Christian Left…or Right?

From Google Images

From Google Images

Christians to the left.

Christians to the right.

Each thinks the other is wrong.  The Christian Left (also an organization with a Facebook page) tends to side with liberal Democrats, preferring ideas such as feeding the poor (welfare), peace (war should not be an option), no capital punishment, free healthcare for all, etc.  Our friends on the Right feel that Republicans are on their side, embracing capitalism, military action against our enemies, getting people off of welfare and that people should pay for their healthcare.  Honestly, each side has some valid points.  But, each side also has some serious issues which we need to be aware of.


Who is right?  Who is wrong?  

Both.

I get Christian Left on my Facebook news feed.  Much of what they share is spot on.  However, some of what they share is way off base.  I appreciate some of the articles that expose the deceit of some of our politicians as well as their outrageous statements.  Yet, once in a while, they share articles that attempt to show scriptural basis for things that are plainly wrong.

I cannot stand for any article that attempts to justify sin by using (out of context) scripture or specious argument/defense.  In one article they shared, the author used a list of scriptures to prove that life does not begin at conception.  Not one scripture they used proved this point, but because the author wrote in such great language, it appeared logical.  However, they completely ignored what God said in Jer. 1:5, “Before you were in your mother’s womb, I knew you.”  As far as I can see, life begins in the mind of God.  It is wrong to judge and shame a woman who has chosen abortion, but trying to justify abortion by saying the Bible shows that life does not begin until after birth is wrong, as well.

On The Other Side

I also hear and read what our conservative friends have to say.  Should we insist that the rules we embraced for ourselves should be the standard and law for all?  Then, should we belittle, bash, judge and cast off those who are living lives that we see as “unholy” or “unclean”?

Many on the conservative side want to do away with welfare and don’t care about the cost of healthcare.  I ask…is this really an attitude Jesus would author?  He fed the masses…well, He gave the food to the disciples to feed them.  Did or would He ever condone turning someone away because they could not afford to see a doctor?  Too many conservatives not only want to do away with support systems for the poor, but in some cities they do not want organizations feeding the homeless.  Is this what Jesus would do?

Yes, Both Sides

I could list the ills of Left and Right.  With a little time, I could show book, chapter and verse as to what is wrong with each and why.  We need to remember that God had things written down in what we know as the Bible.  We also need to pray and study things out for ourselves and see what scripture really has to say about things.

I am disappointed by fellow Christians who ignorantly embrace specious teachings, statements or articles by anyone, whether the author be conservative, liberal or some renown Christian teacher.  I am even further disappointed when Christians embrace teachings, statements and articles which are judgmental, cruel and un-Christlike.  It is one thing to attempt to justify sin or to claim that something which is against God’s design is okay…this is truly bad enough.  But, to be a Christian and ignore the example and teachings of Jesus Himself is repulsive.  This is not to say one side is “worse” than the other, but some words carry a different punch than others do.

Sure, there are articles claiming homosexuality is fine with God and while they sound rather educated, the information is seriously flawed.  Does it win anyone to the Kingdom?  Probably not.  But, if you line up all the folks with all the negative, bashing and judgmental statements against gays, you will see one of the most Kingdom repellent activities of all.

I am not okay with people telling anyone something that is wrong is okay.  Satan convinced Eve of such notions.  This leads people to believe that we can interpret scripture and God’s commands in a way that suits our desires.   They use intelligent wording and apparent/alleged interpretation and definitions to prove a scripture doesn’t mean what it says.  While I understand many of the translations in scripture need improvement, some of these well-meaning folks have only made things sound more correct than they are.  However, in the midst of all of this, there is no message given that makes anyone thinks God hates them.

This is where the Right Wing Christians step over the line.  They shout more messages of what they are against, that people think God is against them.  We have well known and respected men like Pat Robertson letting people know what makes him sick concerning homosexuals and Franklin Graham saying that Christians who voted for Mr. Obama should question their salvation.  This side of Right has done a lot to show people that God is a God of wrath and hatred, ready to strike against anyone who does not tow His line.  Tell me…weren’t the Pharisees and Saducees all about the law and living in such a way to please (or appease) God?  Weren’t they the ones who pushed the idea that salvation would come through works and holy living?  Jesus often had choice words for them.

Jesus did not advocate sin.  However, He did not harp on it.  He did not call the woman at the well a dirty whore and then tell her she needed to get right before going to tell the people to come hear Jesus.  He did not tell Zaccheus, “I am coming to your house, as soon as you get yourself right.”  Everyone was welcome in His presence, to hear Him teach, to allow Him to lay hands on them, to ask Him questions.  Do our words show His love or our hatred?

Where Does This Leave Us?

Let’s be careful not to embrace every story or teaching, especially if it is “new”.  Examine, study for ourselves and consider other points of view, even if they’re contrary to everything we grew up knowing.  We also need to set our emotions aside and embrace what is real and true.  How?  Again…study for ourselves.

Do research on a topic and find all sides.  Seek out the ones that truly prove their claims,  When my friend Michael Willingham and I did our articles concerning the Biblical view of women, we stated our cases, citing the teachings of others who laid out solid evidence.  We found that many teachings the Church embraced for centuries has been in error.  The evidence was there.  We studied it for ourselves rather than blindly accepting what didn’t seem right.

The Barometer

Jesus.  We can read the accounts of what He said and did while physically on Earth.  We also read the activities of His apostles during the dawn of the Church.  That is the barometer from which we need to measure our words and activities.  Left or Right, we need to do this, in order to be true.

 

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The Christianising of America

crossflagHow many times have we heard it?  “America is a Christian Nation!”

Of course, there is the counter-argument, “America is NOT a Christian Nation!”

Well, that should cover both points of view quite nicely.  As a citizen of the United States, as a follower of Jesus Christ and as a reasonable human being (that may be arguable for those who know me), I want to see if I can lay out some sort of sense for both of these arguments.

I thought about listing several of the Founding Fathers and showing whether or not they were actually Christians.  As I looked them up, the ones who were not outright deists were not all conclusively provable as Christians.  So, before I entered into exhaustive research, I figured I would go from a Biblical sense approach, along with a little logic, simply based on the idea of the claim of America being a Christian Nation.

The Ten Commandments
Every time a public building wants to remove a long-standing copy of the Ten Commandments from their wall, the outcry is loud and angry.  “These are the principles upon which this nation was founded!”, one may cry.  Another yells to leave our “Biblical heritage” alone. Yet, there are others who yell just as loudly about the “separation of Church and State”.  Well, how would Jesus see this?

First, Jesus did not go around with the Ten Commandments out in front of Him, declaring they be displayed for all to see.  For that matter, He did not reference them much, at all.  The only times He did say anything about them was when asked about them.  In Jesus’ famous “Sermon on the Mount”, He opens with what we call “The Beatitudes”, in Matthew 5.

The Beatitudes

He said:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

What do we see here?  It is more obvious what we do not see here…”Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not”.  No, this is one of those instances He takes the Law out of the picture, instead teaching grace and relationship.  So, if we were to consider what is “Christian”, that is, “Christ-like”, we should further consider that Jesus is more about relationship and far less about rules, rites and law.

If I were to make my first point, it would be, if this is a Christian Nation, why are we so hung up on a set of rules that Jesus Himself did not make a huge issue out of?

“Other” Religions
How many religions are represented in the U.S.?  Ten?  One hundred?  Ten thousand?  Most of us can name a few of the well known ones…besides Christianity, we have, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, Ba’hai, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhism, Taoism…just off the top of my head.  There are also Christian denominations…Southern Baptist, American Baptist, Independent Baptist, Methodist, Anglican, Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Church of God of Prophecy, Church of Christ, Episcopalian, Lutheran and on and on and on.  There are actually thousands of Christian denominations in the U.S.  Yes, thousands.

If we were to claim this a Christian Nation, does that mean that people of other religions should have no voice?  Would it further lead to which Christian voice should be listened to?  That is, which denomination is the true Christian voice?  After all, if we are to be a Christian nation, we have to face doctrinal differences and how they will play into policy making…right?  Let’s be honest – some denominations may have more liberal views while others far more conservative.

As for non-Christian religions, in an ideal “Christian Nation”, how do we handle these folks?  Do we want them freely expressing their religion, proselytizing, or wearing religious garb in the public streets of this “Christian Nation”?  After all, as a Christian Nation, we would have an image to uphold and we certainly wouldn’t want our children to be exposed to some sort of anti-Christ idol worship.  I speak with a bit of sarcasm, here, folks.

So, if there be a point #2, I would say it is the question of whether or not we would allow folks to be and do what God has allowed them for thousands of years.

Homosexuals and Baby Killers
Let’s get down to what we really want as an alleged Christian Nation.  What we really want to do is legislate peoples choices and the lives they live.  As a Christian Nation, we would prosecute abortionists and ban all same gender marriage.  What the heck…we may as well regenerate the old Sodomy laws and make homosexuality illegal.  Let’s not forget…no one of opposite gender should live together unless they are married.  And, if we really can tighten up the rules, no unmarried person should have sex and if found out can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Wow…we can also finally take control of Hollywood and all those R-rated movies can be made illegal.

Ah, Christian paradise.  Yes.  We take this wicked, sinful, lust-laden land and return it to it’s so-called Christian roots.   Yes!  We can finally have the laws that make us more comfortable and people will feel safe.  We can elect officials that only agree with the stance we have as a “Christian Nation”.  Ah, Paradise.

Before anyone starts to sermonizing me, I do not think that homosexuality is God’s design and that abortion is an awful choice and does take a life.  So, any of you high-horse folks can just step down, step back and relax.

My point is (the third point, I suppose), it seems that the main reason people want to “return to our Christian roots”, is so we can have laws that make us feel more comfortable.  As noble as it seems of the surface to return to our roots, it really boils down to Christians getting what they want.

Our Forefathers
Any one of us can dig up some fine quotes from the founders of the United States of America.  We can find documents that cite Jesus’ name, as well as, “under God” and talk of God’s providence in this Land.  With some research, we can find out who had prayer lives, attended church regularly and observed all Christian holidays.  There were some Christians who took part in the founding of this country, but there were also non-Christians.  As for our signers of the Declaration of Independence, they were all of Christian denominations, but does that mean they were actual followers of Christ?  After all, anyone can be part of an organization, whether it be a church or a club.

What document declares the United States as a Christian Nation?  Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution of the United States declares our country as a “Christian Nation”.  Regardless of all the quotes, dedications to God and even saying we are, “one nation under God”, we were never declared to be a Christian Nation.  People moved over here to get away from religious oppressors and wanted the freedom to worship as they saw fit without any king telling them how they must worship.  Yet, there is no evidence that they wanted to establish a Christian Nation, per se.

Last Words
In the end of his Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln finished with, “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  

By all accounts, Mr. Lincoln was a Christian.  The fourth and fifth words in this portion of the Gettysburg Address are, indeed, under God.  But, he said of the government…of, by and for…the people.  Not the Christians.  Not a Christian Nation.  To acknowledge that this Nation is under God, is not to declare it a Christian Nation, but to simply acknowledge that this Nation is not greater than the God in Whom the speaker believes.

If this were to be a Christian Nation, it would have been declared under Christ.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we would be more concerned about the attributes of Jesus instead of the rules of the Ten Commandments.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we would have to neglect the idea of a separation of Church and State and force a Theocracy upon the masses.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we would have to ask that folks follow only Christ and not have the freedom to choose (a freedom God created us with) not to follow Him and to follow other gods, if any at all.  If we were to be a Christian Nation, we would have to enforce the moral laws we think should be enacted, not allowing people, once again, the freedom to live how they see fit (without bringing harm to others…murder, theft, violence…these are very important laws). whether they live together out of wedlock, live as homosexuals, or even as drunkards.  If this were to be a Christian Nation, we may as well forget the words of our First Amendment…”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  Finally, if this were to be a Christian Nation, we would thereby be making law respecting an establishment of religion and prohibiting others to exercise their own.

While we may have been guided by “Christian values” and while some founders were Christians, I would have to say, no…we are not a Christian Nation and nor should we entertain the idea of attempting to make this a Christian Nation.  Yet, as Christians, we should endeavor to bring Christ to our neighbors and thus to our country, by feeding the poor, loving the unlovable and not pronouncing judgment over every “sinner” we meet.  We need to follow Christ’s example and walk it out.

It is time we stopped worrying about whether or not the United States of America is a Christian Nation.  As Christians…as the Church…we do need to pay more attention toward being the Church.  And, if there are any Commandments that are to be followed, they should be followed by us and, even then, there are only two main ones – love God and love others.  Jesus said so.

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Are You In a RUT?

Just going through the motions?

Just going through the motions?

Sunday after Sunday.  Maybe throw in a Wednesday night.

Week after week.

We get all dressed up, pile in the car and go to church.  We greet our friends, then sit as the service begins.  The music starts.  It may be an organ in some churches.  Maybe a piano in others.  Many have full bands or, “praise teams”.  But, the music starts, nonetheless.  Then, we rise to sing a few hymns, choruses or other Christian songs.  Then, we sit back down.

We are greeted by the senior pastor, one of the other pastors or another leader in our tidy congregation.  Maybe, we are then encouraged to, “Greet one another”.   Announcements are made.

“This meeting, blah, blah blah…that meeting, blah, blah, blah.  Don’t forget to pray for brother Maynard, as he is not feeling well this morning, blah, blah, blah.  Please, silence your cell phones, blah, blah, blah.”

Then, we rise and sing some more.  Some of us are really feeling God’s presence by now, right?  Time to sit back down.  Sister Verbose is coming up to the front to “receive our tithes and offerings”.  She gives a few verses and some encouraging words.  The plates are being passed.  We hear a nice offertory song.  Oooh…did you just feel that blessing?

Then…there he is.  Maybe he is wearing a nice suit.  Maybe a robe.  Maybe, if you are not all that uptight about your religion, he is wearing jeans and a casual shirt.  But, he is the man you will listen to for the next 30 to 45 minutes as he “preaches”.  Now, this has got to give you some goosebumps.

He concludes his sermon.  Weren’t you simply inspired?  You sure nodded your head enough.  Oh, and you even took notes.  That’s good.  I got some notes, too.   Now, let’s stand and sing some more.  Next, the pastor or someone else gives some closing remarks and we are dismissed.  We converse with a few friends on our way out.  We get into our car and drive home.

What was accomplished?  Sure, we got a good teaching and some of us will weigh what we heard and consider what the Lord had to say.  Some of us may even be inspired to act or change.  But, most of us will have gone no further than sitting, listening and nodding our heads.  I heard some guy, many years ago, say, “We too often confuse the nodding of the head with the doing of the hands.”

In too many churches, the gathering is about making sure that you sit and listen as a man tells you what you should believe and how you should live.  There is little to no true fellowship.  Well, you could go to a small group and get some fellowship there and be able to interact with the teaching…which is a bit closer to how the first century church conducted gatherings.  But, even those mid-week small groups or Bible studies are really another Sunday service put in a cozier form.  It just seems that the goal is to get everyone to walk the same, talk the same, behave the same and be sure that their only meetings are with those of their tidy little group or congregation.

Now, before I get raked over the coals, I am not accusing anyone of being part of a cult or that I have any better way of doing things than they do.  The traditional church has still preached the Gospel, helped people through healing processes, fed the poor and come to peoples’ aid in times of need.  The True Church is made up of those who truly follow Jesus Christ, even with (if not especially because of) all our imperfections and shortcomings.  However, the traditional church has gotten in the way of what the Church is supposed to be.  We are all hung up on ritual, tradition, routine and the comfort of someone else telling us what doctrines we should embrace.

Are some of us running on a hamster wheel?  Do we place a higher value on listening to a sermon rather than listening for God’s voice?  Do we get our thrill from singing a meaningful song more than helping someone in need?  Are we satisfied with superficial relationships rather than real fellowship?  Do you feel that attending and “tithing” is the extent of how you serve the Lord?

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you are likely in a RUT.  You may be in a church that is a RUT or you may have placed yourself in the position of being in a RUT.  This does not necessarily mean we should leave our churches and find one that suits us better, but maybe a suggestion to re-examine what our motivations, intentions, decisions, inspirations are and from what source they come (Are we inspired because His Spirit is speaking, or because of an emotional experience?).

Let me put that this way…R.U.T.

Religious Uniformity Theater

Let’s face it.  It comes down to us and Jesus.  The songs will not maintain our relationship with Him.  Sermons will not make us better servants.  Wearing our “Sunday best” will not make us any more godly.  Weekly attendance does not prove our spiritual condition.  We just need to reconsider whether we are doing as the Lord commands us, or if we are going through the motions.

The YouTube link below will take you to Matthew West, Going Through The Motions.

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Equality…or Equity? Part 7

Proverbs 31:10-31

New International Version (NIV)Woman and Jesus

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Footnotes:

  • Proverbs 31:10 Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

I copy and pasted this from Biblegateway.com.  I thought it was good to review.  I suggest that the reader meditate upon this, asking the Lord to reveal what He wants you to know from this.  However, we shall look at some highlights.

  • v. 11 – I simply ask; how can a husband have full confidence in a woman for whom he makes all the decisions?  
  • v.v. 16 & 18 – Oh…so, a woman can make wise investments, too.  Not just a man’s game.
  • v. 23 – She can be who she is, not worrying that her husband is being a disappointment.
  • v. 26 – This wisdom is not just for other women and children, apparently.  She just speaks it.
  • v. 31 – Give honor to whom honor is due.  Men…stop complaining about your wives.

This is my simplistic view.  Once again, I have invited my old friend, Michael Willingham to bring some Hebrew perspective on this well known and meaningful passage.  Not many know about the poetic side of this passage, nor some of the details hidden in the Hebrew words.   However, even in the English translation, we should take a new look at this passage and allow His Spirit to reveal His voice.

Who can find a Virtuous Wife?
A Declaration of Honor

 In this series of Equity for women using the Bible,  we have seen, considered, and have been shown conclusively that God’s design for women is not what it is practiced or regarded in the male centric circles of church and the streets today. In this segment I am going to give you a commentary rather than a study from the Book of Proverbs. Namely chapter 31 verses 10 -31. I will only for accentuation give you a little Hebrew in order to promote the strong meanings to give you the proper reference and context as well as the defining theme of these passages as a whole.

      King Lemuel wrote wise sayings from Proverbs 31:1-9 as taught to him by his mother. I would submit to you that this king who legend regards as actually Solomon, had complete wisdom. He had the revelation of women as God sees and not as mere men see. So, verses one through nine bear mentioning, not just because of their wise advice to kings, but that they were uttered by a woman and followed by a king. It is from verse 10 through 31 we see this culmination of that respect for his mother as well as women in general.

    I had a very slow time in starting this article because I found the information and revelation of these 22 verses intriguing as well as formidable to convey with all of the due respect due. So I will start with some general musings and expand from there. First point is that these verses are found at the end of proverbs. I see this as fundamentally important and a singular truth. Why? We find in the beginning of Proverbs where first Solomon’s second full admonition of wisdom after “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”, we see him say to children to hear” the instruction of their father, And NOT to Forsake the WISDOM of their mother”. And then to set the full theme, Solomon writes that “Wisdom calls out aloud, She raises her voice in the open streets. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the gates in the city she speaks her words.”

Can I have an ‘amen’?

So now lets go back to Proverbs 31:10-22 to look at this honorarium to wives as well as women now that we see that there is a definitely no coincidence we see the feminine touch in this whole book.

     Lets start with a basic but little known fact about proverbs 31:10-22. This is a poem where the first letter of the first word of each verse follows the whole twenty-two letters of the Hebrew Alphabet! I have read of several sources about this fact but didn’t get a true sense of any great explanation of this phenomenon. So I asked God. I asked a plain question but got a marvelous response. This last section of proverbs dedicated to the virtuous wife or “Ishshah” which means woman, or wife that this was a finishing honor to the wisdom God placed in the Ezer Kenegdo. Whether married or single the Ezer Kenegdo is there to be used by God for man (Ish). In this setting then God is laying out from Aleph to Tav the virtues of women and to regard them as such and to take heed. A women is virtuous in all ways and God proves it by honoring her with every letter of the Alphabet. What an incredible and marvelous way for God to honor women by describing her with a twenty two letter “Banner”.

Proverbs 31:10 starts out with the words “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. Now the author is doing that strange Hebrew thing of making a statement into a question. It’s a trick of words to tell you that they are declaring to you something and are about to explain what that is.

     I will start this by defining the word virtuous because this word is the setting tone of the rest of the proverb. It’s the defining word. It’s the high note of the trumpet of God who is using twenty-two notes of music to sing the praises of women!

Virtuous: In Hebrew the word is tied to woman with a hyphen indicating that the two words are linked. Ready? Virtuous Wife

       חַיִל– אֵשֶׁת

Now this is Hebrew so we are reading from right to left. The hyphenated whole word is Ishshah-Chayil. Ishshah, of course, means women but second word linked by the hyphen is Chayil which means the following powerful adjectives: force, whether of men, means or other resources; an armywealthvirtuevalor,strength:—able, activity, (+) army, band of men (soldiers), company, (great) forces, goods, host, might, power, riches, strength, strong, substance, train, (+) valiant (-ly), valour.

I think I could probably end this article on that note alone if you have not picked up on that definition. This is describing a warrior!

Skip Moen writes in an article called “Worth Another Look; The word used to describe the role model for women of Israel is a masculine noun taken from military language.  Forget those translations that talk about a “good wife” or a “wife of noble character” or an “excellent wife.”  This is Joan of Arc, not Jackie Kennedy!  The Hebrew imagery focuses on external behavior, not inner contemplation or heart motivation.  No heroine ever earned glory by sitting quietly at home thinking good thoughts!  Character in the Hebrew community is seen in inner strength exhibited in outward, public reputation. (Skip Moen)

So with this definition and full thematic elements you read in all of the last 22 verses of proverbs 31 as a unrelenting description of a person who practices powerful abilities of management like a CEO of a company. She is a dietician, supervisor, financial analyst, purchaser, wall street investor. And this is just the tip of the iceberg! This warrior also tends to all of the points of the household with the above professional acumen, but she is also generous, industrial, never idle, driven to succeed, loves with quality and quantity and as one verse says “she does her husband good and not evil all the days of his life. The man fully and safely trusts her. With this woman there is NO LACK of GAIN.

Sounds like a fortune 500 company to me?

Again I quote from Skip Moen; “It is behavior that exhibits heroic status.  We nod in agreement, but we don’t recognize just how foreign this thought is to what we value in women.  The heroic poem declares that God values action on behalf of others so highly that this woman is considered a heroine.  But we grew up Greek.  We value other things, like physical beauty, economic dependence and domestication.  We might acknowledge that women play a growing role in business and politics, but more often than not, men want to marry a wife who is gorgeous, placid and subservient.  In fact, the church often misuses Paul’s comments to reinforce those very Greek ideals.

But you won’t find them in this poem.  This heroine is lauded for her economic strategy, cunning and expertise.  She is prized for her “take charge” approach, praised for her profit-making efforts and honored for her charity.  Her stamp of approval is related to her self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, not the shape of her body.  She is a wise teacher, an industrious contributor, a philanthropist and societal icon.  We lust after a crop of celebrities who know nothing about true heroism.  Our role models are deteriorated Greek goddesses, not Hebrew heroines.

And here’s the punch line:  by honoring the valiant wife in heroic poetry, the author offers this concept as the role model for all the daughters of Zion.  Honor follows action, and for all women, heroic action is the first godly option.

Perhaps we need to completely rethink the way that we conscript our girls and young women into a cultural role that was never part of God’s plan.  Perhaps we need to understand that God is not Greek, in thought, word or deed.  What a tragedy we have perpetrated upon women as the church adopted a Greek view of feminine attributes.  Maybe you need to start seeing your girls in combat fatigues instead of cheerleading costumes.” (Skip Moen)

Summary: It is time to go back to read this proverb again, both men and women, with an entirely new and true perspective of what God had inspired the author to write this. You see in the ending of this poem of honor the end result being a house where the children and the husband praises her. She has a reputation in the city because the husband can’t talk enough about his Ishshah-Chayil. We find a home of harmony because this woman reflects the very function of the Ezer-Kenegdo, the force of nature as the Ishshah-Chayil, and practices generosity as a person who reflects the Grace of God, who helps the poor and sets all matters of the house straight with wisdom, purpose and great love.

Men take note here. Women; be encouraged. Church; take notice.

Its time to stop being Greek, start being a Church and let women come into their own by getting out of the way. We are each to our own gifts minister, and in our homes walk with purpose side by side building each other up and creating a dynamic force that marriage can be as well as a dynamic force for women in the Church and the world.

Shalom.
~Michael Willingham

Well, this draws this topic to a fair conclusion.  Next will be a review of some of the highlights of what we have all seen and learned through this little adventure.  I pray that all who read this are blessed, whether you are a woman…or even a man.

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Forget Morality!

~I have two more parts to do for “Equality…or Equity?”  However, I thought I’d throw some thoughts about morality before we get to part 7.  So, let’s get these thoughts typed out. ~

“For so many people that I know… Christianity is a religion about morals. And they will even talk about Jesus. And they will say kids need to know about Jesus so they won’t smoke, drink, or chew, or go with girls that do, and all that kind of thing. And I kinda go, ‘That’s not why people need to know about Jesus. The only reason—the only possible excuse for talking about Jesus is because we need a Savior.’ ”

Rich Mullins

The Moral Code

“Here is how a Christian should behave…”, encompasses a list of do’s and don’ts that make people think of God as an overbearing taskmaster, ready to strike the first offender who dares to transgress His plan for a perfect world.  This list includes…don’t steal, don’t lust, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t dress immodestly, no pre-marital sex, don’t watch R-rated movies, no cussing, no anger, no envy…blah, blah blah.

Sure are a whole lot of “don’ts”, in there.  Has God really created us with a lifetime supply list of do’s and don’ts?  If being a Christian means we are now obligated to live according to a specific code in order to please God, then is it any wonder that some people want nothing to do with God or the Bible.

Now, listen here, you.  Morals are good.  God does want us to abstain from some things .  It is important to live a life pleasing to Him.  We have moral laws for a reason, you know.  

This time, I mostly agree with you.

What?  You do?

I said that I mostly agree with you.  There are a couple of points I would like to clear up.

Here it comes.

You said that we have moral laws for a reason.  Well, I have an issue with that idea of law.  There is also that part of pleasing Him…that kinda gets me, too.  I will approach these together, as many people equate obeying law with pleasing God.

The Law was not given as a verbal baby-sitter or God’s way of keeping people under His thumb.  In a nutshell, the people wanted religion and, with religion, comes rites and rules.  So, it was really a consequence of what the people wanted.

Morality and Me

We impose legalism upon ourselves every time we feel we are pleasing God by our behavior.  While God desires we would live according to His design for us, He is no less pleased with us because we miss the mark.  We cannot live perfectly and we will fail and God is fully aware of that.  He cannot and will not be disappointed in us.  His grace goes far beyond our limited ability to live a “perfect” life.

This is no excuse for going headlong into sin.  As we read in the start of Romans 6, “1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

You and I will not get any closer to God by living a certain way.  However, if something is in the way of our relationship with Him, we need to change or remove whatever that may be.  This might be a sin, an object, an attitude – if it blocks our relationship with the Lord, He will let us know and it is up to us to respond.  What’s great is that we do not have to strain and strive to take care of the issue on our own, as if we were struggling by ourselves on an uncharted island.  God not only points out what needs improving, but will also walk with us, patiently, as we venture through the process.

Morality and Them

Here is the part where we impose our sense of right and wrong upon others.  When I say, “others”, I mean those who do not follow Christ.  I cannot express how serious this issue is, and how reprehensible an action it is to impose “morality” upon others.  It is not our job to police and legislate the lives and actions of others.  Why do we demand moral behavior of people who do not follow the Lord?

Hold on a minute, John.  It is the moral decay in a society which brings it down.  Look at the nuclear family?  How about the crime in our cities and towns?  We have people just living how they please, spreading their immorality all over the place.  Someone needs to tell these people the right way to live.

You just gave an example of one of my points in answer to the question I just posed.  One answer, is that we want people to behave in a way that makes us feel comfortable.

We live according to personal conviction, which comes by way of what we read in scripture as well as what the Lord lays upon our hearts.  At the same time, we live in a world that does not share our convictions.  For some reason, we feel it is necessary to tell them to live like we do.  We demand the unwed not to live together, Hollywood not to make ‘R’ rated movies and homosexuals to go straight.  Well, guess what…we need to stop.  If our only goal is to attempt the arrangement of some utopian society, we need to simply stop.

This also goes for our fellow Christians.  We need to be mindful that we all grow at different rates and each have our own convictions.  We need to be patient with one another as God is patient with each of us.  Yes, it is good to encourage one another toward a better way of living, a way that is complimentary to the design of God that we are.  But, we cannot demand that people change just because we say so, or the demand of, “As it is written…”.  We need to allow people to hear from the Lord, gain their own conviction and willfully change on their own.

Another reason we would demand certain behavior out of people is some weak theory that if we teach people how to live that they will see that behaving in a godly manner is a great way to live and then they might decide to follow the Lord.

Gag.

Leading people to the Lord by way of behavior modification…really?  I will not dignify that.

The third reason, as I see it, is that we exalt the sin in others in order to diminish the shortcomings of ourselves.  It is that thought in the back of the mind, “I am not perfect, but I am not as bad as that.”  It can even go so far as the Shakespearean quote, “I think thou dost protest too much.”

We need to remember that God does not look at us as this one being better or worse than another.  His love for each of us is equally boundless.  His estimation of each of us is not graded on a curve nor based on individual statistics derived from ‘good’ behavior vs. ‘bad’ behavior.  If God can look at us with such grace and love, we need to back off of those whose behavior or lifestyle does not live up to our standard.

 Ah, The Standard

What is God’s standard?  Grace.  Where can we see this standard?  We can read the Gospels and see the Example, Jesus.

Jesus lived a moral life.  Yes, His personal life was, well, perfect.  But, His higher morality showed in the way He treated people.  He came to serve, He loved and even protected.  He treated people with dignity, respect and showed no partiality or favoritism.  He never told anyone that their shortcomings or sin was so great that they were not welcome in His presence.

Don’t Get Me Wrong

Morals are important.  But, we need to live according to our own personal convictions as revealed by God’s Spirit.  If we live according to Law, we are putting too much stress on ourselves, making God out to be a taskmaster and even putting ourselves in the place of judge, as we examine all that we do to see if it measures up to what we think will please God.  In the same manner, we do all this with other people, as well.

Let’s forget morality and concentrate on living as God designed us to live.  Let’s listen to His Spirit and live by the convictions He places upon our hearts.  We should begin to treat others as Jesus does, without judging them by a standard that He does not measure anyone by.

Closing Thoughts

People were attracted to Jesus and followed Him in droves. He was invited to “sinners” homes. He made everyone feel comfortable around Him. So knowing that, why would anyone be attracted to you?  If we insist on pounding ourselves and others with a moral list of acceptable do’s and don’ts, we alienate more than we attract.

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Equality…or Equity? Part 6

It's time to put this club to rest.

It’s time to put this club to rest.

Debbie Is In Charge!

With all the talk of men leading women, how women should not lead men, how women should not teach men, women being silent, blah, blah, blah…it is important to show how God has used women.  He even used them in leadership…over men and women.  God did not call a woman just to be in charge of other women or children.  He called them to do His will, just as He has called any man.  Let’s take a quick look at one woman who was appointed Judge over Israel.

Judges 4:4-5
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Notice something missing in this verse?  How about…there are no excuses or reasons why she was judging Israel?  There is no disclaimer saying, “Since there were no able or worthy men in all of Israel, God put a woman in the place of a judge.”  Nope.  Don’t see it.  Not a hint.  Not even a suggestion.  It simply says, “…was judging Israel at that time.”  See?  God calls whom He will, to do what He commands, when He sees fit and He does not apologize for it.

Did You Really Mean, Sons and Daughters?

As was quoted by Peter in Acts 2, Joel 2:28 says, “I will p0ur out my spirit on all flesh…and your sons and your daughters will prophesy…”

What is this big idea of women being “silent”?  If I may be honest, I think that some of the men who fully embrace the silence of women just want to keep their own mouths running.  God used women to speak His words on more than one occasion.  If they are supposed to remain silent, then God must have missed that memo.  God’s women did not just speak to women and children – they spoke to the people in general…male, female, young and old.

Female Prophets
Sarah Gen 11:29 – 23:20
Miriam Ex. 15:20-21; Num. 12:1-12:15, 20:1
Deborah Judges 4:1 – 5:31
Hannah I Sam 1:1 – 2:21
Abigail I Sam 25:1 – 25:42
Huldah II Kings 22:14-20
Esther Esther

In God’s Word to Women, Dennis Preato has outlined how women being silent is not what we think it is.  Here is the link.  I recommend that you read and re-read.  Pray for God to reveal what is being communicated, here.

http://godswordtowomen.org/Preato2.htm

Men Must Lead?  Says Who?
Wait, didn’t we just establish that God has used women to lead?  Well, if you really want more information on that, here’s another link…

http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/ministry-leadership/women-in-leadership/723-can-women-lead-the-church

Since we have so misconstrued the idea of submission and what it means, we have spread it into other areas and turned it into subservience.  It has become an idea that God allegedly put men in charge and women are nothing more than submissive assistants.  It is time we pull away from that mode of thinking and embrace what God as designed each of us for.

Heresy!

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I can hear it now.  Women speaking in church?  Heresy!  Men submitting to a woman’s leadership?  Heresy!  I must admit, I am tempted to reply with, “Pthpthpthpthpthpth!”  But, let’s be mature about this…shall we?  I did not start this ignorant of the fact that there will be those who would disagree.  But, I was careful to line up what information I could gather in order to present the case.

Thanks to my friend, Mike Willingham and his research, we can see the Hebrew breakdown of creation, man and woman and the fact that Eve was not the matron for a curse on all women.  He also shared some notes from Skip Moen and Lois Tverberg, each sharing Hebrew perspectives.  The two sites shared earlier in this article poke holes into commonly used and misinterpreted scriptures in the New Testament that concern women teaching or leading in the Church.  Point being, I did not want to approach this with my own logic or well-intended thinking.  The information is out there and I have presented some of it in this small series.

So, if anyone should play the heresy card, fine.  We just put the information out there and let the reader(s) sort it out, pray and let the Lord reveal what He wants to say.  If you hold to the old doctrines that women are less than men and cannot prove that the information in this series is wrong, the you may want to re-evaluate what you have been embracing.

What’s Next?

The next post will be a brief examination of the Proverbs 31 Woman.  A few highlights will be shared and, once again, my friend Mike is doing some research in Hebrew.  We’ll do our best to keep it under 6000 words, this time.  As for what is next with the rest of us…we all need to re-evaluate the long-held doctrines that have brought legalism, dogmatism, anti-feminism and gender inequity into the Church.

There are two more posts coming to finish this series.  The goal is simply…to be true.

Note:  This is not to say women are in charge, per se.  Men are given a charge…to protect, provide for and love their wives as Christ loves the Church.  However, when we look at what scripture really says, there is truly nothing that says men are the bosses of women, nor that women are to be silent and subservient to men.  Also, personally speaking, I am certainly not an expert, I am simply sharing what I am learning and reading.

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Equality…or Equity? Part 5a

This is called,”Part 5a”, since it is really a continuation of Part 5.

manwomansilOnce again, we see further evidence that woman was not created as man’s second fiddle.  We also see that Adam and Eve were not cursed but faced consequences for their rebellious actions.  Furthermore, it is to be understood that the larger weight of the blame was upon Adam, who was nearby while Eve was being deceived.  The only one cursed was the serpent, who would have gotten his simply because he showed up to deceive.  Yes, Eve answered the temptation, but if Adam had stepped in, much trouble may have been avoided.

Mike Willingham has been showing us, using Hebrew definitions, how woman was made for man as an equitable partner, not as a subordinate.  He further showed that no curse was placed upon Adam or Eve, but only upon the serpent and the ground upon which Adam would work by “the sweat of his brow”.  We also saw the evidence being presented in articles by Skip Moen and Lois Tverberg.

Some would accuse Mike and me of heresy.  But, we are presenting scriptural evidence.  The evidence we are presenting will show that there really is no scriptural basis for women being second class, subordinate or even…silent.

Our goal…our desire…is that women would find liberty.  We also would like to see men look at their position differently, that they are not “in charge” of women, which would hopefully inspire repentance, as well as free some men, as this is a task that God did not intend.  The task He gave was for men to love, protect and provide.

Now, we will further establish that God did NOT curse Adam or Eve.  Then, right at the end of Genesis 3:16, “And he will rule over you.”  This is said right in the midst of all this alleged cursing.  Were they cursed?  No.  Consequences of their actions?Yes.  Would Adam rule over Eve, thus setting a pattern for men to rule over women?  No…that has been misinterpreted for so long, it is time to put it to rest.

Again, my friend Mike shares his Hebrew studies on this long-held doctrine.  This is another long one, but take the time to read and gather the information.  There is some review of previous information and a whole lot of other information which will fill in some of the blanks.  We both wanted to make sure that the information is clear, so as to be sure that it is accurate according to scripture.  Remember…this is what God told Moses to write down.

The Garden: The Fall Revisited: Truth and Consequences
Time to set matters straight

      In the past several articles I have been trying to build a case as well as bring new light to the inequity and inequality of women vs men and the church. By using the original Hebrew I went back to the beginning of Creation to paint a picture, to see the story of this distant past much differently than you or I have ever heard it. It’s not a secret. It’s not like this is some mystery that was hidden and so I am not presenting to you some kind of secret knowledge or esoteric revelation! It was there all along. We all have just sat and listened and swallowed whatever we were taught in Sunday school and with open ears assumed everything the preacher said was truth. And so then we accepted these long practiced erroneous attitudes, accepted the restrictions and actually helped promulgate this overall oafish and overbearing male centric theology that truly is without any basis on any biblical truths.

     Its time to get real serious here! In this segment we are still in the Garden. I have covered in detail using the Hebrew the story of man and woman’s creation. I have shown you that much has been missed and withheld as well as misquoted and mistranslated from the scriptures either by accident or design. Me? I’m going with design. Man’s design. So in this installment we are going to examine the fall very carefully and reveal the truth and dispel the fallacies and set to right what our true heritage God has for us and from whence came the source of these attitudes and where they really stem from.

      Let’s do a quick review with scripture so we can examine a couple of things like a detective. I do not at this point need to do much Hebrew since I set things up in the creation to give you a reference when you need it. I want to take us to the place of the Fall and what really happened here. Lets recap.

     Man was put into the garden and God told man that every tree he could eat freely, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil he shall not eat for on the day he eats of it he would surely die.  Now did God need to explain Himself as to what that means? Surely die? Well it sure looks to me that Adam understood or rather didn’t ask any questions. So a missed moment has been revealed here. Adam was told he would surely die if he ate the fruit. What is die? And, what does surely mean? Really there is a lot of latitude for interpretation as to what God meant. God gave man freedom and explained the parameters of his environment. God was not playing games with Adam. He gave him knowledge freely. But Adam did not ask anything. A generous God who gave him the whole garden to live and consume, and he didn’t feel that God would not answer any questions? Here is the first place we see a problem or a potential pattern. Adam heard God say what he said and did not think to go to God to get any more elaborations. So apparently Adam was cool with it and understood it completely? Lets move on.

       Adam was given this edict before woman was made. So, Adam now had this command from God in his head and we are sure he is ruminating like crazy the concepts God has given him. But lets make one thing clear here. God first told Adam he could freely eat of everything in the garden. Except that one thing. That was a tree that had a name. The Tree of KNOWLEDGE of GOOD and EVIL. Clear warning to steer away from there. But now something happens. Immediately after the God gave that command we read in the scriptures God stating that it was not good for him to be alone. Could it be since Adam did not ask any questions that the danger had presented itself and God saw that things were not complete? Apparently so for God now stated He would create the Help Meet or the Ezer Kenegdo for Adam as discussed in part four. So here we are: In the Garden, and the next things happens. God put Adam to sleep and Woman was made and immediately after that when she is presented to Adam, our boy here gives a pronouncement to God and woman. “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman (Ishshah) because she was taken out of Man (Ish). Keep this scripture handy as well as the name of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is vitally important because it relates fully to what goes on next. We also read which is also important the last thing about them was that they were both naked and were not ashamed. Hold that thought too!

    Now we do not know the time duration Man and Woman spent in the Garden before we introduce the next player in this story. I believe it was a considerable amount because the conversation I am going to show next would only happen if there was a reasonable amount of time given to have certain thoughts gain hold.

     In chapter 3, we are introduced to the serpent. He is described as more cunning than any beast of the field that the Lord made.  Man and Woman roamed around this beautiful garden together eating fruit and tilling (which was not work at the time), keeping the garden and living the idyllic life. They had plenty. They had it all, until the serpent decided to strike up a conversation with the woman. Now, we know Adam was with her because of the whole context of the scripture. This is vitally important. Remember the poetic announcement man made to woman and so on and so forth. So its quite conceivable that Adam and Woman were probably inseparable. But, one day they are walking around and suddenly the serpent strikes up a conversation with Woman. This creature, out of the blue, begins a repartee in a strange way. It starts the conversation with a statement/question mix that is most cunning to say the least. Actually it was more rhetorical, so we can conclude it was not just the question itself, but the Voice of the serpent we need to include as well. I’m not reaching here. The question in itself was very rhetorical, so how would it engender any response unless it is framed and spoken with cunning and framed to illicit an emotion or, at the very least, a thought. What emotion or thought? Lets read on.  So the serpent says…

“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’” Clever serpent. Real clever! So we have some things here that we can comment on. First an animal strikes up a conversation. That didn’t seem to be a problem with Woman, so apparently the animals in the garden were talking. But this animal had something to say. This creature had a point to make with God’s creation.

So the question was asked. The woman’s response is where we start in this word game that is being played. Remember all this time Adam is with her.  Woman responds with…

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree, which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it lest you die.'”

So lets review Woman’s response. First, the woman felt the need to answer this creature back. Already, doubt existed. She felt she had to explain what God said to a fellow creature whom obviously knew what God said, too?  Next, She just used the term “the tree”. That tree had a name but she did not speak that important piece of information. And so the last thing is she added a command to what God said by saying that they would not to even touch it as well eat it. And she said lest you die. God said that on the day Adam eats of it he would surely die. Subtle difference but very important all the same. So its very clear why the serpent first started a conversation with Woman, and did it with a rhetorical statement/question. So where do you think all this skewed information came from?  I do not think you need look any further than over to who is next to the woman. (Gen. 3:6b, “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. And he ate it.”)

Yeah. Adam is standing there. He is standing there listening to Woman talking and relating to the serpent this answer that is skewed and missing vital and accurate information. Now you see why the serpent spoke to her. It was of course expecting this. The serpent wouldn’t have struck the conversation with Adam. Why?  Adam knew everything of what God said. But, it is painfully apparent that Adam had not thoroughly conveyed to the woman the information God said to him. So, the cunning serpent was acting upon knowledge that was skewed and missing. Woman did not tell the serpent what the tree was called and that then said it was not to be touched as well as eaten. So the serpent was now armed to continue his next repartee.

“And the serpent said to the woman (with Adam next to her) “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”   Here is  an outright lie hidden in a statement to illicit a response. But, it is more than that. The Devil was cast out of heaven for rebellion against the Lord. The famous Five I wills! The final I will was that the devil said I will become like the most high! So using the serpent the enemy was wanting to get man to do what he tried to do and so prove to God man was like he was. The big difference here of course is that the devil had no tempter! Think about that.

      The serpent presented its argument as if God was holding out something from them! The two had all of that plenty in the garden, but the enemy hit upon their hidden dissatisfaction, which his last statement created. What we have next is what I call the leading to destruction part. It didn’t convey that they were standing at the tree of knowledge of good or evil. Woman already had the fear to be even near it from what she was told by Adam. So the serpent led them to the tree. So now Woman and Adam are getting a good look at the tree. Now, my next observation is this:  Since the serpent was spouting off how much it knew about this tree, why did Woman ask the serpent why it didn’t eat it too? If the serpent was telling the truth than it would have eaten it for itself and extol the virtues of eating it. This, right here, should have been the big danger signal. This should have been the red light. Someone telling you that something is good and not bad and yet had not tried it themselves is an obvious sign of deceit. But that question went unasked because of what we see next.

“So when the women saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate.”

Swallowed; hook, line and sinker. Now notice that only when both had eaten that what happens next…

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened; and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”

   All of this buildup from the serpent of what they were missing from the garden, that this tree would supply them with knowledge of good and evil and they would be like God. There it was, in their souls a feeling like God had held out something from them. God didn’t want them to have something that would be great. Knowledge. Lets stop here. The tree was called: “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil”. Not the tree of Wisdom! Woman saw the fruit as something to make one wise. Wise? Now where did that desire or observation come from? Wisdom and knowledge are not the same.  This tree looked like it was desirable to make one wise. Or in the vernacular, the tree looked like it would be a source for wisdom.  So, when they ate, Adam and the woman did indeed have their eyes opened. And at the same time! How? Why? And what knowledge did they receive. They received the knowledge the tree could only supply.

   The knowledge they got was perception. Their eyes were opened and they saw they were naked, and that they were ashamed. Their eyes were opened, they saw what they truly were and then their perception was shame. All of this enticement and wordplay and they got knowledge they were naked. And not just naked, but having eyes opened their bodies now changed. A rapid series of events were acting upon them. After they are now swimming in the emotion of shame, a new emotion emerged for the first time as well that came through loud and clear.

Fear.

   Fear that drove them to grab fig leaves and sew them together as covering. Now would you think they could truly believe that God would not notice, or did they have already a answer like, “Hey God look what we created. We thought this salad dressing would be all the rage!” Their nakedness was deeper than skin. Their souls were naked. Sin had bared their souls and all for the knowledge that they were truly naked. Now all of this has to do with perception and choices. There was nothing wrong with being naked. This is a fact. In truth there is nothing inherently wrong with nudity. But it was when their eyes were opened that their perception of their nakedness was something they chose. Which then led to fear which was a root of their perception or realization that they had truly done wrong.

In order to examine this sudden change in Adam and Woman after eating the fruit let us examine this Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I’m going to once again do some brief Hebrew so you understand more deeply.

Lets look at a few words. Wise, knowledge, good, and evil. Woman saw the tree desirable to make one wise and this was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Get ready for some surprises once again! I am going to examine each one.

Observe.

Wise: שָׂכַל sakal {saw-kal’}A primitive root; to be (causeatively make or actcircumspect and hence intelligent:

Look at the Hebrew letters from right to left:

שׂ Shin: One of the meanings of the word shin in Hebrew is shinui, “change.” The coal symbolizes changeless essence, the secret of the verse: “I am God, I have not changed,” meaning that relative to God’s Essence absolutely no change has occurred from before Creation to after Creation. The inner flame is the paradoxical latent presence of the power of change within the changeless. The outer flame of the shin is continuously in a state of motion and change.

 כ Kof: Palm. It looks like a hand cupped like it was going forward to bless

 ל Lamed: To goad to knowledge.

So run together we get the picture of wise as the essence of God’ hand like to bless with the goad to knowledge.

Next Word:

Knowledge: דַּעַת da`ath {dah’-ath} concern(1), know(3), knowledge(81), premeditation(2), skill(1), truth.

The Hebrew letters:

 דּ Dalet (Door)

 עַ Ayin (Eyes, to see and by extension, to understand and obey. Ayin represents the primeval light, that is the spiritual light of God.

The allegory of this letter: Ayin is sometimes described as having two eyes that connect to a common “optic nerve that leads to the brain. The two eyes represent choice or the actions of the will (i.e the heart). We can choose the good eye or the bad eye. For example, we can choose to see a glass half empty or a glass half full. Its choosing to perceive the state of things around you!

  ת Tav (Cross)

Run this together we see knowledge is “The door brings us to the choice between both good with the end being the cross!

Now here is where it gets more interesting.

Good: בוֹט  towb {tobe} good (as an adjective) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masculine and the feminine, the singular and the plural (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; the goodgoods or good things, good men or women), also as an adverb (well):—beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, X fair (word), (be in) favour, fine, glad, good (deed, -lier, liest, -ly, -ness, -s), graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh (best), loving, merry, X most, pleasant, + pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, (be) well ([-favoured]).

The Hebrew Letters:

 ט Tet: This is a paradoxical letter in that it reveals both good and evil. The form of the letter is inverted suggesting hidden goodness, like that of a woman who is pregnant. However sometimes the potential for goodness is perverted, and impurity or filth results.

וֹ Vav: Nail

ב    : Bet: Bet is the second letter of the Hebrew Alphabet. It’s a pictograph of a house. But it is a very important letter. Even though it’s the second letter of the alphabet it appears as the first letter of the book of Genesis. It literally reveals the son of God. The word for create is bara and the word for son is bar. So if you separate the bar from the aleph you get the son of the father!

So its easy to see that the goodness of God and the Son is revealed in the word “good” but that the paradox exists for that knowledge to be seen and useful or the seeing is perverted and skewed!

 Next word

Evil: רָע ra` {rah} bad or (as noun) evil (naturally or morally). This includes the second (feminine) form; as adjective or noun:—adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease (-ure), distress, evil ([-favouredness], man, thing), + exceedingly, X great, grief (-vous), harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief, (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, + not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st) wretchedness, wrong. [Including feminine ra’ah; as adjective or noun.]

Lets look at the letters:

רָ : Resh (head) The letter RESH holds the value of two hundred in the numerological calculations of the Hebrew alphabet. It is symbolic of wickedness as well as higher consciousness.

The letter RESH alludes to the word ‘rosh’ (head). The head is the most significant of all the parts of the body. It is the source of intellect, reason and wisdom.

 ע : Ayin (Eyes, to see and by extension, to understand and obey. Ayin represents the primeval light, that is the spiritual light of God.

The allegory of this letter: Ayin is sometimes described as having two eyes that connect to a common “optic nerve” that leads to the brain. The two eyes represent choice or the actions of the will (I.e the heart). We can choose the good eye or the bad eye. For example, we can choose to see a glass half empty or a glass half full. Its choosing to perceive the state of things around you!

So now lets consider. This tree was one of pure perception. The Revelation of choice! They got from the tree the knowledge of good and evil. They got the power to choose or perceive good or evil as they see it! There was no sin or wrongness in the garden. Even the serpent in its wordplay knew it was on thin ice, but it was so far not doing anything wrong but having a conversation. But it was presenting doubt to them. This doubt had to have hit Adam so hard he did nothing to stop Woman from eating. There is the crux of the whole matter. After explaining this tree, their doubts incited by the serpent and the eating, we find the shining star of revelation here.

   Adam did not stop this at any time! Adam listened and knew what God REALLY said and he knew what he had told Woman. There was a contrast. There was no agreement of information. There was no ONENESS here! But they were one. So it is clear that in their oneness that it took both to eat in order for the sin to completely reveal itself in them both. How? Both of their eyes were opened at the same time.

   So, they had shame, they had fear. Both alien emotions in the garden. They were laid bare and sought to cover themselves or rather get right their own way by covering themselves. This is self covering or self righteousness. Another transgression being committed here. It is evident that the one act is releasing a string of transgression now. And then they hid themselves among the trees when they heard the sound of God walking in the garden.

   God knew this. It was immediately after they sewed the fig leaves together and hid themselves that they heard God walking in the garden.

   And God reached out to them.

   Lets make something clear. God knows all – correct? And, God appeared because He knew what happened. Yet He reached out to them even as Adam and Woman hid themselves. We already see the pattern of the Grace of God here. So lets get on with the rest of the story. Called out to Adam and asked where was he. Adam called out (not woman) I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and hid myself. Score a good one for Adam. He told the truth. Now God answers. “Who told you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree that I commanded that you should not eat? So God answered back to Adams telling Him he was afraid because he was naked and hid himself. God immediately gave two revelations. One is He knew somebody didn’t tell them they were naked. It was a rhetorical question. But God knew someone was responsible for their knowledge. And He also equated their knowledge of their nakedness to the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God knew that the eating would produce this result. This perception. This reaction. So God’s questions were not for His lack of knowledge, but for the purpose of reaching out and drawing His creation out so He could deal with them. Now if God who knew everything was set on the course to punish them, then they would have been smouldering carbon chunks instantly. And this saying in church tbat God cannot look upon sin is a false one because Adam and Woman do come out in His presence. They sinned and yet they did not burn up! We seeing Grace still happening here?

Well what happens next rings down the annuls of time. Adam throws Woman under a bus. Remember he said she was the bone of his bone and the flesh of his flesh. Adam answers God.

And the man said “The woman who you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat. Well Adam did confess he ate, but prefaced with a finger pointing. I could almost hear God sigh. So God now went to the woman to hear her side.

“And God said to the woman. ‘What is it you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I did eat.'”

Notice, in this sentence, God treated woman differently. God did not remind her of the command He gave Adam? He only asked her what happened.  Remember, God only told Adam of the edict of this tree. And God did not remind Woman of the command He made to Adam. So, woman answered God and she did tell the truth! She did point fingers. The serpent struck a conversation with her and deceived her and she ate. Now God is reaching and striking up a conversation with her to get to the bottom of things. Well now, once it was revealed who was the central figure, God went to the serpent. Notice now that no questions were asked here. No conversation or looking for more clarification. Woman spoke the truth. And God answered by laying on The Curse.

 3:14 And Yähwè יָהוֶה ´Élöhîm אֱלֹהִים said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou [art] cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

 Well, I don’t think much more needs to be explained here except this. God did not engage the serpent like He is doing with Adam and woman. The serpent is never asked anything. God immediately addresses the serpent with the Curse. Okay. Serpent gets cursed. Hold that in place.

Now God goes back to deal with the other two. and who does he go to? Well it looks like reverse order. He goes to woman. Then He goes to Adam last.

You will see as I break this down that Adam gets the lion’s share of the consequences. Did I say consequences? Yes that is what I said. God does not declare curses on Adam or woman, but consequences. You see God bring to woman consequences. These consequences were already occurring in their bodies and mind. God wasn’t meting out punishments, but as you read and see it broken down we actually see mercy and hope being played out by God. And I do not have to break this down in Hebrew to show you. It is vividly clear.

So to the woman:

 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over you.

   Its time to get some things straight here! God had made woman, Adam had declared her to be, “bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh”, so technically they were now married. But nothing else concerning the accouterments that go along with being a married couple had happened yet! Nor were they defined. Now I said earlier that the consequences of their actions were already acting upon their bodies. Death was acting. Not immediate but a breaking down and a weakening process. Looking at this scripture broken down, we see that God is declaring her sorrow in conception and childbirth would be greatly multiplied. Thus, deeming multiplying something that was going to happen anyway. What was that? Childbirth. Well that takes conception. Conception takes desire.  God tells woman that her “desire will be toward her husband”.  So, God set up with their oneness a basis for intimacy.  In the Hebrew, the word desire actually means, “longing toward”. This would create a bond, wouldn’t it?  I am sure there was wonderment on this childbirth thing already with woman. But, since He declared her longing would be to her husband, that part will take care itself.

Now the next part of this word God is delivering to woman is the single point of failure of men. It’s the most misunderstood, most abused and misguided statement! In actuality this statement was for woman’s benefit: Ready? This is THE STATEMENT that has given men license to justify them to do whatever they want because it is “biblical”. Wrong men!

So lets get this one cleared up once and for all.

 Ladies – feel free to applaud, for there is truth and glad tidings.

Gentlemen – just sit and listen, for there is hope and glad tidings as well!

 OBSERVE:

 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over you.

      Lets get the full context here. This was told to woman. Here is woman who has been told she will have pain in childbirth and she will have desire toward her husband. But, would she be left out in the cold?  Would Adam just be a person who will let go through childbirth through whatever that process is and she would be alone?

Look at that last line again.

He shall rule over you. Here is the misconception in a nutshell.  She wasn’t being told he was going to be a RULER over her. She was told he was going to rule over her. Lets define something here. Ruler is One who is an Authority with vast and with king-like powers. Rule is a CHARGE. It is a sweeping responsibility in full measure. It is a accountability direct to the Lord over your care and loving service toward your wife and family. It’s chief of security. It’s the chief cook and bottle washer. It’s wearing many, many hats. In this full context it was told to woman and not Adam because this would be a blessing as well as one of comfort. Adam was going to be the one who would take charge not BE IN CHARGE of her world. He would lay hold of things, to be there for her and exemplify the loving care of the Father by his actions. She would be his Ezer Kenegdo, she would be his helper opposite, comparable to him. To be his equal and opposite, to be his adversary when it warrants and be his encouragement as well. But he would be the person who would sacrifice all in all of her areas of life in order for her to be taken care of. Adam had given her the blame for his woes and now he would have to take care of her woes with total intensity, total energy, total commitment and total tenacity! That’s simply what rule means here. This statement was now designed to be that finishing comfort to woman that this man, this Adam would have her back. He would only and I mean only regard her world as the most important! He would not have authority. He and his wife would walk side by side. He would not be a boss. They would walk side by side. No. Rule is over things not people. Rule over her would be a charge of fealty, respect and promise that he would give his last ounce of strength to her, his last ounce of will, his last breath. His life for her! His rule would be to sacrifice!

This was supposed to be a pattern and a model of Christ and the Church!

For her!

In the rules of management, you manage things but you lead people!

Do I need to explain that any more?

Looking at this, you don’t see a curse but actually God working to create something that would be a pattern. A pattern later would be called The Church.

 Now lets look at Adam.

3:17 And unto ´Äðäm אָדָם he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life;

3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

 Adam had, as we saw in earlier verses, taken woman as his wife and called her bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh and she was called woman for she was taken out of man. That bond was established. But, that bond was broken due to Adam’s failure to protect or stop the serpent from plying its lies. We have seen woman receive what God said and we have finally defined what all that meant. It was not a curse, but God intervening to save His creation.

Now we see Adam. Adam was in trouble or, rather, he was receiving this word from God because he hearkened or listened to his wife. That was not the sin. There is no sin of listening. It was that he stood there and listened and did nothing. Then, he ate. So the bond they shared, like I discussed earlier, meant they had a shared experience of what the fruit did from the tree. So God now is giving Adam a consequence as well. Believe it or not, it is actually  a blessing and not a curse. God did relay a curse – it was God who cursed the ground for Adam’s sake. Doing something for someone’s sake is a term of benefit, not harm. The ground was cursed. So God showed Adam his life would be toil and work and sweat and struggle. And like woman he would have sorrow. That word sorrow here is the word עִצָּבוֹן `itstsabown which is similar to woman’s sorrow עֶצֶב `etseb {eh’-tseb} which both have the same basic meaning: (pain, hurt, toil, sorrow, labour, hardship).

But you see here that Adam has woman and he heard what God told her. So, what was to her benefit, was to his benefit. And, like woman, he had a companion who would share with him his sorrows. And it with that pronouncement that Adam whom I feel has now seeing things clear and sees how his wife is to him is inspired to declare a blessing on her as follows in the next verse.

3:20 And ´Äðäm אָדָם called his wife’s name Çawwà חַוָּה; because she was the mother of all living. A beautiful name and also a heralding honorarium to all women of all time! See the meaning below.

Çawwà חַוָּה (Meaning Life giver and Eve)

And then God does the next act of mercy.

 3:22 ¶ And Yähwè יָהוֶה ´Élöhîm אֱלֹהִים said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

 3:23 Therefore Yähwè יָהוֶה ´Élöhîm אֱלֹהִים sent him forth from the garden of `Ëðen עֵדֶן, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of `Ëðen עֵדֶן Cæruvîm כְּרֻבִים, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

 Man is driven out of Eden. Adam and Eve are now out in the wild. But they have each other, and as you have read above, there was no place God had placed Adam above Eve or vice versa. He presented a husband and wife. This is now a united front, and a herald as well as the pattern for the coming Christ. The rest of the Bible is totally saturated with God’s regard for women as well as unfortunately man’s regard for women. But as you see it was not to be that way.

Adam and Eve, The Ezer Kenegdo, would now live outside in the wild. But God had not forsaken them!

That is the point isn’t it? To learn who we truly are, to get back the Equity. To restore the truth, and let us see each other in our uniqueness and our gifts and callings. God did not intend on the male-centric attitudes but He is changing hearts and minds

Shalom and Raphah!

– Michael Willingham

See?

  • Woman was not created as man’s silent servant
  • Adam and Eve were not cursed, nor is mankind as a result of their transgression.
  • Eve was not the one to blame, only Adam was.

Our desire is that this clears up much of what has been taught over the years about women, the alleged curse and who was most to blame.  Men, we must move on from being “in charge” and start to seek and embrace the charge we are given.  Women, you are not created to be less than what God has called you to be.

In a day or two, I will post Part 6 of this series, where I share a few thoughts and a couple of links that have further information, showing how women are more in the Church than what the Church has been teaching and embracing for many centuries.

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