Tom Pittman's WebLog

2018 May 25 -- Blame the Church

The cover story on the current issue of WORLD magazine is about "Spousal Abuse." The title is part of the problem, but not all. There are several issues, most of them consequences of Christian teaching, but mostly not directly taught in the Bible. I think it portentous that the headlines and drop-cap section break initials use a font missing the bottom of each letter, like they are a visual cue that we have lost the footing of our message. But I doubt the graphic designer had that in mind.

Democracy is one of those Biblical-but-not issues, because in God's eyes "there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female: for all are one in Christ Jesus." Of course Paul was writing to the Church; the pagans and unbelievers are not equal with the Christians in God's perspective. Paul also did not add "neither Apostle nor layman" to the list, because I don't think he believed it. Jesus set up hierarchies among his Disciples, where Peter, James and John -- always those three in that order -- were invited to go with Jesus to places the others were not. The Apostles made the decisions in the early church, and the rest of the people merely gave assent. Being "one in Christ Jesus" did not seem to extend to ministerial duties and priviledges -- the church ministered to widows, not widowers, and Paul did not allow women to have teaching (=voting) authority. Democracy first appeared (for a short while) in ancient Greece and lasted only a couple hundred years in Athens (shorter periods in other Greek city-states), but it was not the deep democracy we in western countries enjoy today: only the landed gentry -- or at least free men, who didn't need to work (as slaves) for a living -- could vote. British Parliament was also originally only of the male nobility. Government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is an American invention, where it came out of the Protestant notion of the priesthood of all believers. It is a consequence of Biblical teaching, but not Biblical. And as some of the Greek philosophers observed, it is unstable and likely to disolve into tyranny -- as indeed it has in many places and many times. The USA is itself tottering on the ragged edge of tyranny: some people think Trump is the beginning of it, others thought the same of his predecessor, both with credible justification.

The primary cause of wife abuse is the physical fact that men and women are not the same. Men are stronger, and able to beat up on women, and power corrupts. It would not happen very much at all if they were equal in every way and not merely in the minds of the feminazis. Actually the feminists don't really believe it either, as I pointed out numerous times elsewhere. Three states and a half-dozen churches ago in my life, one of the guys in our little home study group was a retired army chaplain, originally from Missouri or Kansas or somewhere near there, and he told of a time when he was much younger, and one of the guys at the local watering hole disappeared for a week or so; when he re-appeared, he was all bruised. It seems he was married to the sister of one of the other guys who found out she was being beaten by her husband, and the brother assembled some of the other guys and met him out in the alley one night. He didn't beat his wife any more. That remedy is the way things were done in Biblical times and is consistent with what the Bible teaches about the responsibility of godly Christian men in protecting the helpless, but it's not exactly legal in the USA today. Guess why we have more wife abuse now than we did 60 years ago.

But it's not the only reason. This article mentioned two different couples, in both cases husband and wife were both members in good standing of their local church, but the husbands lived different lives at home than they did in church, so the church leadership had no clue. A large part of the problem is that these guys are not getting Biblical guy teaching in church, they are getting Feeler froth -- plus not a little "servant leader" nonsense, with which at least one of the church elders admitted the conflict. But they get plenty of the world's guy teaching: "Be strong!" They see it in mens' sports, they see it in the "guy flick" movies and TV, they even see it in the ads aimed at men. If we in the church gave men important and manly Biblical work to do (Duty, Truth, and Justice) instead of wimpy Feeler "love" stuff, then they'd have less reason to listen to the world for advice on how to be who they are. And I suspect the women (hearing the same) would also be less likely to accuse the men of "emotional abuse" when there's no physical violence.

The church leaders this article interviewed appeared to be of complementarian persuasion (men and women are different), but a lot of churches are implicitly or explicitly egalitarian (no difference). This teaching is not only unBiblical ("male and female created He them") but contrary to all our experience. When we recognize and teach that men are stronger and have a DUTY to protect the weaker sex, then a guy who tries to abuse his wife will find he cannot justify his behavior logically nor in the presence of other guys. The guys will pick up on the cues and take him aside. Maybe not to beat him up, but at least to make it clear that HE IS WRONG. People need to be told that. That's why integrity is gone from American businesses today: we took the Ten Commandments off the school walls 60 years ago, and people now reasonably believe that lying and stealing and adultery and even murder are OK, just don't get caught. "Chinese junk" used to refer to an oriental sailing vessel, but now it refers to the products you buy at WalMart because the Chinese never did believe in integrity -- shame yes, but that's the same as "Don't get caught." We as Christians need to do better than that.

Mostly, however, I think we Christians need to stop preaching "easy believism" and "cheap grace," and return to teaching the gospel according to the Bible: If you want to go to Heaven, do the Two Great Commandments (1+2C: Love God above all else, and the Golden Rule -- which includes don't beat up on weaker people). If you don't want to do those things now, what makes you think you will like it any better in Heaven? God cannot allow you in His Heaven unless you always only do 1+2C there; otherwise it wouldn't Heaven for the rest of us. If you start now, then even your unbelieving neighbors will think they're in Heaven. And wife abouse will stop. Slipped up? That's what forgiveness is for, but don't make a habit of it. Forgiveness should not be easier than permission. Repentance is not shedding a false tear in church on Sunday while living an unchanged life the other 6.8 days, repentance is (as Jesus said) "Stop sinning." You can do that -- or at least get a lot closer than you are today. If you want to.

But you won't see this advice in WORLD magazine. You won't see it in ChristianityYesterday. There will be a lot of people outside the gates of Heaven on Judgment Day wondering why they're not inside, because you also won't hear it from church pulpits where they sat each Sunday. Repent!


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