Archive for February, 2006

24
Feb
06

Follow-Up to “An Open Post to the Harris Brothers”

And now my response to Alex Harris’ answer to my last post:

Impressive. Most impressive. You have learned much … but you are are not a Jedi yet …

You write …

“Our article was targeted at young adults who plan to get married someday, but who are not adequately preparing for it. Furthermore, our use of Genesis 2:24 was only to prelude the disclaimer that, for such young adults, “living with your parents before you get married can be a very good thing.” It was not used to argue that it is God’s plan for everyone to get married.

“We have no problem with young people who feel called to forego marriage in order to better serve God. They are not outcasts or oddballs. Obviously, the Apostle Paul didn’t think so. However, we do have a problem with young people who delay marriage out of self-indulgence and sloth [emphasis mine], or because they think they can get the sexual benefits from a relationship without the responsibilities that accompany the commitment of marriage.

Because we felt your post distracted from the message of the article by addressing what we view as an entirely different issue (a straw man, if you will), it failed to meet the second criterion.”

I respond: I understand that you don’t believe everyone is required to marry, but apparently you and many others in certain Evangelical circles believe some are. I did address this mindset in my original article. To wit, I wrote:

“In particular, I note that several Evangelical commentators believe God ordains a minority of souls to be single. Everyone else, on the other hand, is supposed to get married. In fact, some pundits now talk about the ‘sin of delaying marriage.'”

I am addressing your position, here, not a straw man, as you suggest. After all, if it was just self-indulgence and sloth that was the problem of young people, then why the need to interject a discussion of marriage? As it is, not only do I believe that not everyone is required to marry, I believe no one is required to marry. If a young man’s excuse for foregoing marriage is as trivial as he doesn’t want to mow the lawn, well guess what? That’s his decision. He’s not necessarily sinning. One doesn’t need a “special calling” to refuse marriage. The state of marriage is a gift, not a requirement. One should get married because he wants to, not out of some sense of obligation to a religious tradition. That is what I addressed in my article that I linked to your website. In the New Testament age, there is no requirement to marry under any circumstances. The closest one gets to a requirement is a concession for people who refuse to practice self-control (1 Cor. 7:9). In short, you failed to address a very serious challenge to your theological presuppositions.

Alex continues …

“Many of our readers are on the younger side. They are allowed and encouraged to visit our blog by their parents because the message it promotes is one that is consistent with their family’s values. It is our policy to remove links to sites that are not in line with those values, or which include content (or links to other sites) that we deem to be inappropriate for our younger readers.

“Because we felt that your post and blog is inconsistent with the values of our reader’s families and the purpose of our blog, and because of concerns over the appropriateness of several websites linked to on your sidebar, it failed to meet this third and final criterion.”

Inconsistent with the values of your reader’s families? You certainly didn’t mean to suggest that Faith and Society is incongruent with Biblical Christianity, did you? I hope you are not confusing holiness with sectarian dogma. You know, if a non-religious liberal did what you did, would you call it “political correctness”?

It is true that I cannot control all of the content to which I link and, yes, it is true that some writers say things that I would not. But this blog is not an echo chamber or an electronic hermitage. So, if you expect your teenaged audience to move beyond the “kidult” phase, then perhaps you should be consistent: trust them to think for themselves and to engage opposing viewpoints. What will they do when they get out in the real world, away from their hermetically sealed existence of home-schooling, community churches, accountability groups, and pop evangelicalism?

I tell you truly: (1) It was Christians that led me to my libertarian philosophy. (2) It is my Christianity that leads me to oppose feminism. (3) It was Christians who taught me to reject denominationalism and to make the Bible my only rule of faith. That means I must reject what is being taught by so many Evangelicals. It is unfortunate that I must be direct in my tone, but those of your persuasion have been less than charitable in your characterization of young men who find marriage unpalatable.

Remember, you may delete links to my blog, but many people have access to Google.

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20
Feb
06

An Open Post to the Harris Brothers

I recently came across a post on Rebelution, a blog hosted by Alex and Brett Harris (younger brothers of the Evangelical writer Joshua Harris). It adjured young people to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. I have no problem with that message (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). What I do have a problem with is the presumptuous notion that growing up includes the obligatory embrace of matrimony. Single men, except for a few oddballs, must get married, donch’a know? Uh, no. Sorry. I think Alex and Brett are misusing the Scriptures on that point. It’s that simple.

So, in light of this, I posted a TrackBack from a recent post here (“Does God Expect Most Men to Get Married?“) to their respective post. What they do? Did they defend their teachings? Did they come over here and challenge mine? Nope. They deleted my TrackBack. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am disappointed. What is the matter with so many Evangelicals these days? For all their talk about being brave and standing for the truth of God’s word, they seem to resort to drastic measures when another Bible-believer points out their misapplication of Scriptures.

With all due respect to you, fellas, I believe that you and your famous brother Joshua Harris are incorrect in your understanding of courtship, sex roles, etc. Don’t take this personally. If you want to presume to tell other people what to do with their lives, you better have a “thus saith the Lord” (1 Peter 4:11). Indeed, the Scriptures state that very few should be teachers (James 3:1).

So, if you are really men for God, gird up thy loins, and make answer to me. Defend your application of Genesis 2:24. I daresay it is not a biding commandment on us today. What do you say? Point out the error of my ways. If I am in error, do you think the God wants me to stay there?

Or may you should accept that fact that you have been defeated by the very truths of the Book you claim to follow. If you cannot defend your teachings, you need to hold your tongue, lest the word of God make you out to be a liar (Proverbs 30:6). If the task is too great a task for you, get your brother Josh over here. In fact, get Albert Mohler or John Piper. Have they built upon their foundations with straw or stone? Can their works stand the test of fire? Are their foundations even of stone? Or sand?

Perhaps you are annoyed at such a challenge and are purposing in your heart not to dignify my words with a response. Very well, but remember that I have a wide audience, too … of indignant men who are tired of being pushed around by the Status Quo. I have no desire to impugn your motives. Let me just say this: Like the Pharisees of old, today’s cultural conservatives want to tie burdens on the back of the common man. I’m not putting up with it anymore. Those who push man-made, culture-bound, traditionalist teachings can run away from a challenge, but they can’t hide. If it is the Lord’s will, I will continue my expose of the anti-single bigotry and misandry that is prevalent among Evangelicals.

18
Feb
06

Does God Expect Most Men to Get Married? (Introducing the PMV Bible)

Marriage SignI have read a lot of commentary from religious leaders about single people. In particular, I note that several Evangelical commentators believe God ordains a minority of souls to be single. Everyone else, on the other hand, is supposed to get married. In fact, some pundits now talk about the “sin of delaying marriage.”

Until now, I could never figure out where some people were getting the notion that God expects most people to marry. How could they deal with the Apostle Paul’s clear teachings on singleness? Then it occurred to me. These religious leaders must have a different Bible than I do! I guess my mistake was in using texts such as the King James Version, New King James Version, and yes, even the fourth edition of the UBS Greek New Testament. But don’t worry. I think I tracked down the version these people are using. I refer to none other than the newly published Pro-Marriage Version of the Bible (PMV), released by the Familianity International Institute of Evangelical Eisegesis. To get an idea of the scholarship that lies behind the celebrated PMV, I want to show you how so many scriptures read in this version of the Bible when compared to, say, the King James Version (KJV):

Genesis 1:27-28

(KJV): So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish and the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

(PMV): So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female He created them. Then it was commanded you, having been said to you, dear reader, “Keep multiplying, whether the earth is full or not.”

Genesis 2:18

(KJV): And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.”

(PMV): And then it was said, “Not only is it bad for Adam to be alone, but it is bad for other men to be alone, too! Women are made for all of them.” And, lo it was reckoned that all women are God’s gift to men, or at least many act like they are.

Genesis 2:24

(KJV): Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.

(PMV): Therefore let us move beyond mere explanations for why a man seeks out a woman. Let’s go on to say that all men must do this. It so decreed! End of discussion.

Proverbs 18:22

(KJV): Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord.

(PMV): Only those who findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor from the Lord. Every else lives the desperate life of a sad loser. Ignore other passages in Proverbs about contentious women, women who make their husbands ashamed, and hateful women who get married. Of course, one wonders about a woman who seeketh a husband. What does she findeth? “A meal ticket,” sayeth an ornery, old man. May someone maketh the old man shut up.

Proverbs 19:14

(KJV): Houses and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.

(PMV): House and riches are what you get when you become a Dad, and a prudent wife is from the Lord. So what are you waiting for? You’re commanded to enjoy the Good Life! Oh, by the way, peanuts and wheat are also from the Lord, so you better partake of these blessings whether you have allergies or not! Why? Because if it is good and if it is from the Lord, you are commanded to partake of it! You are not allowed to question the basis of our interpretation! We find your lack of faith disturbing! By the way, ignore other passages in Proverbs about contentious women, women who make their husbands ashamed, and hateful women who get married.

Ecclesiastes 9:9

(KJV): Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity …

(PMV): Live with a wife, joyfully or not, all of the days of the life of thy vanity …

Malachi 2:15

(KJV): And did not He make one? Yet had He the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed …

(PMV): And did not He make one? Yet had He the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a godly seed. And who are the godly seed? Why Christian families! Surely they must be same the “holy seed” of Ezra 9:2. You know, since Christian families are the “holy seed” by birthright, not only do they refuse to marry foreigners, but they also sacrifice bulls and goats and stay away from pork!

Matthew 19:10-11

(KJV): His disciples say unto Him, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it not good to marry.” But He [Jesus] said to unto them, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.”

(PMV): His disciples say unto Him, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it not good to marry.” But the reply was given, “Most men cannot receive the saying, ‘It is good to be single.'” And the disciples were amazed because that wasn’t quite what they said.

1 Corinthians 7:2

(KJV): Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

(PMV): Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have a wife, whether she be his own or not, and let every woman have a husband, whether he be her own or not! Yea, every man and woman must do this, except for a few oddballs, and even though I am going to turn around and say something on behalf of singleness! Do I contradict myself? I speak in clever Parables!

1 Corinthians 7:7

(KJV): For I wish that all men were even as I myself, but every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

(PMV): For I wish that a few oddballs could be as I myself, but as for others who are like myself, they may not have the wonderful Gift of Singleness. Only a mysterious, select few have the vaunted Gift of Singleness. Now how can a Christian be simultaneously single and not yet have the Gift of Singleness is beyond me. I guess that if you are currently blessed with singleness and yet, don’t have the wonderful Gift of Singleness, then the singleness you are experiencing is a clever illusion. Therefore, you must stop being single because you really are not having the gift, even though it appears that you are. Enough! My head hurts. Don’t bother me with hard questions, you silly Corinthians!

1 Corinthians 7:8-9

(KJV): I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

(PMV): I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

—–

Wait a minute! That last verse looks the same in both versions! Yep. And too bad they are not the same as what is written in the original language. The phrase “cannot contain” is not in the Greek manuscripts, folks. It should be translated as “will not contain.” Yes, dear reader. We can claim that the Word of God is inerrant, but our English translations are a different story altogether.

Now you can tell that I used some sarcasm in most of the verses above to make a point. But let us not stop just yet. Here are some verses that are not in the Pro-Marriage Version of the Bible:

Proverbs 12:4

A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

Proverbs 21:9

It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.

Proverbs 30:21-23

For three things the earth is disquieted and for four it cannot bear: for a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; for an odious woman when she is married; and a handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

1 Corinthians 7:36-38

But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

—–

Oh boy, that last verse seems to put a nail in the coffin of the idea that God mandates most people to get married. That also puts the kibosh on telling people to “be fruitful and multiply” and to have “godly seed.” After all, it looks like God has given some people a genuine choice in the matter and He doesn’t seem think His sovereignty has been compromised by human beings exercising free will. Are there any Reformed Protestant theologians squirming in their seats because I said that? Tough.

Now let me say something in particular to any religious men that may be reading this. The idea that God wants most men to get married cannot be proven from the Scriptures. Someone might say that marriage is the norm in the Bible. Folks, agriculture is a norm in the Bible, too. Big, hairy deal. Anybody that tries to shame you into thinking that you need to get married and have children so that you can “grow up” and fulfill the “pattern of Biblical manhood” is selling you a Sam’s Club-sized vat of snake oil. Ignore such a person, and go your own way in this matter.