A New Kind of Modesty

Andromeda:  Textile Macro

Andromeda: Textile Macro by cobalt123, on Flickr

I walked down the high street of Cork, my head down, my ears dulled, and my heart aching. The atmosphere of the world washed over me like a warm wind laced with acid. I felt miserable. Every view my eyes beheld had an immodest diva as the centerpiece, framed by sensual suggestions. My stomach churned. I hate shopping. A strange glimmer of something caught the attention of the corner of my eye, and I glanced up. My eyes locked, and I smiled.

A girl. A real girl. Long hair. Long skirt. Subdued dress. Tastefully adorned. Probably homeschooled. Definitely Christian. Very pretty. At least to me she was. She might not be garishly redone and pimped like an android from Venus, but she was clean and wholesome. The sight of her refreshed me to no end as she walked through the teeming crowds of the world’s charms.

The winds of fleshly temptation blew about me unheeded; the heat of devilish suggestion beat upon me unnoticed. God had sent an angel to refreshen me in my battle, and even when she had gone, my heart was renewed, my eyes were alight with resolve, and my smile remained.

-a generic retelling of an all too infrequent occurrence in my life

Oooooh…! Jay is looking at girls!” I hear you say.

Yup. I do that.

Go ahead and gasp all you like; I am not apologizing. I want to talk about this. I want to encourage young ladies like the one described above (who I have never yet met, though I think I have seen the same one a few times here and there) in what they are doing. And to encourage those who aren’t, to start.

Please note what I saw in this girl: her outside features. All I could see was her clothing and her head. And yet I was inspired, encouraged, lifted, strengthened, and exhorted. How was that? The answer is pretty simple actually:

Clothing is a part of language.

Honestly, it is. It is a part of language just like body language or speech. This has been true as long as there have been clothes… in fact the first occurrence of clothes in the Bible (and in the world for that matter) emphasized this fact (Genesis 3:7-21). This quality of clothing is inescapable.

So what did this girl’s clothing say to me?

I am a Christian. I serve God with my heart and my body. I yield my personal desires to His requests. I seek to please Him in all I do. God is glorious, and worth serving. God has changed me. I am not beat down or trampled on: I am living joyously and full of life. I want to save myself for marriage, and I want to help you do the same. Live for God.”

Nice little sermon there, huh?  And that is why her appearance was like a drink of refreshing water straight from the fountain of life: she was glorifying God. She was pointing straight to Him. And His presence was there in that, blessing both her and me. And that was what gave me strength.

Of course I hear you saying, “But what if she doesn’t believe those things? What if she isn’t trying to say those things?” Well, the answer is rather obvious: there is a miscommunication. *grins*

But it doesn’t matter very much to me. See, if someone accidentally says they hate me, and I forgive them, it makes no difference to me than if they had really meant it and I forgave them. I react the same, and I am right to do so.

If someone gives out Bibles in an attempt to go undercover and subvert, destroy, and otherwise attack a church, those Bibles are not blocked from helping people. Lost may still become saved through his efforts, even if he didn’t mean it.

So it is with clothes. Whether you mean what they say or not, they still say it.

Therefore we all ought to take heed to what we wear to make sure we are saying the right thing.

Now, as with learning any language, there is a lot involved. Thankfully the Bible helps us out a ton in figuring this out (believe it or not, the vast majority of the language of clothing is not cultural, but built into us by God, and laid out in His Scripture). Unfortunately, there is also a ton of controversy on every single standard of communication that is in the Bible. Go figure. Lexicology is tough.

I want to focus on one particular part of this, though: adorning.

Leaving aside the standards of modesty, femininity, and cultural significance (assuming we are at least reasonably in agreement on those, though it would be surprising if we were), of course, because those would take a looooong time to go through.

I want to examine two passages in the Bible: 1 Timothy 2:8-10, and 1 Peter 3:1-5. This will be an exercise in hermeneutics, so hang with me. :)

Here is the first:

1 Timothy 2:8-10 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

And the second:

1 Peter 3:1-5 Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
2 While they behold your
chaste conversation [coupled] with fear.
3
Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God,
adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

It is good to take these two in context with each other, since they are talking about the same topic, to a similar audience, in related contexts, and thus act as commentaries on each other.

There are two key words that tie these passages together (among other things of course): Conversation and Adorn.

Conversation means your way of life, plain and simple. 1 Peter actually mentions this word twice, and additionally uses the concept at least 3 times. 1 Timothy does not use the word, but uses the concepts around three times. The theme of these two passages is actually not really clothing, but your lifestyle in general.

This is what I was talking about just a bit ago: these passages are teaching us how to communicate godliness through our actions, including our dress.

Adorn is the important word. It is used in both passages, and provides the key to interpreting them.

ADORN’, v.t. [L. adorno, ad and orno, to deck, or beautify, to dress, set off, extol, furnish.
1. To deck or
decorate; to make beautiful; to add to beauty by dress; to deck with external ornaments.
A bride adorneth, herself with jewels. Isa 6.
To set off to
advantage; to add ornaments to; to embellish by any thing external or adventitious; as, to adorn a speech by appropriate action, sentiments with elegance of language, or a gallery with pictures.
3. To make
pleasing, or more pleasing; as, great abilities adorned by virtue or affability.
4. To display the
beauty or excellence of; as, to adorn the doctrine of God.

Webster’s 1828, of course.

According to Strong’s, every Greek and Hebrew word translated as ‘adorn’ in the Bible has the same definition presented here: to make beautiful by decorating.

With this definition, we are immediately presented with a logical problem.

1 Peter 3:3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

So, at first glance, this would say that women are not supposed to braid their hair or wear gold or… wear clothes?

Then you think, oh, right, it says ‘adorn’ not ‘wear.’ Therefore we aren’t supposed to decorate ourselves with those things.

Which means women are not permitted to put anything on them which would make them beautiful. Even worse, they are not allowed to put anything on them that will make them not ugly (otherwise it would adorn). In which case the Muslims got it right. :P

This view is untenable, not because of the Muslims, but because in other parts of Scripture, women are commanded to adorn themselves for their husbands… with jewels (which would defeat the purpose of this verse entirely, with this interpretation at least).

An example:

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh [himself] with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth [herself] with her jewels.

Another interpretation is that they shouldn’t wear clothes at all, which is, ahem, obviously not the right one.

These are the interpretations you get if you look at only this verse. The only way to understand it correctly is to look at the context.

1 Peter 3:4 But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

The wearing of ornaments is not contrasted with drab apparel, but with a different adornment: good conversation. This is born out also in the sister passage in 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.

And if you look at the example that Peter gives, it becomes even more clear (isn’t it great how the Bible interprets itself?):

1 Peter 3:5-6 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

Notice how it didn’t praise Sara for dressing in a bland and ugly fashion, but by pointing out her beautiful spirit.

And that is the point. This passage is exhorting women to make sure that their primary adornment is that of their spirit. If their clothes outshine their conversation, then that is not a good testimony.

They are saying the wrong thing.

Yes, women can wear gold, jewelry, braids, and even quality clothes fit for a princess of the King of kings; as long as their soul, their walk with God, their good works, their faith, their meekness, their sobriety, their shamefacedness, comes forth with yet greater splendor. In fact they must shine forth to such a degree that those are the things that people see first and talk about.

Ezekiel 16:8-14 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time [was] the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
9 Then washed I thee with water; yea, I thoroughly washed away thy blood from thee, and I anointed thee with oil.
10 I clothed thee also with
broidered work, and shod thee with badgers‘ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk.
11 I decked thee also with
ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a chain on thy neck.
12 And I put a
jewel on thy forehead, and earrings in thine ears, and a beautiful crown upon thine head.
13 Thus wast thou decked with
gold and silver; and thy raiment [was of] fine linen, and silk, and broidered work; thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil: and thou wast exceeding beautiful, and thou didst prosper into a kingdom.
14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy
beauty: for it [was] perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.

This is the word picture that God used to describe His redeeming work in Israel’s life, and ultimately, in our lives. God would not have used this word picture, which describes in fascinatingly vivid detail putting costly array (and even gold) on a girl, if He disapproved of those very things.

The focus of these verses is to exhort women to make sure their conversation outshines their adornment, not to forbid women from wearing gold or braiding their hair (etcetera).

This true interpretation is born out in the definitions and usage of the words in the context of 1 Timothy:

1 Timothy 2:9 …that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety.

Shamefacedness is easy: it is the opposite of ‘bold’, very close to ‘shy’ or ‘bashful.’ They do not put themselves forward.

Sobriety does not exclusively refer to the absence of drunkenness: it means “Habitual freedom from enthusiasm, inordinate passion or overheated imagination; calmness; coolness; as the sobriety of riper years; the sobriety of age.” Again, reserved, not putting yourself forward.

Modest really doesn’t only refer to sexual chastity, that is actually not even the primary definition. Webster has practically a sermon in his two definitions on this subject (‘modest’ and ‘modesty’), and I wish I had the space to quote it all here, but I am sure you have noticed that this post is fast becoming a book. But here is a snippet:

Not bold or forward; as a modest maid. The word may be thus used without reference to chastity.

Almost enough said, but I can’t leave without quoting this gem (pun intended) found at the end of Webster’s definition of modesty:

In females, modesty has the like character as in males; but the word is used also as synonymous with chastity, or purity of manners. In this sense, modesty results from purity of mind, or from the fear of disgrace and ignominy fortified by education and principle. Unaffected modesty is the sweetest charm of female excellence, the richest gem in the diadem of their honor.

He likes to wax eloquent, doesn’t he? :) But the point is made well.

God wants us to be beautiful for His glory, just like a flower, or a waterfall, or a sunset glowing over the horizon of the ocean.

But we have been given a great gift that God did not give to these things. Above and beyond this sort of beauty, God has given us the capacity to radiate His splendor through our actions and our spirits.

And that is the mark of a child of God, when we do that.

P.S. I want to link to another post on this subject by a good friend of mine, Mrs. Parunak, on her blog Pursuing Titus 2. We don’t disagree on much. :) But we do happen to disagree on this point, and her article, in fact, inspired me to write this one. Mine is a bit longer, though. :P I am not here to refute her at all (though I do welcome her to comment and let me know what she thinks, and if I missed anything). The only reason I am linking to her article, is because she does a great job presenting the contrary view.

http://pursuingtitus2.com/2010/09/07/you-might-need-to-take-a-deep-breath-for-this-one/

Rebellion and You

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...
Image via Wikipedia

What is rebellion?

First, why do we care? That question is easily dealt with:

1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.

Proverbs 17:11 An evil [man] seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.

Jeremiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.

Remember that both rebellion and witchcraft were punished by stoning in OT Israel. Ouch. So… what is rebellion then?

Of course you know where I am going to go to find out, don’t you? :)

Yup, Webster’s 1828 Dictionary.

Open resistance to lawful authority.”

That is the short bit, and all we really need here, but the rest is very cool too, so check it out if you are interested. [http://1828.sorabji.com/1828/words/r/rebellion.html]

The only proper (meaning ‘approved by Jay’) shift of meaning that has transpired since Webster’s writing of this cogent definition is a variation of use which allows for rebellion to occur covertly, rather than openly. One may have a rebellious attitude that remains sequestered within your breast, and never sees the light of day, and yet remains truly rebellious in the sight of God.

(One could argue that this sense still retains the quality of openness, since all things are open to God. But if you take that into consideration you might as well strike it out of the definition anyways since all things are open and thus it ceases to be a defining factor.)

On to the next word.

What does it mean to resist?

To stand against; to withstand.”

To set yourself against something means that you are out from under it. You cannot be submissive and rebellious simultaneously. Thus rebellion is a rejection of authority.

Ah, but not just any authority.

Lawful authority.

I think that little word there, Lawful, is the most important word in that definition. I believe that is so because of this simple fact that it makes true:

You cannot rebel against unlawful authority. It simply cannot be done.

This ties directly into Romans 13:1-2.

Romans 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

The message of this passage is very clear and simple: Authority only comes from God. And so to resist lawful authority (rebellion) is indeed resisting God just as much as if you spit in His holy face or committed witchcraft.

Because of this powerful fact, we must be very careful. Why? People claim to have authority over us constantly, and by thereby demanding obedience of us they are claiming to be the ministers of God. Whether or not they think they are claiming this is irrelevant.

The Bible is very very clear that we are all equal, and equally at liberty from the control of others, except where God has specifically delineated an authority figure to perform a specific function.

These authority figures are defined and instituted by God for our good. That is His created order: for us to submit ourselves to these authority figures. I cannot go into all of the different ones here (that is a matter for many books), but I do want to point something out:

If an authority figure steps outside of his jurisdiction and exerts control that was not given him by God, he is sinning. And by definition, he is sinning against someone (or more than one someone). This does not mean that we ought to revolt (notice my word choice: we can’t rebel against him, since he isn’t exerting lawful authority, we can only revolt) against him, though. Generally we ought to merely yield (give up your cloak, turn the other cheek, etc.). There are very few situations in which the Bible commands us to revolt, resist, and overthrow unlawful authority. Most of the time we ought to pass it by.

Realize this though: your parents are your lawful authority, and their jurisdiction is far reaching. Their authority surpasses and supersedes the authority of every other ordination of God. That means that if your pastor tells you to do one thing, and your father tells you to do another, you obey your father. Period. Full stop. No questions, no buts, no hesitations, no qualms.

Realize also that even if your parents tell you to do something that you consider to be sin (like for example not going to church, or not wearing a headcovering, or going to public school, or reading a secular book on the ‘Sabbath’ day (I am looking at you Elsie Dinsmore)) in the vast majority of cases, you ought to obey. Even if they are not saved. (Especially if they are not saved, depending on how you look at it.) This passes the responsibility for that action onto them, and God will bless you in that deed.

Why do I say this? Wouldn’t God say that you aren’t rebelling since it isn’t their jurisdiction?

Because God commanded us to do it. Do a study of 1 Peter 3:1-6 and ask me about it in the comments if you don’t see it.

Controversial issue, I know. But those who know me know that I don’t shy from those. * smile * There are a lot of facets that I haven’t covered (such as when parental authority ceases to be binding), but I will save those for another time and another post.

What do you think? How do you think you should change your life in light of this study? In particular, what do you think about how you are treating (and thinking about) your parents? Are you rebelling against them in your heart or in your actions by simply not yielding to them with all your heart?

Go Kill Yourself

I really hate myself.

I really do. I do stuff that is just plain evil. I seek after the wrong things. I do things that are utterly unpleasing to God. I am so far from God’s desire for me that it isn’t even funny. Every time I try to do right I don’t make it. It seems like everything I do is a waste a lot of the time because I simply am not doing it for God but for myself.

Bleach. Why don’t I just kill myself? I mean, that is what the Bible says, right? Paul said he ‘dies daily’ and that we are ‘dead to sin.’ The Bible also says that the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, so why bother keeping it? Why not just go to heaven and cash in on that great and glorious body that doesn’t sin?

Yes, I do feel like that sometimes. I honestly do. Quite a bit actually.

But it is wrong. And you know it is wrong.

God loves us unconditionally, and He has a plan for us on this planet, even while we struggle daily with sin. That is clearly stated many times in the Bible, and we need to turn to those Scriptures when we feel down about our sin. We need to realize God’s glory in our lives.

But I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding underneath that attitude that is not commonly addressed as wrong, and which, I think, is actually commonly taught and promoted by godly pastors and teachers.

That is sad. And I want to address it here if possible.

The Bible talks extensively about the Old Man. It also talks about the New Man. It talks about our Flesh. It talks about the Holy Spirit. It talks about a lot of things. But how are these particular things connected?

Romans 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him,] that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

So that is pretty clear, right? Our flesh is bad, really bad, and it needs to be as good as dead to us. Really dead. Seriously dead. As dead as we can make it. That means that anything that pleases our flesh ought to be completely cut out of our lives and treated as an abomination to God, right?

I mean, that is what the Bible says over in Romans 8:13 that “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” And then if you throw in 1 John 2:16 (“For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”) it becomes even more obvious. Our fleshly bodies are absolutely horrendous things, incapable of doing anything good or liking good things.

Actually not that simple.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Oh.

God wants… our fleshly bodies to be alive? And not only that, but somehow they are supposed to be holy and acceptable unto God! It almost sounds like we are talking about two different fleshes here.

That is because we are. We are talking about the Old Man and the New Man. Or, as we could also put it, the Old Flesh and the New Flesh.

To see this we are going to take a little trip through some parallel passages in Scripture.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We have seen that one already, but I want you to focus on the key phrases highlighted in bold, and keep them in your mind as we go on.

Ephesians 4:22-25 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Okay, I want you to notice the parallels between the mentions of renewing of your mind, and between the connection implied thereby between the Living Sacrifice and the New Man. And now we can continue this series with:

Colossians 3:8-12 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new [man,] which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

There is an obvious equivalence between the New Man and the Living Sacrifice, especially when you stack these passages up. And in connection with that is an equally obvious fact that the Old Man and the Flesh is the same thing.

So what does that mean?

It means that our flesh doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Think about it: God made us with bodies. He invented pleasure. He invented our flesh. He made its desires to be the way they are.

But He made them for a particular purpose: to be a Living Sacrifice. He designed us to live in submission to His Holy Spirit (which is the power that makes us able to obey His Word and become like His Son), so that the flesh does not serve itself only, but rather, Him.

A Living Sacrifice. We trade allegiances, and that makes our flesh into a New Man.

And suddenly passages like 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 make more sense:

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God wants our flesh to become like the flesh of Christ: wholly submitted to Him. So what does that mean for us, today? It means that we don’t just kill the Old Man, our flesh: we need to resurrect our flesh as the New Man by the power of Christ.

Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:

We can stop being miserable with our Old Flesh, and start living in victory with our New Flesh. Our ‘fleshly’ appetites are not our enemies… when submitted to Christ and His glory.

So, does that make sense? How do you see this affecting your daily walk?

Red and White Hearts

1 Timothy 5:1-2 Rebuke not an elder, but entreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

I was going to use the above verse to talk about how we ought, as young men, to treat our sisters in Christ. But when I began to examine it for my discussion, I noticed something that I had never before noticed, and which at first sight renders it unusable for my purpose (and for the purpose that most people quote it for).

Most of the time you hear the last bit quoted all by itself (not good practice). So we forget what we are supposed to be doing with the younger women in all purity. I always assumed it was everything, until I looked at the whole verse (Yes, I know, bad Jay for forgetting to read the whole verse until now).

The context is that of rebuke. We are not supposed to rebuke those we are not in authority over, but rather entreat them in various ways depending on who they are. Treat them all as family: fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters…

But wait: there it is again. The other three types of people are just given a role to model your entreaty after, but the younger women get an extra instruction: “with all purity.”

Now, this is talking to Timothy, not to, say, some girl named Deborah or Ruth (or whatever), so I would assume that the reciprocal is also true: young women are to entreat young men as brothers in all purity. I see no reason to not assume that, so this would apply to both genders.

Now think about it: if we are to treat them with purity when we are entreating them to change their ways to conform more closely to the Bible, then how much more ought we to treat them with purity in every other form of interaction with them (or in our communications about them)? Truly, when you are entreating someone to change their ways, there are many pitfalls into which one can easily fall and hurt both you and the other person, and so this injunction is well placed. But I see it as also setting a standard which applies across the board in our interactions with our peers (age-wise) of the opposite sex.

So what does it mean to treat them as a sister (or brother) in all purity?

The word ‘purity’ there is hagneia, meaning the quality of cleanliness, especially chastity. It comes from hagnos, which means innocent, modest, perfect. So let us take the two key words here and turn to Webster’s 1828 (with unrelated definitions removed for the sake of brevity):

CHASTE, a.
1. Pure from all unlawful commerce of sexes. Applied to persons before marriage, it signifies pure from all sexual commerce, undefiled; applied to married persons, true to the marriage bed.
2. Free from obscenity.
While they behold your chaste conversation. 1 Pet 3.
3. In language, pure; genuine; uncorrupt; free from barbarous words and phrases, and from quaint, affected, extravagant expressions.

PU’RITY, n.

2. Cleanness; freedom from foulness or dirt; as the purity of a garment.
The purity of a linen vesture.
3. Freedom from guilt or the defilement of sin; innocence; as purity of heart or life.
4. Chastity; freedom from contamination by illicit sexual connection.
5. Freedom from any sinister or improper views; as the purity of motives or designs.

So we have here an absence of any sinful motive or action, and especially absence of any sexual connections.

These are pretty obvious, but in practice they can get pretty elusive. Both genders immediately start foaming at the mouth with questions about this situation and that situation, can I do this, or is that too far, etc. It makes your head spin.

But there are several things that are very simple that we can derive from this passage and these definitions, and then use those as principles to apply to our ‘sticky situations.’

One – We ought to treat people of the opposite gender differently.

That should be obvious to all of you. If it isn’t, and this comes as a shock, go read those verses again, as well as the first few chapters of Genesis, and if you still don’t get it, come talk to me.

How are we to treat them differently?

Therein lies the rub. The answer to this question used to be almost as obvious as the fact that girls and boys are different. But culture has blurred the lines so much, and the church has followed suit so ably, that everyone is very confused. It is very hard now to find a mentor who is able to tell you the right answers to your situations. But they are worth finding, and worth the effort. So my answer here is mainly: Go get a good mentor. Other than that, just hold on and be patient– I might drum up some advice for you before this article is over. :)

Two – We ought to be unselfish in our interactions with people of the opposite gender.

Again, this should come as no surprise (all these principles really ought not to surprise any of you actually). But again what this means in practical life becomes blurred because of our worldly culture. A lot of guys go and ‘unselfishly’ lay their heart at a girl’s feet (or vice versa) and then wonder later (after both their hearts get hurt or broken) why I say they were selfish (amendment: disgustingly selfish).

Three – We ought to be devoid of sexual… everything in our interactions with people of the opposite gender (or any gender :P ).

That includes our thoughts and our communications with others about people of the opposite gender (we already knew that too).

Now here is where I can start giving advice (I love giving advice… I wonder why?). :)

Nowadays, love is so mixed up that people cannot separate it from everything sexual. This is opposite to the Bible’s way of thinking. You are supposed to love your sisters and brothers very closely, without any tinge of the presence of any sort of sexual connotations. And everyone else too (one of these days I need to post a rant on homophobia…).

And here is where the title of this post comes in: White and Red Hearts.

This is how I separate these two kinds of love. Now, when you get married, you are commanded to have both hearts involved: red and white. Before you get married, you are commanded to have the white heart, the heart of purity, for everyone.

They are both hearts, but one is fired with sexual and possessive passion, the other only with unselfishness. When you can separate these two, life gets simpler… until things get confusing again. :)

What are your thoughts? Did that make sense? How do these two hearts look in real life?

What is the Gospel?

A lot of people normally go to 1 Corinthians 1-4 to find out what the Gospel is.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

And it seems like a good place to go: it says that Paul is declaring the Gospel here.

But what they seem to not notice is that the passage does not end there: it ends in a colon. And the passage continues for two more sentences after that:

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Now, there is the Gospel. And if you do not include that specific order of appearances you are not preaching the true Gospel, and are in danger of heresy.

Ah… no. :)

This passage is telling a condensed history of the crucial things that Jesus did. It is also giving evidence to prove to the hearer’s mind that what he is saying is indeed true.

So what is the Gospel?

Well we can turn to another passage that purports to answer that question.

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

What is the Gospel: it is the power by which God saves those who believe in it…

Jesus.

That is really the only thing in common between this passage and the other: Jesus. So now I can tell you what the Gospel is in one word: Jesus.

That also means that by yielding to Christ in us, conforming to His image, and doing as He would do, we are proclaiming the Gospel.

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Our ‘good works’ are the fruit of faith and of the Spirit: Christ shining in us.

And in that sense, every Christian ought to proclaim the Gospel from midnight to midnight, from noon to noon, from rising to rising, from setting to setting, from birth to death, to everyone and everything that we have any influence on, with no fear, with no compunction, with no vicissitude, with no compromise.

Heretical Lexicology

Greetings,

“Thou believest a falsity! An heresy in truth!!”

“Thou art a heretic!”

Them thar are fightin’ words for most folks, but ought people to get so durned tied up aboot ’em?

I want to talk about the two above phrases from a lexicological point of view. To do this, let me first present to you a scenario:

Jenny tells you that google changed its name to topeka.

You find out that google did not change its name to topeka.

Did Jenny lie to you?

There are a few possibilities.

  1. She was knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  2. She was told the truth but misunderstood it.
  3. She was told the falsehood by someone who knew the truth but told the falsehood anyway.
  4. She was told the falsehood by someone who was told the truth but misunderstood it.

So she was either lying, or she was mistaken (in her information or her sources), pretty much.

A heresy is something that disagrees with what God says in His Holy, inspired Word. Simple.

Webster’s 1828:

HER’ESY, n. [Gr. to take, to hold; L. haeresis.]
1. A fundamental error in religion, or an error of opinion respecting some fundamental doctrine of religion. But in countries where there is an established church, an opinion is deemed heresy, when it differs from that of the church. The Scriptures being the standard of faith, any opinion that is repugnant to its doctrines, is heresy; but as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical by one body of christians, may be deemed orthodox by another. In Scripture and primitive usage, heresy meant merely sect, party, or the doctrines of a sect, as we now use denomination or persuasion, implying no reproach.
2. Heresy, in law, is an offense against christianity, consisting in a denial of some of its essential doctrines, publicly avowed and obstinately maintained.

There is quite a wide range of definitions there, but you will see how I have gleaned my simple definition (for this context) from it.

Now, it should be obvious by now that the two original statements are by no means equivalent.

If I say that you believe in a heresy, that does not mean that you are a heretic: A heretic is someone who teaches heresy. Just like a liar is someone who propagates lies. The difference is that a heretic can be a heretic mistakenly, whereas a liar cannot.

A heresy is an error. A mistake. (Most of the time.)

A lie is not an error: it is a deliberate falsifying of truth.

A heresy can be a lie, but it is not always a lie.

Another key point to point out is that you cannot be outside a group, and be a heretic of that group.

In other words, you cannot be a pagan, and a heretic at the same time. This is the only way that the word makes lexicological sense. If you remove the word ‘heretic’ from its current definition, making it equivalent to ‘pagan,’ there is nothing to replace it.

Also, ‘heretic’ is not insulting in the least. And saying that you believe in a heresy is even less so. It is merely a statement of disagreement over doctrine.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

An Examination of the Lexicology of Theocracy

Me: “I believe that the Bible should be our foundation for discerning how we ought to influence government.”

Someone-else: “You are advocating a theocratic utopia!”

Me: “Ummmm… No.”

The above exchange is all too common, unfortunately, to be more than slightly humorous to me. I get that response all the time, and it is, to be honest, rather aggravating. :P

Many people have evinced a desire to understand what a theocracy really is, and as I am tired of trying to say the same thing over and over again, I thought it would be handy to answer the above response once and for all. (And put the debates all in one handy location. ;) )

But that is rather hard to do, because it really isn’t a response at all, but a knee-jerk reaction. However, the word Theocracy has a lot of varying connotations, and as they all have a profound lexicological bearing on Godly government, I believe it is worthwhile to discuss them.

As with any word that you want to find the best definition for, I will of course turn to Webster’s 1828 for a Biblical definition:

THEOC’RACY, n. [Gr. God, and power; to hold.] Government of a state by the immediate direction of God; or the state thus governed. Of this species the Israelites furnish an illustrious example. The theocracy lasted till the time of Saul.

This gives me a very good place to start my study. The modern dictionaries and common usage has watered and perverted this definition until it is practically unrecognizable, and lexicologically useless (except to throw at someone to annoy them). Getting back to the above definition would be a major improvement in the current state of our language, and also a major help in discerning God’s will for the formation and influence of government.

There are two rival definitions that are prevalent in usage today (other than the correct one).

One is used by a group of eminent (but with whom I passionately disagree with on several vital and foundational issues other than that of the definition of theocracy) scholars who call themselves theonomists for the most part.

The other is merely a ‘label.’ A word used for attack, rather than refutation. This form is so perverted and weakened that it carries just about as much weight as the ridiculous word ‘speciesist,’ which term is used to label someone who thinks that humans are (oh horror!) better than any other species of animal. In other words: pointless, useless, and meaningless. This is the term used in my opening exchange, and which really merits little more than what I am saying right here: ignore it. :)

There are, in fact, three groups of people who use the word Theocracy (other than the group that is right, of which I am a proud member, hehe).

The first are those people who use the word Theocracy correctly, and assume that I want to institute a nation in replica of OT Israel, complete with stonings for idolatry, adultery, and cursing your parents (with the possible exclusion of the ceremonial laws, whichever ones those might be).

The second is a group of people who believe that we shouldn’t use the Bible at all in government (on various grounds, all of which are wrong and heretical, and I will mainly point these people to 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The third are the theonomists, who at first with me that we should use the Bible to determine government, assuming that I intend to do what the first group fears I will (although they call it by a different name). In other words: these people want me to institute a nation in replica of OT Israel, complete with stonings for idolatry, adultery, and cursing your parents (with the possible exclusion of the ceremonial laws, whichever ones those might be).

I am now going to refute all of the above at once by explaining why I believe that we definitely should not try to replicate the OT government (whether or not you exclude the ceremonial laws). My reason is very simple:

Israel was not only a theocracy, it was the only true theocracy that ever has existed, and ever can or will exist (outside of heaven, but that is a different topic).

The theonomists (from what I can tell) claim that every nation is a theocracy, if any is, and deny that Israel was any exception to the rule. They point to such verses as Daniel 2:21 (“he removeth kings, and setteth up kings”) and other similar verses to show that God has sovereign rule over every nation equally, and that to assert that He has more rule over Israel than over any other nation is lessening His sovereign power. Needless to say, theonomists are for the most part Calvinist, which makes it hard to debate them on this issue.

They are in part right (every lie has a bit of truth). God does remove kings, He does set up kings, He does guide the course of the nations, He does punish nations that give themselves over to abominations (every major nation that has accepted homosexuality, abortion, and like sins have ceased to exist within a few generations from that point).

But God did not orchestrate and lead Hitler to slaughter his millions. He did not order terrorists to attack the World Trade Center. It was not His will for any of these things to happen, any more than it is His will for any person to go to hell (although they do), or for the deaths of hurricane Katrina (although they still died), or for the thousands of innocent orphans of Haiti to have the troubles they are having (although they are).

All these things are our fault, because of our rebellion, our sin. Our world is cursed by sin. (For more info on that, see Answers In Genesis.)

But.

God did rule directly over the OT nation of Israel before the Monarchy.

Look at Webster’s definition (that he got from the Bible): whatever Israel was before the monarchy, and was not afterwards, that is what a theocracy is.

Theocracy is a state of government like a democracy, a monarchy, a republic, or even socialism.

The word is from two Greek words: Theos and Cratos: God Rules. Democracy is where the people rule (also aptly called mobocracy by the American founding fathers and me). A monarchy is where a king rules (there are elected monarchies, hereditary monarchies, etc.). Theocracy is where God rules.

That was what Israel was. It was the first and last true theocracy.

Judges 8:22-23 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.
23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

God instituted a unique system of government for Israel. There was a hierarchy of officers, captains, princes, and elders, and above all those was one man: the judge (there were of course other judges, but this was the judge). So far it looks like a monarchy (rule by one man). But that is not what God thought. And neither did the Israelites.

1 Samuel 8:4-5 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

They wanted a king so that they would be like the other nations (in direct defiance of God’s covenant with them for them to be unique and separate, which we will get to).

1 Samuel 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

They were not merely requesting a change of human leadership (“they have not rejected thee”) but a change from God’s theocratic system of government for a monarchy (“they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them”).

So how did the theocracy work?

Deuteronomy 17:8-10 If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, [being] matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose;
9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment:
10 And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee:

If your local judges and Levites are unable to decide a controversy (not matters of doctrine, but matters of judicial law), the parties involved go to the temple, to Jerusalem, the seat of the government and of God. There they bring it before the judge and the priests. What do they do? They use the holy oracles of God to get the answer straight from Him who sees all, is the law, and who is perfectly just. That is why…

Deuteronomy 17:12-13 And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

Disobedience is punished by death (even if the original matter was small). That is because it is flagrant and direct defiance of God’s Word spoken to you directly. That is unique to Israel, and cannot be implemented with impunity in a NT government situation. True, we are commanded by God to obey the government (true government), but we are even more strongly commanded to obey our parents (in our youth). You aren’t committing a capital crime if you disobey your father just once (even under the OT law). This is just one of the many instances where Israel’s unique, theocratic situation deeply affects its criminal law.

Now, why was Israel a theocracy, and how did it become one?

Very important question, glad I asked it for you.

Deuteronomy 7:6 For thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that [are] upon the face of the earth.
7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people:
8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

There is the ‘why,’ plain and simple.

Deuteronomy 7:12-13 And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only [ye heard] a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, [even] ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

This is explained in several parts of the law, that the ten commandments were the core of the covenant between God and Israel. They bound themselves to obey them on pain of death. Several, were of course, already a part of the role of government (thou shalt not steal, etc.). Others were already sins (thou shalt not covet, etc.) Yet others were rather new (remember the Sabbath to keep it holy). But this law became assimilated into the government system of Israel (punishing covenants is part of the role of government), and therefrom sprang laws making actions that are abominations to God capital crimes.

This is why we cannot merely extract the ceremonial laws and implement the rest. We cannot replicate that covenant: it was initiated by God, and relied on the oracles that are now gone by.

We can do a few other things to learn about government from OT Israel though (you can learn tons of other things from it as well, of course). Such as, because we know that God kept the laws of Israel based off of the normal, unchanging, role of government (with some additions), we know that if a law wasn’t in OT Israel, we definitely shouldn’t implement it nowadays (a law in principle, not the exact application).

There are lots of verses that could be added, supporting my above conclusions, but I will spare you the necessary repetition. I will, however, conclude with a series of passages conclusively setting the OT Israel in its unique and unreproducible status.

Exodus 34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou [art] shall see the work of the LORD: for it [is] a terrible thing that I will do with thee.

Deuteronomy 4:5-8 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do [them;] for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is] a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation [is there so] great, who [hath] God [so] nigh unto them, as the LORD our God [is] in all [things that] we call upon him [for?]
8 And what nation [is there so] great, that hath statutes and judgments [so] righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

(Notice that the other nations did not say “Why don’t we do that too?”!)

Deuteronomy 4:31-38 (For the LORD thy God [is] a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and [ask] from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been [any such thing] as this great thing [is,] or hath been heard like it?
33 Did [ever] people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath God assayed to go [and] take him a nation from the midst of [another] nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he [is] God; [there is] none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he showed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou [art,] to bring thee in, to give thee their land [for] an inheritance, as [it is] this day.

(Notice that the purpose of Israel was not to convert other nations to its form of government, but to drive them out and destroy and decimate them.)

Deuteronomy 5:3-4 The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, [even] us, who [are] all of us here alive this day.
4 The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,

This theocratic covenant was even unique to a particular time period in Israel’s history. It started at Moses, and ended at Christ (isn’t that interesting?).

This is only one plank out of 8 foundational principles of theonomocracy.

With joy and peace in Christ,

Jay Lauser

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