A Rant For You

What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? Does it matter? Should we give any thought to anything beyond ourselves? Why should we trust anyone but our own selves? What is there beyond what we see? Are there hopes, dreams, possibilities beyond what we can ken at this moment? Is there hope beyond the now? Can we know, for certain, anything at all? Is there meaning to love? To happiness?

Can we change?

There is one answer to these questions, and every other question that has ever been asked. There is one answer which is the key which unlocks the mysteries of every cloaked and shadowed mystery in all of time and space. There is one meaning which is the meaning of all meanings. There is one hope, which is the hope of hopes — the hope which gives hope life and breath.

There is one life, which is the source of all life. One word which is the greatest of all words. One Person who is the Being of all being.

Look at this verse. Look at it hard. Let its meaning sink into your eyes and down into your heart. Meditate on it. Muse on it. Do not let it go away from you. Think. Even if it is the first time in your life, I want you to think, hard, on this verse.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

How. Can we… bless the Lord God of hosts, father of glory, eternal, perfect, holy. Think of who He is, and who we are. All that we’ve done to Him. How can we possibly bring anything to Him which He considers valuable?

Why did He make us?

The answer.. is Himself. God. It’s who He is!

The greatness, the wondrousness, it’s all Him. The paradox, the oxymoron, the mystery of all mysteries. It’s Him. He’s perfect, He is love. How amazing is that?!

Don’t let this pass away from you. Take a hold of it, and realize this.

You can.

No matter where you are, no matter how hard things are, no matter what you’ve done, no matter how many times you’ve failed, you can get back up again and go in God’s Name because He. Loves. You.

He is always there. He is always giving you an opportunity as long as you reach out for it. He will never give up on you. You. You. Can bless His Name.

P.S. If… you want to hear the audio version of this article, I do have it. I couldn’t really get it out on paper, so I blurted it into my mobile and recorded it. It’s not exactly the same, since I changed it when I posted it, but if you want it, email me, and I’ll send it.

May the Blogosphere Shake in our Exuberance!

An infant

Image via Wikipedia

Greetings and exuberant blessings be upon you!

I have news to share with you all, news which should cause a Great Shout of Rejoicing to tremble the foundations of the cyberworld.

Mama Lauser is having another little Lauser!

Let us all dance in joy and happiness, and then bow in prayer for the safekeeping of this new life that God has blessed us with. Mama has had two miscarriages since the twins were born seven years ago, and we are praying hard for the safety of this one.

Feel free to ask questions and in general celebrate. 😀

And before anyone asks, this is the eighth, and she is due in May.

I Want to Forget

I have a pretty bad memory. Honest. Yes, I’ve trained it to be able to memorise things rapidly and securely, but I needed to do that because my natural memory is so bad. I’m so bad I can forget the topic of a conversation halfway through the third sentence. I’m even having a hard time remembering all the examples I came up with to illustrate my bad memory!

But I also have a tremendous memory.

A memory that can remember every intricate detail of all the things I most desperately want to forget: my sinful proclivities.

Knowledge I do not want to have, knowledge I wish I never had, is ingrained into me with the tenacity of a demon.

And I wish I could forget.

To never know the vile words I know. To never have seen the sights I’ve seen. To never have heard the sounds I’ve heard. To never have handled the things I’ve handled.

I am repulsed by my past. I abhor my flesh. For even now my nature longs after and craves those old sins, despite my absolute rejection of them and hunger for God. Do I live in them any longer? No. But they still tempt me.

And those bare temptations vex my soul and grate on me. I hate that I ever gave in to them. I hate that those desires linger in me.

Oh, to forget and be innocent!

How I yearn for Heaven, when I shall not be tempted any longer!

How I long for my new body… when my mind will be cleansed from the gutter!

But yet… I have a hope in this Earth, in this life.

God’s word.

It cleans, it washes, it scours, it cuts, it drives away, it renews, it builds, it tears down, it remakes, it heals, it purges, it empowers, it enlivens. And so, it can give a little taste of Heaven to us on Earth. It can fill our mind with rejoicing in God to such a degree that it chases away the profanity within us.

And so I hope.

And I plunge myself into the waters of the Bible.

And slowly, slowly, I change.

Oh God

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

Image via Wikipedia

“Oh god that’s so funny!” Phrases like this, using the words “oh god” in a light and jocular fashion, are commonly seen and heard in normal conversation and in media.

“Oh god…” Phrases like this one, using these words as an expression of horror, shock, terror, or awe, are also commonly encountered, especially in movies.

And in general at least, Christians decry these usages.

Why?

If you ask someone about it, they will point to the Ten Commandments, in particular the third one:

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

They will also often equate taking God’s name in vain with blasphemy. These two are not identical or interchangable, however. They are very closely related, but not equivalent. Blasphemy is only one way someone can take God’s name in vain.

Blasphemy attacks God. It is an action in the opposite direction of reverence God – it slanders Him.

Taking God’s name in vain is much broader than this, though. To take God’s name is not limited to merely taking it into your speech. It includes your life.

When someone claims to follow God, whether he says he is a Christian or not, he is taking God’s name upon him and his life. This is even more true of someone who claims to be a Christian. And if you claim the name of Christ in this way, and you then view or treat or speak of His person as if He is somehow light or ineffectual, then you are taking God’s name in vain. You aren’t blaspheming, not necessarily, but you are violating the third commandment.

God is. God’s name is His personhood, His attributes, His very being. Every part of His majesty, glory, power, love, and Godhood is in His name.

Thus to reject His ability to change and transform your life and His promises of reward and blessings for those who submit to Him is taking His name in vain. God is worth it. God is able.

And now, take a step back and think…

We are created in the image of God!

That means that we all bear the name of God in our nature – in our very bodies, whether we like it or not. And so anyone rejecting or neglecting Him is taking His name in vain.

But wait… can any of us truly and completely accept every part of God into our lives? That is the definition of perfection! And we cannot be perfect, so this command is impossible to obey!

Yes. It is.

Just like the first command is impossible. Just like every command that God gives us of this sort is impossible. We can’t do it.

But God can. And He does. And He will.

It will take all our lives, but we’ll get there. In heaven, at last, the work will be complete. And we will rest from sin and failure for eternity. Think about it!

Here on earth we strive towards that goal. We struggle, we fail, we yearn, we mourn, we falter, we continue, we fight. But through it all we are living and breathing obedience to this command: Take not the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

For it is our hope, our faith, and our love for God that keeps us going. It is our desire to fulfill these commands, and God counts that to us for righteousness… the fulfillment of those commands.

Isn’t that awesome?!

A lot more than a couple words dropped carelessly, isn’t it?

Every idle word that men let fall from their lips without thinking about it will be called into judgment, because those words come out of our hearts. God will not judge people because they used the words, but because they slighted Him.

So instead of throwing a fit about someone using two words, be saddened by the heart behind those words, and from your own heart, say the same, but with the truth of God behind it. When tragedy strikes, and you cry out, Oh God! When sorrow fills your heart, and you whisper, Oh God… When you look up at the glory of the heavens, and you sing out, Oh God! When you are full of joy and merriment, and you laugh, Oh God.

Mean it.

I Want to Give Up

Irish Cottage

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes, I just want to give up.

Just drop everything, settle down peacefully in some small corner of Ireland with a wife, and read books.

Of course, I would still be me… I would write, and learn things, and make websites, and probably start a church eventually. But I would forget about all these projects, leave them alone, drop them behind, ignore them. Too much effort, too much time, too much heartache and busy-ness. I want peace, I want rest, and I want to be let alone. I don’t want to be famous, I don’t want to have thousands of people who know my name, I just want to be by myself with my books and my family off in some green field with a castle in my backyard.

But would I actually be content? Would I be able to do it and actually have the peace I seek there? And also, haha, would I actually be able to restrain my inexorable talent and passion for starting big things?

I doubt it. And would I be able to ask the respect of a wife, if I have abdicated from God’s plan for my life? Would I be able to find God’s peace in my own path? No. I wouldn’t.

That path is for others, others whom God has called to it, but not for me. For me, the burden is a different, and in a way, a heavier one. But it is the only one for me.

And so I go on. I pour out a verdant torrent of projects, of plans, of ideas, of goals. I change the scheme, alter the mood, and overturn worldviews without blinking (no, I haven’t watched Tron, but I want to, and I am very familiar with all the clips on youtube, haha). I challenge presuppositions and I revamp systematic theologies. I break out of the mold and create new cultural mindsets out of thin air.

And I love it. Ask my friends: I can’t separate things from the Big Picture. Every idea I have grows to megalithic proportions, weaving itself into the entirety of my psyche, my plan, my life. I am chronically addicted to starting projects.

But it is tiring, it is exhausting, and it is wearying. But it drives me into God to find the strength I need, and when I go to Him, I do find it. That is how I know this is my path: if it wasn’t, I couldn’t do it.

And so on I go. Here I am. Here I stay. Here I stand. Here I go.

Drop That String! Now!

The Voice of a broken heart

Greetings,

I like anatomy. I like studying how God designed the body to function, how each part works with each of the others, how the whole is a beautiful testimony to God’s eternal attributes.

But recently I discovered a whole new branch of anatomy, which I am voraciously studying. It is both fascinating and exhilarating, and I want to share with you some of my discoveries. The kind of anatomy I am talking about is spiritual anatomy.

The Bible makes it very clear that we have ‘inward parts’, separate, definable, individual pieces that make up our invisible man. We are not just flesh and bones, no, nor electrical impulses in the world’s greatest computer. These are only the tangible extensions to a magnificent work of art and machinery invisible to the mortal eye; they are merely the tools for a great being unseen to our mechanical eyes.

The Bible also makes it clear that we can’t truly examine ourselves. We can cut ourselves open and see the blood coursing through our veins, we can take pictures of our skeletal structure, but we cannot see our spirit, our soul, our mind, our heart. The Bible says that the Lord is the one who tries the heart, and knows it. We ourselves cannot, for our inward parts are deceptive and tricky: we cannot trust them (Jer. 17:9). We must use the Word of God (Jam. 1:22-25) and rely on the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14-16) to see ourselves in the way that God sees us: to study our anatomy.

Now to take a little leap to the side, and come at my topic from a slightly different angle.

People like to talk dogmatically about things like romance, love, relationships, etc. They announce that it is sin or consummate folly for someone to do such and such, and condemn those who disagree with them (or at least their beliefs). This attitude is practically ubiquitous.

But when pressed for their reasons, their foundations, they do not bring up any Scriptures (except for generic things like those teaching us to think of other first, which tell us why we ought to figure out the problem, but not the solution itself). Instead, they bring up personal experience, or the personal experience of reputable people, or statistical analyses, all of which are fallible, easily misinterpreted or misunderstood or miscommunicated, or simply mistaken. In any case, they miss the mark for what they should be bringing forth.

One of the primary things I see brought forth are analogies in the style of ancient Greek philosophers. They liken the heart to a sieve, to a jar, to a pipe, to a cookie, and to innumerable other things, and then draw dogmatic conclusions from these analogies.

A prime example: the command to not give your heart to too many people of the opposite sex or else you won’t have any left to give to your spouse, and your heart will be broken when you have to move on. This injunction has good motives, and the application doesn’t always go wrong, but think about it: this whole idea is founded upon likening a person’s heart to a cookie. You break off pieces of a cookie and give them away, it will of course run out eventually. And if the goal is to keep the cookie whole, then that would be a bad plan indeed.

But where is their basis for this likening of the heart to a cookie? No where. It is an arbitrary assignment, and they draw conclusions from it. The ancient Greeks did similar things, and drew ridiculously erroneous conclusions about practically everything under heaven. They analogized instead of studied.

And that is the problem: we are analogizing, instead of studying. Our attempts are doomed to failure, merely because we are trying to study ourselves on our own.

Remember? We can’t study our hearts on our own!

So how do we go about this? We go to God’s Word. It can show us what we need to know: it cuts right through the problems we have with seeing ourselves as we truly are, and clearly and articulately demonstrates to us what we are like inside. And it is all done by the world’s greatest communicator, and the one who originally made the heart. Surely God would know how to explain it all!

And He does.

Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Our hearts are treasure houses. A vessel for containing things. The amazing thing about this analogy is that it is so extremely consistent. All across the Bible, in every single mention of the heart that I have studied (which is most, but I can’t say I have examined all, there are tons, and this study is still a work in progress), this analogy is either consistent with the passage, or the passage supports it, or the passage clearly teaches it.

So I took that as a working hypothesis, and dug a bit deeper, looking at other parts of our inward man to see if they could shed further light on this concept. And the further I go the more astonished and surprised I am at how beautifully intricate and consistent the whole picture is.

Now remember, I am still doing this study, so a huge part of it is incomplete and I won’t stand behind all of it dogmatically. But this part I am absolutely sure about: the workings of the heart, at least the overall picture of it (the fine details are intricate beyond our ken, as the Bible makes clear).

So for this blog post I will focus on the heart, and that is plenty. And it is pretty important too.

Alright, so now I want to bring up a few clues as to how relationships work in God’s eyes.

Judges 20:11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.

1 Samuel 18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

1 Chronicles 12:17 And David went out to meet them, and answered and said unto them, If ye be come peaceably unto me to help me, mine heart shall be knit unto you: but if [ye be come] to betray me to mine enemies, seeing [there is] no wrong in mine hands, the God of our fathers look [thereon,] and rebuke [it.]

Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

Colossians 2:19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

That is just an introductory summary to the huge plethora of examples all across the Bible of this concept: a relationship is the tying of two hearts together (the heart is a part of the soul, in case you are wondering about some of the above passages: just trust me on that one until a later blog post, okay?).

This would of course be done by strings (what else would you knit with?). And this concept is also supported across Scripture.

Now things get complex, because it is mostly logical deductions drawn from other principles in Scripture. Mostly stuff like “The Bible says this does this, how does that fit into this model of the heart? Aaaaaahhhhh… so that’s how it works,” and etcetera.

And that is enough for a book. So I will kinda skip ahead. Realize that what I am going into now is more theory than fact, at this point. It has been confirmed by every test I have put it through, remains solidly consistent with Scripture, and only grows and strengthens as time goes by. It is also consistent with the other things mentioned up above: personal experience, experience of respected people, and statistical analysis. This isn’t the foundation, though, merely a fact that supports its claim to being a law of nature.

Heartstrings are a product of our hearts, coming out of them like everything else in our lives (“the issues of life” Pro. 4:23). They come out of our hearts and go out to other people to attach to their hearts. And depending on what we allow into our hearts, the kinds of strings we attach, and to whom we attach them will change.

When we choose to invest in someone else, in any way (time, words, gifts, etc.), you are sowing seeds of relationships in your heart, and those will come out as surely as the sun rises. Those seeds will come out as soul-threads that reach out to another person. That person has a choice: to accept or reject it (of course if they don’t recognize it they can’t accept it, which is where love languages come in: lexicology!).

If they reject it, it will attach itself to the outside of their heart. They will not feel attached to you, or have any ties to you, but you will be attached to them. In the same way, God’s love is attached to us no matter what we do or say. If we accept His love, it comes inside and gives us life (for that is what these threads are for), but if it is rejected, it stays outside, constantly there, constantly waiting, constantly drawing us.

If they accept it, it goes into their heart as another seed sown, and it rises again and goes back out to that person.

Now, there is a crucial point at this stage in the junction: if the original person accepts the returning thread (he doesn’t have to), the relationship is sealed. Some people only want to tag along, and actually don’t want any love returned: these people reject the returning love, and the returning thread attaches outside his heart. It has nothing else to do. This isn’t a healthy relationship.

What should happen, is for the first person to accept the thread into his heart again, sending another back out. This means they are in a healthy, friendly relationship: they have a “three stranded cord.” It will not easily be broken, and when it does, it will hurt both hearts: break them, and leave wounds. This must sometimes be done, but only God “healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

This is where we get such phrases as “he is attached to me,” or “she is stuck on him,” I believe, from this principle.

Now, we can harden our hearts, blocking all love from everyone, or exercise discernment through Christ to decide who to accept. To harden our heart is to damage it: blocking it from the love of God, which is the foundation of all virtue and godliness in life. Not a good idea.

Some people say they can put up walls around their heart and leave their heart the same: this is impossible. What they are doing is hardening their heart, not creating new additions to the structure.

So what about my original example? What about romantic relationships and whatnot? Still studying it, but here is what I have so far.

There are friendship threads, and romantic threads. They are tied differently. If you tie a romantic thread with someone, it is harder to break than a friendship thread (the right kind of romance, at least). And when you marry, all your romantic threads ought to be with that one person, not with half a dozen people. You belong to that person, and not all the others. So if you tie bunches of threads, you will have to break them at some time or other, or suffer the consequences. If you break them, you damage your heart, and make it harder for you to tie more threads that you should be tying. Of course, as I said, God can heal, but only if you let Him, and rely on Him to do it.

We have a choice about what to allow into our hearts. We must guard them with all diligence, because once something goes in, it will out again in the issues of your life.

So that is what I have so far, at least in part. A very small part, actually, come to think of it.

So what are your thoughts? Am I off my rocker? Have you noticed similar things? Do you have questions about how this could be implemented in various situations? 🙂

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. 😛

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. 😛 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/