When one considers the fall of man and the whole eating the apple story; it is hard not to get caught up in the curse of Eve. (“Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you” Gen 3:16b).  Yes this verse has caught the ire of feminists everywhere and been source of every Biblical offense against women.  But, as I have noted in my other posts, the Bible does not condone misogyny.

However, we also cannot blame God for every offense committed in his name or how twisted men use scripture to justify twisted deeds.  I want to use this post to talk a little about true submission.  But first let’s look at something else, shall we.  We all know that Eve took the apple first and brought it to her husband right?  But check this out.  Scripture says: “For just as through the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the  one man, the many will be made righteous”.  (Romans 5:19)  Did you cath that the disobedience of one man.  But who took of the fruit first?  So why then is it through the man that sin comes into the world?  What was Adam’s sin?  It was this.  He failed to look after what was given to him.  When God gave Adam dominion over the garden, it wasn’t to kick back and prop his feet up.  No, God made man to work in the garden (Gen 2:5).  But that’s not all.  When God gave Adam dominion,  He was saying “I’m holding you responsible for whatever happens in here”.  And I believe he still says that to men today.

Adam didn’t have to take the fruit.  He could have chased the serpent out of the garden.  He could have told Eve not to do it (And yes, she still could have).  He could have called on the name of the God who walked with him in the cool of the day.  But he chose to do none of this and therein lays Adam’s sin. 

So, what does all of this have to do with submission?  Because when we are in charge, sometimes we have to do the hard thing and to put the good of others ahead of our own desires.  But moreover I wanted to touch on some other scripture teaching on submission. 

First I believe that submission is a unique little word with not one but two opposites.  On one end is subjugation. (don’t bother looking this up in a dictionary) The Bible may say wives submit to your husbands.  But no where does it say husbands subjugate your wives.  If you try to subjugate someone else to your will, you will only succeed in making them and eventually yourself miserable. 

The other opposite of submission is selfishness.  Christ gave himself to us in perfect submission not only to the Father’s will but also to our good.  He could have refused to go to Calvary (and who would blame him).  But he sought our good first.  Which is the heart of submission.

So let’s look at Godly submission

Mark 10:42-43

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”.

Look at Phillippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

And also 1 Peter 5:2-3

“. . . serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock”.

So, submission is not just a “woman thing” or the “wife’s job”.  As Christians we are called to submit to one another and to minister unto one another.  If we did this I believe that our marriages would be blissful, our neighbors would hold us in high esteem and the church houses would be packed to overflowing from Sunday to Sunday.

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God Revealed in Creation

August 18, 2008

Sorry for the extended hiatus.  But life gets in the way of the important stuff, does it not?

I wanted to continue on the commentary of Genesis with the story of Creation and the Fall of man.  A lot of stuff is something you’ve heard before.  But, I feel most of it bears repeating.

First,  as I’ve heard before the creation story is a great guide for getting organized.  Loot at how God seperates, categorizes and judges. (e.g. “it was good”).

One of the things that has always struck me about this story is that with everything else God did, he spoke into existence.  But with man, that wasn’t good enough.  No, he had to reach out with His hand and do that part.  God has only used His hand a few times in the Bible.  They are:

To make Man

To make Woman

To write the Ten Commandments

The Writing on the Wall (in Daniel)

Moreover, what I see about God and his organization is that he puts the important stuff first. Remember when Christ says, “I go to prepare a place for you. . .”  Well, isn’t that what God did here in Genesis?  He prepared a place first then brought man into the garden.

Also, we have the fall.  Satan tempts Eve then Adam.  I think most people realize here we find the first prophecy of Christ (Gen 3:15) You will bruise his heel but he will crush your head.  ( I love that scene in the Garden of Gethsemane in Passion of the Christ).

But what’s more.  We see what judgment will be like.  (I’m working late so please excuse my lack of references) but I know that the Bible says that its bad enough to give in to sin, but whoa to the man who tempts another.  Adam was judged for his sin; Eve for hers, and for leading her husband astray, and ultimately Satan for his evil.

SLAVERY

Okay, with all of my treatment on rape, women’s rights etc., I thought I should touch a little on the slavery issue, because it is connected to the discussion (with all those concubines and stuff).

First, let’s consider that the Torah was written by and for the Israelites.  So, if the Romans or Assyrians or anybody else practiced a different type of slavery, we can’t blame that on God.  Secondly, saying that God condoned slavery doesn’t capture the whole picture either.

Slavery brings up connotations of race, abuse and the exploitation of a whole people.  But Biblical slavery as it applied to Israel was different.  First, one often sold himself into slavery as a last resort.  That’s right, people would sell themselves into slavery.  Slavery was what happened when a person got into such debt that he could no longer pay it off, so often after selling all of his property, a person would sell himself.

But that was not the end of it.

God instituted the Year of Jubilee for cancelling debts.  Every seventh year all debts were cancelled, and slaves were to be released from service. (There were a few exceptions).  So, it didn’t matter if you went into slavery the year before Jubilee or the year after, once the Year of Jubilee came around, all debts were cancelled, and slaves released.

Concubines

Some will note that concubines were never to be released as regular slaves.  This is because Biblically, once a man has sexual relations with a woman, he has entered into a covenant with her and cannot simply “throw her away”.  Now, why would anyone sell his daughter as a concubine?  For the most part it was a way to give the daughter a better life.  If a girl’s family lived in a place where “marrying” at her own socio-economic level mean that she would have stayed in poverty, it might give her a better life to let her live as a concubine to someone more well off.

What about all those slaves taken from othe countries?

War was a fact of life in the ANE as it is now.  In some cases, it became necessary to totally destroy an enemy.  I know it sounds crass, but if women and children were left behind to fend for themselves, the society might collapse, or at least they would die off with no men to help with procreation.  Yes, some women became concubines.  Although many of the virgins were too young to marry, some were adopted into Israelite families and some would later enjoy the status of Israelites themselves.

Reference

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qnoslave.html

Rape in the Bible

May 7, 2008

I have felt compelled to spend some time discussing the idea that the Bible condones rape.  There are several scripture passages that do address rape, as I have discussed in other posts. However, many people insist that the Bible condones rape.  As such, many of the passages that have been used do not even insinuate rape.  But are used erroneously by Bible critics, as I will show below

(Judges 21:10-24 NLT)

So they sent twelve thousand warriors to Jabesh-gilead with orders to kill everyone there, including women and children. “This is what you are to do,” they said. “Completely destroy all the males and every woman who is not a virgin.” Among the residents of Jabesh-gilead they found four hundred young virgins who had never slept with a man, and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh in the land of Canaan.

My response:  Yes, they took virgins as slaves.  But, these girls were often used as house slaves instead of concubines.  Just because the girls were brought to the camp does not mean that they were raped.

The Israelite assembly sent a peace delegation to the little remnant of Benjamin who were living at the rock of Rimmon. Then the men of Benjamin returned to their homes, and the four hundred women of Jabesh-gilead who were spared were given to them as wives. But there were not enough women for all of them. The people felt sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had left this gap in the tribes of Israel. So the Israelite leaders asked, “How can we find wives for the few who remain, since all the women of the tribe of Benjamin are dead? There must be heirs for the survivors so that an entire tribe of Israel will not be lost forever. But we cannot give them our own daughters in marriage because we have sworn with a solemn oath that anyone who does this will fall under God’s curse.”

Then they thought of the annual festival of the LORD held in Shiloh, between Lebonah and Bethel, along the east side of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem. They told the men of Benjamin who still needed wives, “Go and hide in the vineyards. When the women of Shiloh come out for their dances, rush out from the vineyards, and each of you can take one of them home to be your wife! And when their fathers and brothers come to us in protest, we will tell them, ‘Please be understanding. Let them have your daughters, for we didn’t find enough wives for them when we destroyed Jabesh-gilead. And you are not guilty of breaking the vow since you did not give your daughters in marriage to them.'” So the men of Benjamin did as they were told. They kidnapped the women who took part in the celebration and carried them off to the land of their own inheritance. Then they rebuilt their towns and lived in them. So the assembly of Israel departed by tribes and families, and they returned to their own homes.

This verse refers to an oath that the rest of Israel made that no man would “give” his daughter in marriage to any man from the tribe of Benjamin.  As a result, the tribe of Benjamin could have died out from a lack of women to have families with.  In order to keep the tribe of Benjamin alive and to avoid breaking their oath the men of Israel sent their daughters out to dance in a field.  The men of Benjamin came out and “captured” these girls and took them as wives, without fathers actually accepting the bride price or going through the usual negotiations of marriage.  In this way the men of Benjamin were able to have wives and men of Israel kept their oath

(Numbers 31:7-18 NLT)

They attacked Midian just as the LORD had commanded Moses, and they killed all the men. All five of the Midianite kings – Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba – died in the battle. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. Then the Israelite army captured the Midianite women and children and seized their cattle and flocks and all their wealth as plunder. They burned all the towns and villages where the Midianites had lived. After they had gathered the plunder and captives, both people and animals, they brought them all to Moses and Eleazar the priest, and to the whole community of Israel, which was camped on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River, across from Jericho.

Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the leaders of the people went to meet them outside the camp. But Moses was furious with all the military commanders who had returned from the battle. “Why have you let all the women live?” he demanded. “These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice and caused the people of Israel to rebel against the LORD at Mount Peor. They are the ones who caused the plague to strike the LORD’s people. Now kill all the boys and all the women who have slept with a man. Only the young girls who are virgins may live; you may keep them for yourselves.

Again, just because these women were captured or taken as slaves does not indicate that there were sexual in nature.  Many were used as house slaves.  Some would have had valuable skills and many slaves in Israel were adopted as children in the household

Thus says the Lord: ‘I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.’

This passage refers to King David’s sin.  In the ANE, political marriages considered a person “married” to the throne rather than the person.  For David’s wives to be given to his neighbor does not mean that they were being raped but rather “re-married” to another king.

8) Rape and the Spoils of War (Judges 5:30 NAB)

They must be dividing the spoils they took: there must be a damsel or two for each man, Spoils of dyed cloth as Sisera’s spoil, an ornate shawl or two for me in the spoil. (Judges 5:30 NAB)

9) Sex Slaves (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

I have discussed concubines in another article already

There are no doubt many who will disagree with my interpretation of these scriptures.  But I just wanted to present another view of the discussion.