Sunday, March 30, 2008

Suffering Gets the Goat of the Marriage Mandators

I know some of you have complained that Captain Sensible is not someone people take seriously, and that she is nothing but a bully, and, to both, I would agree. However, I have recently been fowarded some information about this woman showing that, while many people may not take her seriously, and she may be a bully, she has a position of influence in the Christian church over in England. I cannot tell what it is because I have been sworn to secrecy. Hence, for the sake of our single brothers over in England, we need to continue to give them a response to this woman so that they will be able to combat the arguments written on her blog.
Anyway, my recent post on suffering got a real stir out of these folks. I was very thankful to Ted Slater for his appriciative comments. I am finding Ted and Boundless to be the most fair of anyone who discusses this issue. It has been hard, in this discussion, to keep your cool. I learned the first time that I dialogued with Debbie Maken last year that, when someone responds to you in an arrogant and nasty way, it is hard not to respond back in an arrogant and nasty way. I have gotten a whole lot of hate mail from these folks too [although, thankfully, I have not gotten any recently]! Anyway, I have found that, if you are not careful, you can let it become a sore spot, and you think that anytime someone makes an argument, they are attacking you in an arrogant and condecending way. I have tried to avoid doing this, but I had Dr. Averbeck tell me that he thinks that I haven't succeeded, and also, Ted Slater has told me that he thinks I have not succeeded. Hence, I just wanted to clear this up before I go on to something else. I think that we need to be careful that we do not lower ourselves down to these people's level when we speak about this issue.
Anyway, even though Ted may find this hard to believe, I do support Boundless on many issues. I have defended them on feminism, abortion, atheism, homosexuality, and a whole host of other topics. Hence, I am not "anti-Boundless" by any stretch of the imagination. I just happen to have a disagreement with them on this topic. However, what is interesting is that, from reading Ted's comments and my comments both on my blog and on the Boundless blog, it appears that we are getting closer in terms of our perspective, and, as I said, I look foward to continuing the conversation. I think we need to make a clear cut distinction between the nasty and arrogant radicals like Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible, and Focus on the Family and Boundless. They are by no means the same.
Now that I have commented on the people who have given my post a positive review, let me comment on the folks that that have not done so, namely, Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible. First of all, Captain Sensible seems to think, for some reason, that I said singleness was a gift because it causes suffering. I never ever said singleness is a gift because it causes suffering. What I said was that, even if one wants to argue that singleness can cause suffering, that still does not mean it cannot be a gift. Of course, Captain Sensible, because she believes that all singleness causes suffering, read it in this way. It is an important clarification mostly because it illustrates a major difference between us. There are many men on the internet with whom I have dialogued who are single and like it, and have no intention of dating or getting married. In this case, I would argue that singleness causes no suffering, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with what I said.
Now, Debbie Maken has commented on this on Captain Sensible's blog. Maken argues that I am "imposing "intentions" onto God that simply are not there." Ummm, did Debbie even bother to listen to Pastor Shishko's discussion about the nature of suffering in the Christian life? Did she bother to listen to his argument that all suffering in our lives is to conform is to the image of Christ? Secondly, she said it is God's "explicitly revealed prescription" to be fruitful and multiply. Anyone who knows anything about the issues I went through with Captain Sensible knows that this is absolutely amazing. Captain Sensible and Debbie Maken were caught utterly flat footed when I pointed out that the next phrase is "fill the earth." Now, are we to say that only have fifteen kids somehow causes unnecessary suffering because it is against God's revealed will to have seven billion children so that we fill the earth? You see, Debbie cannot respond to this, even though she claims that she has, she has not. Here is what a response would look like. You would have to say something like, "Here is where there is a clear cut distinction between the first two imperatives, and the third imperative in this text, and here is why your interpretation of the covenantal usage of this phrase is a misinterpretation." When she actually starts dealing with what I say, rather than engaging in name-calling, then I will say that she has actually answered what I have said, and I will give a sound reply.
However, I want you to examine the man-centeredness behind Debbie Maken's post. She said, "Examining the 800 lb gorilla that the Pinto had a major design flaw, and eradicating same might mean less deaths and less unnecessary suffering. Would that then mean that God was not bestowing the gift of accidental death as much?" Notice, from Maken's perspective, what happens in this world is a result of what man does. Man determines his own destiny. In simple response to Debbie Maken we need to point out that it was impossible for there to not be unnecessary suffering. It was impossible for this company to have examined the Pinto more carefully. Why? Because God had ordained both that that these tragedies would happen, and he also ordained the means whereby they would happen [i.e. the carelessness of the workers]. You see, from Maken's perspective, everything that happens in this world is the result of man. She has a very man-centered view of suffering.
Also, notice Debbie Maken's closing statement of her post:
There is nothing glorious about interminable singleness that many Western Christians endure, and this endless search for that glorious rationalization would produce better fruit if we actually searched for ways to reform dating.
In other words, she tells us that she accepts, presuppositionally, that there can be nothing glorious about wanting a spouse and not being able to find one. This is where I think Pastor Shishko's discussion in the first hour becomes extremely important. He told us that, one of the major ways our culture does not have a Godward focus in our suffering is that we think that we have a right to comfort. Interestingly enough, this seems to be largely a female problem. I remember talking to one girl who had just accused a man of sexual harrassment, and she simply said that, the reason she accused him was because he was making her feel uncomfortable. She never mentioned anything that he did that was wrong. It was just the fact that it made her feel uncomfortable. Let me say this very calmly and plainly. God doesn't care one iota about your comfort. If you have this view of God that your comfort is the most important thing, especially in the realm of singleness and marriage, then you need to repent, and put God back on the throne. God doesn't care about your comfort. He cares about conforming you to the image of his son. And is this not what should be most important to the Christian?
I would encourage any of you to read the letters of Samuel Rutherford, and listen to that lecture series by Pastor Shishko. The fact that so many of these folks refuse to deal with it means that we have hit on something very important. I would also recommend, a very good article recently published by Boundless makes this one final excellent point. I will close with this, as it is excellent food for thought:
If I lose a job I reflexively ask, "What is God teaching me?" If my elderly parents need care I ask, "How is God using this in my life?" If a child is in an automobile accident I want to know, "What is God teaching our family?"

And the Bible encourages us to ask those questions. Hebrews 12:7-8, James 1:2-4, and other texts tell us that God uses our suffering to discipline us. God's discipline then brings about our full salvation which includes holiness. That is, suffering is redemptive in our lives.
Indeed, if we have more people following this advice, it may be that Debbie Maken's movement would not seem attractive to anyone.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Could our Suffering be a Gift?

Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible constantly speak about how singleness cannot be a gift because of the fact that it produces suffering. In fact, if you read the promo for Debbie Maken's book on Amazon it says:

Singleness is a gift; at least that's what we've been taught. But if singleness is a gift, then why does it make us feel so miserable so often? Does God really want his children to embrace a gift they resent so much?

Debbie Maken proposes that marriage is the fundamental design and structure for life that God chose for his people. She argues that the church needs to reemphasize the importance of the gift of marriage. This book issues a challenge to churches in their teaching and attitudes toward singleness and to believers in their understanding of God' s intentions regarding marriage.

What if the answer were, even though you resent it, and it makes you feel miserable, it is still a gift, because even the things that you resent, and that make you feel miserable, are gifts? Of course, Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible would probably mock such an idea. However, as I pointed out, mockery is not an argument.

This brings me to one of my favorite sermons by one of my favorite speakers. Pastor William Shishko is pastor of Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and professor of pastoral theology at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Back in 2003, he preached a series on suffering called Where's God When it Hurts? One of my favorite sermons is part 3 of this five part sermon series, where Pastor Shishko talks about how Christ relates to our suffering. It is one of the best expositions of the phrase "fill up what is lacking in Christ afflictions" in Colossians 1:20 that I have ever seen. Not only that, but Pastor Shishko shows the necessity, even the goodness of suffering in our lives. How is it that the suffering of Christ is related to our suffering? How does it relate to our salvation as a whole? How does it help us to even define salvation? I was listening to it again this morning and was just struck by how relevant the sermon is to, not only our views of marriage and singleness, but also the modern church in general.

Sometimes discernment is required in these little areas so that we can have discernment in these greater areas. One of the many reasons why Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible's ideas have absolutely no appeal to me is because of the fact that I want to know Christ above all things, including being married. That is, if my singleness makes me know Christ more, it is to be perferred. Even if I suffer in "protracted singleness," and it helps me know Christ more, I would rather know Christ than marry. Now, could I have both? Yes, God grants both to many people. However, ultimately, it is more important to me to know Christ than anything else. Therefore, as I learn the sufferings of Christ, I am learning more and more to trust in him in whether I get what I want, or whether I do not. I know that, whether I go through times of pleasure or times of suffering, Christ is right there going through it together with me.

Throughout in this series, Pastor Shishko quotes a man by the name of Samuel Rutherford, a man who suffered greatly for his faith. Rutherford said that he feared that he might make his suffering an idol, because, through his suffering, he knew Christ more. Sadly, this is not a problem in the modern church. This is one case where comparing the problems of the church in Rutherford's time and the problems of the church in our time says a whole lot about the state of the church today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Captain Sensible More Sensible than Debbie Maken!!!!!!!!
I have been [trying to] have a dialogue with Debbie Maken [which begins here] on the Boundless Blog. She keeps on running out the exact same arguments that I then refute. However, she has been charging me with "bearing false witness" against her. So, I challanged her to show where I had done that. Here is her response:
To that great theologian produced by Trinity Divinity School (with the deafeningly silent backing of his professors):

I am surprised. I thought you would inform the audience that in the Hebrew "neighbor" means someone who lives next door, so one can deconstruct, tell half truths, and interject strawmen (i.e. bear false witness) against those who do not live next door.

It's hard to take you seriously because you want to characterize perfectly substantive answers, as no answers, simply because you do not care for the answers. You want to raise specious questions like, "Where does Luther say rare?" (See your own blog). When you yourself quote Luther as saying "rare, not one in a thousand." (See comment #147). Please do not take Boundless' highly liberal posting policy of your intellectual garbage as an indicator of merit, but more of a "let a fool speak and remove all doubt."
Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. First of all, here is what I *actually* said with regards to Martin Luther and rareness of the gift:
Ok, and where does Luther every say that it always would be rare?
See, it has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Luther believed the gift was rare, but whether he believed that it would continue to be rare. Of course, Maken simply skirted this, so she could get back to her mocking tone.
It seems like Maken thinks that skirting the issue, and using acid-filled language is giving an answer. It simply is not. As others have pointed out in the comments to my last post, the best these folks can do is attack my credentials, and my spelling.
However, what I wanted to point out is the language that is used in this "response." She uses phrases like "that great theologian produced by Trinity Divinity School," "I thought you would inform the audience that in the Hebrew "neighbor" means someone who lives next door," "one can deconstruct, tell half truths, and interject strawmen (i.e. bear false witness)," "intellectual garbage," and "let a fool speak." I must ask you. How is this any different from Captain Sensible's "Dumb and Dumber" post that Captain Sensible herself has since decided to remove? What level of nasty language did this woman use that Captain Sensible did not use in her last post that she eventually took down? At this point, I have to say that Captain Sensible is far more sensible than Debbie Maken.
This is the same woman who has written articles for Boundless, [in the "best of" section, no less] whose book Boundless endorses [also in the same "best of" section], who has the approval of Albert Mohler and Tim Challes, and who has endorsed Candice Watters' book. Let me ask why it is that a woman who cannot answer straight questions like this, who must resort to all kinds of acid, to cover up for the fact that she is only skirting everything I have said, would ever end up with this kind of support from Christians.
I am hoping to, in the next few days, write to Albert Mohler and Boundless and point them to this discussion. I am hoping that they will see that an endorsement of this woman's work is simply not possible from such influential Christian institutions. I mean, if Albert Mohler still wants to support Candice Watters, and Boundless still wants to support Albert Mohler, then I see nothing wrong with that. However, giving approval to this kind of irrational nastiness from a position such as Debbie Maken's that is based in nothing more than emotion, is not something that Christians should be doing. We should care enough about truth that we are willing to answer each other's questions in an honest, open manner. It is obvious from this discussion that Debbie Maken cannot do that.
I hope this has been instructive. The dialogue is a good example of how to deal with someone that comes from the cultic version of the Mandatory Marriage Movement. However, unfortunately, there will be many people out there who do not know that there are responses to this stuff. I only hope and pray that there will not be more people who take the cultic approach to this issue like Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible have.
That is, again, why I have to say that, while I criticized Boundless a minute ago for supporting this woman's work, I have to say that, from all of the people in this movement with whom I have dialogued, they are by far the most Godly of any. They are, at least, willing to consider what you say, and come up with an honest answer. For that, they are to be commended. Again, I pray that, whichever side of this discussion you take, we honestly deal with these issues in a fair, God honoring manner. This is something for which, given her consistent campaign to silence me, Debbie Maken simply cannot do.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Captain Sensible says..."Maybe I have gone too far??????"

First of all [and this may come as a shock], I have to commend Captain Sensible for removing her post that I blogged about last night. However, there is the possibility that it will show up again, as the post that appeared on her blog implies. Here is what she wrote in its entirety:

Time to consider...

Notice: The post that was originally here has been removed while I take some time to consider, and seek advice, as to whether I have gone over the top.
Thanks for your understanding.

Hence, on the one hand, I commend Captain Sensible for removing her last post, and for considering the possibility that she should not have posted it. However, on the other hand, I guess my whole question is why it is that someone has to think about something like this. I mean, as I said in my last post, I had to warn everyone go get their asbestos gloves before reading it. The nastiness was just so bad that my fiancé was asking me "Why do you subject yourself to this?" I would invite anyone to read the sections of the post she removed that I quoted in my last post, and see if, indeed, there should be any question as to whether or not Captain Sensible has gone "over the top."

Again, I commend Captain Sensible for doing the right thing in removing that post, but it is somewhat disturbing that she thinks it is possible that that kind of language is acceptable for a Christian.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Captain Sensible is at it Again!
(Warning!!!!!!! Make sure you put on your asbestos gloves before reading this post!!!!!!!)

Wow, I mean, I have never seen such venom as what is in this post from Captain Sensible. She calls Ted Slater and myself "Dumb and Dumber." Now, I know that it is difficult sometimes to control your language when you are addressing such a hot topic. In fact, one of the greatest challanges in addressing this issue is to control my language when I am hurled the insults that Captain Sensible and Debbie Maken send my way. That is one thing about which my professors told me to be careful. I am even somewhat concerned about my last post. It is not easy. However, this post by Captain Sensible absolutely takes the cake. I will leave it to the reader to decide if this is truly Christian behavior.
Captain Sensible really only makes one substantive argument:

We currently have "Adam" arguing that because the creation mandate starts with "Go forth and multiply" and continues "fill the earth and subdue it", then it cannot apply as a mandate to marry because no one person can possibly "fill the earth".
Maybe this will help him.
Imagine the scenario of a sales team. Their manager says to them "Go out and make sales. The target for this month is £100k!"Does the manager mean that each individual has to make £100k in sales, otherwise s/he is exempt from the work?
Or is the normal, sensible, logical understanding that collectively, the team should make £100k in sales, and that each member of the sales team should do their best to contribute their share, unless there is a very good reason for them to be excused from the work?

The problem with Captain Sensible's interpretation is that she is being arbitrary. She wants to say that the imperatives "Be fruitful and multiply" mean "everyone must be fruitful and multiply" and the phrase fill the earth means "everyone in a group of people must contribute to a quota of filling the earth." However, such is totally arbitrary. Notice, the analogy to the sales manager doesn't work because he changed his language from the imperative mood to to "the target for this month is." The Hebrew text simply does not do that. It is three imperatives in a row:

#r,a'Þh'-ta, Waïl.miW Wb±r>W WrïP.

All of the words in purple are imperatives with a prefixed conjunction [except for the first word that has no prefixed conjunction]. "Be fruitful," [WrïP.] "Multiply" [Wb±r>W] and "Fill" [Waïl.miW]. However, notice, they are right next to each other. There is nothing between the but a conjunction. Captain Sensible would have us believe that [WrïP.] and [Wb±r>W] are commands given to individuals while [Waïl.miW] is a given to a group of people. Such is totally arbitrary. What warrant do we have for saying that the first two imperatives are addressed to individuals, and the second is addressed to a group when [Waïl.miW] is the very next word!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that how we do exegesis? We can just arbitrarily change the referent for the commands right in the middle of the sentence, even though it is exactly the same form, and the very next word?
Also, would Captain Sensible say that it is a correct interpretation for a group of people to "be fruitful and multiply?" In other words, "Be fruitful and Multiply" is not a command to individuals, but to a group of people, just like she says "fill the earth" is a command to a group of people? And if not, why the arbitrary switching of the person to whom the third command is addressed when it is the next word????????
Secondly, the only way I can see Captain Sensible trying to get around it is from her statement to the effect of "contribute to the sales?" I assume she is implying that we must only contribute to "filling the earth." So, would it be alright, then, if I just contributed to "being fruitful and multiplying" by being a matchmaker, and getting people together, even though I have no children of my own? Well, Captain Sensible will never go for that one!!!!!!!!!
Indeed, no Hebrew grammar lists "contributive" [is there really such a thing????] as a valid sytactical function for the imperative. There is simply no usage of the imperative that means "contribute to x." Captain Sensible is just making it up as she goes along, not realizing that she is unnaturally breaking up the text in an effort to preserve her exegetically weak interpretation of Genesis 1:28.
Now, I just simply have to quote the rest of the stuff that was said about Ted and I, because it is just full of acid. It amazes me that she can call Ted and I "Dumb and Dumber," then present a very weak exegetical presentation on Genesis 1:28, and state the following. It is truly amazing:
Ted Slater seems impressed by the great wisdom on display in Adam's posts - even offering a recent "well done"! Shame he didn't use his comment intervention on that thread to "encourage" and give "hope" to a poor woman (see below) who wrote about how it was just too painful to desire marriage any more. No, Ted Slater ignores that, and instead offer a pat on the back to an amateur theologian whose arguments are too stupid to even take seriously. (Maybe Ted thinks she "intentionally" delayed marriage, and now good Christian men will understandably pass her by in favour of women with more "vigour" and "youthfulness"?)
I am also sick and tired of reading about Christian women who "haven't had a date in 10 years", yet are "constantly being approached by men in the world.
"This is simply unacceptable.
Single Christian women must not put up with this any longer. I would suggest marrying a Godly, believing man in the world, one unsullied by all this falsely "Christian" poison, and then once settled with a husband and family of your own, focus on changing this situation for your still suffering sisters.
Shame on Ted Slater. Shame on Boundless. Shame on Focus on the Family. Shame on the lot of them. They have the power and position to do good. But they are instead choosing to continue the madness.
Focus on "the Family"? I think not...
Incidentally: Here is that heart-breaking comment that was posted and which Ted ignored, preferring to post a comment saying "well done" to Adam, and another which effectively encourages men that have delayed marriage for decades to chase after younger women>
Tell me, shouldn't this poor young woman have been addressed? My heart truly breaks for her. How is it possible for Ted Slater to leave her comment ignored, and make such car crash interventions instead? And still keep his job???
Wow, I mean, first of all, these folks refuse to admit that we do not believe that there is anything wrong with wanting marriage, so, her criticism of Ted with regards to this post is just downright absurd.
Second of all, she suggest "marrying a Godly, believing man in the world." The phrase "Godly, believing man in the world" is an oxymoron. If someone is a Godly, believing man, he will not willfully refrain from the covenant community. I know I will probably alienate some people by saying this, but, if you are willfully not a member of the local church, not subject to the elders of that church [1 Peter 5:5], and are forsaking the assembly together [Hebrews 10:25], then you are living in sin. People who intentionally live in unrepentant sin, who wilfully refuse to be obedient to God in his commands as to how we are to live our Christian life in the covenant community are not believers. Now, I am not talking about those who are unable to regularly attend a church because of an illness or because they live too far away from the nearest church, etc. I am talking about a person, like Captain Sensible is talking about, who, by willfully refusing to be a part of a covenant community, is living a life of sin. Such a person is not a Christian in the Biblical sense, and I believe that, therefore, Captain Sensible is telling Christian women to marry unbelievers.
However, beyond these two serious flaws, look at the acid in this post. You have words and phrases like "amateur theologian," "too stupid to be taken seriously," "falsely Christian poison," "shame on Boundless, Focus on the Family, a lot of them," Focus on the Family...I think not," "heartbreaking comment which Ted ignored," "which effectively encourages men that have delayed marriage for decades to chase after younger women," and "How is it possible for Ted Slater to leave her comment ignored, and make car crash interventions instead? And still keep his job???" And, of course, we have Debbie Maken jumping in to rebuke Captain Sensible for her personal attacks on Ted and I......well, of course not. Debbie Maken called me an "amateur theologian" as well in her post that I linked to in my last blog entry. I really have to wonder if these women recognize that their language is giving away the fact that they are unable to answer the criticisms we are using against them.
Again, I absolutely cannot believe that people take Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible seriously. They are on crusades, and are unable to stop and hear what the other side is saying. It is merely a game to smear the other side, and make them look so stupid that no one would ever dare believe what they have to say. Of course, if our arguments were so stupid, you would think that they would be jumping at the opportunity to show it. I will be interested to see if she will post this argument about Genesis 1:28 on Boundless, because I would love to have the opportunity of showing why it is that these people have to keep on saying that we are "stupid" and "dumb and dumber" on their own blogs where they have comment moderation, and yet, will refuse to subject themselves to an *open* dialogue about the issues with the very people they are willing to call "stupid" and "dumb and dumber" on their own, comment moderated, blog.
At least it is good that Ted Slater is out there being shot at too. It feels good to not be the only moving target.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible...Cut From the Same Cloth

Well, I absolutely can't believe it. Debbie Maken has responded to my post on the Boundless Blog about Martin Luther...sort of. All you will find is the same kind of condescending rhetoric, and repitition of the same arguments that have been refuted over and over again.

However, what I find interesting is the last paragraph of Maken's post:

There is no common ground with these rogues because all we will see is lip service to the general rule drowning in an endless sea of exceptions that swallows/undermines the very rule. Boundless should not be an instrument or platform for this kind of sophisticated undermining of marriage in the name of fostering discourse.

So, now, Debbie Maken has joined in the campaign to silence any opposition to her beliefs. What I find so interesting is that this is the same kind of things that cults do. Again, don't the Jehovah's Witnesses have this idea of "apostate literature?" Do they not forbid their readers from reading anything critical of their society? There you go. I think I can now safely include Debbie Maken in the cultic version of this movement.

I posted this on the Boundless Blog, but I figured I would post it here, just to give you the idea that I have answered all of this stuff before, and now, Maken, rather than responding to me, just keeps repeating the same old arguments that I have dealt with a hundred times over.

Debbie Maken,

Ultimately, his words speak for themselves, and they are quite clear. . . . "Apart from these three categories of eunuchs, let no man presume to be without a wife. . . ." To then say, as some have suggested, that Luther says nothing of people being "called to singleness," is intellectually dishonest. The exemptions are clearly outlined. If you don't fall into them, then get married. If Luther says that "not one in a thousand" falls into these exceptions, the emphasis is NOT on the "not" to suggest that Luther perhaps meant "more than one in a thousand." How opinions and tortured conclusions like these continue to receive Ted Slater's warm applause ("well said" of comment #28) baffles me.

What is intellectually dishonest is that you refuse to quote me in context. I said that Luther defined the third category as someone who "willfully refrained from marriage." Please deal with Luther's own discussion of that third category.

This open-ended idea that people are somehow individually "called to singleness," just right up until the time they decide that they are called to marriage, is to give the creature a guilt-free, shame-free, spiritually-unquestionable license of pursuing marriage whenever and without any regard to the cost, either individually, or to the spouse one could have had, to the collective impact on the church and society.

Then why is it that Luther talked about those who "willfully refrain?" Not only that, Debbie, but could you please explain the following quotation from Luther, given your interpretation of him?:

Here I will let the matter rest and leave to others the task of searching out further benefits and advantages of the estate of marriage. My purpose was only to enumerate those which a Christian can have for conducting his married life in a Christian way, so that, as Solomon says, he may find his wife in the sight of God and obtain favour from the Lord [Prov. 18:22]. In saying this I do not wish to disparage virginity, or entice anyone away from virginity into marriageLet each one act as he is able, and as he feels it has been given to him by God.

As I said on my blog, Debbie, your position is a modern invention. It never saw the light of day before the twenty-first century.

There is nothing unusual or new about the marriage mandate position—generally understood, it is one that believes that marriage was instituted by God, is to be honored by all, is expected to be lived in as the norm for adult life, is a sacred duty for those to enter into during the season of youth,

Which, of course, the scriptures never teach.

and the "rare" (to borrow Luther's word) exception is just that, "rare," and not be dwelt upon incessantly since it "rarely" applies, and such musings are only fancy sidetracking attempts to further add confusion to an area already scarred from misinformation.

Ok, and where does Luther every say that it always would be rare?

Consequently, those who choose to be and/or find themselves single without the biblical warrant for exemptions from marriage

Again, where do you get this idea that there must be "Biblical exemptions?" Even Martin Luther allowed for a person to willfully refrain from marriage.

The question is does Scripture mandate marriage for the vast numbers of men and women. And do the creation ordinances of Genesis (and replenishment commands post deluge) mandate marriage in a way that children grow up and assume the mantle of adulthood by marrying a spouse of their youth and siring another generation so that they are counted among those who were told to "be fruitful and multiply"?

Well, again, if you are saying that this command applies to individuals, then would you not say that every person is under obligation to have a thousand children each year, so at the end of their lives they have "filled the earth?" As I have said before, these imperatives are right next to each other. Whoever is being commanded to be fruitful and multiply is also being commanded to fill the earth. Your exegesis forces you to the absurd conclusion that everyone is obligated to have seven billion children in their lifetime so that they fill the earth

are in a spiritual no man's land and they are going to go without certain blessings because God is not required to bless outside of the boundaries He himself has instituted. If this viewpoint then raises some eyebrows as to why perfectly normal eligible bachelors go year after year being perennially single, it is a logical outflow, a necessary conclusion, and a good in and of itself, for it serves as an additional impetus to push those dragging their feet toward marriage.

And, of course, none of them require marriage.

And if Luther had agreed with the status quo of open-ended reading of I Corinthians 7 and private conscience driven singleness, we would have heard about these Luther sermons long before Getting Serious about Getting Married was published.

We did. In the very sermon you quoted, Luther said "Let each one act as he is able, and as he feels it has been given to him by God." Again, I have to wonder if you even read the resources that you quote, or if you just went through them looking for anything that seemed to support your position.

We certainly did not need a theological giant from Trinity Divinity School (with the deafeningly silent backing of his professors) showing us how to reconstruct very simple words.

Lol, silent backing?????? So, Dr. James Hoffmeier saying that he agreed with me, and Dr. Richard Averbeck telling me that your perspective is a "classic overreaction?" That is hardly silence. It sounds more to me like they think the same thing I do of your position.

We want single people to have accountability of their singleness and the extension of their single years on their own terms without feeling any pinch whatsoever since we cannot know every one's peculiar individual situation. That is not accountability; that is man saying that he rules his life the way he sees fit under some spiritual carte blanche, and how dare others judge him for it.

Well, again, that would require that you show us that there is some obligation from the scriptures in order for you to "hold someone accountable."

Ultimately, there is no reason to castigate "the marriage mandate for the masses" crowd because the contrary position is a giant ball of self-contradiction.

My position has been held by reformed churches for four hundred years? And if my position is so self-contradictory as you say, why is it you have consistently refused to respond to any of your detractors? I mean, if we are so "self-contradictory" as you say, it should be very easy to take on our arguments rather than just repeating the same things over and over again.

The author of the original article regarding Luther did an excellent job appreciating Luther's depth on this subject, and extrapolated exactly what Luther's own writings would indicate.

Then, again, it should be very easy to respond to the things that I have said. However, you seem to have the ability to keep repeating things, and also use condescending language to cover up for the fact that you guys seem to have no answer to the things we are saying.

However, many of your bloggers comments have sought to do the exact opposite in misdirecting the reader from what was actually written by Luther, and have sewn seeds of doubt on writings where there are no doubts.

How can someone be misdirecting the reader from Luther's writings when I am actually quoting him! When I am examining him in the context in which he made these statements. You say that there is no doubts. Again, Debbie, then it should not be too difficult to prove by showing that I have somehow misused Luther in his context.

There is no common ground with these rogues because all we will see is lip service to the general rule drowning in an endless sea of exceptions that swallows/undermines the very rule. Boundless should not be an instrument or platform for this kind of sophisticated undermining of marriage in the name of fostering discourse.

No, actually, I respect Ted Slater and Boundless for being willing to dialogue about this issue. BTW, Debbie, I allow homosexuals, gay marriage proponents, and virtually anyone with any false view of marriage and any false teaching to post on my blog. You know what? I have never had anyone that I am aware of who agrees with my position, and reads my blog ever convert to false teaching. Why? Because I believe that the contrast between the Biblical position and the worldly position is most clearly seen when we place them side by side. That is what makes my wander about Captain Sensible's [and now your] crusade against academic discussion of these matters. If you guys don't have the courage of your convictions, and you have to keep repeating the same arguments that have been refuted a hundered times, keep giving us nothing but dogmatism, and want to silence the opposition, then I really don't know how you can honestly say that you believe your position is rationally defensible.

BTW, for those of you who want to see just how bad Debbie Maken's scholarship is with regards to Calvin and the reformers, here is an article I published wherein I documented several academically dishonest uses of the reformers and works about the reformed views of marriage:

Again, I would ask anyone to go read Luther's sermon, as well as his other works on marriage [His commentary on Genesis, his Commentary on 1 Corinthians, and his other sermon entitled "The Estate of Marriage" and come to your own conclusions. I can confidently say that I believe, when the two are put side by side, that it is very clear who is accurately representing the reformers.

God Bless,

Well, I just leave it to the reader to decide about the integrity and credibility of Debbie Maken.

What I also find interesting is that this is the only topic I have ever seen Debbie Maken address at an academic level. I just got done doing a presentation on Proverbs 2:1-10, and doing work in Paleo-Hebrew on the West Semitic inscriptions that mention the "house of the Lord." Not only that, but I have been taking a class in Hermeneutics, which is a class on the entire theory of Biblical interpretation. One of the values that I am finding in studying all of these topics is that it helps keep me focused on proper interpretational methods in texts that have nothing to do with this issue so that, when I address it, I am able to be more Biblically faithful in doing so. To my knowledge, Maken has not done exegetical work in an academic setting outside of this area, and thus, I think that this might be contributing to the problem.

However, again, I wonder how anyone could support a position in which there is a conscious effort to silence any opposition to what they are saying. In fact, Ted Slater said that he thought that my post was well said. I hope that means that we are getting closer in our respective beliefs about this topic, and I look forward to continuing the conversation. Of course, if Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible get their way, then that will be impossible. Then, I guess, I will have to rely on their inability to handle cross examination of their position as the final nail in the coffin of their position.

Again, I respect the Boundless Blog for their commitment to allowing both sides to speak, and I have attempted to model my blog after the same manner. In fact, I read several articles on the Boundless Blog that have nothing whatsoever to do with this topic. Hence, with all of this stuff going on with Captain Sensible and Debbie Maken, I would just like to applaud Boundless for their commitment to integrity, and open, honest discussion of in house debates such as this, and even things like atheism, abortion, pornography, etc. that we all agree is wrong. I can only pray that one day Debbie Maken and Captain Sensible will learn the same.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Captain Sensible Does It Again

I really cannot believe that people still take Captain Sensible seriously, after she has posted so much nastiness, and desires to silent any opposition to her movement. I mean, her version of the Mandatory Marriage Movement is downright cultic, and it is obvious that Captain Sensible knows she is loosing this debate, since she has to silence everyone who disagrees with her.

I have been going around to various looking at posts about a recent Boundless article about Martin Luther. I was posting about it over on the Boundless Blog, and I was wondering what others were saying about it. Of course, Captain Sensible could not resist posting about it. In the course of the discussion, she even spoke of yours truly. Here, amazingly, is what she said:

And a regular comment poster, who seems to have far too much time on his hands for the devil to make work for, decides that marriage is like "medicine for a cold".

Ok, I would love to see Captain Sensible take Egyptian Hieroglyphics and Sumerian. I would also love to see her be able to even get half way through Dr. VanGemeren's class on the poetic and prophetic books. Trust me, I have more than enough material on my plate. It is amazing that these people seem to know every little detail of my life even though they have never met me.

And, not only that, Captain Sensible is misrepresenting me. I was not talking about the nature of marriage, but the relationship marriage has to sanctification. Does sanctifying grace come through marriage? If it does, then you are either going to have to believe that every married person ends up sanctified, or you are going to have to deny the fourth point of Calvinism, Irresistible Grace. Hence, my comments have to do with the role marriage plays in relation to our sanctification, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the nature of marriage itself.

Of course, she also couldn't resist taking a cheap shot at Ted Slater for not trying to silence all opposition. I mean, I don't agree with Boundless on several issues, but they are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they do not deserve the treatment that Captain Sensible is giving them, for no other reason than they don't run an entire blog on this issue. Want proof? Apparently, Captain Sensible said the following about Ted Slater on her blog:

Captain Sensible writes: When is Boundless going to get an editor that actually cares about the problem single Christian women face with regard to singleness?
Wouldn't Ted Slater be much happier, and better suited, to editing a blog on global warming?
Does he think it doesn't matter, or that no one will notice, that he really couldn't care less about singleness?
Does anyone have faith in the integrity of what is laughingly called their "comment moderation policy"?
Such a pity.

Notice, unless Ted Slater always addresses this issue, and turns the Boundless blog into a blog like hers, he doesn't care about the issue of singleness. Wow, I mean, how irrational can you get. Boundless has an entire section on their homepage of articles about singleness, and blog posts galore about them. Apparently, that is not enough for Captain Sensible. Unless you address it in almost every post, and censor yourself from criticism, you somehow don't care.

Of course, no one can hold this woman accountable, because she refuses to accept correction. She only displays comments favorable to her position on her blog so she doesn't have to answer for this stuff, and also, she is trying to get everyone she has to have the same mindset that she does, namely, that Debbie Maken must be right, and anyone who disagrees with her must be of the devil.

This is not the way Christians should behave. We should be willing to have a rational dialogue on the issues where we go back and forth and discuss these things. Expecially if we are so stupid, and Captain Semsible is so brilliant, you would think that she would be leaping for joy to show how silly we are in a dialogue. Of course, that is not going to happen any time soon.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Whoever Controls the Schools

...rules the world. It is an old saying I once heard. One of the benifits of Presbyterianism is our belief in the covenant community, and the idea that children should be raised and educated in the covenant community. However, for California parents, this may be a right not guaranteed for much longer. Apparently, there were charges of abuse in one Christian household because they spanked their children, and, upon further investigation, they found that they were homeschooled, and they challanged whether or not homeschooling was consistent with the laws of the state of California. Apparently, children ages 6 to 18 to be enrolled in school, and so, the homeschooling parents started a private school which allowed parents to teach at home. Hence, the parents became the teachers for the school. Thus, it was fully complying with the laws of the state. However, for how long this will be true is unsure.

First of all, I am absolutely tired of hearing how spanking is child abuse. Now, we do need to clarify. Some forms of spanking are child abuse. For instance, spanking out of anger, or spanking every time there is a small little dispute. Such is not God-honoring correction at all. However, there is a legitimate usage of what is called the "rod of discipline:

Proverbs 13:24 He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.

Notice that, in these passages, the Bible speaks of the "rod [jb,ve] of discipline," which all lexical sources agree is a form of remedial discipline [see Wilhelm VanGemeren New International dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, and Kohler Baumgartner Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament]. The standard lexicon of Brown-Driver-Briggs says that it is a "common article for smiting" [p.987]. While we need to be careful of the root fallacy, the Hebrew Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament states that the root may have came from the Samaritan jmX meaning "to strike." In other words, what is being said here, is not that a striking rod is "abuse," but just the opposite, that it is remedial. Striking a child is something that will "rescue his soul from Sheol," "take away his foolishness," and "give him wisdom." In fact, one could say that refusing to spank your child, from a Biblical perspective, is a form of child abuse. As remember pastor Bill Shishko saying that the rod was a way of breaking the child's will so that he does not live for himself. So, actually, it is the people who are arguing against these parents that should be brought up for child abuse from a Biblical perspective.

However, even worse than that is the forced secularization of home-schooling children. Do you notice that the secularists and the humanists are the ones who are trying to remove this remedial discipline from children? Is it any suprise that the same groups that would want to indoctrinate our children with humanist ideology are the same groups that do not want our children to have the rod of correction? No, it is no coincidence. The humanists are people who do live for themselves, refusing to aknowledge God, and live in obedience to his law. If the will is broken, then there is no chance for indoctrination of humanistic ideology. Do you notice how this all gets down to foundational issues such as the sinfulness of the human will, and the lordship of Christ over one's life? You see, this is why education is not a small matter. However, you educate your children will determine what they value most in their life. This is why the rod needs to be used to train up children to be obedient to God's law, and not to follow their own desires.

In fact, there is a verse in Proverbs that speaks specifically to this point:

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child with in accordance with his [own] way, and even when he grows older, he will not turn from it.

Now, you might be asking, "But that is different than every translation!" Yes, because I reject every translation at this point. I have very good reason for so doing. To start off, I must point out that I am not alone in this. Consider the following works which also reject the common translation:

Clifford, Richard. Proverbs, a Commentary. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Kentucky. 1999 p.197

Stuart, Douglass. Old Testament Exegesis, a Handbook for Students and Pastors. Westminster John Knox Press. Louisville, Kentucky. 2001 pgs. 42-43

Waltke, Bruce The Book of Proverbs Chapters 15-31. Eerdmans Publications. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005 p.205

The reason why so many scholars reject the common interpretation is because there is simply no Hebrew equivalent of the English word "should." It simply reads, "Train up [%nOx]] a child [r[;N:l;] according to [yPi-l[;] his way [AKr>d:]." While Hugenberger rightly notes that the phrase AKr>d: could, in theory, mean "the way he should go," [Pratico, Gary. Van Pelt, Miles. The Basics of Biblical Hebrew Zondervan Publishing House. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 2001. pgs.284-285], he is very quick to point out that there are no Biblical examples to support this interpretation, and it is expecially not used in this way in the book of Proverbs. The normal usage of the construct of %r,D, in Proverbs is to describe the way in which a person is currently going, or actually does go. For instance, we are all familiar with the phrase "the way of the fool," and "the way of the wicked." They are not saying that this is the way the wicked should go, or the way the fool should go. Quite the opposite. It is telling us the way they actually are going. In other words, this proverb is ironic in character, and, as Hugenberger rightly notes, is a "solemn warning." That is, if you train up a child in his own foolish way, then even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

That is why I believe that we should see this legal challange out in California as an attack upon our children. If we don't stand up and fight it, we will not be heeding the warning of Proverbs 22:6, because the atheists and the humanists will be more than happy to train up our children in their own way. We need to see this as an opportunity as parents to train up our children to think God's thoughts after him, and to think in such a way so as to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ.

Now, a few responses are in order to the arguments used in this article:

Specifically, the appeals court affirmed, the trial court had found that "keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where (1) they could interact with people outside the family, (2) there are people who could provide help if something is amiss in the children's lives, and (3) they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting."

Of course, the way in which we answer that question is to point out that our children are part of the covenant community, and that provides them with interaction with people outside the family, and, given the discipline of the covenant community, would also provide them with help if something is amiss in the children's lives. They will also develop relationships with other christians, and thus, will be able to develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting.

Further, the appeals ruling said, California law requires "persons between the ages of six and 18" to be in school, "the public full-time day school," with exemptions allowed only for those in a "private full-time day school" or those "instructed by a tutor who holds a valid state teaching credential for the grade being taught."

Of course, the whole point is that these children are enrolled in a private school. It is just that the teachers are the parents of the children. That is the whole point of setting up the organization.

As WND has reported, the Longs had their children enrolled in Sunland Christian School, a private homeschooling program.

But Croskey, without hearing arguments from the school, opined that the situation was one of a "ruse of enrolling [children] in a private school and then letting them stay home and be taught by a non-credentialed parent."

I want to know who is more credentialed than the children's own parents to teach their children? Why is it that the people who have been with the children their entire lives and know every intimate detail about them are not credentialed to teach them? The response might come back that they are not well trained in various fields. The simple answer to that is that anyone who has graduated from High School knows how to do research in a given area. What is to stop a parent from teaching their children after they have done complete research on the topic? And, what if materials such as books or video tapes could be given to the children from Christian organizations that are experts in the areas that parents are not? Would that not provide the credentials necessary to teach the children? Such seems obvious.

Again, there is no reason why Christian parents should not be able to raise their children, both remedially and educationally, in a Christian home. The atheists and the humanists simply have no leg to stand on in this case. We need to be praying for those that are fighting this attack in order to keep home schooling legal, and pray that our children would not be raised in their own ways, but in the training and admonition of the Lord. It is also a call for parents to exercise that right while they can. With the apostasy of the west, it is not to difficult to conceive of a time in which parents will be forced to send their children to these secular seminaries to have them indoctrinated with humanism.