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All Is Meaningless (ACAD: Ecclesiastes 7)

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death, than the day of birth.

It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for this is the end of everyone, and the living will lay it to heart.

Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.

For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of fools; this also is vanity.

Surely oppression makes the wise foolish, and a bribe corrupts the heart.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning; the patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit.

Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.

Do not say, “Why were the former days better than these?” For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.

Wisdom is as good as an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun.

For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to the one who possesses it.

Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked?

In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them. In my vain life I have seen everything; there are righteous people who perish in their righteousness, and there are wicked people who prolong their life in their evildoing. Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time? It is good that you should take hold of the one, without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God shall succeed with both.

Wisdom gives strength to the wise more than ten rulers that are in a city.

Surely there is no one on earth so righteous as to do good without ever sinning.

Do not give heed to everything that people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you; your heart knows that many times you have yourself cursed others.

All this I have tested by wisdom; I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me.

That which is, is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? I turned my mind to know and to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things, and to know that wickedness is folly and that foolishness is madness. I found more bitter than death the woman who is a trap, whose heart is snares and nets, whose hands are fetters; one who pleases God escapes her, but the sinner is taken by her. See, this is what I found, says the Teacher, adding one thing to another to find the sum, which my mind has sought repeatedly, but I have not found. One man among a thousand I found, but a woman among all these I have not found. See, this alone I found, that God made human beings straightforward, but they have devised many schemes.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-29 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Ecclesiastes%207:1-29&version=NRSV

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How a Man Treats a Woman Reflects on Him.

A Note from the Heart

Photo source: http://www.morningstardayton.org/polaris/worship
Photo source: http://www.morningstardayton.org/polaris/worship

The way a man treats a woman says a lot about the man. There’s something to be said about what the woman allows, however there is much more to be said about the character of the man.

The way a Man of God treats a Woman of God says a lot about what he truly believes and who he truly serves. When a man who claims to be a Brother in Christ is dismissive of and disrespectful towards a Sister in Christ, he should be viewed as being dismissive of and disrespectful towards the Spirit of God living within her. God’s indwelling Spirit transforms character and changes behaviors.

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.  ~ Luke 6:45

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Questioning the “equality” of “marriage”

Questioning EqualityA Pop Culture v. The Bible Post

The naming of a thing is important.

What is in a name?

The promise of character and the hope of destiny.

I believe that every living person has the right (a God-given right from creation to the end of time) to choose how they live their life. That is a deep belief that is upheld by my reading of the scriptures and God’s constant entreaty to His people that we CHOOSE Him. His desire that people make life-giving choices during our time here on earth.

By the same token, I also believe deeply that there is an order to creation. That there is a purpose for creation. It is not by chance that any given man and woman can have a good possibility of procreating while no combination of man/man or woman/woman can naturally produce a child.

Now that’s not to say that marriage is only for the purpose of having children, but this example is illustrative proof of the natural order and intent of creation.

Marriage  

“Marriage” is a spiritual concept that is the foundation for family, community and society. “Marriage” is a covenant between God, man and woman. “Marriage” is a relationship in the physical that represents our spiritual relationship with our Creator. It’s an institution God created with the instruction to the man and woman to multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. As with all things, this you have to believe to even begin to understand.

Equality

equality:  the state or quality of being equal; correspondence in quantity, degree, value, rank, or ability; uniform character

 “Equality” is a legal term. This is where the arguments for and against “marriage equality” become convoluted. People are attempting to reconcile a term that embodies legalism in world society with a spiritual term that predates any world order.

Marriage ≠ Equality

Marriage was not created to be an equal institution. Nor was it created for equal individuals. Marriage was created to be a joining of two people into one unit. And that, my friends is something only God can do. There is no equality in the Bible. We have not equally received characteristics that will determine how well we navigate this world. God breathed His Spirit into us, but we each have varying measures of faith, joy, hope, understanding, knowledge, patience and love. The role of the Spirit is to take us through our worldly challenges in a way that will build our character and keep us on track to fulfill our destiny.  The role of government is to level the field of access so people can be active, contributing citizens in society.

Some people say that this is not a “religious” argument. Folks are citing the many different faith-belief systems in America and suggesting that Christians are imposing our will on the rest of America. I, personally, feel as if the rest of America is imposing its will on me, but that’s another post. Regarding other faiths, I have not come across any creation story that involves only two men or two women – please share if you know of any. The sanctity of marriage is a concept many hold. People are arguing that God has nothing to do with our government because of the separation of church and state. To those people, I ask: What principles do you think the American government is based on? You can trace western superpowers back throughout history and you will find that they all have built upon the foundation of Biblical principles.

A society may seek to redefine marriage, but a society cannot recreate marriage in its own image. We are created beings that come to a better understanding of who we are when we look to our Creator rather than focus solely on ourselves and our own desires.

We really need to know what we are talking about and what we are claiming. Most of the arguments for “marriage equality” amount to entitlement claims from citizens of a prosperous democratic nation (i.e. America): I have the right…, I deserve…, I want…, I was born this way…, etc. No one is “entitled” to marriage. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee any citizen “marriage”. If it did, I would be filing a suit against the United States of America for withholding my husband for these many years. Acting as if marriage is an equal human right the government is obligated to make provision for is a disservice to people actually suffering human rights atrocities. It’s a disservice to men and women who enter the bonds of matrimony with the hope and expectation that their commitment to honor and serve one another is an expression of honor and service to God and their faith community.  

By any other name… 

On the flip side, I would probably have little or nothing to say on this topic if it was called something other than “marriage equality” or if “marriage” was not part of the naming. As a citizen of the United States, I think that same sex couples who legalize their relationship (register with a governmental agency for legally recognize status) should have the legal right to identify their life partner and have their relationship legally recognized wherever they choose to live. These legally recognized same sex couples should have access to all the legal benefits and responsibilities that pertain to legal relationships in the United States. Here, I’m talking about family planning, succession, property ownership, inheritance, death benefits, responsibility to provide care and protection to family members, healthcare choices, etc. All this can be obtained without legally calling a long-term same sex relationship “marriage”. Such a relationship is not a marriage. It’s simply a different type of relationship. And I suspect from the perspective of same sex couples, different is better. After all, if same sex couples truly wanted equality in marriage, they would marry people of the opposite sex. (Tongue in cheek moment….)

So, I’m questioning why the push to call same sex committed relationships “marriage”? If same sex couples are already forging their own way to a lifetime commitment, why not name their relationship in a unique way to express what they hope to achieve with their commitment? Why insist on calling it “marriage” if their relationship is by nature the antithesis of what marriage was created to be?

Related posts:

OBAMA + MARRIAGE EQUALITY

An oxymoron in teaching about sin: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

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Who will speak for this woman?

Men have long denied those they have claimed to love the most. Women have long made the mistake of thinking men are greater than they are.

Adam threw Eve under the bus and, as far as we know, up to a few moments before he denied responsibility for his woman – his love and his life – they were both the most perfectly created humans ever to walk the earth. They were created in the image and presence of the Creator who was with them until the moment of their disobedience – or until the moment of their willful rejection of God’s love.

If Eve, or God, for that matter, couldn’t depend on Adam to speak up in defense of his love, who am I to hope for a man to step up and speak for me?

In such a context, my hope and prayer may seem absurd. But as we move forward in the Divine Story, we are graced with vignettes of men standing, fighting, sacrificing and speaking up for their love – love for God, love for friends, love for their wife and their family.

Joseph, son of Jacob, was such a profound believer that each vision God gave him was shared with anyone who was within hearing. He believed God would bring about whatever vision Joseph received from Him. In sharing his dreams he also testified about God’s activity in his life.

Joseph survived heartbreaking and faith-defying betrayals yet he prospered in every pit he was thrown into because he spoke up for God wherever he was. Towards the end of his life, even as his childhood visions were coming to fruition, he told the brothers who sold him into slavery that he forgave them because the evil they intended to inflict upon him, God had instead used to bless him and make him a blessing. All of Joseph’s hardships became a testimony for God. Joseph rose to the challenge of speaking of God’s goodness and faithfulness even as he was left to die in a pit, a dungeon and bonded servitude. Nothing about his circumstances changed his view of his God. And none of his experiences erased the visions God had given him. He never gave in to discouragement. Instead, he took every opportunity to prove himself an obedient servant to his Lord God.

Boaz went to the city gate to redeem – claim –Ruth. There was one other who had a stronger claim on Ruth, so Boaz publically confronted that man and demanded he claim Ruth at that moment or renounce his right to claim her forever more. The man renounced his claim on Ruth in favor of what he already had at home. Boaz walked away from the confrontation at the city gate where he had many witnesses to his new status as the husband of Ruth the Moabitess. Boaz wore his new title and responsibility with conviction, grace, gratitude and resolve.

Jonathan spoke of his love and friendship for David. Their friendship was complicated by the fact that Jonathan’s father, King Saul, was actively and faithfully trying to kill David. Jonathan walked a thin line, defending and supporting a man who incited an increasingly violent rage in his father. But Jonathan remained a true friend to David, as he promised he would be, until he died.

Joseph the carpenter, learned that his fiancée Mary had gotten pregnant without him. He had no desire to disgrace her publicly by breaking their engagement, so in his heart he decided he would set her aside privately. In Matthew 1:20-21, we are told, “While Joseph thought about these things, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream. The angel said, ‘Joseph, descendant of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the baby in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” (NCV)

Joseph woke up from that dream and did exactly what he was told to do – he went to make Mary his wife.

In reviewing these stories I come away with the assurance that in each of our lives God has already appointed someone to be His mouthpiece to guide us along our journey. He has already positioned someone to step up and claim us with honor and integrity. He is in the process of training someone to minister to our individual needs, in His name, even as we are being trained to do the same.

I believe every man has in him the Adam who renounces his spirituality in favor of his immediate physical gratification. Every man has a God-given vision he can’t let go of or run away from. I believe every man can tap into a vast store of conviction, grace, gratitude and resolve when he steps up to be the redeemer he is called to be despite his flaws. At some point in life, every man will have a friend he will willingly lay down his life for. And just when he thought it was over, the man will awaken from the slumber the world has placed him in and answer the call God has put in his heart. He will become the man he resisted becoming for so long. He will become the man God envisioned him to be at the beginning of Creation; before he was ever able to reject God.

This is the man to whom I speak – the man who is actively becoming all he is meant to be.

But, who will speak for the woman I am and the woman I am becoming?

I may not be able to answer that definitively here and now, but I trust that God has indeed made provision for me to be well-spoken for by a son He is well-pleased with.

Reference passages:
Genesis 3:7-12
Genesis 45:1-8
Ruth 4:1-10
1 Samuel 20:1-17
Matthew 1:18-24