Man + Woman = Good!

As a man and a husband and a father, a lot of the topics on this blog tend to center around the home. As such, from time to time, I will have things to say about marriage and about children. Before I say some of those things, I do want to make one thing clear: it is a pet peeve of mine when people who champion childbirth and the responsibility that we have to multiply and replenish the earth – and make no mistake, I am one of those people – make comments that suggest or imply that a married couple who does not have children is somehow incomplete in the eyes of God.

While it is true that Scripture says that children are an heritage of the Lord, and that the fruit of the womb is his reward, and I am very much of the opinion that someone who is actively trying to prevent God from giving them said heritage/reward needs to reexamine their actions in the light of Scripture, I think it is worth looking at what Genesis 1:26-31 has to say about God, couples, children, and what is good, and then to think about these things in light of Isaiah 5:20.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:26-31)

Two things are worth pointing out here:

  1. When God created the man and his wife, he created them without children
  2. God said that they were good

That’s it. End of story. I don’t want to make too big a deal about this, but I’ve met enough couples that are childless and that do not want to be childless and most of them were struggling with the preconception1 that “if God doesn’t give you a child right away or at all, he hates you”, and Scripture doesn’t support that. God withheld children from Abraham and Sarah for years to give Himself glory and to make His own name great. So don’t be discouraged. It’s ok to want a child, in fact, it’s Scriptural to want a child, but because God hasn’t given you one doesn’t mean that he hates you. Enjoy your marriage, enjoy your husband or your wife. Treasure this time together. For whatever reason, God has decided that you need it.

1 pun slightly intended

America, Evangelism, and the State of the Church

Kevin Bauder of Central Baptist Theological Seminary has sounded off on the state of the American church and the sore need for the re-evangelization of America. Here’s an excerpt:

I have some reason to know. In 1990, I moved my family to a city in the Bible Belt (not Atlanta) and commenced the search for a church. Of course, I did not expect to find an ideal church, but I did expect to find a church that shared some understanding of what the ideal should be. I was sorely disappointed. Visiting congregation after congregation led to the amazing conclusion that doctrinal aberration, toleration of sin, and corrupted worship were widespread among the supposedly fundamental churches of that city. In the end, I found myself planting a church in order to provide for the spiritual wellbeing of my own family.

Read the full text here.

Antinomianism

Over at Greensboro NC Christian Joel Gillespie has written a couple of interesting posts on Antinomianism[1][2]. Do yourself a favor and check them out, then do me a favor and come back here and leave a comment about it.

Just FYI, I found the second post to be more informative.

Taking Issue with C. S. Lewis

I’m treading on dangerous ground here, but I think C. S. Lewis has something wrong. In The Weight of Glory we come across this passage, which also appears as an excerpt in the Wikipedia deinition of Sehnsucht.

In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

My issue with Lewis’ thinking here is that it conflicts with my understanding of the depravity of man. I have no problem with the idea that what every man needs is Jesus Christ; what I do have an issue with is that a man without Christ has any concept of his need for Him (and I realize that Lewis is almost saying that, but not really). Don’t get me wrong, I agree with Lewis in essence, but when he says that we misidentify Nostalgia, Romanticism, and Adolescence for that longing for another country, he misses the point. I would contend that the only reason that anyone in England had a past that contained elements that could be called good was because of the influence of Jesus Christ upon English culture. If Mr. Lewis were to consider a cannibal in the darkest parts of Africa, which aspect of his life would be the mistaken longing for heaven? One could argue, I suppose, that even his depravity is that mistaken urge, and I would be more inclined to that argument, but I don’t believe that’s the argument made here. When Lewis says, the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience, I do not think he would attribute to our cannibal’s depravity the idea of a sweetly piercing secret.

I also can’t find a place in Scripture where Christ calls someone to Him, by telling them that He was that thing they always wanted. Instead, He calls men to repent and to escape the coming judgement, He calls men to fear a God that has the power to cast their body and their soul into hell.

I should say this: I love this passage by Lewis. It does speak volumes to me, but it speaks to me as a Christian, and on some level, I think it would speak to men who were raised in a nation built around the morality of Jesus Christ. And that is where I think Lewis misses the mark. If we read this passage (as I originally did) and come away from it with a method for speaking to sinners, we have cheated ourselves. “There is a city for which you have been longing” is not the message that we see in Scripture. Instead we are told to speak to men who are damned and to show them a Savior. And once they know Him, they can rightfully say that now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

As always, comments, critiques, and outright criticisms are welcome.

Obedience and Faith Like a Child

This line of speculation started a while back when a friend posted a Quick Faith Quiz on his blog, wherein he asked:

  1. When Jesus talks about “faith like a child,” what does he have in mind?
  2. Is “child-like faith” different from “normal faith?” (Assuming, in this case, that normal faith is the healthy, 100% supernatural stuff that was good enough for Moses, Elijah, David and everyone else who has been, will be, or are being saved by grace.)
  3. Or should we assume that faith like a child is, well, the one kind of faith that God is after?
  4. That is, either you have this kind of faith, which Christ said will inherit the kingdom of heaven, or you don’t have faith at all?

I think of “faith like a child” to mean obedience without context. Scripture says that we add to faith, virtue. This suggests to me that faith comes before we can understand sufficiently to choose/discern goodness. Before that point, we are obeying without understanding. I tell my son in church to sit down and to be quiet, but he does not yet know that his activity and his noise is disturbing others. But if he is obedient, the effect is the same as if he saw he was disturbing and closed his mouth. Later on, he’ll know and can choose to act virtuously (or not). But faith must come first or else it’s my son’s own brand of filthy rag righteousness. Or in other words, without faith, it is impossible to please God (through obedience to his Word).

Does this make sense to anyone else? What is your take on “faith like a child”?

Postpartum Depression, Love, Joy, and Marriage

I’ve been making a point in this last year to be more transparent. There is a tendency among people and particularly among Christians, to pretend that all is well. That joy means happiness, that peace means a life without conflict. We all have problems, we all have conflict, joy is from knowing that these conflicts are the work of God, peace comes when we accept the things he has put into out lives – the good and the bad.

We had a baby girl this past December, and while it was joyous, we’ve had a difficult time with postpartum depression. My wife had a bit with our first child but it wasn’t quite as bad. Some of it is just due to differences between the two children, but I think (from hearing the same thing from many women who have had 4+ children) that girls are harder on the woman than boys are (even the Torah says the period of rest after childbirth is longer after a girl). So it’s been difficult. I’ve spent a lot of time at night praying, dreading when our daughter would cry, knowing that each time she screamed that Susan was battling with how she felt, struggling with thoughts she did not choose to have. It would be foolish for me to suggest that she was the only one struggling.

There has been an aspect of humility in all of this; I realized that I had not prepared my family in some ways for the challenges of a new child, that I had not been spending time in the Word of God with my wife like I should have been. I had let the world inform our minds on the value of the home, and on the value of children. And so there were many hours spent in prayer: Dear God please help my child to have faith so that she will not demand to be held constantly, please help my wife to call upon you, to cast her cares upon you, to take the thoughts she is having captive. Please help me to be wise in my words, prompt in my actions. Help me to be not so foolish as I have been, Above all else, thank you for this child, thank you for these sleepless nights, thank you for showing me my failures before they cost me more than they already have. It is getting better, much better, but it is still on occasion difficult. The real difficulty is in not falling back into old habits as I see improvement, in believing that the crisis is over, that I can return to my foolish ways without consequence.

There is more about these things that I would like to say, but they can come later. For now, this is sufficient. For those of you who read this, how does this compare to your own experiences? How did you deal with similar struggles?

Questions About Faith and Obedience

Over at Bittersweet Life, Ariel is conducting a little quiz on faith. I have a few questions of my own. Consider this story:

A man calls his son and says to him: Son, I am getting old and I will die soon. One of your mother’s greatest pleasures is sitting in her chair on the porch and watching the sunset. The porch is falling in, so I want you to withdraw some money from my account and have the porch fixed. The son is touch and impressed by his father’s concern for his mother. This is thoughtful thinks the son, and so he withdraws the money. The next month the father calls the son again. I will die soon says the man and I want your mother to be well cared for. I have a piece of property which is at its peak in value. Sell it for me and put the money by so that your mother will be taken care of. My father is wise, thinks the son, for that property is indeed at its peak, and it is well that my mother should be takes care of. And so he sells the property. A month later the father calls him again. I have another piece of property he says, and it’s value is high, sell it for me and set the money by as well. My father is losing it, thinks the son, there is a development coming in near this parcel of land and in the next few years it’s price will triple. And he does not sell the land.

At what point was the son obedient to his father? At what point did he show faith? Did he at any point disobey or show a lack of faith? I’ll weigh in later, but I’m looking for your thoughts…