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Archive for the ‘Theological Questions’ Category

Examining the article recently published about Men preferring Debt free virgins without tattoos –

To summarize:  in an article that makes the claims she makes, I see no research and no scripture that defends the actual claims.!  This is purely an opinion piece.  It doesn’t represent anyone at all except herself (and the original writer perhaps).

I can honestly respect her opinion and as a student, I can filter out the good to keep and toss out the bad.

To wrap up, there are actually two “bads” that I want to comment on here.  These are serious.  We must be very careful to never misattribute God’s values.

Firstly,

this article may bring to attention some moral and wisdom decision making issues that are worth referencing (see links above about tattoos, premarital sex and debt)

but I believe this was the wrong way to handle these topics.

It may represent this woman’s opinion and may match the opinion of the handful of people that she cites in her response… but

It doesn’t tell the story of God and value.

Nothing in this article can mean that a woman (or man) who isn’t a virgin is less precious or even less pure.  Purity comes from God.  Purity doesn’t proceed from human effort.  We don’t start with purity and we don’t grunt out purity with our behavior or non-behavior.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.  I John 1:8-10

He cleanses us.  Not us.  He purifies us.  Not us. As pure people, we have the freedom to live in that purity(Titus 2:7, I Peter 3:2, I Tim 5:1-2, etc.)but we also have the choice to live as slaves to sin still (Rom 6). 

If you follow Jesus and accept His payment for you on the Cross, you are pure.  His blood makes us pure.  As the old Hymn would say “nothing but the blood of Jesus.”  Nothing.

And, in that freedom, we get to live as free people. What do we do with that freedom?

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”  I Peter 2:16

 

Secondly.

this article, if you aren’t careful in your reading of it, will communicate that women who are not virgins, in debt or have tattoos cannot get the best men – godly men – high quality men.

Not true.

You are not “damaged goods” (or at least not any more damaged that the rest of us) or something less lovely or less pure (see above).

Good men, godly men, understand God’s value of treasure.   And we make decisions based on His measurements rather than our own.

There are men who submit their “preferences” to God’s perspective.

Any woman who follows Christ is part of a royal family – a royal priesthood!   She is a princess of The King.  He has purchased her a treasure with a great price – and with great joy!  (Matt 13:44).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  I Peter 2:9

Of course, men and women should be wise about making big decisions like college and marriage, but our wisdom is not always trustworthy… so we first submit our understandings to God.

Here is an understanding that I think Jesus Himself would be very passionate about.   Men, women, as you consider the person who are thinking about being married to, focus on their character.

Jesus takes the devaluing of His own very seriously.  Generally, devaluing a daughter is not something that a Father takes lightly.

As you consider the past decisions of a person you are considering marrying – even considering their mistakes, please meditate on the passionate words of Jesus Christ in a vision to The Apostle Peter:

“Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.”  (NLT Acts 10:15)

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But instead a stance taken against girls going to college.

Here is the “logic” of the article.

  1. Men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos.
  2. College is where debt, sex and tattoos happen.
  3. Therefore girls shouldn’t go to college.

This logic is obviously filled with error.  Even if some men prefer these traits, and even if a woman wants to attract a man like that…

Don’t debt, tattoos and sex happen outside of college campuses?

Are less-well educated woman LESS likely to have sex or get a tattoo or to have a payday loan at 200% interest?  I happen to know, firsthand, that there are, and have been, debt free virgins who went to college (some for a LOOOONG time) and who didn’t even get a tattoo (and I am not just talking about myself – see photo)

I would love to see some research on this, or on what percentage of men (even “godly” men) prefer in regard to these traits, or on how many other traits (kindness, friendliness, able to maintain a deep conversation, beauty, leadership skill, adventurousness, and education level and GODLINESS) are MORE important to men (even godly men) than these other three traits.

Naturally, no such research is involved in this article. I am dubious it would support her claims, especially in relation to other traits.

So, I think the seeming purpose of the article can be negated, no matter what it really was.

But what about the scriptural side of things – does the Bible (or God and therefore men who follow God) prefer these traits based on the Bible?

Of course, there are many passages in which “obedience” is required by God. So, as in the case of premarital sex, God would certainly “prefer” that we all obey his teaching to wait until a covenant marriage to embrace sex!  Beyond that, check out those links above.

The article itself is very short on scripture, though.

Mrs. Alexander references (in parenthesis in the midst of the other person’s thoughts) only 2 verses:

Ephesians 6:4 in reference to girls “not having read the Bible with their fathers:”

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

And I Cor 14:35 in reference to their not having a husband to explain the Bible to them:

“If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” (I know there is a lot to digest in that one verse and I am not going to attempt to examine it here, perhaps at another time, but suffice it to say, for now, that this was about propriety, not about a wife not being smart enough to understand the Bible).

But in fact, the only verse from the Bible directly cited at all in the original articles is I Peter 3:4

“… but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

This entire thought in this passage is an admonition to women to find their beauty in their character rather than their appearance.  The passage says:

“3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

The follow-up article sports quite a few more verses (mostly in other people’s posts she cites) that take a hard-line literal interpretation and application attitude about the passages, no matter what section or book of the Bible, and yet the lovely woman covering her post is wearing gold jewelry.  Something specifically mentioned in the only passage she references in her original article.   I am not intending to be “snarky.”  I am pointing out that everyone interprets the Bible when they apply it (which they should properly)

Regardless, that First Peter passage is not applicable to virginity, debt nor tattoos.

Part 3 (and most important)

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Response to Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins without Tattoos

A few days ago, an article by one Lori Alexander hit Facebook with a storm and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

  • I think the inflammatory title helped. I think this is the main effective tool for creating attention.
  • I think the attractive young woman as the cover photo helped.
  • It could be how simplistic and short the article is (I could learn from that) and therefore something of a straw-man and easy to stack with other ugly Christian stereotypes.
  • I think mostly, this is due to people who disagree with the tenets of the article (or at least those indicated in the title) sharing and commenting on it.

It is actually just a copied note from “One woman (who) wrote me some more reasons that she thought of why women shouldn’t go to college” with the author’s comments and not really an article at all.

However, in the follow up (and re-titling of to “Godly Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins without Tattoos”) the article, Alexander claims to have gotten more than 90,000 posts on her article.  In this follow up, she mostly reposts some of the positive comments she has gotten in the midst of the others most of which, as she admits “hate it.”

Responding to people

Sadly, many women (and men) have responded in a way that is the strange hypocrisy of modern liberal feminism… because they disagree with her message, they attack her as a woman under the control of men.

This is a thinking person, married 38 years, who runs her own website and just managed to get more hits and comments on one article than I have with all of mine combined over a decade.

I think it is foolish and wrong (and possible sexist) to dismiss her just because she is a woman with an opinion I don’t agree with.

I respect her ability to create and hold and verbalize an opinion in more than a meme and a post on Social Media – something many others do not seem capable of.

So, in an effort to treat her and her article with dignity, I will respond:

When reading the introduction, I assumed that this woman (she claims to be 60 years old) was seeking to impress upon young women the importance of what she thinks is making wise (debt and tattoos) and moral (sex before marriage) decisions.

I assumed that she was using the motivation that “men prefer” women who have made these decisions.

I am not going to comment on those actual decisions here.  I already have articles published about what I believe the biblical perspective is on Tattoos and premarital sex.

A friend has posted more than one article on debt that I think are good ones – check them out.

As one friend of mine posted in response to the article “But wouldn’t both men and women prefer to marry debt-free virgins?”(maybe not sure about tattoos) – at least not “bad tattoos”).   Given the complete lack of any kind of statistics or even a survey in the article, I don’t feel the need to approach the question of accuracy for a question like this.

Anytime we talk about preferences, there are always going to be some people who prefer almost any trait.  If the implication was to be that ALL men do, then clearly this is patently wrong.

In her response, Alexander says that she should have entitled it “Godly men…”

It felt to me that in her follow up  article, she is actually now making these preferences a test for whether or not a man is godly.  (eg. If he prefers a girl with a tattoo, he must NOT be godly.).

As I will make clear at the end of this article, a godly man could certainly prefer a woman with or without any or all of these three things!

This was clearly not the meaning in the first article, which turns out NOT to be what I thought it would be – an attempt to motivate young women to wise or moral behavior…

But instead a stance taken against girls going to college.  Part 2

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What is meant by “nature” or “essence”?

I am not a trained philosopher, so any input on here for this topic from a philosopher is appreciated. However, I like to take challenging concepts and explain them so that almost anyone can understand them.

In order to do that, I often find that foundational concepts have to be explained first.

This idea of essential traits and accidental traits is one of those foundations.

In the most basic sense, an essential trait can be said of something that if that trait were to change, would change what that something is.  An accidental trait is one that can change without changing what something is.

To illustrate:

I can draw an object.

What is this?  A circle.

 

 

But what if I draw one on the other side of the page?  Now what is it?

Still a circle, because LOCATION is an accidental trait of a circle.  Its location can change without changing that it is a circle.

 

Now I draw a blue one.

Now what is it?

Still a circle. Why?  Because COLOR is not an essential trait of a circle.  COLOR is an accidental trait.  Changing color does not change what it is.

 

 

Circles can have a lot of different accidental traits.

Now, I am going to draw one more circle.  This time I am going to draw it with four corners.

 

Now what do I have?

A circle with corners?

No.  Now we have a square.  Why?

Because ROUND is an essential trait of a circle.  If you change it’s ROUNDNESS, you change what a you have when you are dealing with circles.

There are other things for which shape does NOT change what they are, so shape is not an essential trait.

This is a circle.  One of the simplest concept we can tackle.

Imagine if we decided to discuss the essential traits of a chair, or a world or humankind or an individual person, or even God?

 

The compiled traits of essential traits is correctly called that thing’s “Essence” or “Nature”. Something’s “nature” is the compilation of traits that are “essential” to it.  “Nature” is another word for this concept.

 

Any of us could debate for hours the essence of God, or even something as simple as a chair.  We could also debate where essence comes from. These are questions that divide the metaphysical views of philosophy, like “postmodernism”.

 

It should be apparent that many of the conversations that we think are political are actually conversations about essence.  Is a fetus a living human being with the rights that come with being human?  What is a male or female?  What are the essential traits of “marriage”?  What is the definition of “consent”?

In theological articles, this has importance… does God even have accidental traits?  Could The Trinity have been “broken” when Jesus was on the cross?  What does it mean that “God is Love?”  Think about how this concept is vital for conversations about the nature of suffering!

I except that many of my other articles will reference back to this one.

 

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Nehemiah 4:9

And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.”

In debate, there is a focal point of debates called “burden.” I am starting this conversation with what I see to be the burden of the Christian pacifist.  I will warn you, this part isn’t short.  Neither is the rest of it.

Natural Law

(“The doctrine that human affairs should be governed by ethical principles that are part of the very nature of things and that can be understood by reason”– Dictionary.com)

First off, I think it is important to note that the fail safe or default stance on self-defense should be that all human beings have the natural freedom to defend their own life and the lives of those they are responsible for.

In other words, if there were no scripture or ethic to the contrary, humans would, by natural law, be entitled (and perhaps responsible in some cases) to harm or kill an animal or another human in defense of himself or herself.

I do not know for sure if this is agreed upon, since I have rarely seen anyone start the conversation this far back, but I believe it should be.  I don’t put a lot of emphasis on natural law typically.  Here, I am merely mentioning it to indicate that it is “natural” for created beings to defend themselves.

Children fight back; animals fight back; created beings fight back as instinct, and the right to defend one’s own life and well-being as well as the responsibility to protect the weaker, has been considered a God-given right.

So, the burden is on the pacifist to show that for some reason, humans or some subset of humans, are responsible to refuse to defend themselves or others.

God’s Instructions

One thing that a Christian has to be able to argue is that something has radically changed between the ethic of violence in the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.

God directly instructs violence, executions, and killing in warfare regularly.  Clearly, any directive against violence represents a change in the ethic that God calls His people to.  Anyone who wants to debate this topic as a Christian must concede this.

After God has destroyed much of the human race, as is His right, He declares the ethic for how mankind engages with violence against other humans.  This is not a Jewish law, or a Levitical rule.  This is not just about governments, since there were none in place. God’s ethic for violence against humans was a violent response by other humans.

Whoever sheds the blood of man,

by man shall his blood be shed,

for God made man in his own image.

Genesis 9:6

I want to make clear that this is a teaching from God to the race of mankind.  This is God’s presented ethic about the very topic of human-on-human violence.  There will need to be a teaching of Jesus that changes this ethic if it is to be argued that the new ethic for all Christians is one of non-violence.

I think there is no time needed for defenders of Christian pacifism to attempt to make case from the Hebrew Scriptures.  What is required of them is to show that God has changed His mind on this in regards to His followers at the incarnation or teaching or death or burial or resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And the argument cannot just be from silence. As mentioned above, both natural law and direct instruction from Almighty God calls for man to respond to violence with violence.

Just getting started!

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Conclusion

Perhaps a healthy thought would be to consider that like Priscilla in Acts 18:26, that the church’s best interest is served when men and women serve and even guide and lead together. Certainly, even if a team of men or a man lead a church, their wives and the women in other roles of leadership and ministry are co-ministers with them!

Perhaps if we were all healthier, we wouldn’t be as concerned as we get about who gets what role… and if women should not be in some role, or men, then we would all be happy about the roles that others get since we love them as much or more than ourselves.

Given that the instructions of Christ was that among His followers, the leader is the servant, it is vital that no one – male or female – would see leadership as their due – that they are somehow entitled to lead in Christ’s Church.

Some interpret I Timothy 2:11-15 as less about gender and more about the usurpation of authority.   I don’t necessarily agree with that conclusion, but I am confident that it is a good minimum application. That matches with Jesus’ teaching in Mark 10,

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”   Mark 10:42-45

So, I hope the case has been made that I intended. Our church, which is led by a team of leaders, which is chaired by the Lead Pastor, does allow women on that team and also encourages women to be deacons… and could have a woman on staff whose title included the word “pastor”.

My goal isn’t to indicate that this is the only right or even best interpretation of all of these passages – but that it is an acceptable one while staying true to scripture.

I know that the width of my understanding could be wider than Paul (or the Holy Spirit) intends – though I pray not.

However, obviously I don’t think so, and those who made this decision for our church think the same. If I created my own church from the ground up according to my own preferred interpretations and applications, perhaps I would do a few things differently – however, these are easy places to submit to those who came in authority before me here.

Also, my general tendency is to seek freedom in the application of scripture… when the application is unclear.  I admit this is my bias.  So, when there are multiple biblically sound Christ-deferring possible interpretations, I like to default to less restrictive rather than more restrictive, so I can appreciate that aspect of this understanding as well.

To learn more about the church I am referencing, check out www.southspring.org

 

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We can start with women as deacons:

The main passage that people reference in saying that women should not be in the role of deacon are found in the letters to his younger protégé’s Timothy and Titus in the criteria listed . For example:

I Timothy 3:12

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.”

This passage (and its sister passage in Titus) has been the main point of contention. Does the wording of this passage forbid women by saying “husband?” And remember, that the language can also mean “man of one woman”… the words in each of the passages are slightly different – but are all assigned the same word in Strong’s Concordance.  The distinctions, if of great meaning, are being missed by me.

Granted that this passage has also been interpreted to apply to single men and divorced men as well as women, but who is it meant to apply to? Who is being denied the opportunity to be a deacon?

Keep in mind that “deacon” means “servant”. Paul encouraged his young pastors to choose people as “elders” (later on that) and “servants” in the churches they led.

Could this verse be intended to reference a sex or gender or just the idea of fidelity to one spouse? People have disagreed since probably not long after Paul died and could not longer make it clear… but here are a few further factors to contribute to the uncertainty:

One is the previous verse:

I Timothy 3:11

Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things.”

Some translate this passage as actually “the women likewise…” (Remember the Greek word issue?) and that is specifically references the women who are deacons.

Most likely to have an impact on the correct interpretation of 3:12 are Paul’s warm words about a deacon in Romans 16:1-2

“I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.”

The word here for servant is “deacon” and there is nothing in the context to indicate that Paul doesn’t mean to honor her as a “deacon” as described in the pastoral letters. In other words, I think it is very likely that Phoebe was a deacon, and she was certainly not the husband of one wife.

I think this also possibly means that phrase is not meant to be understood that way in the other places where it is used – it is not meant to forbid women from becoming deacons or perhaps not elders either, since the same phrasing is used there:

“Therefore an overseer (elder/bishop?) must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” I Timothy 3:2

Again, there are different words in the Timothy and Titus passages.  One common theory is that in each, Paul is referencing a total of three offices (deacon, Presbyter, Eklesion) or that the last two or different types of the same office or that he is using the last two terms interchangeably.  My research has not taken me far enough into the offices side of this conversation yet.  I hope to have the time to in the future.

In the meantime, back to the role of women…

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