Clear Direction > Home

I wrote recently on the Woman’s Bible Study that I have started to attend for the summer. You also might remember that I am in fellowship in a new church plant (read: small church). One thing that happens in a small, new church is the search for direction in the vision and the emphasis of the message and activities. It starts out in a certain place, but the dynamics of people, circumstances, and unseen factors creates change and focus. Sometimes it is choppy, sometimes it builds in momentum, but whenever changes and moves are at work, patterns often emerge. Right now, there is a pattern I see, not only for myself, but in a larger perspective.

Years back, in fact not just once, but several times, there was a momentum of sentiment and decision to move “homeward”. There was at one time even a catch phrase for this: Cocooning. That had to do with an attempt to recenter activity and a reaction to the economy of the time. Sometimes we are forced to center on our homelife when our finances are tight. But apart from the economy at this time, there is a supernatural move that I intuit.
A sense of “home” in building closer relationship, and moving closer together as a group. It is in an overall sense: closer intimacy with the Lord, closer vulnerability and transparency as Believers- in both personal and public ways; closer relationships that demand a real effort at resolving conflict.

I’m finding that when we respond half-heartedly, perhaps as we were used to in the past, the cards quickly tumble: there are no houses of cards in this new direction towards home. It is apparent to me that the older societal move that resulted in “being home alone” has further refined to a new recognition of our interdependency and emotional need of the “other”.

How does this relate to my time spent in a Woman’s Bible Study? It is no longer only what I get out of it, whether in new insights or camaraderie. It is how we move together, closing the spaces between us that make our interactions artificial. It is how we interrelate in meeting needs of our own, each other, our family, our fellowship…. and creating something new for the community outside our own to interact with. Sort of social networking in a Real Life sense. Maybe I can get some insights in how social networking is changing our online emphasis for clues on how this works as we bring it into our physical lives and relationships. Where it is more about building relationship than a top down “talking to”… becoming a “talk with” conversation. More about who we are, than who I am.

Maybe this is necessary to break down the stereotyping, the mistakes of the past, and the ineffectual way we have gotten used to living with each other. For me personally, I have two main goals for my time spent in the study: one is to help my daughters grow in their Christian walk as we attend it together, another is to move the spaces between myself (mostly made by me) and other women to more closely live intersected lives. I can’t foretell how successful this will be, only that this is a needed direction. Going home with a purpose and an open heart.

Can young women get a sense of who they are as women without some modeling in a social sense? That is, can we as women in the mature generation continue to be disconnected and “finding ourselves”, and expect to relay anything but the most garbled communication of what it means to be a woman?

I need to catch up now on doing the lesson in the Esther study book…. later, friends. If I get more clarity you will be the first to hear. On the meantime, anyone have thoughts on this… or is there something you discern in the patterns you see surfacing around you? Love to hear about it.

The Virtuous Woman

I love how Joe Carter put the Proverbs thirty-one verse we know so well in a clarified order. Set up as character qualities that are universal- it makes some of the concepts much easier to grasp.

I think this verse has lasting application for us as women and it did me good to take a fresh look through Joe’s eyes…even if I didn’t agree with everything that was presented in the declarations of participants on the topic.
Read, enjoy, think, apply.

That is what it is all about.

the evangelical outpost: Don’t Marry a Proverbs 31 Woman

The Proverbs 31 woman is charitable, entrepreneurial, fashionable, financially astute, healthy, industrious, loving, managerial, productive, prudent, resourceful, responsible, reverent, self-confident, skilled, trustworthy, virtuous, wise, praiseworthy as a wife and mother, and married to a respectable husband.

According to Proverbs, the ideal wife is:

A woman who is…virtuous

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

A woman who is…trustworthy

11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

A woman who is…loving

12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

A woman who is…industrious

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

A woman who is…resourceful

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

A woman who is…responsible

15 She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.

A woman who is…entrepreneurial

16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

A woman who is…healthy

17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

A woman who is…financially astute

18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

A woman who is…skilled

19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

A woman who is…charitable

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

A woman who is…prudent

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

A woman who is…fashionable

22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

A woman who is…married to a respectable husband

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

A woman who is…productive

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

A woman who is…self-confident

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

A woman who is…wise

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

A woman who is…managerial

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

A woman who is…praiseworthy as a wife and mother

28-29 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

A woman who is…reverent

30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Should you be interested, I have had my own commentary on this Bible passage. We wander around without any idea of what we want to accomplish with our lives, but we don’t need to, the Bible has lots of enlightening advice, such as this passage. We just have the problem of going all glassy eyed with our own presuppositions that we already know how useless it must be… or illusions that we will find better answers in what passes for women’s literature and magazines these days. Tsk tsk, no wonder we are all so very very confused and hurt and disappointed.

Bringing It Home 3

Balancing the Scale

What the Bible portrays is often in opposition to our prevailing culture. Yet, because the culture, the worldly system, has so infiltrated our churches, a battle ensues any time there is a concerted move ( whether individual or group) to align with the Bible’s pattern.

A common tension is the one, often garbled, on money. The love of money being the root of all evil and the garbled version which leaves out the definitive “love”, or idolatrous place of money. Often the family size-birth control controversy has components of “money/can we afford it/fewer means better provision”. It makes sense that this is foremost in a materialistic society. People will rant til the cows come home on faith teachings and the prosperity messages, but see no problems making all sorts of moral decisions based on their perceived “lack”. How backwards is that? I have often thought of the Faith/Prosperity teachings in conjunction with some of this QF belief, both have those who take things out of their context and go to extremes not within the teachings themselves. It is often true that truth within teaching is taken out of the proper context. That does not deny the truth within it, but it gives cause for the whole precept to be dismissed.

The money factor is often rooted in very “gentile” or unbelieving mindsets. The basic teaching of Jesus on this is that we are not to worry about money or provision, that we are to cast our care for these things on God. That doesn’t displace our need for wisdom and restraint, but it places those matters bound by money fears on a different plane. The perception of what we can afford is so subjective that it can be stretched to mean almost anything without further clarifying in our thoughts and circumstances of realities. In fact, this whole distorted view is at the base of many such concepts as over-population. Which more likely is simply a greed and distribution problem rather than a number problem. We can apply the same thoughts to our ideas of family.

That does not create a moral mandate to distribute money in certain ways, it does keep one from using provision, or lack, as an easy excuse. Perhaps this is why I have often said the economics of a large family is different to the query, “How do you manage?”.

In the culture we have an equation of monetary wealth, or just its accoutrements, with our entire worth as a person. This was illustrated in the Mommy Wars quote,

“History suggests that financial success is the only way women will finally achieve not just legal equality with men but also power and respect. – Ann Marlowe”

And we all know how the world hinges upon power and respect.

Something within man rejects an equation of ones worth with things, so it isn’t only in Christian doctrine that there is a revolt against such views. But it is within Christianity that we have the theological support to sustain the revolt, and institute the restoration of balance. That is what I think is happening within some of these Christian, largely women-oriented, teachings. Women, not going backwards, but forward in a new way.

This is good for Christianity if they are going forward in a Christian inflected manner, which would eschew propaganda, manipulation, and pushiness. They are renewing and reforming the form and role of the family.

So what about this idea that “Parenting is the highest calling given to mankind”?
Continue reading Bringing It Home 3

Bringing It Home 2

The myth of control by James Bowman:

I think it is because the most cherished of all the myths of the Left is the myth of control. For those whose political starting point is the need to change the world, obviously the first article of faith must be that the world can be changed by the leaders they elect and the decisions those leaders take and the laws they pass.

Although spoken within a different context, this has been the same motivation behind changing Church doctrine to further implement policy within the Left agenda. I would further say that this desire to control is not the Left’s alone. There is alot of political activism in the Church, but within the traditional and fundamental Protestants there is one pivotal factor: What does the Bible say?

Looking At The Theology

Martin Luther comments on this verse, “Genesis 9:1 leads us to believe that children are a gift of God and come solely through the blessing of God, just as Psalm 127:3 shows. The heathen, who have not been instructed by the Word of God, believe that the propagation of the human race happens partly by nature, partly by accident, especially since those who are regarded as most suited for procreation often fail to have children. Therefore the heathen do not thank God for this gift, nor do they receive their children as the gift of God.”-Above Rubies

There are different uses for doctrine and the right use is for better understanding God and how to obey Him. The other is less straightforward. The other is to persuade someone to a different point of view and that can be more politics than theology. In the way Christians sometimes approach this, it has got the qualities of both. I think this is where there is some difficulty with the QF stance as some people express it.

In Quiver Full, as its adherents express it, there are two platforms promoted. One is the basic idea that God commanded fruitfulness in the Genesis account, that this remains in force, and that the reproduction of children within a marriage is one avenue of it. The other is that parenting is the highest form of serving God, or maybe they would word it more as the ministry of parenting children is above other ministries in the persons life.

I am not going to approach this from what is wrong with a specific view, so much as from my understanding on the topic.
Continue reading Bringing It Home 2

Bringing It Home 1

Quiver Full is one form of the birth control debate, it has other components, but at its core the issue is birth control. Its context is reactionary to the prevailing culture. Reactionary is not always bad, but I think we will see how much it handicaps people as we go further into the controversies.

The cultural points that are protested are the ideas of over population as the family planning organizations such as Planned Parenthood promote them. The birth control and family size propaganda and politics and the attendant attitudes towards various decisions to have a traditional family are factors.

women tend to gravitate towards wanting things to work. Thus a return to some of the more natural methods of dealing with our reproduction. And no wonder, when you look at the way we have been guinea pigs and had to deal with an often arrogant and disinterested monolith of institutionalized health care

Within this large view is an overlap of Feminist philosophy, and a residual problem in the denial of facts, or their obscuring, that took place in the large societal debates over abortion, population, and birth control of past decades.

Layered upon all this is the conflict and controversies that arise from liberal versus traditional, or fundamental Christian doctrine.

And further complicated by that universal complicating factor: our humanity. As women we have a huge interest in how we deal with our reproductive part of our lives. It affects almost everything for us. The fathers in families also have a greater than traditional pressure in the outcome of this subject as we apply our philosophies and follow our convictions. That makes for strong needs to rationalize our view, and to borrow authority to push it. Although in the case of authority, borrow actually means to usurp.

Quiver Full is basically, also, a Christian debate. It bases all its arguments on the interpretations of the Bible, but it has much of the philosophical overtones of “getting back to nature”. An equation of God and His Will and Nature’s Evidence, or perhaps an interpretive look at God’s Will through the perspective of nature.

We have been told that God has gifted us with brains, modern medicine, and freedom of choice and that we should use them. We agree wholeheartedly, however, we disagree with the application and context in which this is said. -Pete and Corinne Kligmann, “Quiverfull Response Letter”

This has an echo in popular culture, as many lose faith in technologies and the ideal of an unsullied and objective science. In the reproduction area, we see science hijacked for political agenda and for economic gain of vested interests. Women have had to fight for basic rights in their birthing choices, and they’ve been at war over abortion. They’ve struggled with their desires for motherhood and their desires for respect, and much of all this struggle ends up in questions of their reproductive choices.

The Church has not been immune from this struggle at the foundations of peoples lives, it has…. because God has…. been in the midst of where people live in the decisions of how to structure ones family and ones life.
Continue reading Bringing It Home 1

Coming Home To Roost

IrishLaw – Blog from a Domer at Ohio State Moritz Law writes:

Too bad for the kids

The Post magazine has put up its cover story for tomorrow, about a New England single mother, Raechel McGhee, and her two donor-conceived children flying out to California to meet the children’s donor, Mike Rubino.
…..McGhee went at her search backwards: having a child via anonymous male specimen, then once she found out who he was, “deep down” hoping that “something miraculous” might happen and she and her children’s sperm donor might “become a couple.”

McGhee is a psychotherapist, so we might have expected she would understand the unreality of her own hopes with regard to Man #929, who spent a year, um, “producing specimens” in the sperm bank twice a week
…….Ultimately, whether or not this is its intention, I think the article does a good job of serving to question the whole notion of not only donor anonymity but also the third-party-donor business itself.

Moral ambiguity has a way of coming back to haunt us…. and topics long thought laid to rest will reappear in ways that give proof to “truth is stranger than fiction”.