast. But I’m finding that the man I have become is growing in appreciation for Tradition. Continue reading
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;*
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty.
from thence he shall come again to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic** Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Cor. 15:19)
When I was going to college, I read materials by people who pass for “Christian scholars” by today’s standards, in which they argue that resurrection was a Christian invention, created by the Church, with no basis in the Old Testament or in Jewish thought.
I wondered how they could even teach that to be true, in the light of several OT passages. After all, it was while he was preaching in the synagog at Antioch that Paul cited Psalm 16:2 to show that Messiah was resurrected:
Therefore he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ (Acts. 13:35)
If resurrection was foreign to the Jewish mind, why would Paul be citing Psalms to Jews in a synagog to show the validity of Christ’s messiahship?
The clincher for me is a portion that appears in what is considered to be the oldest book in the Bible, the book of Job. Job, in facing down his accusers, confesses his belief in resurrection:
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last, he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flees I shall see God. (Job. 19:25-26)
I’ll soon be turning 66. Many who come to read this blog have many more years left to live than I do. And yet, I have a hope, shared by Christians down through he ages, that when I close my eyes for the last time on this life, I will open my eyes and see God. This hope of resurrection is the source of the joy that is expressed in sacred and gospel music. “We shall behold Him.”
In my last Bad Teaching post, I wrote about the abuse of Eph. 5:25, in particular, the use of the phrase, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ love the church” as a cudgel to pound on husbands. In that post, I took issue with pharisaical teaching that laid heavy burdens on the shoulders of husbands, but didn’t lift one finger to help them.
As I said in that post, husbands are told that if they love their wives as Christ loved the Church, then all will be well, that their marriages will suddenly become Heaven on earth. When pressed to define what that means, the most common teaching is some variation of Servant Leadership. After all, Jesus, for the sake of the Church, became a servant and submitted to death on the Cross, and husbands should be willing to become servants to their wives and live sacrificially for them. (If you have read any of my posts, you probably know what I think of that.) Continue reading