Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Christ Must Needs Be True God

Christ must needs be true God, seeing he, through himself, fulfilled and overcame the law; for most certain it is, that no one else could have vanquished the law, angel or human creature, but Christ only, so that it cannot hurt those that believe in him; therefore, most certainly he is the Son of God, and natural God. Now if we comprehend Christ in this manner, as the Holy Scripture displays him before us, then certain it is, that we can neither err nor be put to confusion; and may then easily judge what is right to be held of all manner of divine qualities, religion, and worship, that are used and practiced in the universal world. Were this picturing of Christ removed out of our sight, or darkened in us undeniably there must needs follow utter disorder. For human and natural religion, wisdom, and understanding, cannot judge aright or truly of the laws of God; therein has been and still is exhausted the art of all philosophers, of all the learned and worldly-wise among he children of men. For the law rules and govern mankind; therefore the law judges mankind, and not mankind the law.
Martin Luther, from Tabletalk, pages 163-164

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Trinity, Wedding Vows, and the Postelwaite Question

My family and I recently attended a wedding during which we heard vows authored by their speakers. Following the ceremony I heard much praise given for what was spoken, and much of it I too thought was very good. What troubles me is what was missing, and is often missing in vows written by a Christian woman -- a pledge to respect her husband and therefore obey him. The vows always include promises to love. This makes sense coming from a Christian man since Ephesians 5 gives the command for husbands to love their wives. However, in this most popular of wedding texts, the Apostle does not command wives to love their husbands. He tells them to be subject to them [See Ep 5:22-24 (NASB); or in the ESV - submit to them. (Submit is also the translation in the NIV)].

Earlier in Ephesians 5:2 we are all told to "walk in love." So I am not arguing that a woman is not obligated to love her husband. She is. He is her nearest and dearest neighbor, and she is to love him as she loves herself. But in the particularities of marriage, the obligations specific to her are those of respect (Ep 5:33 - ". . . and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband), and obedience (". . . wives ought to be subject to their husbands in everything" - Ep 5:24).

It seems to me that God commands to each sex what comes most unnaturally to them. Men desire to respect. Women desire to love. So God commands against our natures, because it is necessary.

Open Range is a favorite movie of mine. At the end of it, in the scene pictured here, Charles Postelwaite (or Charley Waite, as he prefers to be called), a newly engaged man, is saying goodbye to his fiance Sue Barlow. Charley is going back to the range to retrieve his cattle before settling down with his bride. Before parting he asks Sue to ride back home, before the sunlight is gone, while she can still see the town. She is hesitant, so Charley asks her, "How is this [marriage] going to work if you won't do what I say?" Excellent query! The answer is, it will not work. It will fail. Whether they stay together or not, it will fail in a hundred ways. Sue loves Charley. But will she obey him? Probably not. And when disrespect and disobedience is the pattern; when disregarding his instructions is frequent; when ignoring his ways is not abnormal, a husband may lose affection for his wife.

As a related aside, I am for strong, thoughtful, expressive, resourceful, creative, and tough Christian women/wives. I love the Proverbs 31 woman, who, by the way, is called "an excellent wife" (verse 10). But none of these fine qualities require rebellion against God and husband. 

Submission, ladies, means moving in the direction of your husband. It means learning and adopting his values. And it means doing what he asks of you. Wives are given as helpers. So help him. God says he needs it. "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.'" (Ge 2:18). "For indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake" (1 Co 11:9).

These things are not in the nature of a fallen woman. Fallen women desire to rule over their husbands. It's a part of the curse (Ge 3:16). But a Christian woman, who has God the Holy Spirit, and is being redeemed day by day, may be the respectful helpful wife God intends for her own progress and fulfillment and for the good of her husband and children.

I realize this kind of talk brings up a myriad of questions and emotions; so many "what ifs" and "yes, buts," etc. And I will write on none of them today. Besides, nothing Scripture says will invalidate what else it says. Marriage is God's arrangement in which there is a head and a helper. This reality is grounded in the Godhead itself where there is a Father, a Son, and a Holy Spirit; all of equal worth and dignity but nevertheless operating in different ways; including the way of submission.