Sunday, June 25, 2006

Believe it all

Just recently I was asked for the appropriate response to a person who does not believe in a literal hell. This person suggested, like many others, that the “hell” of scripture is merely a metaphor for separation from God. My answer a the time was that this belief comes from a low view of Scripture that gives little authority to the Bible as the infallible Word of God.

Upon further reflection, I wish to expound upon that with more depth. As I pondered this situation last night (while mowing the lawn) it became clear to me that a belief in heaven requires no more or less faith or imagination than a belief in a literal hell. The only difference is that heaven is a pleasing thought while the other is terrifying. I went on to deduce that belief in heaven and not hell comes from a distorted view of the human condition and a limited view of God and his inspired word. Thus, to accept belief in heaven and reject belief in hell is to apply only the portion of scripture which seems agreeable and to reject that which is not pleasing as “metaphor” or even human error.

Obviously, this view is not in accordance with scripture. This belief is as John Broadus said of the argument for Postmortem salvation, “this doctrine did not arise from ambiguity in the Bible, but from a nineteenth century humanist concept of fair play.” This concept of fair play suggests that a “good God” would send no one to hell. However, the concept of fair play has nothing to do with the goodness of God. The pre-requisite understanding of the above position is that people do not deserve hell; but the fact of the matter is that people do deserve hell because of the sin in their life.

Unfortunately, this position has found its greatest adherents in the church among the members of predominantly liberal mainline denominations. It should sadden all in the Christian world that many of these denominations are of the reformed tradition. The reformers held a high view of God, His word, and of the depravity of mankind. Liberal theology in the form of the rejection of biblical inspiration and infallibility has led many down the dark path of demise.

God’s word is truth. That truth is to be the standard by which all of humanity is measured. By elevating secular ideas to the level of truth in opposition to the word of God, the world, and liberal theology has made God, the Creator, subservient to the ideas and observations of man, the creation.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Be A Man

The Bible mandates a certain style of leadership and structure in the family to maintain order. Happy homes exist in structured environments and structure is found easiest and most completely within God’s specific design for marriage and the family. The husband is the leader of the family and with that position comes great responsibility for the overall health of the family.

The husband is ultimately responsible for an unhappy home until he assumes his proper role which provides love, protection, and stability. I believe it is wrong to point blame at any other member of the family until the husband (and or father) is acting and performing in his proper role. Ephesians 5:22-28 and verse 33 say:

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

It seems that in some way the responsibility of the wife to submit to her husband is dependent upon his sacrificial love and leadership. The church submitted to Christ after he gave himself for her. The respect and submission of a wife for her husband will follow almost naturally for a man who loves his wife as Christ loved (and continues to love) the church. In the last verse Paul commands first that the husband love the wife and then (maybe in response?) he commands that the wife respect her husband.

If indeed my interpretation and understanding of these verses is true, then I believe it not only strengthens the position of the woman in the home by reminding us that submission comes not through force or compellation of the husband, but rather through obedience to God’s word in a relationship where the man gives himself as a sacrifice for the good of his wife. Christ did not beat the church into submission, rather Christ died for his church so that we could in turn submit graciously to the one who was willing to die in our stead. Imagine how much wives would freely give to their husbands if men’s actions convinced the world and their spouses that they were willing to give anything, even their own lives, just to save their wives.

The responsibility for submission in the home does not rest first on the shoulders of the wife. Rather, the responsibility is greatest upon the shoulders of the husband who is called to love his wife in such a way as to earn her respect. Godly relationships do not demand submission; it develops as a natural relationship between husband and wife when the man is willing to accept the great and heavy responsibility laid upon him by the design of God as the leader of the household. In turn, the gratitude of the wife is made evident in her overflow of support for her husband. This support shows itself in her desire to please and satisfy the one who has given all to maintain her safety and to prove his love. The Bible calls this support submission, but rest assured that biblical submission is nothing less or more than evidence of things unseen. We may never see the wind blow, but we know it blows when the leaves move in its breeze. In the same way, love can never be seen, but the world knows it is present in a godly relationship demonstrated by the sacrificial love of a godly husband and the submissive love of a godly wife.

Men, step up to the plate and love your wife!