Archives For July 2007
Many of you may have noticed something quite peculiar going on here — the site was down for a couple of days, quite tragic since I found out that my blog was linked by Chuck Norris. So, welcome to any of you readers who have come from that source. Scroll to the bottom of the page and keep clicking “next page” to check out some of the past articles here on the site.
Back to the down time. I found out today that my site had been hacked — not surprising for an agent, but bad nonetheless. Yet what was overwhelmingly odd, or perhaps ironic, was the fact that it was a Russian spam source that committed this crime (I had been wondering about the overwhelming amount of spam coming into the site). Yet this foe has been defeated (we have conquered!) and Agent Tim Online is back up and running (and hopefully writing much more). So, just in case you wondered what happened, that’s the lowdown.
I guess this whole situation once again brings up loving my enemies.
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Jesus
With much fear and trembling I come to this topic. It is simply the topic of pacifism. For many weeks, I have been writing many articles and posts attempting to wrestle through the issue, but none of them have survived. But I pray that now we can journey together as we think about this issue that I believe is very important to wrestle with as Christians. Now, in saying all of this, I want all of my readers to understand that this is not something that I just decided to write about this morning, or have put no thought into. This topic has been discussed with those in authority over me, and hopefully more wise men and women can help us with this issue after this blog post has been published.
What spurred my thoughts on this topic were the words of a reviewer writing for Said at Southern. He was writing about Derek Webbâ€™s latest CD, and Webbâ€™s obvious pull towards pacifism and the clear promotion of it in many of his songs. And Derekâ€™s goal succeeded when he started me thinking about the issue of â€œloving my enemy.â€ Even one of Derek’s songs that I own, â€œMy Enemies Are Men Like Me,â€ speaks some harsh words towards those who believe that war is right, or that we are just to fight. Itâ€™s not necessarily an easy thing to say that we are working to live like Jesus, but on the other hand support war. Can Christians be in the military? Should we just stand by if one of our family members is being killed (although that may be a bit far-fetched)? What is our view of war and peace?
Now, this post is not meant to be a thesis paper on the topic of pacifism. In fact, it is really more of a discussion starter.
First, we have Christ. Is he a God of war? A quick look at the Old Testament says â€œyes, he uses war.â€ God can use whatever he wants, but just because he uses it does not make it â€œgood.â€ God raises up all the leaders in the world, and history tells us that not all those leaders were good guys. Yet at the same time, it does show us that war may be necessary if God intends to use it. The question still remains, though, whether or not we as Christians who are under a new law should be a part of those wars. We have been told to â€œlove our enemiesâ€ and â€œturn the other cheek.â€ For some, a quick look seems to say that we canâ€™t pick up a gun and shoot another man, because he is equal to us. As Christians, we place a high value on life because we know life and death in eternity is all in the balance. Still, some men were able to reconcile their faith with taking part in war. I think of World War One hero Sergeant York, who was at first a pacifist and conscientious objector. But on his way to becoming a hero, he killed many enemy troops. His conscience was settled when he stated that he believed that as he killed the enemy, he was saving many more lives (situational ethics?.)
Second, we have ourselves. We are full of darkness, sin, and depravity. Some of us, if faced with a situation where a friend or family member was being killed, would kill the person who was causing harm to our friend. Yet is that right? Or is that our sinful nature coming to the surface? Should we not be forgiving that man who is killing our friend? Or do we have a righteous cause for saving a life? Have we brought it down to whose life is more important? One story I think of in this case is of Jim Elliot, Steve Saint, and the other missionaries who were killed in Ecuador by the Auca Indians. They have the weapons to kill those Indians â€“ they had family to think of back at home â€“ yet for the sake of the gospel, they fired not a shot. All of them were killed, leaving their family behind. Their reasons were simple: they were ready for heaven, whereas the Indians were heading to hell. Could it be the same for us?
Now, at this point, it might be good to think for a moment about the chances of any of us having to kill someone. Theyâ€™re not that high â€“ so, I think that might be a good idea to keep in mind as weâ€™re thinking about the whole issue. For some of us, we probably are going to end up living as pacifists without actually claiming being one. Something to seriously keep in mind.
What it all comes down to, in my mind, is this. War is a last resort, and it is something that is not to be desired. As believers, we all desire peace, and do not desire death. But it is a reality in a sinful world, and at times, it may be God’s will to use war for His ultimate plan. It is up to Christians in their own consciences to decide whether or not to take part in these wars. Obviously, it is so much more complicated than that, but in my heart that is where I personally have come and now stand. If all means had been used to reconcile a situation, I would need to defend my home, my family, and my country, and I would do so without going against my conscience.
“War is a demonstration of the utter sinfulness of sin. In the name of the Prince of Peace, Christians must seek to establish and maintain our faltering and transient efforts at peacemaking until our Lord comes to establish the only peace that endures. In this fallen world, we must honestly acknowledge that peacemaking will sometimes lead to war. In the final analysis, war is the worst option imaginable, until it is the only option left.” — Albert Mohler
And so here we are, taking on one of the hardest issues out there. I hope that we all prayerfully consider this issue together, and study God’s Word closely to find what His will is for us today.
My good friend David Ketter has started a new blog with the tite [RE]connected that you will want to be sure to check out. You can be assured that you may see some of his work appear here in future posts (as I respond to them).
This is pretty interesting, writing a six word story. I’m not sure that I can do it well. Perhaps something like “Dog ate grass. He had ache.” or something better like Robert Olen Butler’s story “Saigon Hotel. Decades later. He weeps.” Also, go no farther than the World blog story (not sure what kind of stories lie beyond that page.)
It has certainly been far too long since I have written about one of the most important topics that I can ever cover on this blog, that of biblical manhood and womanhood. As many know, I began a series on men and women’s biblical roles with John Macarthur’s book Different By Design as a guide. I was recently encouraged to continue the series, and with some recent issues coming up in the news, and through continued study and discussion on the topic, I felt God leading me to press on, and He has provided the time and the resources to do so.
The understanding of proper Biblical manhood and womanhood is essential for each and every believer. Confused Christians across the United States fill our churches, and evangelical leaders are searching for a cure to the issues that they see as a result of ignorance when it comes to the biblical roles of men and women. Sadly, most of these cures for the disease we see — the disengaged father, the feminist mother, the broken families — are unbiblical fixes because our leaders are not looking to the Bible as a guide, but rather to modern day phsychology and philosophies.* As Christians, we need to investigate the failures of the relationship between men and women in our culture and in our churches, and then proceed to properly define biblically what those relationships were to created to be. This can be done by firstly looking at what a wife should be and what a husband should be. When we have this knowledge, it will begin to change not only our knowledge, but also our daily life — and this points to the fact that this knowledge is of the utmost importance.
The Death of Marriage, The Beginning of â€œMe-ageâ€
Marriage isn’t failing, it’s just being avoided. In Different By Design, Dr. John Macarthur notes that over thirty years ago secular thinkers such as Carl Rogers were already observing this trend:
“The institution of marriage,” says Rogers, “is most assuredly in an uncertain state. If 50 to 75 percent of Ford or General Motors cars completely fell apart within the early part of their lifetimes as automobiles, drastic steps would be taken. We have no such well organized way of dealing with our social institutions, so people are groping, more or less blindly, to find alternatives to marriage (which is certainly less than 50 percent successful.) Living together without marriage, living in communes, extensive child care centers, serial monogamy (with one divorce after another), the women’s liberation movement to establish the woman as a person in her own right, new divorce laws which do way with the concept of guilt — these are all gropings toward some new for of man-woman relationship for the future. It could take a bolder man than I to predict what will emerge (Carl Rogers Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives [New York: Dell, 1973], 11.)
Not surprisingly, many are pointing to the fact that most get married to benefit themselves personally, when both partners should be giving all of themselves to their partners. Paul points out that in the last days “men will be lovers of self, lovers of money…unloving…lovers of pleasure rather than God…” The marriage becomes a â€œme-ageâ€ not a marriage.
“When two people can’t live up to each other’s expectations,” adds Dr. MacArthur, “they’ll look for their fantasized satisfaction in the next relationship, the next experience, the next excitement. But that path leads only to self-destruction and emptiness.” MacArthur also points out another great problem for marriage as well as for the family is that there are homes without love and full of disobedience. With every sin, the relationships within the family are weakened.
Rescuing The Family
The final outcome is anarchy in this nation, as I have pointed that out many times in past articles. Ultimately, the question to be answered is this: how can the family be rescued from itâ€™s current state?*
Since relationship between the husband and wife is to imitate the relationship the relationship of Christ and the Church, it must be a pure and holy love. As Paul exhorts husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) “For that type of relationship to be a reality,” says Dr. MacArthur, “Christ must be at its center.” Marriage for those who have not been regenerated is of much benefit, but they don’t understand fully nor are they able to “apply the power and potential of those principles.” The regenerated family can be just as God has designed it be to when they are “conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29)
Many have asked and wondered what God’s ideal is for wives, and who better to sum it up than Elisabeth Elliot? Writing on “The Essence of Femininity” she tells us:
“Unlike Eve, whose response to God was calculating and self-serving, the virgin Mary’s answer holds no hesitation about risks or losses or the interruption of her own plans. It is an utter and unconditional self-giving: “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). This is what I understand to be the essence of femininity. It means surrender.
Think of a bride. She surrenders her independence, her name, her destiny, her will, herself to the bridegroom in marriage…The gentle and quiet spirit of which Peter speaks, calling it “of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4), is the true femininity, which found its epitome in Maryâ€ (John Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991], 398, 532, emphasis added).
That is revolutionary in our society. Surrender is not the norm.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,” is a well-quoted verse within some homes. Sadly many misunderstand or do not seek to truly understand what submitting means, or what Paul is speaking about in Ephesians 5:22-23.
“Paul is commanding everyone to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ and, as the first example,” says MacArthur, “wives are to be subject to their own husbands…We noted…that â€˜be subjectâ€™ refers to a relinquishing of one’s rights. In no way does it imply a difference in essence or worth; it does refer, however to a willing submission of oneself. Wives, submission is to be your voluntary response to God’s will — a willingness to give up your rights to other believers in general and ordained authority in particular, in this case your own husband.”
Husbands are to be treating their wives as their equals or co-laborers as the they take on the responsibility to care for them, to protect them and to provide for them. Likewise, points out Dr. MacArthur, “wives fulfill their God-given responsibility when they submit willing to their own husbands.” This “reflects not only the depth of intimacy and vitality in their relationship, but also the sense of ownership a wife has for her husband.”
“Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (Ephesians 7:3-4.) It is quite evident that the husband and wife belong to one another.
At this point in discussing wives, I want to quickly shift to what a godly woman looks like, as this is important for all believers to understand, especially those of us who are young single men who will someday marry.
A Godly Appearance
Women must “adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness,” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Now, we are about to tread into controversial soil, so letâ€™s go slowly.
To begin, we need to understand the cultural context of the day in Ephesus. Ancient writer and satirist Juvenal wrote his sixth satire on women and their preoccupation with appearance.
“There is nothing that [such] a woman will not permit herself to do, nothing that she deems shameful, and when she encircles her neck with green emeralds and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears, so important is the business of beautification; so numerous are the tiers and stories piled one another on her head! in the meantime she pays no attention to her husband!”
Dr. Macarthur explains the verse more clearly:
“Rich women also displayed their wealth through elaborate hairdos with expensive jewelry woven into them. That’s what Paul meant by â€˜braided hair and gold or pearls.â€™ The Bible does not forbid women from wearing simple braids or gold, pearls, and high quality clothing. Both the bride of Solomon (Song 1:10) and the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31:22 wore beautiful clothes and jewelry. However the Bible does forbid wearing those things for the wrong motives.”
The question is how does this apply to the modern day church and the modern day woman? Simple. “A Christian woman ought to attract attention by her godly character, not her physical beauty.” Women should not flaunt their beauty to get attention, but must remain humble and godly, gaining attention only through their good works before God.
“This points out a major problem with the contemporary women’s liberation movement in the church,” says MacArthur. “A woman cannot claim to fear God and yet disregard what His Word says about her role.” Many have attempted to do so, and have destroyed Godâ€™s Word by ignoring â€œhardâ€ Scripture. Yet others have gone to the opposite extreme and have enforced legalism. Neither is biblical, and we must find a biblical balance between the two.
This part of the discussion on godly women has proved to me to be almost harder than discussing a godly appearance. Most can accept and understand that women, whether young or old, should be gaining attention through godliness and not through their clothing. Therefore it should be modest, and beauty should not be flaunted to distract from worship. The answer remains to the question of what is modest, and that is hard to define in our society today, but many have been able to find a good balance between staying in style yet remaining modest. To say the least, Iâ€™m not going to get into that deeply at this point.
When it comes to women in church, I and many others get very uncomfortable. We have no problem with saying that a woman should not be a pastor, or elder, but for some reason many of us struggle with Paul’s statement that we are to “let a woman receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”
So, women are not be teachers in the context of a worship service. Yet we all understand quite clearly that they are to be discipled and taught just as men.
Dr. MacArthur also points out that women are spiritually equal to men even in the Old Testament in the fact that:
–They had the same responsibilities as men to obey God’s law.
–They had the same protection as men: the penalties for crimes against women are the same as crimes against men
–They took the same vows as men: even women could take the nazarite vow.
–They had the same access to God as men:
–God dealt directly with women in the Bible and not through a man when He wanted to communicate with them.
Yet at the same time:
–They did not serve as leaders: only Deborah was the unique case because of unavailable male leadership
–They had no ongoing prophetic ministry
And it is the same in the New Testament. Women had the same responsibilities as men, and they had the same access to Jesus as men. Yet the clear distinction between men and women continues as we see no woman apostle, pastor, evangelist, or elder.
Now, what about being silent? Should women not be allowed to speak at all? Or can the preach as long as their attitude is right?
The answer is clear. “Women are to keep quiet in the sense of not teaching, and they are to demonstrate subjection by not usurping authority,” says Dr. MacArthur.
“The context [of the verses] implies that the silence Paul commands is not intended to preclude them women from speaking at all but to prevent them from speaking in tongues and preaching in the church…Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men in the services of the church. That is true not because women are spiritually inferior to men, but because God’s law commands it. he has ordained order in His creation — an order that reflects His own nature and therefore should be reflected in His church.”
Now, we must also understand that women are still permitted to speak His truth in the public arena. They are allowed to proclaim the Word of God except during the time when the church is meeting for corporate worship.
This is just the beginning, and a mere â€œscratching of the surfaceâ€ in our look at Biblical manhood and womanhood. There is still more to come, and I hope that you pray that God will give me the strength to continue this series, and wisdom as I answer the questions, comments, and e-mails you have for me and as I continue to write about what to look for in a wife and then continue on into godly manhood.
* First asterisk: that site is a good site. Visit it.
* Second asterisk: Please note that when I speak of family, at this point I am speaking of the Christian family — the family that seems to be the greatest need of change and renewal.
Sadly, I am once again overwhelmed with business, as well as being a time of writers block, so to speak. So, I’ll be heading on a one day vacation on Thursday. What you need to do is to watch out for the release of the Agent Tim Online podcast and the new pages here on the site.
My church happened to do something very special, and absolutely hilarious that I think everyone will enjoy. So, check out some of my good friends putting on quite a show at Vacation Bible School.
“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” — Erma Bombeck