How Fear Can Lead to a Denial of the Gospel

By Sam Powell

Since man fell in the Garden of Eden, we’ve been in trouble. We are a weak and foolish species without power to stand even for a moment.

We have all sorts of reasons to fear. We fear enemies, we fear pain, we fear loss of identity. But usually these are the wrong things. There is only one problem with all of mankind. Our sins have separated us from God.

But it is even worse than that. There are many who will freely confess that our sins have separated us from God, but they still believe that they can do something about that. We’ll just try harder. We’ll offer the right sacrifices. We’ll separate ourselves from bad influences.

But sin lies in the heart of men. It is so ugly, so ingrained, so deep in our hearts that there is and always has been only one solution. The Son of God suffered and died in our place. The problem is that we are all under the penalty of eternal death, and there isn’t a thing that we can do about it.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.1 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)1 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Eph 2:1 KJV)

This is the Gospel. We were dead in trespasses and sins, but God has made us alive in Christ. He died in our place, that we might be raised to a new life.

This shocks and stuns the natural man. It is repugnant to everything we hold dear. Our natural religion states that we have to DO something.

We as Christians confess that our salvation is the free gift of God, and that our righteousness can only ever be the imputed righteousness of Christ, but we still have the remnants of our flesh that cling to us. So often, I present the gospel. I speak of the glorious, free salvation that we have in Christ. And there are always those who will forever repeat, “But we still have to keep the law, though…right?”

How do you answer that? No. The gospel doesn’t make us lawless. The gospel establishes the law. The gospel is about a change of nature. The gospel is about the law written on the heart, not tables of stone. The gospel is about becoming new creatures, new trees, that no longer bear thorns and thistles, but fruit. Fruit of love and joy and peace and longsuffering.

Isn’t it beautiful and wonderful! Our salvation freely and perfectly provided for us in Christ.

And yet, there’s that critic again. “But we still have to keep the law, right? What will happen if we quit telling people what to do? Our kids will be out of control. Society will crumble. People will live just like animals. We aren’t lawless. Those gay fellows, and those gangsters and those Syrian refugees and those Moslems need to be told what to do. What we need is stronger laws!” These are the church leaders that monitor skirt lengths, talk about what to watch on TV, speak incessantly about man-made rules that can never ease the weight of sin. And we do it because we are afraid. And we are afraid because we don’t believe that the Holy Spirit can actually change a heart.

20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,1
21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.1 (Col 2:20-23 KJV)

Paul is saying that all of these things look very good and holy. They look like they have such a zeal for righteousness. But they are of no value in the subduing of the works of the flesh.

I would submit to you that the repeated question, “But the husband is still in charge, right?” is of the same caliber. It shows a total lack of the understanding of the dynamics of love, and is of no value to peace of the home. It also cannot be answered satisfactorily from the perspective of the gospel-driven home.

Do I mean by this that the husband has no authority? Of course not. I mean that the question becomes irrelevant in a home ruled by love, just as the questions concerning which laws you have to keep become completely irrelevant in a heart ruled by the gospel. The law in a gospel-ruled heart is kept out of love, not coercion. And service in a gospel-ruled home runs on the same principle. This is why Paul said that the husband is to LOVE the wife, as Christ loved the church, not rule over the wife as Moses ruled over Israel.

Before Christ came into the world, God gave Israel the perfect code of law. He enforced it Himself on tables of stone, thundering from Mt. Sinai. All Israel heard the voice of God from the top of the mountain.  And within days they were dancing around a golden calf.

“Righteousness never comes by the law.”

Ever. Can’t happen. Something far deeper, far greater, are far more miraculous must happen. We don’t need better enforcement. We need new hearts, which is precisely why Jesus came into the world.

We as Christians should know this. And yet we still catch ourselves thinking like the natural man. “We’ve got to do something or everything will get completely out of control.”

Fear is a powerful motive.

I have recently received a great deal of correspondence that bothers me. I have written over and over again that the headship of the husband means service in love, and Christ loved the church. And men all over everywhere went nuts.

The response was everything from polite and courteous, to vicious assaults on my character. But when you cut through it all, the question was always the same, “But men are still in charge, right?”

As I distilled and thought about the massive assault of words that came my way, I began to understand the fear. The idea is this. If men aren’t in charge, then the home will disintegrate, society will crumble, the women will take over, the kids will rebel, and the woman will become a manipulative, domineering shrew.

Some have gone so far as to say that the man must remain in charge (according to Gen. 3:16) to keep the woman from messing up creation again.

My response is this, “I thought that you married a Christian.” But that falls on ears as deaf as the ears of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. The natural religion is hard to get out of a heart.

Men, if you honestly believe that you must lay down the law to your wife in order to protect her from sin, then you do not understand the gospel. And further, you are as obdurate as the legalist repeating incessantly, “But you still have to keep the law, right?”

Did Christ die only for the man? Did he withhold the gift of the Spirit from the woman? Does righteousness come by grace to men, but by the law to women?

Is your wife incapable of growing in peace and joy and love apart from the decree of the man?

I actually received a comment from one man who said, “You say that the husband is responsible for the peace of the home, but how can he do it if you give him no authority?”

Peace to this deluded man only comes by a strong and firm hand of an authoritarian male. But Moses was the strongest leader there was. Gifted by God, backed by miracles and the staff of Jehovah. All Israel knew that he was God’s prophet. And their carcasses fell in the wilderness. If righteousness could have come by the law, then Christ died in vain.

Peace in the home comes only one way. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon us by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And don’t miss this next point, for eternal salvation is at stake:  The gospel never comes by the law. Never. The law only brings condemnation. The law can only make good slaves. A slave works either for hope of reward, or for fear of punishment. But a slave never works because he loves.

A son, on the other hand, works because he loves the father. The gospel takes us from being slaves, to being sons. The difference is everything.

Our wives are not slaves. They are not to be treated as those who will only serve if they are properly under authority of male leadership. They are to be treated, in Peter’s words, as “co-heirs” of eternal life. That is, they are also directly led by the Holy Spirit, firstborn sons of God and heirs according to the promise with no other mediator than Jesus Christ, son of Mary, and the eternal Son of God. Martha was busy with much worry and business. But Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. A patriarchalist would have rebuked Mary and told her to get to work. But Jesus praised Mary. She chose the better part. Love for Christ is everything, and take precedent even over the duties of the home!

To put this very practically: If a wife does what she does in the home because she is afraid of the wrath of the husband, or because she wants to earn a bit of quiet, or perhaps wants to gain a word of encouragement and love from her husband, then your home is a home of slavery, not a home of the gospel.

On the other hand, if the wife does what she does because she loves her husband and loves the Lord, and if she isn’t trying to earn her husband’s favor, because she knows she is loved and honored in the home already, then the home is a gospel centered home where Christ is preeminent. I don’t love my wife because of what she does. I love her for who she is, a child of God and an heir of eternal life. Her character shines through every pore and she brings peace and love wherever she goes. How she longs to be able to cook again – because she loves me and I love her. But she is physically incapable.

There is a group of men who have repeatedly asked me a question, and incessantly demanded an answer. The question is this: “What does wifely rebellion look like? Is it possible for a woman to rebel?”

Now that we understand what the gospel is, and what a gospel home looks like, the question can be answered. “Wifely rebellion” looks like any other creaturely rebellion: violation of the laws of God. A wife can commit adultery, murder, revile, lie, steal, cheat and take God’s name in vain just like a man, because she is also a creature under God and answerable to him.

But a man laying down the law won’t ever change that, anymore than Moses could change the hearts of Israel. Righteousness never comes by the law. Ever.

What she needs is what every other person under heaven needs: the gospel of Jesus Christ, who gave himself for me that I might be raised up to everlasting life and begin to walk as a new creature, in love.

An authoritarian can create an obedient slave. This is not, however, what a Christian marriage is. A Christian marriage is based upon faith working together with love.

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Whom Will You Serve?

From last year, but still pertinent.

My Only Comfort

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
(Matt. 4:8-10)

When Jesus was born, the angels told Mary that God would give Him the kingdom of His father David.  Jesus came to do the will of His Father in Heaven and He knew that this will would lead Him to the cross.  Only by suffering the death of the cross would He inherit the kingdom through the resurrection from the dead.

The kingdoms of the world had been given into the hand of Satan as…

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Headship is not Hierarchy

In my recent post, I made the statement that the phrase “he shall rule over you” was something new that came into the world because of the curse. I wrote, “There was no hint of hierarchy before the fall.” Since this has generated some consternation, and great concern that I might be turning liberal, I thought it wise to clarify a bit here.

To see clearly, perhaps Augustine’s division of the states of man might be helpful. If you recall, Augustine delineated four states of man, which were later repeated by Thomas Boston, neither one of them liberal.  First, before the fall, in his created state, man was able to sin and able to not sin. After the fall, unregenerate man was able to sin and not able to not sin. Regenerated man is able to sin and able to not sin. And glorified man is able to not sin and unable to sin.

Before the fall, before sin entered the world, Adam and Eve served God perfectly. They did not live for themselves; their desires were not to have power over each other, but they both lived as they were created – as one flesh, in perfect unbroken harmony. We can have no idea what this was like, since our state now is far different. If by “hierarchy” you mean that Adam ruled his wife and she submitted to his desires, I reject that. It has no basis in scripture.  If by hierarchy you mean an order of creation, that I happily accept, as Paul wrote

For Adam was first formed, then Eve. (1Ti 2:13 KJV)

This I wholeheartedly confess, believing the Bible to be the inerrant, infallible word of God. I am hesitant to try to apply this beyond how Paul applies this, however, since I have no idea what it looked like practically before the fall. I think it is reading to much into the text to say that this means that Adam ruled over his wife. Did Adam sit on the couch and say “Woman, beer me and shut those kids up!” I think not. He did not rule his wife. They both served God and one another perfectly, being without sin.  This is the only thing that I meant when I said, “There was no hint of hierarchy before the fall.”

After the fall is a world I can relate to. Men and women became idolaters and rebels. They were covenant breakers, serving themselves and their own lusts. The curse that came upon the relationship was that the desire of the woman would be “toward the man”, which I still interpret to mean that she would retain the longing for the one flesh relationship that she would be unable to have, because he would instead rule over her. This is different than before, and part of the curse, and not good.  She, in her unregenerate state, would respond to this rule in a variety of ways, depending on her personality. Despair, hopelessness, manipulation, domination – but it would be a life of slavery and degradation after the fall, which she would resist in various ways, because she would still be human. And she would still long for her husband.

I do not believe you can read anymore into the phrase, “to your husband, your desire”, than that. Nor do I believe you can read anymore into Genesis 4:7 than what is there, but I will address that in another post in another time. There is nothing in Genesis 3:16 that is prescriptive. It is simply a description of what life will be like now that men and women have sold themselves into the slavery of sin and death. They will now be governed by the rules of the kingdom of the devil, rather than the law of God. And this will be the case until the Seed of the Woman comes and crushes the head of the oppressor, which happened when Christ gave himself to the death of the cross.

Christ came to take away the curse, he delivered us from the bondage of sin and the power of the devil. This means that we no longer are to live by the rules of the kingdom of the devil. This is what Ephesians 5 is all about. The wife, instead of seeking her own things and her own desires, is to submit to her husband, as described here.

11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. (Pro 31:11-12 KJV)

She is not to chafe against him, work against him, or seek his harm, but to do him good. Remember that Christ’s work is to restore what we lost. The goal of marriage is the one flesh relationship, rather than the antagonistic and abusive relationship that characterized the kingdom of the devil. It isn’t about who makes the coffee, changes the diapers, or does the dishes. It’s about love and peace.

Paul also has in mind the marriage of believers. He is not at all talking about marriage to a wolf, who seeks to destroy and devour. He is talking about believers, united in faith to Jesus Christ, where there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism (chapter 4). The church is to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of love, and this is to be pictured most prominently in the home.

The husband’s job is not to rule over his wife, enforce the rules, or be the commander and king at home in his castle, for it is not his castle. The home belongs to Christ. He is not to usurp Christ’s role as the king of kings, but he is to emulate Christ in only one way, according to the text. He is to love her.

This fits beautifully with Jesus’ definition of authority in John 13:

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
(Joh 13:1-5 KJV)

We cannot claim the smallest amount of authority that Jesus has. All authority has been given into his hands. And yet, he took the lowest place and washed his disciples’ feet. Wow.

Then look what he says,

12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (Joh 13:12-15 KJV)

So in answer to the question, “Do I believe that the husband has authority in the home?” My answer is “Yes. Certainly. There is no way around it. He is to wash his wife’s feet, serve her, do good to her, love her – even, as Paul says, give himself for her.

This is far different than the curse of Genesis 3:16. It turns it on its head. Instead of either the man or the woman serving themselves, their lusts, their goals and desires, both are to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and the husband is to take the lead in taking the lowest place in the home. That’s not me saying this. That’s Jesus Christ.

It is the husband ultimately responsible for the peace of the home. It is the husband that God will hold accountable for what has been entrusted to him. But he does not rule the home by power and control. He governs his home by service and love. You can see a woman controlled by power. She is downcast and the light is gone in her eyes. And you can see a woman who is loved by her husband. She is alive, fully human, confident, and joyfully doing whatever work God has called her to with spirit and life. Why do so many who claim the name of Christ believe that women are to be controlled by entitlement and power?

The husband isn’t the boss, the commander, the chief, the king. All of that belongs to Christ. Rather, the husband is the head, and she is the body. He is to nourish, cherish and love her as his body, because she is his body. That’s the point. To ask the question, “But isn’t he still in charge?” is to miss the point entirely. Do you think that she will turn into a harpy if you neglect to command her for a day? Whom did you marry? Is she not also an heir of eternal life and a firstborn son of God in Jesus Christ?

So for you husbands insisting that you are the head of your home, take it seriously. Go home, cook dinner, draw her a bath, do the dishes, put the kids to bed. Ask her what she is thinking. Talk about her dreams and fears. Assume she also is led by the Holy Spirit and trying to serve her Lord with a pure heart. Do all the modern equivalents of washing the feet.  This is what Jesus is talking about.

Remember that we are bought with a price, the precious blood of the lamb, and do not belong to ourselves. Husbands don’t belong to themselves, and wives don’t belong to themselves. All belong to Christ, and the husband is to take the lead in service and love.

Yes, I believe that the husband is the head of the home. But not like the president is head of the country. But like Jesus is the head of the church – flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. And he washes our feet, and took the lowest place. This is our example.

As for man in the glorified state, there will be no more sin. The last will be first and the first last. Those who served on earth will be served in heaven. Those who were served on earth will serve in heaven. The kingdom of heaven throws all that we think we know about power and authority on its head.

It’s time we took that seriously.

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Odds and ends

I only just recently heard that Genesis 3:16 is being used to justify domestic abuse. The thinking is: “She was trying to dominate me, so I had to rule over her.” I have a hard time fathoming the Satanic influence of this line of reasoning.Bad exegesis ALWAYS has bad consequences. Here are some things that I have learned in the last 24 hours:

1. If you are a pastor, you are responsible for what you teach. Quit simply following the experts, dig out your old Hebrew tools, and look at what the words actually say, rather than what an expert says that an expert says. God will hold YOU accountable. Prayerfully exegete your own texts.

2. Pastors, our business is in words. God has entrusted to us the most sacred obligation – the use of words to build his kingdom. It is your duty to learn how words work and use them in a way befitting our Great King, the Word of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. We are held accountable by God for how we use our words. If you do not have a rudimentary knowledge of linguistics, I would strongly recommend two books by Moises Silva Biblical Words and their Meanings; and God, Language and Scripture. Order and read the second one first.

3.  Some ideas are so entrenched that they can’t be blasted out with any kind of reasoning.

4. “This must be right because celebrity pastor … says so” is horrible hermeneutics. Even John Calvin was wrong at times.

5.  Something is desperately wrong with the state of the church when the phrase, “Your desire shall be toward your husband, but he shall rule over you” is interpreted to mean, “If my wife tries to manipulate me, I have the right to smack her down.”

6.  The last thing that I learned is that all of that talk about the “others” coming to persecute us – the state, the gay lobby, the feminists (gasp) – is wrong. Persecution comes out of the house of God. It wasn’t Rome that Jesus warned his disciples of. It was the synagogue. When I hear the stories of what the powerful celebrity preachers do to those who question them, I become agitated and sad and angry. And it makes me feel helpless.

To every faithful pastor – don’t be intimidated by their threats; do your own exegesis; don’t be mesmerized by their “expert exegesis”. It really isn’t that good.

Don’t be afraid to speak what God speaks in his word, no matter what the world of the mega-conference says.

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Genesis 3:16

…And thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee (Gen 3:16 KJV)

The publishers of the ESV recently announced that they have changed their translation of Genesis 3:16 to this:

…Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.

I believe this translation to be in error. In this brief post, I shall attempt to explain my reasons.

First, a confession. At one point not too long ago in the past, I also succumbed to the same faulty reasoning. In the paper “Promoting a Biblical Sexual Morality”, of which I was the primary author, I wrote the following:

Second, the curse was on her relationship with her husband. “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). Her intense longing would be directed towards her husband. The preposition translated “to” primarily indicates motion towards or into. Metaphorically it is used for “against”. Her longing, instead of a covenantal opening herself completely to the love of her husband, would now be directed towards domineering, manipulating, and refusing to be truly loved. (Reformed Church in the United States: Promoting a Biblical Sexual Morality. 2013, page 41)

In this paragraph, I referenced Tremper Longman’s book on the Song of Songs (page 65). Longman, in turn,  referenced an article by Susan Foh, entitled “What is the woman’s desire” (WTJ 37 (1974-75) 376-83.

This article by Foh seems to have influenced quite a lot of thinking (including mine). And now its influence is felt even in the ESV translation of Genesis 3:16. The question is this: is this proper exegesis?

I have to admit that the section that I wrote is somewhat embarrassing. To say that the curse upon the woman involves her domineering, manipulating and refusing to truly be loved by her husband seems a bit much  to read into one preposition.

This exegesis makes much of the similarity between Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 4:7. In Genesis 4:7, we read that God, speaking to Cain of sin, says,

And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Gen 4:7 KJV)

The connection is then made that sin seeks to have dominion over a man. Since the words and the grammar are identical to 3:16, the meaning of 3:16 is that the woman also seeks to have dominion over the man.

But both texts simply speak of “desire”. Why is the desire of the woman assumed to be the same as the desire of sin? This was an uncomfortable niggling that I buried deeply until I recently dug it up and thought about it.

My embarrassing admission is that I wanted to make an assumption, and I manipulated the grammar to do so.

It seems to me that using Genesis 4:7 to interpret Genesis 3:16 is rather sketchy exegesis. It would be similar to saying that God spoke against Baasha (1 Kings 16:12 – the preposition is ‘el) and God spoke unto Moses (Ex. 3:14 – the preposition is the same) therefore, God was against Moses just as he was against Baasha. It’s really bad exegesis. It seems to me that the meaning of the phrases must be determined in the context.

The fact is “sin” and women are not the same thing, and their desires are not the same thing. I wonder why we make the assumption that women’s desires are always for domination and manipulation even when the text doesn’t say so. Simply saying “Sin desires to manipulate and dominate and since the same preposition is used this applies to the woman as well” simply will not cut it. That’s not how language works.

The phrase in question is the one translated “and your desire shall be toward your husband.”

The second part, “And he shall rule over you” isn’t in dispute. Those words are simple and bear only one translation. The connecting copulative “and” is attached to a redundant personal pronoun “he” which indicates a disjunctive phrase. In other words, the second phrase is set in contrast to the first – BUT he shall rule over you.

So what does the first phrase mean? Looking at the words, it begins with a prepositional phrase introduced by the copulative vav (and). The prepositional phrase is simply two words: the preposition ‘el and the word for man, or husband, with the pronoun “your”.  After this prepositional phrase is the noun “your longing”. There is no verb. The complete phrase is this “And to your husband, your longing; but he shall rule over you.”

The question is whether the preposition ‘el ever has the meaning “contrary to”, as the ESV revision committee, following the lead of Susan Foh, claims.

The simple answer is no. If you wish to do a very technical study, you may look at Bruce Waltke and M. O’Conner, Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns) 1990. 11.2.2. A helpful summary of that massive work is the work by Bill T. Arnold and John H. Choi (A Guide to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. New York, Cambridge University Press, 2003). Hebrew prepositions generally have a primary spatial meaning, with metaphorical secondary meaning. The primary spatial meaning is terminative (to, unto, towards).

I know, very technical. Let me break it down. The preposition ‘el means to, unto, or towards. It is a preposition indicating the termination of movement. That is its primary meaning. If I leave my office and walk to my house, I would use the preposition ‘el. Towards. Most commonly, it is used with the verb “to say” to indicate to whom the words are said. In the phrase, “And God said unto Moses”, the preposition ‘el would be used. God designed his words to terminate in the ears of Moses. I hope this makes sense.

In the lexicon by Brown, Driver and Briggs (somewhat archaic and disputed by modern scholarship) they indicate that “against” is a valid translation, and give many quotations, primarily by the prophet Ezekiel. For example,

Son of man, set thy face against Gog (Eze 38:2 KJV)

I would assume that since ‘el here has the translation “against”, the ESV revisers took that as their cue to translate it “contrary to” in Genesis 3:16. But in Ezekiel, the meaning of “to, or towards” is still latent in the word “against”. When a man’s face is “set” towards someone, hostility can certainly be assumed from the context, without changing the meaning of the preposition.

Even Brown, Driver and Briggs add this caveat to the translation “against”:

Where the motion or direction implied appears from the context to be of a hostile character, ‘el = “against”

No such hostility is expressed or implied in Genesis 3:16.

In another standard reference, The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, by Laird Harris, Gleason Archer, and Bruce Waltke, we read

Finally, the preposition can also mean “against,” although motion toward is evident, as in Gen 4:8, where Cain “rose up against Abel.” Here °el no doubt retains something of the original sense of both physical and mental motion toward. J.B.S.

In none of these statements by the universally recognized resources can the word ‘el be made to mean “contrary to”. There is no enmity stated or implied. There is no hostility inherent in the context.

The most widely recognized lexicon does not even admit the metaphorical use of “against” (Koehler-Baumgartner, Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament “HALOT”).

To summarize this rather complicated  survey, the basic meaning of the word is to, or towards. Sometimes, if the context and the verb used are hostile, “against” would be a proper meaning. But this does not mean that we can pick and choose whatever meaning we want. “Contrary to”, in the context of Genesis 3:16 or 4:7, cannot be justified. Only if we make the assumption that the word “longing” indicates hostility can we make this phrase mean “against her husband”.

The word “longing” only appears three times in all known Hebrew literature. In Genesis 3:16, Genesis 4:7, and Song of Songs 7:10:

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me. (Sol 7:10 KJV)

In the Song of Songs, the preposition is ‘al, rather than ‘el. Formerly, I made much of this, but I was mistaken. the two prepositions have overlapping semantic fields and are used interchangeably, much like the English “to” and “towards”. The difference is not great enough to warrant new doctrines.

The word “longing” in all  three passages admits the same meaning: a great desire, a longing. It isn’t the same word as “covetousness”, and it isn’t the same word as “wanting something”. It is a rare word and “longing” is a good translation of it. I would be hesitant to go any deeper than that; that isn’t how language works.

So the simple reading of the text is this: “To your husband your longing”. In English, we would have to supply the verb “will be”. To your husband will be your longing. In other words, “your longing will terminate on your husband”, or, “your longing will be to your husband”.

So what does it mean? What is the longing of the woman? In the context, God is pronouncing the curse upon creation, the serpent, the man and the woman. He has already promised that one would come who would crush the head of the serpent (3:15), and he now moves on to the consequences of Eve’s sin.

How would she have heard those words? Let’s take it with the second part of the phrase, “But he shall rule over thee”, which is set in contrast to the first phrase. It’s a disjunctive clause. The word “rule” (mashal) can be good rule, benevolent rule, tyrannical rule or any other kind of rule. It’s a common word. It means to have dominion over. It is something that was not there in the relationship before the fall. It is something new. If it were there before the fall, then the curse on the woman would be that everything would be the same, which is ludicrous. The context implies that this is something new. The serpent will crawl on its belly; the ground will bring thistles, and your husband will rule over you.

Before, Adam and Eve were one flesh. There is no hint of hierarchy in the garden. (I explain this more fully here). It is beyond the scope of this article to go into the meaning of “help meet”, but suffice it to say that hierarchy, authority and submission are not inherent in the Hebrew word ‘ezer (help). It is the name most often given to God, Israel’s help.

Instead, the relationship of the man and the woman was a relationship of unity and love. They were one flesh, committed, loving, fleeing all others, cleaving to one another.

I believe in that context, 3:16 can only mean one thing. Eve will still long for that. Her longing will terminate on her husband. She will long for that which was lost in Eden. But instead, her husband will rule over her.

The one flesh relationship would be a broken and corrupted remnant of what it was supposed to be.

This fits the context, does no violence to the grammar, and opens up wonderful insights into the marriage relationship.

Remember that God had promised already to crush the head of the serpent. The curse would one day be overcome. This was foretold in the Song of Songs:

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me. (Sol 7:10 KJV)

The Song is a picture of redeemed relationship. One that could not happen apart from the gospel of Christ. His longing to her and her longing to him are mutual. Instead of him ruling over her, he desires her. When the word is only used three times, it cannot be an accident that Solomon is referring to the curse on the woman and looking forward to the time when that is taken away.

Paul, in Ephesians 5 speaks of the same thing. Love your wife. Don’t rule over her.

Since we live in a cursed world and all are tainted by sin, the desire of the wife towards her husband can and does easily become an idolatrous desire. The husband can never give to the wife what only Christ can give.

But as Redeemed creatures, we can certainly live as pictures of the life-giving water of Christ. So the husband is not to be worshiped as Christ, nor is he a mediator between God and his wife. But he can imitate Christ in one area: Love. The marriage is to be a picture of what was lost in the fall. The problem with the woman under the curse is not that she manipulates and dominates. It’s that she longs for what was lost and that longing is to her husband.

How Leah longed for a husband! How Rachel longed for a husband! Look at the harems of David and Solomon, and these were God’s people! How much worse would it have been in Persia or Assyria! Look at Elkanah, Hannah and Penninah; Look at what happened to Esther.

The woman longs for the one flesh relationship that she was created to have. But men have ruled over her. Does she turn to manipulation and resistance? Perhaps. Every human resists domination and subjugation. But this is not what 3:16 says.

Now that Christ has come, we as men are called, not to rule over our wives (whether benevolently or not) but to love our wives, and thus reflect to the world the love of our great savior, who gave himself for us.

See my follow-up post here.

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He Made Them Male and Female

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Gen 1:27 KJV)

I recently unwittingly created a kerfluffle. You can read about it here:

Rather than continue debating it on Facebook, I decided that I would answer one question here, since it seems to be the heart of the debate.

The question is this: “Are there any differences at all between the two sexes – male and female.”

The question is an important one. One the one hand, we reject the homogenization of the sexes, because God created male and female. Obviously there is a difference. The most obvious difference is a biological one. Males have certain body parts; females have certain body parts. God created them that way and called it “very good”.

But the conservative movement seems to have fallen off the other side of the horse.  In the video that I took issue with, Phil Johnson links weakness, softness, emotional hurts and pastel colors with the feminine sex, and courage, strength, godliness and manly love with the masculine sex.

Apart from the fact that I have no idea what manly love is, and how it differs from the love that God calls all Christians to, these characterizations perplex me.

As you can see in the discussion, it ended with a question – other than physical characterizations, are there any inherent differences between men and women?

At the risk of boring my readers, perhaps it would be helpful to put this into precise terms. The question concerns attributes. An attribute is that thing which answers the question “what is it”. I am a human, a Christian, married, a father, grandfather, with grey hair, and I was born a Powell. These all answer the question, “What is it?”

But it will not do to stop there, for if one of those attributes were taken away, I would still be me. If my wife passed, I would no longer be a husband, but I would still be me.

So now we must distinguish between essential and accidental attributes. An essential attribute is that without which the thing is no longer the thing. And accidental attribute is that which describes the thing, but does not define the essence of the thing.

How’s that for making a subject dense?

In the list of my attributes, all of them are accidental except one: I am a human. Any one of the other attributes you could take away, and I would still be me.

So lets apply this to maleness and femaleness. When the question is asked, “Are there feminine and masculine traits other than physical traits?” I must ask what you mean. Are you speaking of essential or accidental attributes?

My granddaughter is four. You can give her any two objects – tools, trucks, stuffed animals, or paper drawings – and the big one will be a mommy and the little one will be the baby. Others report similar phenomenon in other girls.

Is it then valid to take this observation, abstract it and give it a name – say, nurturing – and call it an essential attribute of femininity? I think not.

The same can be said of playing with dolls, building playhouses, emotional bonding and so on. Are these essential attributes of being a female? If you say yes, you are opening the door to much abuse, as we see today. The horrible word “sissy” is merely one example.

A boy who plays with dolls, is sensitive, emotionally bonds with those around him, talks about his feelings and likes pastel colors is labeled a “sissy” – a biological male with feminine traits, as if there were any such thing.

For where is this in the scripture? Where does the One who created them male and female give us warrant to call a male a sissy and a female a tomboy? If we as the people of God are confused is it any wonder that the world around us is confused? When we speak of the church becoming feminized (or worse, sissified), the only possible outcome is a world left very confused by gender roles, gender assignments, and what it means to be a boy or girl.

Let’s take boys. Boys are supposed to be men, right? Rough-housing, posturing, courageous, strong, gun-toting, and so on.

The observation is made that men are generally stronger than women. I don’t have a beef with that. Say it if it makes you feel better. But what have we accomplished?

The problem that continues to raise its pesky head is the problem of essential attributes. Remember that an essential attribute is that without which the thing is not the thing. If I lose an essential attribute, I am no longer me.

So we take the general observation that men are stronger than women and then we make it an essential attribute of maleness. In other words, when men are physically weak, they are no longer men. Do you see the problem? If these assertions are correct, what are we to make of a man who become physically restrained – through age, infirmity, or accident? Are they then no longer male?

Take it one step further.

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. (Pro 14:1 KJV)

This passage is generally interpreted that women are called to be nurturers. But then what are we to make of those women who are widowed, bed-ridden, unmarried – are they no longer women?

It is interesting to note that according to the grammar, building the house is an essential attribute of wisdom, not femaleness. The ESV translates it correctly:

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Pro 14:1 ESV)

The thing that builds houses is wisdom, not femininity. A woman may be foolish and destroy that which God calls her to build, but she is still a woman, albeit a foolish one.

According to the creator of heaven and earth, according to the One who made them male and female, a man can be wise or foolish, but he is a wise or foolish MAN. A woman can be wise or foolish, but she is a wise or foolish WOMAN.

We see the boy who is drawn to pastel colors, loves texture and fabric, and would rather stay home than go hunting, and we call him a girly boy. We say “Be a man. Do man things.” And when we do so, we deny the Creator of heaven and earth who made this boy just the way that he is.

We see a girl who loves sports, hunting and putting cars together and we call her a tom-boy.

And then we take it a step down from there and start talking about the sissification of the church.

I hate it.

Let’s get back to what the Bible teaches. The scriptures alone are our guide for faith and practice. “God made them male and female.”

The only essential attribute of human beings is the image of God, and that God made them male and female. Without the image of God, we are not human. There is no human being that is not either male or female. All the other attributes are accidental. Some have them, some do not.

But how do you define male and female?. A simple reading of the text does not admit any essential attributes of maleness and femaleness other than biology. A man has certain chromosomes and body parts. A woman has certain chromosomes and body parts.

Beyond that, there is a wonderful, wide variety of personalities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. But these are individual, not gender specific.

For parents, instead of telling your daughters to be more feminine, teach them to be wise women. Teach them to be godly. Teach them to grow in the fruits of the spirit.

Instead of teaching your sons to be more manly, teach them to be wise men. Teach them to be godly. Teach them to grow in the fruits of the spirit.

And whatever gifts God has given your sons and daughters, instead of categorizing them as masculine or feminine, teach them to rejoice in those gifts and to use them for the glory of God and the dominion of the creation.

And please, for the love of the truth, quit talking about the feminization of the church. It isn’t godly. It isn’t biblical. It isn’t edifying. It serves no purpose other than to manipulate applause from the foolish at men’s conferences.

You can talk about how the church has forsaken its calling to proclaim the truth in love. You can talk about how the church has become spineless. You can talk about the church being either faithful or unfaithful. But these are neither masculine nor feminine traits. There is no reason to bring sex into it at all. It’s insulting to men. It’s insulting to women. It’s insulting to the creator, who made male and female and said, “Behold. It is very good.”

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Sorry, I just can’t

I don’t like using this blog for politics, since I find the whole subject distasteful. But I have been told repeatedly that if I don’t vote for Trump then I will be casting a vote for HILLARY!

Well, I find it sad that the only argument for voting for the Republican party is that we have to keep someone else out of office. Seriously? The Republicans can’t do any better than that?

But this post isn’t about that.

I am a Christian. This means that above all else I obey and serve Jesus Christ and follow his commandments. I serve Jehovah, the creator and sustainer of the world as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. And the first commandment is this: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

There have been many times in history – some of them recorded in sacred scripture – where God’s people were faced with a choice: obey God, or lose everything. God brought them to a position where their faith was tested. Where it seemed, by all human reasoning, that obeying God would bring disaster. God’s question was this: will you be god, knowing good and evil? Or will you obey me, and trust me for the future?

One such time was in the days of Ahaz and Isaiah. To Ahaz, the only possible way out of disaster was to make a treaty with Assyria. The only problem was that God said, “Don’t do it.” (Isaiah 7). Ahaz’s refusal to obey God didn’t change God’s plans, but it did bring disaster upon the house of Ahaz.

So here is where it comes down for me.

16 But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
17 Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
18 When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. (Psa 50:16-18 KJV)

God calls these people wicked and refuses to hear their prayers or acknowledge their status as covenant people. What was their wickedness? They consented with thieves and were partakers with adulterers. They did not hate sin as God hates sin.

As a Christian, I am called to hate sin more and more each day. I am to hate workers of iniquity, even while I pray for their forgiveness. I am to fear God rather than man.

And there is one thing that I fear far, far more than even Hillary Clinton. I fear God. For this reason, I cannot vote for Donald Trump.

His lying is well-known. He is a proud and unabashed serial adulterer. He is a relentless, hardened thief and a covenant breaker.

Don’t tell me about who he plans on putting into the Supreme Court. He has never once told the truth, and I don’t believe a word out of his mouth. He could appoint Howard Stern and Hugh Heffner for all I know. He has more in common with them than with any Christian.

He is a reviler, a covenant breaker, a thief, an adulterer, a bully and a wolf.  You will probably at this point say that even if this is true, Hillary would be worse. Maybe so. But I won’t vote for her either.

I have no idea what God will do with our country. I have no idea about the future. I have no say in the matter. None of us do. But I cannot ever disobey God and give my vote of approval to a man that the Bible says God hates. (Notice I did not say a reprobate. God could indeed bring him to repentance, and I pray that he does – but I can only know what God has revealed to me. God hates the wicked every day and calls us to have the same revulsion of their wicked deeds that He does).

How can we expect God to “bless our country” when we who are to be salt and light shut our eyes and give our consent to such a godless, wicked man? Will good come from our shameless disobedience to God?

For me, to ignore all of those Bible verses that command me to shun the evil doer; never walk in the counsel of the ungodly; have nothing to do with the sons of Belial – for me to do that would  be a violation of the commands of God. I cannot and will not do it.

I fear God far more than I fear Hillary.

May he have mercy upon us.

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Wedding Sermon

Towards the end of Jesus’ life, his enemies were looking for an excuse to arrest and execute him. At one point, they asked him about divorce.

Listen to what Jesus answered them: (Matthew 19)

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

He refers to the beginning, before sin and shame entered the world. God didn’t change his standard when men fell. He still expects us to live as we were created to live.

He answers a modern problem with reminding us of the very beginning. He gives the account of God’s creation of Adam.

God is one, and yet God exists eternally in three persons, and the persons of the trinity love one another, as Jesus taught us. And men and women were created to enter into the fellowship of love with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

But it wasn’t good for man to be alone. So God brought a woman – flesh of Adam’s flesh and bone of Adam’s bone. They also were joined together in love, to image God’s perfect love to one another, to their children, and to the whole world.

But then they fell. They worshiped and served themselves, and became subject to the bondage of the devil, and hatred, reviling, murder and lust became the norm.

As the Heidelberg Catechism says, now we are prone by nature to hate God and our neighbor – and nowhere is this more apparent than in marriage. Where love was supposed to reign, hatred and bitterness entered. Where love and service were to rule, dominion and subjugation took over.

For the heart of every man is this: “I will be as god, knowing good and evil.”

And when two people come together, both saying in their hearts “I will be as god” only abuse, chaos, enmity and strife can result.

This is what Jesus warned us of. Don’t tear apart what God has joined together.

The standard for marriage is not marriage as it is now, according to Jesus, but marriage as God created it, before it was twisted and defiled by sin.

In the beginning, God told man to be fruitful and multiply and spread the kingdom of God throughout the whole world. But instead, man became a slave to the kingdom of the devil.

And so we are really talking about two kingdoms.

In one kingdom, the currency is power and control, lust, dominion, hatred – gaining the upper hand, winning at all cost.

This is what controlled the world before Jesus came to set up HIS kingdom. The few who were powerful crushed and enslaved everyone else. Husbands crushed and enslaved their wives. But from the beginning, it was not so. And Jesus came to restore to us the kingdom of God.

This is the very reason that He came into the world – to take away our sins. He came to deliver us from the bondage of the devil, to establish a new kingdom. And in the kingdom of God the currency is love, peace, joy, service, mutual respect, cherishing one another, learning to take the lower seat –

Jesus Himself is our example.

The conquering king came to defeat the greatest enemy the world can ever know. He came, though, not as a typical earthly general, but as a baby in a manger, he lived a life of poverty and homelessness, and was beaten, condemned, and executed – not just as a criminal, but as the lowest of the low, as the scum and off-scouring of the world. He took the form of a slave, the foreskin of the world.

If you had seen him, you also would  have despised him. You would have built walls to keep him out. “He’s not our kind of people.”

But in his moment of sinking to the lowest depth of powerlessness and weakness, when he died on that cross – something happened – the head of the serpent was crushed, the devil was cast out of heaven, and the war was finished. The devil received the death blow, for Jesus on the cross was not a victim; rather he was the victor. He was the conquering hero.

He was despised and rejected in our place, that we might be loved and accepted by God.

He was bruised for our iniquity and wounded for our transgressions, that we might be acceptable, without blemish and without spot before God and once again walk with our Maker.

And that day will come in perfection, when He will restore what WE threw away.

At the resurrection, the kingdom of God was inaugurated. Even now, Jesus is plundering the kingdom of the devil. Even now he is conquering and to conquer. And – here is the amazing thing – he has invited us to take part in his conquest!

He has united us to himself by the Holy Spirit and has promised us that the day will come when we also will crush the head of the serpent.

But now we still live between the two worlds– the world of the flesh and our sinful lusts, and the world of perfection when we have finally put off this body of sin.

We still are prone to use the currency of the kingdom of the devil – we still automatically think that our help and safety will come from power and control, domination and lust, conquest, winning at any cost.

But these things will never advance the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God comes only one way – the way that it did with our conquering king – through suffering, weakness, service, love – and humility.

3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.1

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phi 2:3-11 KJV)

Our example is Christ, who won the victory not by domination and control, but by love and service. In obedience to God he suffered and died, and the serpent’s head was crushed. And now he calls us to that same obedience. Don’t exalt yourself. Remember what Christ has done for you.

Anything other than that will tear apart what God has joined together.

So Jesus says to us that God joined us together, which is a wonderful thing; but it includes a warning. Don’t tear apart what God joined.

Which kingdom will you serve? One promises the easy way – but will end up in death and hell. Which kingdom will be served in your home? Hatred and strife? Or love and service?

By faith in Jesus Christ we belong to Him. Your marriage will be as strong as your faith in Christ. Every failure in marriage is a failure of faith.

But by faith, by trusting in his promises and looking to his hand alone for every good thing, he will guard and keep your soul.

You never have to settle for normal. Normal is bad. The saddest thing to me is when people say, “How’s your marriage?”

And the answer is “normal. We have a normal marriage.”

That’s not a goal! Strive for redeemed marriage.

But this can only be done by faith in Christ, who has redeemed us from the bondage of the devil.

In a few moments you will both vow to love one another. How does one do this when our default setting is hatred? Only through the gospel – learning to love the Lord Jesus.

Only when you learn to love the Lord Jesus can you learn to love each other. I know that is perhaps shocking – but it is nonetheless true. Unbelievers can fall in love, they can be attracted, they can even love how someone makes them feel – but they cannot truly love a person  until they learn how to love Jesus.

Joe, you can love how Rachel makes you feel. You can love what you think she is like. But you cannot love HER until you learn how to love the Lord Jesus.

Rachel, you can love how Joe makes you feel inside. You can love what you think HE is like. But you cannot love Joe until you learn how to love the Lord Jesus.

Things aren’t the same as they were when they were created because now sin and shame are in the world, and those ugly things will start to creep in. And if you haven’t learned to love the Lord Jesus, you will find yourself saying – “That woman that YOU gave me…!”

But the more you love Jesus, the more you will love each other. The more you won’t fear knowing one another, and actually being known. Because you know that nothing can take you from the love of God, you don’t have to be afraid anymore.

God has given each of you a tremendous gift and you are now entering a new era of warfare. Remember, that in this life we are at war – we are crushing the head of the serpent. And now, instead of going at it alone, you are two warriors, joined together by God as one flesh. Two conquering heroes united as one. Do battle together.

What does that mean? Learn to love Jesus. And when you do, you will learn to take the lower place, you will learn to serve one another. You will learn more and more to die to yourselves.

A warrior ready to die is undefeatable. Take up your crosses and strike the blow on the kingdom of the devil!

And do not neglect the church. This is where Christ’s warriors are equipped. This is where you learn to love the Lord Jesus.

Count yourself as dead in Christ daily – that you might live in service to God and to one another as he has commanded. This is how to keep the vow. It isn’t drudgery; it isn’t hard work. It isn’t difficult. Jesus said, my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Learn to love him, and then you will love each other, for God has joined you together, and called it very good. Instead of tearing what God calls good apart, put on your combat boots together, and crush the serpent’s head together.

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We Need a New Name

Excellent post. I agree completely.

A Daughter of the Reformation

In the 1980s, a new group was formed to combat the rise of egalitarianism in the church and the home. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), in their early meetings, chose a name for their new movement: complementarianism. While there is debate over the origin of the name, the movement defined itself as the conservative answer to egalitarianism. The complementarian movement has done some good things in affirming the complementarityand equality of men and women. It is good to affirm that husbands are to lead their wives sacrificially and that wives are to submit to the leadership of their husbands. It is also good to affirm the ordination of qualified men.

However, over time, there has been increasing concern about some of what is being taught in the name of complementarianism. Many authors, myself included, have spoken out about these abuses. The recent debate over…

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For My Dad

There were always so many of us. I was always in the middle. The memories that stuck out the most were the ones where it was just my dad and me. Those were the silly things that stuck in my head, where it struck me that Dad knew that I was there, and I wasn’t just “the other one”.

There was the first time I heard Rubenstein playing Beethoven – and Dad listened with me. He said, “When you can play it like that, I’ll give you $500.00.” I learned it. I never played it even close to Rubenstein, but he gave me $500.00 anyway.

I listened to Horowitz play Chopin. I had the score on the back of the couch and I was kneeling backwards on the couch following the score. Dad came along and knelt next to me.

“Is this the score?”

“Yeah”

Then he listened with me silently, as one is supposed to. Horowitz finished playing. He said,

“Pretty.”

I said, “Yeah.”

It was the Raindrop Prelude. I knew then that I wanted to learn it.

The things that stick in your head are funny things. You run them around in your mind over and over. The times he took you to buy pants. The time he took you to get a suit for your graduation.

There was the time that he took me to San Francisco for a music competition. I was so out of my league. But he never let on that he knew.

Growing up in the 70s, we saw the advent of the Aaron Spelling TV shows, which Dad dubbed “jiggle shows.” We, of course, never watched them. Nor did we listen to that “boop-de-boop” music, whatever that means. He was adamantly opposed to everything rock, disco, pop, or anything that smacked of hippies.

But then there were the hunting trips. Waking up at 4:30, grabbing bags of Snickers and apples, driving in the huge yellow van to some forsaken area. If we had been allowed to watch slasher films, we would have been terrified. Instead, we huddled frozen together in the van, shivering. Eating snickers and apples and listening to “God didn’t make the little green apples, and it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summer time;” “Just call me angel of the morning, angel;” “One toke over the line,” and “Everything is beautiful.”

To this day, the dulcet alto of Anne Murray brings to the mind the car-sick queasiness, ice cold shivers, the taste of Snickers.

We never even saw anything, much less killed anything. I remember the porcupine in the tree mocking us, until my brothers took the rifle to it.

John Denver and Statler Brothers awaken memories of camping in Southern Oregon.

But greater by far are the hymns that we sung. Christmas is “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning” and “Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates”.

Thanksgiving rings with “We Plow the Fields and Scatter”.

Easter is “Christ the Lord is Ris’n Today” and “Low in the Grave He Lay”.

I still can’t play “Alleluia, Alleluia” without the image of Dad in the pulpit, waving frantically trying to get me to go faster, faster, faster. After 40 years of playing it, I still don’t think I have played it fast enough.

I remember the first bikes for Steve and me. We rode for hours up and down the large property.

But the greatest legacy of my father that he left to me was a share in the kingdom of God. I remember the catechism, the prayers for me, the sermons, the questions answered. He brought the word of Christ into the home and it stuck. And for that, Dad, you have my eternal thanks.

Thank you for your faithfulness, your zeal for the church and your love for Jesus that has infected everyone you have come into contact with.

With love and gratitude,

Sam

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