Friday, November 20, 2009

Does the Bible Put Women Down?

Our politically correct and feminist friends may ask the question, “Does the Bible put women down?” The Bible, Jesus’ words and His actions give a loud, resounding “No.”

When the “Feminist Movement” gained strength in the 1960’s, it was a fight for equal jobs, equal pay and respect for women. Absentee husbands and dads were called to task for their commitments. The second stage was women engaging in bra-burning and buying the message that casual sex would break our invisible chains. Helen Reddy’s 1972 song “I Am Woman” became the iconic feminist theme.

Next, the Feminist Movement began viewing men as unnecessary extras to their lives and to child-rearing. And the Bible was suddenly regarded as a tool for men to keep women “barefoot, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink.” Some became convinced that the Bible even gave men a license to abuse women.

How did God’s word become embroiled in the battle? As biblical principles in schools, government and faith at home began to sink below the American horizon, the bad rap on the Bible expanded. Fewer people were reading its pages, and simply believed what they heard when verses were twisted or eliminated for the Movement’s purpose.

The Bible doesn’t belittle women or make them second-class citizens. Jesus told Martha to get out of the kitchen and come learn the Scriptures like her sister Mary (Luke 10:38-43). We could even say he followed a woman’s orders by making wine for a wedding at his mother’s request, although He didn’t think it was time for His miracles yet (John 2:1-10). Wow. Sounds like today’s kind of guy.

When He came out of the tomb alive, Jesus thought enough about women to reveal Himself to them first, before any of the male disciples (Mark 16:1-7, Luke 24:1-9). As people became Christ followers, women like Priscilla were highly regarded as leaders of the faith in spreading the Gospel (Acts 18). When no man among the disciples believed Peter was free from jail, God used a woman, Rhoda, to convince them he was really knocking at their door (Acts 12).

Jesus began instructing men to stop treating women like possessions. In Matthew 5:27-31 and Mark 10:2-12, He tells men to stop committing adultery and discarding women in divorce. Isn’t this exactly one of the things the feminists originally wanted…for men to be faithful and respectful?

By saying “Anyone who has not sinned cast the first stone” (John 8:6-8) Jesus rebuked the double standard of a woman being accused alone for adultery when a man was also involved. Plus, He gave her a clean slate and took her into His group of followers.

Jesus addressed women in public, looking them in the eye, which was not the male standard at that time. The woman at the well was the first person He spoke with in Samaria (John 4 starting with verse 4). He used a widow’s contribution of her last coins to illustrate sacrificial giving instead of giving out of plenty (Mark 12:41-44); and chose a woman for his story comparing the wisdom of finding one lost coin to angels singing over one saved soul (Luke 15:7-9).

There are outstanding women in the Old Testament, too. Deborah, the Judge, and Esther, a Queen, were chosen to save the entire Israelite population from their enemies. Rahab, a prostitute, sheltered Hebrew scouts instead of notifying authorities of their whereabouts. The Proverbs 31 woman worked outside the home and dealt with merchants on her own, without her husband. Ruth started the bloodline of Jesus. Whole Bible books are named for Ruth and Esther.

These exemplary women are often overlooked because of New Testament verses that are often take out of context. At the top of the list is Ephesians 5:22-24 beginning with: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” (NIV). Granted, there are unfortunately some men in churches who abuse this idea of “submission” to keep women suppressed, even to verbally and physically abuse them.

The seldom-read next few verses, Ephesians 5:25-26, prove these men are violating Scripture. The apostle Paul continued Jesus’ respect for women by telling men to love their wives as they would love their own bodies and the church. What man will beat himself black and blue, or put himself in the hospital with broken bones?

Although men are generally assigned to be heads and leaders of the church, their scriptural role is to be a servant to the people, not a deliberate dictator. Paul states in Galatians 3:28-29, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Scriptures are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

This article was originally published at The Underground Online Magazine.
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving - Who are you Thanking?

Some people say God was not acknowledged at the first Thanksgiving, or by early presidents, and shouldn't be part of Thanksgiving now.

In 2005, the Maryland Board of Education began teaching their students that the Pilgrims landed on the American continent by luck. In the re-designed public school curriculum, in effect calling Thanksgiving “Lucky Thursday” per some sources, students are not taught that God had any part in the thank you for what the Pilgrims had. The Board of Education felt they were facing a constitutional dilemma.

To the contrary, we have discovered documented prayer by Edward Winslow at the first recorded Thanksgiving in 1621 (bolding mine, writing in original English):
“…many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie."

And here is George Washington’s first Thanksgiving Proclamation:
"It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor."
Washington mentions God two or three more times in that document, which can be seen here in its original form.

God didn’t declare Thanksgiving a holiday, and the Bible makes no mention of it (nor of Christmas). And Thanksgiving wasn’t declared a National Holiday until under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939.

But is it still OK to thank God? Philippians 4:6-7 says: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

Heaven forbid, one day in our American households on Thanksgiving, a knock will come at the door and a U.S. Government official will demand a place at the table to be sure we don’t thank God for what we have.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Republicans Win Governor Seats - Does God care about party lines?

Democrats suffered two surprising defeats in the November 2009 gubernatorial races. Republicans won the Governor's seat in both New Jersey and Virginia.

In spite of much campaigning by President Obama, New Jersey’s incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine was defeated by the GOP candidate, Chris Christie. Cristie, a former attorney general with a reputation for busting corruption, is the first Republican in twelve years to win a state office in New Jersey.

Corzine, a one-term governor, ceded the election when Cristie was winning 49 to 45 percent.

In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds by 20 points. President Obama had also campaigned for Deeds; making President Obama 0 for 3 in his ability to influence vote outcomes recently, if we include his campaigning for the failed Chicago Olympics bid.

Although we could hope that Christian Americans were waking up to trusting their faith rather than their economy, these two Democratic defeats were probably more a sign of citizens’ dissatisfaction with failing economy and the threat of more taxes. Corzine had apparently been pushing for large tax hikes.

In New York, Democrat Bill Owens defeated the Conservative Party’s hope, Doug Hoffman by just 3 percent; this could be because the people who have “always voted Republican” went with the party’s decision to support Democrat Owens when the very liberal Republican Scozzafava dropped out.

In Maine, the gay marriage amendment did not pass – not by the voters, that is. According to what has happened in other states, gay marriage advocates will probably take this to the Maine Supreme Court and try to get the vote overturned as a violation of the Constitution.

After all this analysis, did the voters really decide who and what won? Or is God giving us another chance to turn things around. It isn’t Democrats and Republicans that matter—there are Christians in both camps. What matters is whom God feels are the appropriate officers for the appropriate times, according to what He sees his people indulging themselves in.

“For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Romans 13:1 NASB).

The original version of this article, with more information, is posted here at The Underground Online Magazine.
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