Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Way of a Man with a Maid

I was asked the other day by a man who needed to know, "What areas of doctrinal agreement make for a spiritually happy marriage?"
A couple of things need to be cleared up first.
One: I don't expect a wife to agree doctrinally with her husband. They usually do agree but I don't think it helps a man already too pleased with himself to have another soul, who loves him romantically, adding her voice by default to the cheers. That she does agree and knows that she need not is a great freedom and greater confidence within her own thoughts that she has processed, not merely 'slept with' her husband's views. Plus, he will be able to trust that if he can't convince her, he might still be right but he will know that the transferring argument needs work.
Two: It is not the 'agreement' that makes for the spiritual happiness. If the two agree and are wrong in their view they have team happiness. They have just what two advocates of, or members in, a particular sporting franchise have. The weight of spiritual happiness in a marriage is that degree of agreement on that which is sufficiently correct that the Powers of Heaven conspire to aid and comfort.
Primarily I am thinking of a man with a maid though I imagine a young lady of mental means might find this helpful as well.
The Preacher saith "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life which he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun."

Three conclusions or opinions must have been reached by a young lady if you hope to be happy with her in daily tests and maturings with which this futile life is encumbered.
They are, The Gospel, the Primary Desire to Please God, and a Knowledge of where Truth comes from.
The first is obvious. Without regeneration by a belief in and a calling out to God through His Son Jesus Christ, the hottest for you, most infatuated in you, sinner on the planet will be Hell on wheels. In the lightest and heaviest way, God Help You.
The second is about her opinion of her Christianity relational to all else in her life. The Powers wish to aid and comfort. Does Christ not merely save her from sin but buy her attention as Lord? Just like a man would not like to discover that she married him for an occasional romp and as a day laborer, so also would that man want to have someone as committed to pleasing the Lord as is he. Remember this is about agreement. They, the two of them, must have met the Gospel with effect. They, the two of them, must take the position that Christ is Lord.
In looking for a wife it is a reversal of Christ and the centurion. Christ is impressed with the Roman soldier's understanding of authority and comments about such a one that, "no greater faith is found in Israel". I say 'reversal' for a man wants to find a wife that understands (before she becomes his wife) that God rules the world of men and as such she is more ready to be what God commanded for a wife.
"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands."
Ephesians 5:22-24
Let us recap. Evangelical faith unto salvation and an abiding desire to please God. Sounds like a great gal. Without getting into a systematic agreement on your particular creed, what more could be needed? The third thing, that I mentioned above, is the thing that puts legs on the spiritual relationship between man and wife.
"If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home."
I Corinthians 14:35

What I said above was "that they know where truth comes from" and then just now I quote a little more Pauline misogyny. No, I am not saying that truth comes from the husband. I think you would have figured that out by my first aside, that a wife need not agree with her husband on doctrine. The husband needs to know that he is Biblically mandated to be a teacher for his wife and like Christ and the Church "wash her with the water of the word". So what quality in her should he be looking for. Many women are saved. Many want to please God. And tragically, many of these many make up their minds by what their pastor says, what their father says, what their husband says, what friends, commercials, traditions, superstitions, passions, and emotions say.
If she ends up in a correct opinion about anything, she was lucky.
Above all else pick a wife from a set that knows whence truth comes. You have to guide her and answer the questions. Watch for these evaluators.
When she holds a position which is revealed to be opposite from what she sees in Scripture, run like Hades.
When she, on encountering a rational proof against what she thinks, makes her defense in the tall grass of passion and/or what people important to her said, resign yourself to a longer search for love.
If what is apparent on the grounds of a shared phenomenal reality is set aside for vain imaginings, faeries, conspiracy or worse, conveniently forget her phone number.
You cannot lead, and you cannot spiritually enjoy a woman who doesn't know where truth resides. You cannot hope to have a wider range of agreement in doctrinal nuance with some babe for whom the Scriptures, logic and empiricism are just 'guy think' and against which she decides and lives because of the oatmeal she calls gray matter bubbled up at the sight of a puppy.
"Like a gold ring in a swine's snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion."
Proverbs 11:22

Monday, October 15, 2007

Respecting Fathers

The writer of Hebrews suggests this:
"Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them."
Of course it could go without saying that the parent who does not discipline gets no respect, either in the upper crust liberal whose enlightened approach to child rearing has rewarded him with children who hate him or the perennial example of the harried mom in WalMart threatening to count as little Cletus goes ballistic on the floor. We can write off the foolish who think they can do better than what ages of human experience has taught us. The can look forward to a future with an emo kid cutting herself at thirteen because of reasons she knows not or an absent wife working so the family can stay affluent AND afford the Ritalin for the boy . Odd, I said "it goes without saying" and then I proceeded to say it. I'd better let them be. They have sufficient crisis without me.

But what about the devout Christian family that lovingly disciplined and still got handed the adolescent from Hell? They did discipline (and we are talking spanking here) and yet no respect.
Look at the signals your child is getting. What is it about a larger person hitting them that will make the smaller respect the larger? Fear perhaps? Why would they resent such an action? And why, just about the time they get big enough to resist the discipline, their resistance increases like they were waiting for the advent of physical equalization?
If you are just bigger physically you are a tyrant and a bully. You get your way in the house because you are larger. The child is taught only one thing, that size matters because it is only size that defines the right of rule. But might does make right (not moral right but allowance). Why should a family be any different. It won't be. If a population conceives that they are being ruled by their equals, great force and consequently greater tyranny is need to maintain government. If successful in quashing all rebellion the citizens turn out to be servile. So it will be with your family. You will have to become more tyrannical and hope to crush the spirits of your children until they flinch fearfully at the possibilities of the broader world. If you fail to crush them, and with boys it is harder, prepare for a civil war about the time they can look you in the eye. All this unless you and they perceive that the rule comes down to them from their better. They are children, and by good and necessary consequent, idiots. You are adults, a powerful race of demigods wearing the wedding rings of Doom.

When law and discipline comes down on you from above, the ruled know that the betters are supposed to govern them. Equals are not "supposed" to do so. When equals try, all Hades breaks loose.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brazenly Citified

Wes and I can't help ourselves. As candidate Obama says, it is the "audacity of hope". We cobble together a body of irrelevant knowledge, wrap a day around it, offer victuals, and ask them (who are "they"?) to pay $50 for the privilege of hearing us.

Four Cities: Wes will be doing Byzantium and Alexandria while I dodge the obvious of Athens or Rome and pick up Pergamum and Antioch of Syria.

This is what anyone with a soul will be doing on November 10. It will be a comfortable Autumn day and the humane attendees will be scribbling notes that will map a future sophistication. After supper we will once again gather in comfy chairs and read of things the pedestrian ignore.

Be there.
Contact me at if you are interested in joining us. If you are from out of town, The Big Haus has 3 guest rooms at no extra cost.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It sounds like you mean something to someone else

"He was my mentor."
"We are living in community."
These are phrases that give me that searing pain running from my jaw to my right eye which I usually only get while looking at certain small children.
"He is my lover," doesn't bother me at all. But it is a kind of relationship like "mentor".
"I'm from Idaho," equally gets a pass. But it is a locational belonging like "community".
What is the deal? It could be merely the place those words hold in trend-speak. Having a mentor became as necessary as having an iPod and the hobbits buying their dirt cookies at the whole foods store could not imagine being so pedestrian (though they recommend the practice for planetary good) that they merely would live in a "city" and be "citizens". There is wrath in plenty for any whose vocabulary follows the trends. But what is it that the trend violates in us? Mentors exist. Communities exist. Lovers exist. Idaho exists.

I think that part of the crime is that they "name and claim". These are measuring words. The ears that hear need help defining us so it is good for them to hear these words of measurement, words that say a "good" thing without concrete claim of the good it actually bore. No one claims to be someones lover without wanting people to conclude that the two of them are having sex, consensually and regularly. The good claim it makes is specific. Living in Idaho allows even the hill apes back east to realize, with certain specificity, the shape and range of borders inside which I sit.
Mentoring is soft, fuzzy, indistinct and pointless except in the use of the word. The use of the word suggests Socrates and Plato. It is suppose to make you feel that, like lovers in the sack, the mentor and menti are out striding the moor, pipes clenched twixt teeth, with a constant barrage of questions and returning fire of answer ennobling and shaping the man that was into the man with whom he walks. The hearer wants to become, with almost cult member fervor, like his mentor. Now it is actually the guy who shows you where the coffee room is and which middle management poseur you need to avoid. But now you have a "mentor". My objection is that it means more than what they are gaining but they want you to hear the "more". It is like a girl claiming to be someone's lover after having been on date ending in a chaste embrace.
People want the words "mentor" and "community" to still carry the weight of their claim without the needs of performing that which they claimed. It can be beneficial to be guided by someone else's wisdom and it is good to live harmoniously in a social construct. Within the trend all conversations with a more advanced agent are mentoring and every social existence is "in community".
A young lady had expressed recently the interest in living at Big Haus so she could live in community. I told her that we are not interested in living in community, we are a community. The titles are their own delicacy, and their sweetness to our spoken reputation is that of saccharine not sugar. Artificial sweeteners are a sweet without the cost of calories but they are also a life not even half lived.
Many hope the spoken word calls things into existence which are not yet but many have learned to like the "taste" of the fake flavor. The more they say "community" the more it feels to them that they have one. I say if you find a mentor, be then mentored but never say it, even in your dreams.

Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
I John 3:18

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Semi-Pelagian Self

I have to admit that I like Pelagius. Hey, he was a Briton. I differ with the man on a number of fronts as well. Like the rest of his generation he held to baptism as a passage of grace. He was ascetic in his personal spiritual exercises but probably accepted those that weren't. He believed that pieties could be lived that were not required. But I agree with Pelagius where most disagree with him.
His popular reputation as a heretic is primarily on two fronts, (1) his denial of original sin (which I, with him, deny) producing a lack of necessity for infant baptism and (2) his belief in the possibility of holiness (which I also aver). He did support infant baptism but for very different reasons.

Why would I suggest that the arch heretic of Augustine's wrath should be considered on those very points that give the orthodox fits? I grew up in a home that centered itself on the Word of God and on the practical handling of that Word. My parents did not hold anything because the historic church told them it was decided thus. My father has taught for many years that Romans 7 was St. Paul recounting his life as an unbeliever. This challenged a proof text of those who wished to have it describe the necessary sinfulness of the believer. Interestingly, if you read Jacob Arminius on Romans 7, he says the same. More to our topic, if you read Pelagius' commentary of Romans (Oxford University Press) he also makes the same suggestion. For you followers of tradition, it is the faith of my fathers and I come by my Pelagianism tribally. Actually, I too find this an irresistible force in the Scriptures. Reading Pelagius one finds a mind traveling along rational paths with the Word of God as his guide while with Augustine you feel like you are in a vortex of allegory and still tainted by his rejected Manichee gnosis. Pelagius is more modern.

The notion that Pelagius believed that man could be sinless without conversion (which I don't hold) stemmed from his view of the distinction of ability, volition, and actuality. Summed up it is more like man could but wouldn't and didn't. Pelegius' disciples like Coelestius ramped up that claim to the extent that Pelagius denied that teaching explicitly at the Synod of Lydda (415)
" I say again, that these opinions, even according to their own testimony, are not mine; nor for them, as I have already said, ought I to be held responsible. The opinions which I have confessed to be my own, I maintain are sound; those, however, which I have said are not my own, I reject according to the judgment of this holy synod, pronouncing anathema on every man who opposes and gainsays the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church."

Pelagius states his position to the same Synod with these words.
"But we never said that any man could be found who at no time whatever, from infancy to old age, had committed sin: but that if any person were converted from his sins, he could by his own labour and God's grace be without sin; and yet not even thus would he be incapable of change ever afterwards. As for the other statements which they have made against us, they are not to be found in our books, nor have we at any time said such things."

Those Christians who desire holiness and see such promise in the Holy Scriptures find a common thread in Pelagius.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

On My Father's 80th Birthday


A father once spoke to himself in his age
"My kids are too smart for their good,"
thought the sage.
"But my sons married swell,
And the daughter as well,
So my sorrows will grandkids assuage."

by Evan