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Archive for June 16th, 2008

I Am Not A Cynic

I found an article recently by Jennie Chancey. The article is entitled Jennie Chancy Responds to Titus 2 Cynics and can be found here. Knowing that I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, and having heard Mrs. Chancey’s name brought up frequently in discussions about Patriocentrism, I simply had to read it. She had some interesting things to say, some which I agreed with and some which I did not.

Suffice it to say that there is no such thing as a mom who does not work — “working mother” is a handy misnomer for those who have a “real” job outside the home in addition to all they must accomplish at home.

I agree without a doubt that there is no such thing as a mom who does not work. But I would say that the term “working mother” is used by those who either don’t understand how much work there is when one stays home, or is honestly trying to differentiate between one who works outside of the home and one who works inside. This is in the first paragraph of the article, and made me a bit anxious as to what the rest would have to say.

What truly amazes me is that Rev. Sandlin can state so confidently that the Bible does not call a woman leaving her God-given, home-based occupation for work outside the home “sin.”

I was bothered by this statement. Mrs. Chancey follows it up with why she believes it is a sin, but does not actually contradict the idea with Scripture. I was waiting to hear of any place where the Bible flatly states that a woman working outside the home is a sin. If there was such a plain scripture, one would think that it would be quoted, chapter and verse.

While he quotes the first portion of the famous Titus 2 passage, he neglects to carry it through to the final kicker: “that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Tit. 2:5b). I don’t know about anyone else, but my dictionary still defines blasphemy as showing “contempt or disrespect for (God, a divine being, or sacred things), esp. in speech” and uttering “profanities, curses, or impious expressions.”

At this point I felt the need to remind myself of exactly what Titus 2 says. After reading the previous quote from Mrs. Chancey, I wondered if I had missed the part where it said that to work outside the home was to blaspheme the Word of God. For anyone who also finds themselves wondering, I’ll save you a trip to your Bible:

Titus 2 New International Version (NIV)

1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

I think what Mrs. Chancey was referring to in regards to blasphemy has to do with Titus 2:3-5. But I don’t see those verses forbidding work outside the home. To my (albeit untrained) eye it looks like a discussion about how women should conduct themselves and what type of attitude they should show so that others would not say negative things about our faith. Not that they must only be workers at home.

Apparently, blaspheming God’s Word involves doing the opposite of what St. Paul has just exhorted women to do: be “reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands.” Going to the Greek again, the word for “homemaker” used here is oikouros, which literally means “guard or watcher of the house.” Thayer’s Lexicon renders the meaning “keeping at home and taking care of household affairs.” A woman cannot both “keep at home” (or “guard the house”) and “keep” in a separate workplace. She cannot both “obey her own husband” (emphasis mine) and obey another boss (even if it is one for whom her husband has asked her to work).

This is where my opinion differs drastically from Mrs. Chancey’s. I wish it were so simple. I am a keeper, guardian, and protector of my home and all who are in it. I am my husband’s helpmeet. Currently, ours like other families, would not be able to survive on simply my husband’s income. Were I not to work, even if we cut out the few luxuries we have (and I do mean few) we would not even be able to pay for our home. If I am a steward of the gifts I have been given, would I not be doing a much greater disservice to the family God has given me if I allowed them to go without food?

In short, I can not believe that feeding and clothing the children God has given us (Mrs. Chancey believes in the Quiverfull philosophy, mind you and would approve of our large family) would be blaspheming the Word of God. By working, I am truly being a helpmeet to my husband, and a keeper of my home. Beyond that, I believe that my calling as a nurse working with the elderly, is God’s work, and something that He wants me to be doing. But at this point I think the idea must be reiterated that Paul exhorts women to do those things not because the opposite is blasphemy, but to remind us that how we present ourselves affects how others perceive our God.

Mrs. Chancey goes on to discuss how the Proverbs 31 woman is a prime example of someone who is making a living at home, and increasing her husband’s wealth without leaving her given domain. She discusses the fact that the Proverbs 31 woman considers a field and then plants a vineyard, making the case that this is now her property, and thus part of her estate. What she leaves out us the idea that these may have been two totally different things. The field and the vineyard being two different properties. Which makes it sound more like the Proverbs 31 woman was involved in Real Estate. Nor does she address the fact that, for a woman of King Lemuel’s day, selling one’s homemade wares as described in verse 24, was working outside of the home. Not much else was available to women then.

It seems Mrs. Chancey heard the inner workings of my head as she began to address the reality of our economy and culture, but then, just as quickly, dismisses it entirely.

People will get offended if we say a wife working outside of the home is a sin. Poor women who have to work will feel they are second-class Christians or looked down upon by their stay-at-home sisters in Christ. What about women whose husbands have abandoned them? But let’s try to look at this without knee-jerking if we can. We are living under a cursed economy. We are not living under God’s blessing. When the Church abandons “hard” teachings for soft words, the salt loses its savor and is trampled underfoot. When we follow pell-mell in the path of the “working world,” straining after the “American Dream” income, we’re going to fall into the same trap the rest of our culture is in: wives forced to work to make up a “shortfall,” debt, divorce, children handed over to government schools, etcetera. And we’re in it — knee-deep.

For many of us, the thought of why a woman must work or why some women might be offended is not “knee-jerk”. And that “shortfall” Mrs. Chancey feels must be put in quotation marks is not theoretical, or because we are unwilling to make sacrifices. To insinuate so is insulting to so many who are truly good Christian families, getting by in an imperfect world. It also struck me at this point that I feel as much disdain from Mrs. Chancey in regards to my working outside the home (even though I only do so part time, a parent is always home for my children, and I haven’t “abandoned” them to anything) as she feels from those who use the term “working mother” to describe those who work outside of the home.

Instead of seeking to extend the curse even further, we need to be lovingly helping our brothers and sisters in Christ so that those women in tough financial situations can stay at home. After all, when St. Paul writes about widows, does he say they just need to suck it up and get out in the workforce to fend for themselves? Far from it. He calls those who will not provide for widows and orphans “infidels” who have “denied the faith” (1 Tim. 5:7).

I wish I could ask Mrs. Chancey what choice a widow of Paul’s time had? This was the first century. Besides being prostitutes or beggars, what could women do outside of the home? If women had just as much opportunity to work as men, perhaps his answer would have been different. But we can’t know. Which is why this is exactly the point at which we should allow for Christian liberty. Since there is no direct command not to work outside of the home, nor a command to only work inside of the home, we have no business standing in condemnation of a sister attempting to care for her family in that way. For a “Reformed” movement, I have found little in Vision Forum Ministries that speaks to the understanding of Christian liberty, and I find that sad.

When a woman has to work outside of the home, it is not an indication of some special blessing; it is a poor reflection on her provider (if she is married)

This, I will admit, made me a bit angry. Being someone who watches her husband work long hours, go to work sick, and work hard to provide for his family, I don’t feel that she nor anyone else has the right to judge my husband as a poor provider. We live in the real world, and I make no apology for the way we choose to live as I see nothing to apologize for. My husband is a hard worker and an excellent provider.

Do I always like working outside the home? No. Even though I really do like my job, I’m a home body and don’t always enjoy leaving. I’ll be honest. But I see no promises in the Bible that we will always be happy when following Him. I’ve stayed home. I’m not always happy doing that either. But I am content in the knowledge that I am following the Lord, and I am grateful for the opportunity that He has provided this family, in that I have a job that not only helps provide for us but also allows one of us to always be home with our children.

I wish Mrs. Chancey and others like her could see that I am also the wife of a man who cherishes me and all I do, and that I too am the blessed wife of a super-man. In the end, I’m not cynical of Titus 2. I see much that I can learn from it. Disagreeing with Mrs. Chancey’s view perhaps makes me cynical of her and Vision Forum Ministries, but not the Bible. And there is a difference.

Reprinted from Our Faith And Our Hope October 30th, 2007

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What Kept Me Going

Here’s a wonderful quote from the Canons of Dordt which kept me going after we lost our Grace.  May it bring peace to those who are in need of comfort today:

Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers

Since we must make judgments about God’s will from his Word, which testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

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A few months ago, Karen Campbell released two excellent podcasts on a woman’s purpose, calling, and role.  I decided to write about it here because I found it to be so helpful when embarking on this “whitewashed feminist” journey.

A woman’s purpose is the same purpose of every man: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  That is some serious business.  Our purpose is sort of the umbrella under which the calling and role fall.  Everything I do is to be done to the glory of God.  No task is too small.  Every task is sanctified.  God uses our calling to fulfill our purpose, but purpose and calling are not the same thing.

A calling is just that- a call of God to do something.  Our calling is ours and no one else’s.  Our calling is from and for God alone.  It involves natural abilities, talents, spiritual gifts wrapped up into a package that we use as our calling.  I am called to be the mother of my children.  I’m the only one who can do that.  THAT is my calling.  This is a very individual thing.  It seems as though you can feel your calling down in your very soul.  Karen quotes Eric Liddell: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”  Our callings are not static.  They can change.

Our Role: Our function; How we fulfill our calling.  Our roles change and are given to us to minister to other people.  Patriocentrists would have us believe that God ordains for all women to have the same role- Wife, Keeper at Home, Mentor, and Mother.  Any woman who steps out of that box is in rebellion and blaspheming God’s Word.  Women in the Bible who step out of that role are non-normative.  For “non-normative” there sure are a lot of them.

I want to go into more detail as time goes on.  I hesitate to even say the phrase “our purpose, calling, and role as women” because I am not at all convinced they are the same for each woman.  The PURPOSE is the same, but the calling and role will be different for everyone.  More to come.  I really have to get to bed.

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I stumbled on Candy’s Blog, Keeping the Home, a few years ago when I put together my Home Management Binder. She had this GREAT tutorial up on how to put it together complete with pictures and detailed instructions. I really learned a lot and I’m glad I got the info back then because she has since wrapped it up in an e-book for purchase on her site. Anyway, on to the review.

What’s GREAT about Keeping the Home:

1. Candy’s recipes are really good and they work. I’ve made several recipes that she lists on her sidebar and they’ve all been delicious. I even made homemade buttermilk and her “Amazing Bread”. The best is the Baked Oatmeal. YUMMY!!

2. She recently completed a “Home Management Binder University” where she really got down to the nitty-gritty about putting a binder together. It was a long series and very detailed. I didn’t always read everything, but I think, for someone who doesn’t have a HMB, this would be a great place to start in putting one together.

3. Candy often gives us glimpses into her daily life that I find intriguing. She has a very wide readership and people are naturally interested in her “castle” and what a day in her life looks like. She periodically posts pictures of her home and takes us through “a day in the life” which I really like.

4. She is really devoted to her husband and it shines through on her blog. Its refreshing!

What’s NOT SO GREAT:

1. She writes a lot about theology and, well, let’s just say that I think she needs to stick to homemaking. Her independent Bible church background comes out loud and clear through her KJV only-ism, anti-Calvinism, and her “I’m not a part of any denomination!!! I just follow the Bible!” attitude. I disagree with her a lot and I don’t find her theological articles to be very instructive. I just think she needs to stick to what she knows best and does best and that’s homemaking.

2. She is a big fan of the Pearls. ‘Nuff said.

Overall, if you are looking for homemaking information, I think Candy’s blog is a really helpful place to go. DO NOT go over there for theological instruction. Its not just because she’s anti-Calvinist. Believe it or not, I can live with that. Its just that her theology is bad and her hermeneutic is seriously lacking. She moderates comments, so if you disagree with her on anything, frame it nicely or don’t bother commenting. Hers isn’t a debate blog and that is just fine.

I recommend visiting for some things, but I’d stay away from the theology.

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All this year, the White Horse Inn (a round-table radio broadcast on which our pastor participates), has focused on the theme of “Christless Christianity.” June 8th’s broadcast really hit home for me as the guys talked about how so often evangelical churches assume the gospel- as though the gospel is something you need to “get saved” and then you move on to more mature Christianity.

Mike Horton gives a terrific commentary, quoted in part here:

“To arrive at a condition of Christless Christianity where Christ becomes more of a trademark for t-shirts and entertainment empires more than the object of faith. No explicit heresy is needed, because our default setting is Pelagianism, the heresy of self-salvation. Unless we are constantly taught out of it, not just once, but throughout our Christian pilgrimage we will always fall back on the most comfortable, familiar, and common-sense religion of our fallen heart. We don’t have to deny the Gospel, all we have to do in order to send our churches back to another Dark Ages is to assume the Gospel. Taking it for granted that people need the Gospel in order to “get saved” many seem to think that we can then move on in the Christian life and look to other resources for our spiritual development than the Gospel. It is crucial to realize that the Gospel arises first of all out of a story, from Genesis to Revelation there is one unfolding drama of redemption with Christ at its center. Jesus himself taught the disciples to read the Bible this way and after Pentecost they preached Christ this way.”

And another quote from Horton’s article, Christless Christianity, in “Modern Reformation” magazine:

“In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis has the devil (Screwtape) catechizing his minion (Wormwood) to keep the Christians distracted from Christ as redeemer from God’s wrath. Rather than clumsily announce his presence by direct attacks, Wormwood should try to get the churches to become interested in “Christianity and…”: “Christianity and the War,” “Christianity and Poverty,” “Christianity and Morality,” and so on. Of course, Lewis was not suggesting that Christians should not have an interest in such pressing issues of the day, but he was making the point that when the church’s basic message is less about who Christ is and what he has accomplished once and for all for us, and more about who we are and what we have to do in order to justify all of that expense on his part, the religion that is made “relevant” is no longer Christianity. By not thinking that “Christ crucified” is as relevant as “Christ and Family Values” or “Christ and America” or “Christ and World Hunger,” we end up assimilating the gospel to law. Again, there is nothing wrong with the law-the moral commands that expose our moral failure and guide us as believers in the way of discipleship. However, assimilating the good news of what someone else has done to a road map for our own action is disastrous. In the words of Theodore Beza, “The confusion of law and gospel is the principal source of all the abuses that corrupt or have ever corrupted the church.” When God’s Law (and not our own inner sentiment) actually addresses us, our first response should be, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” not the reply of the rich young ruler, “All this I have done since my youth.” (Christless Christianity, Modern Reformation)

I find this to be tremendously challenging. I grew up in mainline evangelicalism. As a teenager, I attended my local Calvary Chapel and went to Monday nights with Greg Laurie at Big Calvary. I do not recall a single instance where the gospel was actually preached in the sermon. I brought friends to the Harvest Crusade. The gospel was presented at the end of the service, where everyone bowed their heads and closed their eyes. The pastor asked for repentant people to raise their hands, come forward, and pray a prayer.

Years later, I began attending a Reformed church- the same church in which my husband and I are members today. The gospel is preached, in the service, every Lord’s Day. Let me back up- first, the Law is preached and we confess our sins together as a body. We confess our private sins. And then, we confess together of our faith in the gospel- that the perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection of Christ has atoned for our sins and satisfied God’s wrath toward us. The glorious pronouncement is made that our sins have been forgiven and that we are not under God’s condemnation.

How I need to hear that every Sunday… every day even! I fail on a daily basis in all my different roles- whife, mother, neighbor, Christian, church member, employee, citizen, friend. The only way I am able to keep going is to hear the gospel, to know that my sins have been forgiven. I am then spurned on to live a life of gratitude, where God’s Laws become the standard by which I strive to live BECAUSE I am forgiven.

When the gospel is assumed, it is so easy to turn to legalism. Why preach Christ when the pet issue is all the more interesting? Horton says it above- Christ and family values; Christ and America; Christ and morality. Pretty soon, Christ gets dropped all together and we are left with the “and” stuff. Its as though the gospel falls off to the sidelines, like its somehow unimportant.

The message of Christianity IS the Gospel! The Gospel is GOOD NEWS! Why would we not want to hear that proclaimed loud and often! When it isn’t, Law and Gospel become confused and we end up with this:

“Another way we distort the proclamation of Christ in the “Pharasaic” mode is by what has sometimes been called “the assumed gospel.” This is often the first stage of taking our eyes off of Christ. Even where Christ is regarded as the answer to God’s just wrath, this emphasis is regarded as a point that can be left behind in the Christian life. The idea is that people “get saved” and then “become disciples.” The gospel for sinners is Christ’s death and resurrection; the gospel for disciples, however, is, “Get busy!” But this assumes that disciples are not sinners, too. There is not a single biblical verse that calls us to “live the gospel.” By definition, the gospel is not something that we can live. It is only something that we can hear and receive. It is good news, not good advice. The good news is that, “But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the Law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe,” since sinners “are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, received through faith” (Rom. 3:21-25). ” (Christless Christianity, Modern Reformation)

This idea is what I find lacking in so many patriocentric circles- a real passion for the Gospel. There are so many rules that I have to wonder where they turn when they fail? Do they just become more firm in their resolve to “take back the culture” by wearing dresses and raising little warriors for Christ? I have seen very little grace extended from these folks. They are so busy preaching law that the gospel gets lost. Its exactly what Horton is talking about.

Legalism isn’t just “works of the Law to merit righteousness.” Legalism isn’t just extra-biblical laws to increase sanctification. Legalism is also Law preached but no gospel. I think that’s a big area where patriocentricity breaks down.

And if that isn’t what they intend- if the intent is to point others to Christ- then I think they are really missing the mark in the way their message comes across. I heard Jennie Chancey say once to draw our strength from Jesus. “Look to Jesus!” she exhorted us. Those kinds of exhortations are few and far between coming from that camp. My prayer is that the folks in this movement discover the Christ of the gospel and stop assuming it. WE ALL NEED IT. EVERY DAY!

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