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Archive for July, 2008

Fear Not

I find often in Christian circles that there is a “the sky is falling” mentality being shared mother to mother, friend to friend, sister to sister.  We’re telling each other that there is much to fear from the culture that we are living in.  And yet, when I really look at what I’m told to be afraid of, I don’t see what all the hoopla is about.

For example, a recent post on Your Sacred Calling says:

We live in a society that tells children to “just say no” to drugs, but then insists they say “yes” to homosexual marriage.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that our current culture is more accepting of homosexuals than cultures past, but that’s hardly the same thing as insisting that we say yes to it.  She then goes on to a recent story about a 12 year old girl who sued her father because he grounded her.

Of course, what is left out of the blog post is the fact that the parents were divorced, and while the father wouldn’t let her go on the school field trip, her mother would, and she had to sue to get a court order allowing her to go without her father’s permission.  Also left out of the blog post is the fact that the decision isn’t usual.  The article says it’s unprecedented.  Still, if that were happening in my community, I’d definitely speak up about it. I don’t see that as something to be afraid of, but something to speak out against.  Parental rights are not something we should take for granted.

But the larger issue, in my opinion is fear.  We can look around us at the culture and and withdraw.  We can.  After all, it’s a sinful culture with every vice possible out there waiting for us.  The thing is, it’s always been that way.  There are no new sins, no new ways to offend God.  We can sit in our homes and do our best to stay out of the culture, or we can put on the armor of God and go forth to share what we know and the good news of the gospel of Christ.  Because God is with us.  He really is.  And while we must always be cautious of what’s out there, we don’t need to live in fear.

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:13-18

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Earthquake!

My babies experienced their first earthquake today.  We were shoe shopping at Old Navy when CRASH! SHAKE!  ROLLLLLLL ROLLLLLL… I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life.  I’ve felt every major quake down here in the last 30 years.  You never get used to it.  This was my first earthquake as a mother and boy, does your mommy instict kick in big time.  My first reaction was to grab my son’s hand (daughter was in the stroller) and get to the middle of the store and away from the walls.  My inner monolgue screamed “Protect your babies!”  It was quite an experience, although not a new one.  Everyone is fine… although I think naps today are unlikely.  Darnit.

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Captivating: A Review

Here is my Amazon.com review of the book Captivating by John and Staci Eldridge:

1.0 out of 5 stars Sappy, Sentimental, Poorly Written Drivel, March 29, 2007
I picked up this book in the hopes that I would find something original, something challenging, something other than the evangelical drivel that passes for “Christian Living” books these days. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed.
What I Liked:

1. There really were some challenging ideas in this book. So often, “biblical womanhood” is portrayed as being all about homemaking, mothering, and hospitality. It’s all about being “against feminism.” While I don’t see anything wrong with a balanced view of a woman’s role, I do think that it’s easy to take these ideas to the extreme. Stasi Eldredge’s book definitely does not fit the mold, at least not in the circles I tend to frequent. Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas are concerned more with the heart. To her, “godly womanhood” means getting back to our roots as women, to embrace our femininity and use it for God’s glory. Unfortunately, Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas about femininity are wrought with their own problems. (See below). Additionally, Mrs. Eldredge’s idea that womanhood and femininity doesn’t always look the same between women is very refreshing and something of which I need to be reminded every day.

2. The authors are clear about the God-ordained distinction between the sexes. In other words, men and women are not the same.

3. The chapters, while lengthy, were quick and easy to read. Yes, that is a plus when you’re running after two children under the age of three.

4. This book was easy to read in pieces.

What I Did NOT Like:
1. The Eldredges have a very low view of women. In their minds, all women are broken, messed up creatures who have spent their lives hurting and looking for someone to build them up and fill in all the holes they experienced growing up. There is no room for strength, confidence, industry, dignity or any other “Proverbs 31” quality in their economy. In fact, they mock and ridicule the “Proverbs 31” woman as though hers is an unattainable, impractical, useless standard to which we should strive. For them, it all boils to whether or not a woman feels she is beautiful (and while they spend an entire chapter developing this idea, I never understood what they meant- beauty on the outside? Inner beauty? What beauty are they talking about? Oh, the beauty that is completely corrupted by sin, but made alive and beautiful again by the saving work of Christ? That beauty?), and whether or not she is being properly “romanced.” In fact, I’m actually nervous about writing a bad review of this book in fear that Stasi will read it and spiral into a depression again. What if I hit a nerve, dig a deeper wound, remind her of her difficult childhood? Why not generalize this fear to all women because according to the authors, women are weak, wounded, and helpless.

2. Theologically, this book is a mess. For example: “Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God” (pg. 44). Hello! That is heresy! Jesus Christ, ALONE, is the incarnation of God. I think they must have no clue as to what they are actually saying in that statement. It would be more appropriate to say that Eve was made in the image of a beautiful, captivating God. Image and incarnation are not the same thing. They make this error several times throughout the book. They suggest that Eve was the “Crown of Creation.” In reality, mankind (women AND men) is the apex, the pinnacle, the crown of creation. They often refer to Jesus as the “bridegroom” of the Christian woman and that the woman is His bride. Actually, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and that includes men as well as women. They refer to Jesus in these sappy, overemotional, and overtly sexual terms when they talk about Him as a “Lover.” Well, were I a man, I would either laugh at this or be very turned off. Jesus isn’t my boyfriend. He’s my God. He’s my Savior. He’s my Lord. He is the Bridegroom of the Church Universal, but not of individuals. I could go on, but its late and I’m tired…

3. Frequent and blatant misuse of Scripture. They take so much of the Bible out of context that its hard to know where to start in pointing it out. Their use of the Song of Solomon is a frequent offense in this regard. The book was written as a description of marital love between husband and wife, not between Christ and the Church and certainly NOT between Christ and a woman. Hosea is another example. This book was written as prophecy regarding the eventual return of Israel from exile, not as a description of the return of a woman to her “first love”. They often mock the correct interpretation of several passages in Scripture, tossing them aside for their own feminized, overly-sentimental view as well.

4. They have a very low view of Christ. Essentially, they suggest that He cannot act in our lives unless we let him, unless we “open the door of our hearts” where he stands knocking (yet ANOTHER reference they take completely out of context). Theirs is a neutered, powerless Christ. There is nothing said in this book about the beauty He gives us because He is IN US, living HIS LIFE through us. The reason I need to look to Christ to find this beauty for which I am allegedly seeking affirmation is because the beauty I possess comes from Him.

5. There is an overemphasis on the effect that Satan/demons/spirits can have on the lives of Christians. I believe this issue stems from their use of the Neil T. Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker, a book that has been widely rebutted due to its unbiblical views of Satan and his relationship to believers. They attribute common marital and even medical problems to meddlesome spirits when there were completely natural explanations for what they were experiencing. I’m afraid that people will fail to get to the root of their problems and just “blame Satan” instead of really working through very complex issues (or seeing a doctor for medical issues!).

6. Enough with the movie metaphors already! I don’t want to hear about how I’m like “Cora” in “Last of the Mohicans” or “Rose” in “Titanic.” Tell me about Rachel, Rebekah, Mary, Deborah, Ruth, Phoebe, Dorcas, Mary Magdelene, the nameless women throughout the Bible who acted in faith when God called them out of their normal lives into greatness. Tell me about those women FIRST and leave the movie metaphors out of it! Instead of looking to God to learn about us, they point us to our culture and ourselves in order to learn about God. That’s completely backwards!

This book is nothing more than really bad pop psychology trying to be passed off as “biblical” truth. It is sappy, overly sentimental, erroneous, and, in most parts unbiblical. I had a hard time following any of the points put forward by the authors. The meat in this book would’ve made for an interesting article in “Christianity Today” or “Focus on the Family” magazine. They didn’t need a whole book to detail this dribble. Please don’t bother with it. There are much better books out there about biblical womanhood than this one.

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I found this gem on Doug Phillip’s blog today. In fairness, he’s reprinted a pastoral letter written by someone else, but still, the whole thing felt condescending. Instead of pregnant moms, we’re called “fruitful vines”, I suppose yet another VFM code word to add to our vocabulary.

Waddle on,groan on, swell up to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ: you are displaying a true and holy beauty to your God and to anyone who has eyes to see.

I have babies because I love them and because I’ve always wanted a large family. Each of my children is a gift from God and I’m grateful. But I swell up, moan, and complain for one selfish reason: I want another baby. I don’t see anything in scripture that says that having babies is a glory to God, or how I serve Him.

In fact it almost seems dismissive to me, as if I have nothing else to offer my Savior. Pregnancy, while special, is not a talent. It’s a biological act. Ministering to my children, as well as to those whom the Lord puts in my path, that is how I serve my God.

I feel beautiful when I’m pregnant, and I think pregnant women are gorgeous. I love carrying life, and being a part of bringing someone into the world. Yet, that whole post just made me feel like a uterus on legs.

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The Week in WWF Dress…

is a wash, obviously.  This has been a crazy weekfor me.  We said goodbye to some church friends at our playgroup yesterday.  I drove straight from the park about 45 minutes to pick up our Azure Standard order from some gracious church friends who picked it up for us.  Later that afternoon, DH and I took the kids to the new Target down the road.  Not enough can be said for how AWESOME that place is… and for how much I need to stay far, far away from it.

Today entailed driving down to my mom’s about 25 minutes away to hang out.  I took the written exam for a job to which I’ve applied.  Flubbed that up pretty bad, at least on the second part.  Came home with crazy, tired children and a craving for Berry Crisp.  DS had an “accident” in his pants and was sent straight to bed.  That actually worked tonight.  Hurray!

So, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and create a “Meez” for you all to look at:

She kind of looks like me, but she’s definitely got the messy bun, the clothes, and the coffee down to a “T”.  My kitchen doesn’t look anything like that, but well, a girl can dream, can’t she?  Anyway, my meez will have to do to finish out the week in WWF dress…

Please pray for us, my friends.  We’re having to make some tough TOUGH decisions around here.  Pray that my husband is given godly wisdom and pray that I will have the strength to trust him.  For some reason, maybe a good reason, I have total peace about following his lead on all this job stuff.  I praise God for it because I know that, a few years ago, I would have held this against my husband (my having to work), but now I know that this is the greatest thing I can do to support him and love him.

Okay, enough personal stuff.  There’s clothes to be folded…

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Here is an interesting article on the women and young teenagers in the court battle over the FLDS children:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/magazine/27mormon-t.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

And here is a link to a slide show of pictures of these women at home:

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/07/27/magazine/20080727_FLDS_SLIDESHOW_index.html

You will notice the second picture of the slide show is of a 17-year-old mother and her 1-year-old daughter. The one year old has a prairie dress on! I was really astonished that they began so young! Even the hyper-pats that I know personally don’t dress babies in prairie dresses. They do start early (maybe 3 or 4), but not for infants. However, I have seen this type of fundamentalism before–with Muslims. Take a look:

Not so different, are they?  And the scary thing is that the hyper-pats aren’t that far off from the FLDS in dress-code.

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I recieved this question on a previous post regarding being Quiverfull.

  • I read your article about NFP verses QF. I would like to know specifically what you feel the verses used to support QF are lacking. You mentioned that they are not pursuasive, in what way? Thank you for your information, Robin

I thought this was a great question, but decided to answer it in a new post instead of trying to put it all in the comment box.

One bible study I found in favor of the Quiverfull (hereafter reffered to as QF) philosophy was this one. I disagree with a number of conclusions made by the author, and wanted to discuss them.

The author starts with:

  • God is Sovereign in birth. He opens & shuts the womb; He blesses with children. (The following verses are NOT an exhaustive list.)

It is GOD Who opens and shuts the womb: Genesis 20:17-18; 29:31-33; 30:1-2,6,17-18, 20, 22, 23; I Samuel 1:6, 11, 19, 20;

God helps and participates in the process of bringing forth children: Genesis 4:1, 25; 21:1-2; Ruth 4:13; I Samuel 2:20-21; Psalm 139:13, 16; Luke 1:21-25, 57-58

Procreation is part of God’s design and was commanded by God at the creation: Gen. 1:27-28

God multiplies children: Genesis 16:10; 17: 2,20; 22:17; 26:4, 24; 28:3; 41:52; 48:4; Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 1:10,11; 28:63; 30:5, Joshua 24:3; I Chronicles 27: 23; Psalm 105:24; 107:38; Isaiah 26:15; 51:2; Jeremiah 30: 19; 33:22; Ezra 36:10-11, 37; 37:26

This is the basis of what we believe whether we use Natural Family Planning, birth control, or are Quiverfull. I don’t see how using NFP or birth control means that we think we really have control over our fertility, and is prepared to accept any gift at any time that God wishes to give it. NFP is for use when there is a legitimate reason not to have another child and it works with God and the natural cycle that He has given us. Birth control has another set of assumptions, but in no way can we take the control away from God. Who are we to think we can?

The author then uses I Corinthians 7:3-5 as an anti-NFP text. But let’s look at what those verses actually say:

  • 3 The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.

My first objection is that when a couple abstains or engages in sex it should always, absolutely, be by mutual consent. Abstaining using NFP does allow for prayer, introspection, or developing the emotional connection outside of the physical act, which is vital to the developing marriage.

I would also point out that periods of abstinence during a cycle, like is used in NFP, is not a new idea. Paul would have well understood that Jewish law had long held that there was a time of abstinence expected for a couple. The tradition is called Niddah and has to do with abstaining and separation throughout the menstrual cycle and for a short period after it. It is because she has held the potential for sacred life. The couple resumes relations after she is cleansed in the Mikvah.

My second objection is that Paul follows in verse 6 with “ This I say by way of concession, however, not as a command. ” So he isn’t commanding us to do or not do anything from what I can tell.

One of the proof texts I see most often for QF is in regards to “The Sin of Onan”. Onan married his brother’s widow in accordance with Jewish law. Jewish law also required that he father a son with her to carry on the name of his deceased brother.

  • 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Unite with your brother’s widow, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.” 9 Onan, however, knew that the descendants would not be counted as his; so whenever he had relations with his brother’s widow, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid contributing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.

What Onan did was birth control. Not NFP. But really, the sin of Onan was not his “spilling his seed”. His first sin was his taking of his pleasure from his brother’s widow, while not fulfilling his duty to her or to his deceased brother. But his ultimate sin was against God. He disobeyed the law, and did as he pleased instead of following his Creator. I see this as a poor proof text for QF. (For my complete thoughts on Onan, see my post here)

While the command to be fruitful has never been revoked, we must always be careful not to take scripture out of the whole, or apart from biblical principles. There are many reasons that a couple may not yet be ready to attempt to achieve pregnancy. Ultimately God gave us the rhythms and cycles of the body, also. As well as the ability to recognize them and work with them. And when or if a couple has children, as well as how many, is between them and God. It’s really none of our business.

Originally published to Our Homeschool on July 23, 2005

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