Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Few Odds and Ends

I just wanted to take a post to write a few odds and ends. As I have been looking for some new things in Candice's book, I actually have found something that is not new. When I wrote my paper Real Authors Write Responsibly in response to Ted Slater citing an article by Candice Watters called Ruth Revisited when someone brought up the fact that Boaz did not inititate his relationship with Ruth, I got a strong response from the folks who disagree with me, and expecially those who were supporters of Candice Watters. I could not figure out why. However, the reason why there was such a response is because, though the book had not come out yet, unknown to me or anyone else, the entire set of three articles on the book of Ruth were republished word for word in the book. Hence, my article dealing with Candice's arguments on the book of Ruth will have to be included as part of the response.

Now, apparently there have been some developments in Old Testament scholarship since Edward Campbell's Commentary on Ruth in the Anchor Bible Commentary Series was published. Usually Anchor Bible commentaries are pretty up to date, but my Northwest Semitic Inscriptions professor, Dr. Lawson Younger, told me that we now know exactly how big a ephah is, and it is exegetically significant. I will have to get back to the reader of the blog on that topic, but everything else is up to date.

Also, I keep on receiving these comments from people who, apparently, just sign up to take shots at me. For instance, a poster by with the simple screenname of "kt" posted this in the comments section of my second response to Candice Watters:

Alrighty then -- God decreed that all these believing women would be left single so that the conditions in our churches that enable men to be passive, ignorant, absent and disobedient may be revealed!

Better add "sparing us from our own stupidity" to the pile of things that, as you say, "God is under no obligation whatsoever to give us"

PS... Adam, what is YOUR idol? Fruitless debate, perhaps?

Ah yes, those loving radical marriage mandators. However, the other interesting thing that I have found is that, if you click on his screenname to see his profile, he has been a member since June 2008!!!!!!! Yes, apparently, one of the reasons this user even signed up to post on blogger is so that he could write this nasty stuff to me.

Again, when it comes to the radical version of this movement, I have seen some language that I have not seen from King James Onlyism. That is how radical this stuff is. I just have to keep pointing that out along the way.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Responses to Candice Watters Part III

In this section, I would like to address Candice’s view of prayer. She has an entire chapter of this in her book [Chapter 9], and I do believe it would be profitable to take a look at it, because I have some real concerns about some of the things that are said. She first of all starts out by stating how she used to pray:

When I was single, I used to pray for a husband like this,

Oh, God, please don’t make me single my whole life. I really want to be married. Oh, I hope it’s not Your will for me to be single. I don’t think I could do it! Please bring someone into my life soon, very soon. But help me to be patient in the meantime. And God, if You do want me to be single-but I hope you don’t-please give me the grace for it, because I really don’t feel it. Did I mention how much I hope that’s not your will for me [pgs. 145-146]?

I want us to notice two things about this prayer that Candice gives us. First of all, the thing that immediately jumped out at me about this prayer is the way in which she keeps bringing up her desire. Yes, the desire itself is fine, but notice how much her desire is brought up in this prayer. It is really hard to know how a person could truly want God’s will above all things, and keep bringing up their desire for marriage this much in six sentences! Why is that the focus of this prayer? Shouldn’t we be praying according to God’s will, bringing our petitions to him while we humbly trust that he will do the right thing with those petitions? Yet, the entirety of this prayer is focused upon what Candice wants, and it appears that God’s will is only going to be consented to in a begrudging fashion. This is not what it means to pray according to God’s will!

Notice, too, she said that, if it was God’s will for her to be single, she doesn’t think she could do it. Does not the apostle Paul say that, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” [Philippians 4:13]? And this is in the context of affliction! Paul recognizes that, even when affliction comes about, he can endure it because it is Christ who has given us strength!

Notice too, that she says she needs the grace to go through her singleness because she does not “feel it.” Well, since when did God ever do anything on the basis of our feelings? It is amazing how this little prayer shows us that Candice really hasn’t changed since the time she prayed this prayer. These are the same ideas that are found in the very position she is presenting to us in this book! It is just that she found a way to rationalize these ideas.

That becomes important. While these things are rather subtle in this prayer, they are much more pronounced in what she says next, and in the prayer she later gives at the end of this section. What is her reasoning for becoming more emboldened in these ideas? Well, she explains:

I wish I had read about Bartimaeus back then. It wasn’t until after I was married that his story, recorded in Mark 10:46-52, leapt off the page.

When Bartimaeus, the blind baggar, heard that Jesus was approaching, he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” The exclamation point emphasizes his volume. In a book known for economy of words and punctuation, it’s clear this was no tepid request. Even as the crowd rebuked him, telling him to be quiet, the Bible says, “He shouted all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’”

His clamor was rewarded. When Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” he replied, “Rabbi, I want to see.” He was frank about what he wanted and fully expected healing, for he knew Jesus had the authority to do it. By acknowledging him as, “Jesus, son of David,” Bartimaeus was in essence saying he believe Jesus was Messiah and King.
Jesus didn’t disappoint. “Immediately he received his sight,” the Bible reports. But it wasn’t Bartimaeus’s flattery, neediness, or even his volume that made the difference. As Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.”

Learning to Really Pray
Unlike Bartimaeus, I asked, but doubted. It’s not that I disbelieved God could bring me a mate-I just didn’t think He would. Still, my heart longed to be married. And on it went. Till Mary Morken helped me see my prayers for what they were: faithless requests for something I wasn’t even sure was OK to want.

Now, I have dealt with that last statement in my last section of responses. I want to focus upon what made Candice come to that conclusion, namely, the misinterpretation of this section about Bartimaeus. Candice mentions, but doesn’t pursue the fact that Bartimaeus, “By acknowledging him as, “Jesus, son of David,” Bartimaeus was in essence saying he believe Jesus was Messiah and King.” She does not realize this, but this is the refutation of her position on this passage. You see, Jesus uses Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1-2 to validate his claim to be the messiah. For instance, in Matthew 11:2, John sends his disciples from prison to ask Jesus if he is the one they should expect, or if they should expect someone else. Jesus simply responds with:

Matthew 11:4-5 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

These are a series of quotations from Isaiah 35:5 and 61:1-2. Jesus does not give John any further answer. The reason is because he expected him to believe that he was the messiah simply on the basis of the fact that he is fulfilling what scripture already says! What is interesting is that there is a parallel account of the passage Candice cites in Matthew 20:29-34. That is significant because the Gospel of Matthew is specifically directed toward the Jewish people in presenting him as the messiah. Hence, what is being said here is not that he “prayed boldly” for what he wanted, and therefore got it, but that he trusted God to do what he said he would do in his word! You see, because of the fact that the Jews believed that the messiah would do all of these wonders, Bartimaeus was simply expressing faith in the fact that Jesus was who he said he was, and that he would do what he already said he would do in his word. It was this faith that healed him, not faith that God would give him what he wanted! It was precisely because he sought God’s will more than any desire he had that he was healed.

Matthew Henry noticed this:

II. He cried out to the Lord Jesus for mercy; Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David. Misery is the object of mercy, his own miserable case he recommends to the compassion of the Son of David, of whom it was foretold, that, when he should come to save us, the eyes of the blind should be opened, Isa. xxxv. 5. In coming to Christ for help and healing, we should have an eye to him as the promised Messiah, the Trustee of mercy and grace [Commentary on Mark].

However, rather than recognizing this, Candice builds upon her misinterpretation of this passage:

Suddenly I felt free to really pray. My petitions changed. No longer weighed down by doubts that what I wanted was good, I asked with confidence:

Lord, You created me. And I believe You created marriage for my good and Your glory. I don’t know Your timeline, but I’m asking You to fulfill my desire to be married.

I then thanked Him for what I believed He would do:

Thank You, Lord, for this strong desire You’ve placed in my heart. Thank You that You’ve already been where I’m headed and that You know what my future holds. Thank You for marriage and for my future mate. Please be with him and prepare his heart to do Your will.

Once I started praying this way, things started happening.

I think that, one of the reasons why I addressed this topic after discussing the sovereignty of God and marriage is because of the fact that this is flowing right from Candice’s Arminianism. In other words, it is the way in which you pray which causes things to happen. Again, notice, Candice says that thinking in the way I am is doubting “what is good,” again with no justification.

However, what’s worse is the presumption in Candice’s prayer. She believes God would do it, and she assumes that she has a future mate. The funny thing is that I have heard of other women who have prayed this way and, to this day, have not obtained a spouse. There are some women who have gone to their grave praying this way, not obtaining a spouse. What if these prayer were assuming something that is untrue, namely, that God would do this, and that she had a future mate? What if God replied by saying, “I am not going to give you a spouse, and there is no future mate for you.” Apparently, she believed that God could not reply this way to her prayer.

However, while this sounds like the health and wealth gospel, we need to be careful not to lump Candice in this group. Her position is far more sophisticated than this. You see, because of her view of Genesis 2, Candice believes that marriage is something to which almost everyone is called. Thus, she believes she is praying in accordance with God’s will. She writes:

Does this mean it’s ok to pray for a million dollars and expect to receive it? Hardly. Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 21 came just after He cleared the temple of all the money changers and merchants. Jesus’ wasn’t showing us the secret to unleashing material wealth-pray for a Mini Cooper and you’ll get one-He instructed us about what to pray for in other places in Scripture. I believe His statement had everything to do with how we pray. It’s about our posture. It’s about our faith and believeing that if we’re following the guidelines He gave us for what, we can ask boldly, believing our prayers will be answered [p.148].

This is why I already provided and exegesis of Genesis 2 in the very first section of my response to show that this is not what that passage is teaching. There is nowhere, anywhere in scripture where God says that it is his will that most people marry. Thus, Candice is merely presuming that this is God’s will, and thus, is totally inconsistent with what the Bible has to say. In other words, she is assuming that God wants most people married, and thus, we can pray for it, when the Bible nowhere says this.

However, what I find interesting about this section is two things. Number one, because of her Arminianism she believes that getting God’s will is dependent upon how you pray, and that the only thing that has changed is her belief that it was God’s will for her to marry in her premarital state. However, isn’t it interesting that, at the beginning we had a prayer that was very strongly centered upon her desire for marriage almost viewing God’s will as an inconvenience, and it now results in an interpretation of scripture that now states that it is God’s will for her life. Obviously, she does not want to deny the sovereignty of God in a traditional Arminian sense, so she now has to redefine the will of God, and reinterpret it in the context of her own desires. This is something I am finding more and more from women who are involved in this teaching. The desire was there first, and then the scriptures were interpreted through the lens of these desires.

Also, in this passage, Jesus was not talking about how you pray, but urging us to pray, because God uses the prayers of his people. Prayer should not be viewed as Candice views it as she views the efficacy of our prayers in terms of how we pray. Prayer should cause us to, instead of trusting in ourselves, to trust in God wholeheartedly. That does not mean that you cannot pray for things when you do not know if it is God’s will, such as praying for a spouse. It just means that you have to trust that God knows best, and that he has the ability to say “no” to your request. It is also recognizing that, if he says no, he has a better plan for your life, one that, your own finite desires cannot even imagine.

The desire for marriage is good, and I wholeheartedly believe it. That being said, we need to use God’s word to interpret these desires. When we do, we find out that they are good, but not ultimate. God and his will are ultimate, and he says that he does whatever he pleases. When we trust him that he is as he says he is, that he is in control of our lives, and that his will is ultimate, then have the comfort of trusting and praising him for exactly what Paul says:

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

Indeed, God is able to do abundantly more than give us a spouse. Indeed, he can do more than he we could ever ask or think! I pray that we would remember this whenever we consider the possibility that God would say “no” to our desire for a spouse.

This concludes part III of my responses to Candice Watters.
Responses to Candice Watters Part II

In this section of my responses to Candice Watters I will be addressing the issue of marriage as an idol, and the issue of marriage and the sovereignty of God.

Marriage, an Idol???? YES!!!!!!!!!!!

One of the major things that I have brought up is that, while it is fine, and, indeed, good and right to want marriage, we must be careful of making marriage an idol. I remember bringing this up when, in my first dialogue with Debbie Maken, she said that there were many women who were “rightly loathing singleness.” I replied that we should not be loathing anything as the scriptures tell us not to worry about our life, even when it comes to essential things such as food and clothing [Matthew 6:25-34]! This is a powerful argument, because we can challenge these folks to consider the fact that God’s truth is more important than marriage. We can challenge them to read the text of the scriptures, and to think about marriage in a Biblical way, rather than a way that is based solely upon their emotions and desires. Hence, the Bible then can control and regulate these desires so that they remain desires that are honoring and glorifying to God. Of course, this is why, a priori, we must deal with the scriptures that have to do with marriage with consistent Biblical exegesis. That is why I have dealt with the exegesis of the Biblical text before I have addressed this issue.

Here is the heart of Candice’s argument against this line of argumentation:

Can the desire for marriage really become an idol? It’s technically possible. But that notion has been blown out of proportion. And repeatedly suggesting the possibility of idolatry has done more harm than good. It’s caused a lot of women to tepid in their approach to marriage and made them afraid that any amount of thinking or acting on their desire might be a sin. Both have the unfortunate consequence of making marriage even less likely to happen [p.47].

Candice’s argument is that there have been bad results of presenting this argument, and therefore, it should not be presented. However, this is simply bad logic. Simply because there are bad consequences to making a true argument that does not mean that the argument should not be made. Martin Luther, for example, had his writings misused to try to institute a violent revolution. I am speaking of the pheasant revolt. Luther’s argumentation was misused, but does that mean that Luther should not have revolted against the Roman Catholic Church? Of course not. People can misuse and misunderstand another person’s argumentation, and simply because people misuse an argument does not mean that the argumentation is not valid, and should not be used.

Candice explains more about her line of thinking:

Such caution is rarely urged with other desires. No one would discourage a woman from praying fervently, even daily, for an unsaved family member. And we’d applaud intense and passionate faith for the healing of a friend who was dying of cancer. Even desires that more easily border on idolatry-education, career pursuits, and hobbies-get a near-universal pass. But giving a fraction of such attention to the desire for marriage solicits dire warnings of overdoing it. Fervency when petitioning God for a mate comes under singular scrutiny [p.47].

Of course, this is all a logical fallacy. Just because there is erroneous thinking in the other side’s application of their argumentation against you does not mean that your argumentation is valid. Hence, we have two fallacies, assuming that simply because good argumentation leads to misunderstanding, and because other people have a fallacy in the application of their argument, that therefore means that what I believe is consistent with the scriptures.

However, I think Candice’s point is a good observation about our culture…not in our view of marriage, but in our view of idolatry. Idolatry, yes even of prayer, can, indeed, be a problem. If you trust in your praying to save an unsaved family member, or in your praying to heal an unsaved family member rather than the God to whom you are praying to save an unsaved family member, then you are engaging in idolatry. If you do not believe that God has the right to punish an unsaved family member in hell for their sins, or to take the life of your friend with cancer, just simply because you prayed, then you are, indeed, engaging in idolatry. It is the same thing with carrier pursuits and hobbies. When, in the pursuit of your carrier, or in pursuit of a particular hobby, you neglect the things of God, you are, indeed, making these things an idol. While this caution is something that is not urged in these areas, it is something that must be urged in these areas, and the fact that is not shows that our culture really does not care about idolatry today.

We live in a day in age where the breaking of the first four commandments occurs on a regular basis. Just walk around a typical shopping mall this Sunday, and you will see what I mean. Is the commandment about the Sabbath the only thing that is being broken? Look at all of the people who complain because they have to have what they want right now. Look at how many people get nasty when things don’t go their way, and use the name of God and Jesus in vain. Look at how many people openly walk around with symbols of paganism around their neck, and pierced into their body. Go into the bookstore, and look at the books on Hinduism and Buddhism that talk about the use of statues. The first four commandments are things which are broken all around us. Are we really meaning to suggest that this has had no effect on the church? The purity of worship is a grave concern of mine. Worship is so man-centered today rather than God-centered in most churches, that you wonder if it is man or God that is being worshipped!!!!!! The fact that churches have become more of a self-help program than true Biblical teaching should be evidence of the fact that these ideas have, indeed, infiltrated our church. How many people switch churches like most of us change dirty socks? No, we are living in a culture of idolatry, and we must caution people to be careful in all these areas, just as they are careful in their pursuit of marriage.

Furthermore, I think that, in many instances, we can say that it is not true that we do not give attention to these things as idols. For instance, consider carriers. I have seen a good many movies about a father who is never home because he is the owner of a major business. His children basically grow up without a father, and the whole movie is about the damage that this does to his children, and the father coming to regret the fact that he didn’t spend more time with his children. How is this not making your carrier pursuit an idol? Of course, most of these movies were on family stations that were, in fact, run by Christians. Not only that, but why is it that we so oppose the word-faith movement? We so oppose it because it makes an idol out of faith. I heard one critic of word-faith movement say that it is faith in faith, rather than faith in God. The more Christian the society the more likely it is going to be to take precautions against making these things an idol.

So, in all of this, Candice has not escaped the fact that many women today do make marriage an idol. I can’t tell you how many letters I have gotten from women who, upon reading Albert Mohler, Debbie Maken, and Candice Watters have tried to convince their churches, and when they cannot do it, they end up leaving that church for the Roman Catholic Church. How is this not making marriage an idol? Is this text not saying that my marital state is more important than the gospel of Jesus Christ? What you are in essence saying is that it is more important to me to be married than to be obedient in marrying a man who believes in the true gospel of Jesus Christ rather than a man who believes in a false gospel. Also, it is saying that the truth of the gospel doesn’t really matter. It is not, really, a dividing line between one who is truly a believer, and one who is not truly a believer. It is just fine to join a church who tries to add your merit, the merit of Mary and the saints, and the suffering of purification in purgatory to the sufficient, once for all sacrifice of Christ for salvation, even though the scriptures say that the only way in which a man is justified is through the merit of Jesus Christ alone, and say that anyone who denies that is eternally condemned [Galatians 1:6-9]? Let us also not forget about the idolatrous adoration of the host in the mass, the veneration of saints, angels, and images, and the denial of sola scriptura that we can throw in there. You might say that the Roman church actually honors marriage. Consider the perpetual virginity of Mary, the celibate sacramental priesthood, and the pornocracy and see if the Roman Catholic Church really does honor marriage. The only way to honor marriage is to teach what the Bible says about it. These things are grossly unbiblical.

I remember reading a review of Debbie Maken’s book on of a woman who, upon not being able to convince her church of these ideas, ended up leaving that church for a liberal, mainstream protestant church. Apparently, since liberals can be intimidated easily, as they often are with Islam, she was able to convince these people. However, today she does not believe in inerrancy, and neither does her husband. Now, all of the sudden, marriage is even more important than the truth of the scriptures. It is just fine to believe that the scriptures contain falsehoods, so long as I get my spouse.

What about even Debbie Maken herself, whose book is filled with some of the most sexist comments towards single men I have ever seen. In other words, it is simply fine to use that kind of language, so that women can get their spouse, even though the Bible is completely against it [2 Timothy 2:24-26]. Yet, I have run into women who use even more nasty language than what I have encountered from the King James Only folks in order to try to shame men into marrying them. This type of behavior is so contrary to the Bible, and yet, women are willing to do it in service to marriage.

Not only that, but the same blog that tried to argue that “the gift of singleness is dead” has also been urging Christian women to go outside the church to find “Christian men outside of the church,” which, of course, is an oxymoron. God tells us in his word that we are not to forsake the assembly of ourselves together [Hebrews 10:24-25]. A person who willfully rebels against that commandment of God on a consistent basis is not a Christian. The scripture also says that we are to obey our elders and submit to them [1 Peter 5:5]. How can a person do that if they are not a part of a local church? Hence, what we have here is encouragement to marry unbelievers, since there are no believers outside of the Christian church. Hence, we have encouragement to disobey God, again, all in service to getting married.

Again, I have to ask. How are these things not “making marriage an idol?” The commandments of God against believing false gospels, the sufficiency of the scriptures, commandments against physical idolatry [in Roman Catholicism], the truth of the scriptures [denied by liberalism], wholesome talk, and obedience to the commandment of God about the church, and not marrying unbelievers are all lowered in importance far below marriage. Marriage is so important that you can disobey God in any of these areas so long as you get your spouse. These things go far beyond simple loathing the fact that you do not have a spouse. Even that would be idolatry, as I mentioned above. However, these things are much more blatant and gross examples of idolatry than simply loathing a spouse.

If Candice does not believe this stuff is going on, she is just simply sticking her head in the sand. These people need to be rebuked for these horrid examples of idolatry, and called back to pursue marriage in a way that is God honoring, and God glorifying. The fact that Candice Watters quotes Debbie Maken in her book, and even recommends her book in the “recommended reading” section is not helping the afore mentioned attitudes. Yes, I believe what I said earlier that this idolatry is simply reflecting the idolatry of our culture. We need to be wary of this sin in all areas, including this area.

Candice writes:

But can we really make marriage an idol in our postmarriage culture? Not in the way that’s often implied. Where we most often sin in our desire for marriage is not worshiping marriage itself, but in doubting God’s ability to bring it about [p.48].

Candice further explains what she means later on in her book:

It’s not that I disbelieved God could bring me a mate-I just didn’t think He would. Still my heart longed to be married. And on it went. Till Mary Morken helped me to see my prayers for what they were: faithless requests for something I wasn’t even sure it was OK to want [pgs. 146-147].

The reason why I have addressed the topics of marriage as an idol and God’s sovereignty together is because they go together. As a Calvinist, I don’t doubt God’s ability to bring marriage about. I doubt his willingness to do so just because we desire it. God is under no obligation whatsoever to give us a spouse just because we desire to have one. He is the king of our lives, and he can say no to our request for a spouse anytime he wants to do so. I have always asked the question, “Can God say no to your request for a spouse such that you are single for the rest of your life?” The most often answer I get is “no.” That is where I believe the problem lies. If God wants you to be single for the rest of your life, you will be single for the rest of your life no matter how much you “Get Serious about Getting Married” or “Help it Happen.” Not only that, but, if he does decide to give you a spouse, God will cause it to happen exactly when he wants it to happen. You might say that, earlier in your life you didn’t do things that are conducive to marriage. I would say that God ordained that as well. As the Westminster Confession says, God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. I will get into this more in the section on God’s sovereignty, but for right now, we need to understand that God decrees whether or not we will search for a spouse, and whether or not that search will be successful.

For some reason, Candice seems to think that if you say that God is free to give a spouse to whomever he wants, you are simply making “faithless requests for something you aren’t even sure is OK to want.” However, unfortunately, she never describes the logic that Mary Morken used to convince her of this. How is it somehow self-contradictory to say that a desire for something is good, but we need to trust that God knows what his best for our lives, and he will cause our search to be successful if he so desires? It sounds to me that this is much more true faith in God, because we can trust him that, if he says “no” to our request for a spouse, he has done so for a good reason. However, I can’t avoid the conclusion that Candice’s position must ultimately end in saying that God could never have a good reason for saying “no” to a person’s request for a spouse so long as they do the things suggested by herself, Debbie Maken, Albert Mohler and others. As long as we believe that marriage is necessary us as individuals, one wonders if we have faith in marriage, or faith in God.

Candice continues:

That some would make women doubt the rightness of desiring marriage shouldn’t surprise us. Paul told us it would happen. He wrote:

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

(1 Timothy 4:1-5 NASB)

Again, this is a canard. No one has said that desiring marriage is not right. What we have said is that the desire for marriage is not more important than the commandments of God, and, if it becomes so important to you that you neglect other aspects of the Christian life, disobey God’s commandments, and engage in worry [all things forbidden by the scriptures] you are engaging in idolatry. I think anyone can see that. I hope that no one would ever say that when you do those things in an effort to find a spouse, it is just fine.

Candice then goes on to say that “the ‘marriage as idol’ warning prevents many young women from gratefully sharing in what God has created as good” [p.49]. How does it do that? How does wanting your pursuit of something good to be pure necessarily stop a person from actually pursuing it? Again, there is no logical connection whatsoever here.

Now, the reason why I have addressed Candice’s usage of scripture before this is because it is so important to show that this position has no scriptural foundation. We have just seen Candice engage in two logical fallacies, make a statement that is a total canard, and the give us a non sequitor. All in all, Candice has not addressed the argument at all. I almost wonder if she knows that, because tries to go back to scripture to give her some foundation. She writes:

Paul said, “But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Not only is it unlikely that a godly woman’s desire for a biblical marriage would become an idol, biblical marriage is the antidote to much of the idolatry-“sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed”-that plagues our culture. And it is a plague, and epidemic [p.50].

This is why it is so important to understand what is happening in Genesis 3:15-17, and also why it is important to understand why it is highly unlikely that this is what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 7:2. Marriage cannot be the antidote to much idolatry, because it was corrupted by our idolatry in the fall. Where do you think that the competition between the man and the woman where a woman will deny her husband sexual relations, and run off and commit adultery and divorce him comes from? It comes from the very heart of the fall itself in Genesis 3:16, and the sin with which mankind has tainted the marriage relationship. How can such a situation be an “antidote to much of the idolatry…that plagues our culture?” In fact, if the sin problem is not dealt with by the blood of Christ, the woman or the man will take those same sins right into marriage. Now, I am not saying that the problem must be totally dealt with before marriage, but there must always be that battle to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ. It is this that is the only antidote to the idolatries that Candice mentioned. The only antidote to the idolatries of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed that plagues our culture is the shed blood of Jesus Christ which is the only thing upon which my sanctification is based. It is the only reason why any believer struggles day in and day out to deny himself.

However, someone might say, “Yes, but doesn’t God also use means to sanctify us?” Yes, he does. However, if you think about it, the Bible never anywhere says that God works through marriage to sanctify us. The only marriage which sanctifies us is our union with Christ. The idea that marriage is a means of grace is something that is held by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches alone, and if people who believe this must become Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox in order to believe it, then so be it.

You might say, “But I have grown so much going through the things I have gone through in marriage!” I reply. Yes, and others have gone through those same struggles and have left the faith altogether. The key is that the person must be regenerated, and thus be willing to apply the word of God to those situations. Then, they will be sanctified. Thus, it is not marriage that is sanctifying, but it is the word of God which is sanctifying them! Our marriages here on earth have absolutely positively nothing whatsoever to do with our sanctification or our salvation. The only thing upon which my sanctification is founded is the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It is only because Christ shed his blood for me two thousand years ago on the cross of Calvary that I will be with him for all eternity. I bring nothing in my hands for my own salvation, including my future marriage.

Marriage and the Sovereignty of God

I really wonder why it is that Tim Challies has been giving Albert Mohler, Candice Watters, and Debbie Maken his support in his reviews of their books and writings on this topic. Tim is reformed, as far as I know, and thus, he, like me, is a monergist. He likewise believes that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. It is difficult then, in light of chapter 4 of Candice’s book which explains the whole anatomy of how one gets to marriage, to understand why he would put his endorsement upon this book. This chapter is synergistic throughout. It very clearly makes what happens in this world partially dependent on man, and partially dependent on God.

Such is simply not hard to prove. It starts from the very beginning of the chapter. She tells a story about a friend of hers named Amy. Here is what it says:

Amy was still recovering, but she was making progress. Only recently unattached against, she was at our house with some of her single friends talking about how she viewed her failed romance; the one she had thought would end, not with a breakup, but a proposal. “It was a roller-coaster ride,” she said. “But now I can look back and see God’s hand in each twist and turn. I believe He wanted me to go through all that to learn some things.” Amy is a devout believer. But here she was, rationalizing a relationship that left her feeling jerked around and hurth, with no marriage to show for it. It’s like she was casting God in her efforts to get married as some kind of cosmic puzzle maker-constructing a picture too mysterious and grand for her to really understand. Because she couldn’t see the lid to the box with the picture of the completed puzzle, the best she could do was guess, after the fact, what He was to. I believe God plays a much more benevolent role in our journey toward marriage [p. 67]

Now, to any Calvinist, that last statement is a complete denial of the providence of God. According to us, the role that Amy described is a benevolent role, because God is changing us, in his perfect time, into the people he wants us to be. That is the most benevolent thing that God can do for us!!!!! Whether we get married or not, our ultimate goal is to become “holy and blameless” in his sight, and that is the very thing God has predestined us to be [Ephesians 1:4]! Hence, God gives us marriage when he wants to give us marriage.

Candice uses language that sounds like it is compatible with Calvinism, but then she goes on to explain exactly what she means. Take this passage for instance:

God is sovereign. He is all-powerful. He delights in giving good gifts to His children. All that and more is true. But none of it lets me off the hook for the things God has placed under my authority. I’m responsible for a big part of the getting married equation, much more than I realized. This was one of the most important things Mary Morken helped me to see [p.70].

Now, a Calvinist could say “amen” to all of that. However, he believes that God has ordained whether or not you will pursue marriage, as well as whether or not that pursuit will be successful. Hence, even if I have to deal with the fact that I want marriage, but my life has not been consistent with that desire, God has ordained both that my life was inconsistent, and that I would not find a spouse, and he has done so in order to teach me a lesson about the fact that the Bible does, indeed, teach that God uses means. God ordains everything for his good and sovereign purposes.

However, that is not how Candice understands what she has said. Here is how she interprets her own words:

I had a role to play. God was working on my behalf; but for marriage to happen, I needed to cooperate with what He was doing. I had to take responsibility for the things that were under my control by God’s design [p.70].

Now, that statement is a complete denial of everything that a Calvinist believes about the sovereignty of God. Once you start talking about a cooperative effort between man and God that brings about things that happen in this world, you have just flat out denied what reformed theology teaches. This is why it is hard to understand why folks like Tim Challies and Albert Mohler support these ideas. It is absolutely amazing to think that Albert Mohler wrote the forward to a book that denies the very reformed doctrine of God’s providence.

I must keep hammering this home. Candice writes the following:

We have the ability to undermine the good things God is trying to do on our behalf [p.71].

Again, how is this statement true in a reformed belief system? Calvinists believe that what ever God wants to do, he does [Daniel 4:35]. Psalm 135:6 repeats this. Psalm 115:3 says that the Lord does as he pleases. In Job 42:2, Job says that no purpose of the Lord can be thwarted. Now, let me ask all of the Calvinists out there, in the light of all of these passages, is it true that we have the ability to undermine the good things God is trying to do on our behalf? It sounds to me like these passages teach us that if God is trying to do it, he will do it because he does whatever he pleases, and no purpose of his can be thwarted!!!!!

Women who are appropriately waiting for guys to initiate still have plenty of things to do-as well as things to stop doing-to help marriage happen; all the while trusting God to play His part [pgs. 71-72].

Again, we have the synergistic cooperation between man and God to bring things about in this world.

Women must do all they can to prepare. Then we can trust God for the rest, knowing we’ve been faithful to do our part [p.77].

Again, I can’t figure out how it is that one Calvinist can write the forward to this book, and another can endorse it when you have a flat out denial of the very reformed belief in divine providence in describing the very anatomy of how one gets married!!!!!!!

Yes, I know Candice uses reformed language such as “means,” but, apparently, according to these texts, she suggests God is obligated to use those means. He just simply is not. Many times God will ordain that a woman will desire a spouse, and they say “no” to their prayers and pursuit of a spouse is so he can teach them to stop trusting in marriage and start trusting only in him. Not only that, but saying that God works through means is not the same thing as saying that God has also ordained those means. The Westminster Confession of Faith states both. As I said, we must remember that Albert Mohler wrote the forward to this book, and Tim Challies has endorsed it. Again, this is simply unbelievable.

Candice keeps on hammering home the point that there are consequences to our actions. To that I agree. However, let me ask a simple question. Are those consequences to those actions meaningless? Are you willing to tell a girl who has an STD or a crisis pregnancy that all of those things are totally pointless? Indeed, it may have been those things which brought the girl back to repentance in the first place! Yes, even the consequences of our sin work together for good. Paul says that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Does God only cause our righteous actions to work together for our good, or does he not also ordain our sin for our own good? We must think about this. We do have consequences which we must certainly face for the things that we do. No question about it. However, it is often times these very consequences that bring us back to living a life that is honoring and pleasing to God. We can very often be used of God, as many women have in these situations, to warn other men and women about the dangers of premarital sexual relations. Yet, are not these ends good? Indeed they are.

Candice also talks about how, in trusting God, we are to be active. She really tries to hammer home the fact that God’s sovereignty does not negate our responsibility. True enough. However, that does not mean that, because we have responsibility, that it is therefore a cooperative effort, and that we can undermine the good things God is trying to do on our behalf. Such is totally irrational. God ordains both whether or not we will “play our part,” and, if we “play our part” whether or not it will be successful. He is ultimately in control.

This concludes part II of my responses to Candice Watters.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Responses to Candice Watters’ Book Part I

Now that I have gotten out of school for the summer, I have had more time to look at Candice Watters’ book Get Married, What Women Can Do to Help It Happen [Moody Publishers. Chicago, Illinois. 2008]. In this series, I will be responding to some of the arguments she puts forth in her book.

Now, you might be saying, “But you have already dealt with this issue at length on your blog.” Yes, I know. There are two reasons why I am doing this. First of all, Boundless has been, by far, the ones with whom I have had the most fruitful dialogue. They are not like Debbie Maken and the other cultic radicals who run around accusing the other side of lying, and getting into all kinds of personal attacks without any justification. Hence, I believe the most fruitful discussion can be found in dealing with people who are actually concerned for truth, and especially dealing with what one of their authors, especially in her published works, has to say. Also, Candice Watters has attempted to respond to some of the things I have said on my blog in this book. Although I am not mentioned by name, some things I have said, like wanting women to be careful of making marriage an idol, are addressed in the book. I will get to that as time allows.

Also, my views have changed. I have not had a whole lot of time to post about it because I have been so busy during the school year. I have had the great privilege of studying under several fabulous professors here at Trinity, and, in fact, even got a chance to take a class on interpreting the book of Genesis with Dr. Richard Averbeck. The more information that I got from studying, the more I realized that some of my views were not as accurate as they could be. Hence, while I still reject what Albert Mohler, Debbie Maken, and Candice Watters are saying, the arguments I would use against their position have changed. Thus, I hope to use this review as a means to present my new position on several of these topics.

I think that, also, Candice's book does not read as someone who is anti-male and thinks ill of anyone who would disagree with her. There is much redeeming value to this book. There are many things women can do as a means to marriage, and Candice lays some of these things out very well. While many of the ideas of Debbie Maken's book are still there, all of the anti-male vitriol is gone. She is clearly writing honestly, and thus, I believe she deserves an honest answer. With this, I begin my review of her book.

There are four texts upon which Candice seems to focus her scriptural presentation. They are Genesis 2:18, Genesis 1:28, Proverbs 18:22, and 1 Corinthians 7:2. I will address her interpretation of these passages in this part of my review.

Genesis 2:18

First of all, Candice, like Albert Mohler and Debbie Maken before her, uses Genesis 2:18 to support her position. The text reads:

Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."

On pages 21-22 of her book, Candice says:

Still, God looked down on Adam and said something out of synch with everything else He had said about His creation. At the end of each day of creation, “God saw that it was good.” But about Adam, God said, “It is not good.” What wasn’t good? Genesis 2:18a tells us, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’”

What did God meant [sic] by “not good”? Del Tackett, president of the Focus on the Family Institute, explains it wasn’t a qualitative statement-as if God created a three-legged dog and said, “This is not good.” He says it was an ethical statement of badness, as in “man should not be alone.” Why was it not good for man to be alone? Because Adam was created in God’s image. He was made to reflect God in every aspect of his existence. From all eternity God was in perfect relationship within the Trinity as Father Son, and Holy Spirit. For Adam to accurately reflect being made in the image of God, he could not remain alone; he had to be in relationship. Adam alone contradicted God’s nature.

I have provided an extended quotation here to make certain that I am not misrepresented Candice. Notice, Candice says that the phrase “not good” is describing Adam, and goes on to equate Adam’s aloneness as applying to his very nature as created in the image of God. Debbie Maken and others do this as well. The idea is that there is something wrong with a man who is alone such that it leads to pornography addictions, irresponsibility, and just plain immature behavior. For women, it is said that it can often lead to depression. I don’t know if Candice would want to go that far, but the point here is that Candice seems to be saying that there is something inherently wrong with the man himself because he was alone. This is the first problem I see with her interpretation.

In actuality, the Hebrew text is clearly constructed in such a way so as to avoid this conclusion. This is something Dr. Averbeck pointed out to me. He asked me to take a careful look at the text, and wow, what a careful second look at a text will do!!!!!!!! First of all, in order to understand what is going on in this text, I will have to explain what a “gerund” is. A gerund is the usage of a verb as a noun. Gerunds can be recognized in that they will usually have an –ing ending. Here is an example: “Running is good for your health.” Let us ask ourselves. What is the subject of that sentence? It is most clearly “running.” However, “running” is a verb! This is an example of a gerund since it is clear that a verb is used as a noun. There is a form, in Hebrew, called the “infinitive construct” that can function in this fashion, usually as the subject of a sentence [Waltke-O’Connor p. 601; Jouon-Muraoka §124b, GKC §114a]. This is what is found in Genesis 2:18. Here is the text, in Hebrew, with and English translation following it to show you exactly how the text is constructed:

[alone] AD+b;l. [the man] ~d"Þa'h'( [the being of] tAyðh/ [(is) not good] bAj±-al{

For those who do not know Hebrew, remember that Hebrew is read from right to left. Also, this construction is kind of awkward in that the predicate is placed first [(is) not good]. This kind of a construction is usually used for emphasis. What is being emphasized is what is transferred out front, namely, the [(is) not good]

The Hebrew term tAyh/ is an infinitive construct of the Hebrew verb hy"h' which means “to be.” All of the Hebrew grammars I cited before [which, incidentally, are the most popular Hebrew grammars in print], Waltke-O’Connor, Jouon-Muraoka, and GKC, mention this passage as a clear example of this gerundive usage of the infinitive construct as the subject of the sentence. Thus, when we add an –ing to “be” we get “being.” Now, this “gerund” is in construct with the noun following it ~d"a'h' [the man] and is thus, literally, “the being of the man.” Now, I will not get into all of the parts of ADb;l as it is not relevant to the meaning of the text. Suffice it to say that the term means “alone.” Hence, when we put our translation together, we have “the being of the man alone is not good.” Indeed, this is how Bruce Waltke and Michael O’Connor translate the passage in their grammar [p.601]. Also, GKC has a similar translation, “not good is the being of man in his separation” [GKC §114a (a)].

Thus, what is not good is not the man when he is alone. The easiest way to say that in Hebrew is to leave out the tAyh/. Thus, the text would read, “The alone man is not good.” However, the tAyh/ is clearly there in the text, and thus, the text is not saying that an unmarried man is not good. What is not good is his situation of being alone. That is extremely important to recognize. That totally refutes any notion of marriage as a “need” for an individual person. Such is simply not in the text, and, by the clear usage of tAyh/, is being avoided by Moses.

The reason why this mistake is often made in relationship books is because of the fact that the English phrase “the being of the man alone is not good” is awkward English [hence, translations are not going to translate it that way], and the phrase “It is not good for the man to be alone,” while much better English, is much more ambiguous [hence, most translations will translate it this way, but it can lead to some confusion]. The phrase “It is not good for the man to be alone” can mean both “the being of the man alone is not good,” and “the man alone is not good.”

However, you might be saying, “However, doesn’t that leave you with saying that singleness is “not good?” This is something Candice, though following her old line of thinking, takes advantage of, in responding to the common interpretation of this phrase that the word “alone” here simply refers to “community:”

And so God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” The story continues. “So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a singles group, and he brought it to the man to alleviate his lonliness.”

Of course, that’s not what the text says. Why is it then that I so often hear this Scripture used to explain our need for just about every kind of relational structure except marriage? While it’s true that God goes on to create other social structures to meet certain human needs (such as civil government and the church), He started with marriage. His specific and immediate solution for Adam’s problem was a wife [p.22].

Candice’s logic is very clear. She might say to us:

  1. Adam’s situation of singleness is not good.
  2. God solved the situation by bringing him a spouse.
  3. Therefore, we should go out and find a spouse, and it will solve our situational problem of singleness.

This is one of the texts on which I have changed my views. I used to hold the view that Candice attacks here, namely, that this was talking about our need for community. In fact, this was the view that was even expressed in the textbook for our class! However, Dr. Averbeck actually won me over to his position at the end of last semester.

One of the interesting things that I have found in studying at an Evangelical institution such as Trinity is that the more conservative scholars have taken the academic methodology of a man by the name of Robert Alter. Now, I need to make it clear; Robert Alter is an unbeliever. He views narratives such as Genesis as literary fiction. Thus, he is not a Christian. Because of this, I have some real concerns about Evangelical scholarship using him to try to attack Welhausen. However, one of the things that is really interesting about Alter is that he is not only a professor of Biblical Hebrew, but also a professor of literature. Thus, his work was to see if he could find any literary structures in Biblical narratives and Biblical poetry. He believes he has been successful, and his work has started an entire movement within Old Testament scholarship. The Welhausians have been fighting his movement on this ever since. I think that both Evangelicals and Welhausians have had a gross overreaction to Alter, but that is the topic for another blog post. Suffice it here to say that I believe that Alter’s major contribution to Old Testament studies is exegetical, not polemical. Since we as Christians, like Robert Alter, do view the Old Testament narratives as literary wholes, we can use what Alter has said.

Viewing the text as a literary whole is very difficult. It means you must always be reading ahead, and keeping in mind what has come before. This is why Dr. Averbeck, in our exegesis class, made the exegetical work for the text we were going to discuss in class due as well as the exegetical work for the text we were going to discuss the next class session due at the same time. While that was hard, you can see value to it in dealing with this issue. In the next chapter, Adam and Eve sin, and you, of course, have the promise of deliverance in the seed of the woman. However, there is quite the significance to the punishment of woman. Consider the following:

Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."

What is interesting about this text is the allusions back to the earlier chapters in Genesis. The text starts out with “I will surely multiply.” Here, you have a regular 1cs hiphil imperfect of hb'r' which simply means “I will multiply.” However, before it, you have what is called an “infinitive absolute” [also in the hiphil stem]. This is the most common usage of the infinitive absolute, namely, using the infinitive absolute of the same verb as the main verb to emphasize the main verb [Waltke-O’Connor pgs.584-588]. Hence, most translations read, “I will surely multiply,” or, “greatly will I multiply.” This is significant because the only other places where this verb hb'r' has been used before this is in Genesis 1:22 and 1:28, where we find the commands “Be fruitful and multiply.” Both of these contexts are talking about child bearing, and both use the same verb, and hence, most scholars will accept that this is a parallel. It is interesting that, unlike Genesis 1:22 and 28, what is multiplied is not children, but the pain in having children! Hence, what this text is telling us is that because of the fall, now, one of the original blessings of creation, namely, the birthing of children has been corrupted by sin. Now, we need to make a distinction. I am not saying that having children is something that is corrupt. Having children is, indeed, something that is good. However, the giving birth to children has been corrupted by our sin. Thus, having children, though good in and of itself, has been corrupted by our sin.

That is why the next phrase is so important. “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." Most people have noticed a parallel to God’s warning to Cain in the next chapter in Genesis 4:7, “It’s [sin’s] desire is for you, but you must rule over it” [translation mine]. Some have tried to make a parallel to Songs of Songs 7:11 [Eng. 7:10], but the results have been less than convincing. Obviously, given this parallel to Genesis 4:7, we can see that the desire here is not something good. Apparently, what this text is saying is that the desire will be to conquer her husband. However, he will go on being the head of her just as creation intended. Some have suggested that the Hebrew term lv;m' indicates some kind of tyrannical rule. However, that is not likely. The term does not, in and of itself, have that connotation. For instance, it is the same term used in Genesis 1:16 where it says that God created the sun “to rule over the day.” Suffice it to say that, if this is, indeed, a tyrannical rule, one must argue for this contextually, and not lexically as the term has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

However we take the term lv;m' here, it is very clear that this text is telling us that, as punishment for sin, marriage will now have the problem of the woman’s desire to dominate the man, and there will be strife. However, what is interesting to note is that this also points us back to Genesis 2:18! The woman was created to be a “helper” for man. However, now, as a result of the fall, her desire is to usurp her husband’s authority, which is the exact opposite of being a “helper.” Hence, because of the corruption of sin, woman does not function as a helper, and thus, does not function as the solution to Adam’s situation that she once was. Hence, we can say that, not only was child bearing corrupted by sin, but also the marriage relationship itself was corrupted by sin. Now, again, we need to clarify. I am not saying that there is anything inherently corrupt with a marriage relationship, or about wives in and of themselves. Both of them, as God created them, are good. However, this text forces us to the harsh reality that the good marriage relationship has been corrupted by our sin.

The implications of this are extremely significant. I don’t know of anyone who would disagree with me that the things spoken of in this text are “not good.” Therefore, what this means is that just as it is “not good for the man to be alone,” it is also “not good for the man to marry.” In other words, part of the punishment for man is to put him in a catch-22. If he is single, his situation will be “not good.” If he is married, his situation will be “not good.”

Yes, I am well aware of the fact that we are to honor marriage, and that a wife is something that is good. There is no question about it. However, when we speak of these things, we are speaking of the inherent nature of marriage itself, not a marriage relationship that has been corrupted by sin. For instance, I like to eat sandwiches. I could easily say that sandwiches are good. However, does that mean that, if I refuse to eat a sandwich that has been dropped in a mud puddle, that, therefore, I am saying that sandwiches are not good? No, of course not. In the same way, marriage is good in and of itself, but the situation of marriage+sin is not good. What has made being married not good is something that has been added from the outside, and not something that is inherent in the institution of marriage itself.

My conclusions are not something new. In fact, here is a scholar who is willing to say that marriage and children are life’s greatest blessing. Yet, he says that, “In those moments of life’s greatest blessing-marriage and children-the woman would serve most clearly the painful consequences of her rebellion from God" [Sailhamer, J. p.56]

Likewise, C. John Collins states that, “Whereas procreation had previously been the sphere of blessing, now it is an area of pain and danger” [Collins, p.169].

About the only response I can think of to this is to say that a woman does not have to usurp her husband’s authority. She can, at times, be willing to submit to her husband either because of God’s common grace, or because she is a Christian. However, the problem with this argument is that, even though she may, at times, be willing to submit to her husband, she cannot do it all of time, and, even if she has done it once [something I would say is impossible], she has created a situation that is, “not good.” Not only that, but if a woman just simply desires to usurp the authority of her husband, but does not do so, how is that not sin? Because of this, even if she does not do it all of the time, this text describes the struggle of the believing woman, and the strife that is caused to deny her old nature that she will have throughout her life. It is this strife, coupled with the strife she will have with her husband when she actually does do it that will make being married “not good.”

Not only that, but it could be said that any sin against your husband is usurping his authority. When you do what is evil to your husband, you are showing that you do not have respect for the authority structure that God has set up above you. Because of that, you are, not only usurping God’s authority, but your husband’s authority as well. Thus, a person using this argument would have to argue that they will never sin against their husband.

I think we can see the pelagian character of this argument. If anyone is going to get out of this argument, then they are going to have to deny that the fall of Adam and Eve has any impact on their life, and on their relationship to their spouse. Thus, because of sin, I would say that it can be said from Genesis 3:16 that “It is not good for the man to marry.”

Now, here are a few other observations about this text. First of all, this text is most definitely militating against the idea that marriage is the solution to sin. Marriage has been corrupted by sin, and thus, marriage cannot save anyone from their sin. I believe that this was intentionally done to prevent Adam and Eve from looking to their relationship with each other as the salvation from their sins, and to only look to the seed of the woman that would crush the head of the serpent.

I suppose one could grant what I am saying and say, “Yes, it is true that it is not good for the man to marry, but, that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t marry. I mean, human life itself is likewise tainted by sin. However, does that mean that we should not live the life because it will be tainted by sin?” Of course, to that I agree. However, now this argument can be turned back on its proponent. We can now say that, just because it is not good for the man to be alone, does not mean that he shouldn’t be alone. The man may decide that he prefers the struggles of singleness to the struggles of marriage.

Genesis 1:28 and the Creation Mandate

Genesis 1:28 God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Candice Watters writes the following on pages 23-24 of her book:

Only after God created male and female does Genesis say, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” And to Adam and Eve jointly, God gives the marching orders for mankind: “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living things that moves on the earth’” (v.28 NASB). It wasn’t just for companionship that Adam needed Eve. God had work for them to do. And for this work, Adam needed a helpmate. In a marriage that made them “one flesh,” Eve complemented Adam’s abilities and made it possible for the two of them to be fruitful, to subdue the earth, and to take dominion. Theologians call this the “creation mandate.” Dr. Morken explained that within the command for fruitfulness and dominion is the framework for everything we are called to do in our work and families. When challenged that this was only God’s way of “jump starting” the world, Dr. Morken answered boldly, “The creation mandate has never been rescinded. Never in Scripture did God say, ‘OK, I have enough people now. You can stop getting married and having babies.’”

God continues to call His people to this work in order to accomplish His purposes. In Isaiah 45, The prophet reinforces the creation mandate, writing,

Woe to him who says to his father, “What have you begotten?” or to his mother, “What have you brought to birth?” This is what the Lord says-the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heaves; I marshaled their starry hosts. For this is what the Lord says-He who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other” Isaiah 45:10-12, 18.

Now Candice raises several issues with regards to Genesis 1:28. We should first of all deal with her interpretation of Isaiah 45 to see if it has any relevance to the “creation mandate.” It is difficult to say what Candice thinks is relevant in Isaiah 45:10-12, 18. I can only come up with two possibilities. That it is the saying to one’s father, “What have you begotten,” etc. or the statement “he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.” She could be trying to take either possibility or both possibilities. Hence, I will have to deal with both of these as possible parallels to Genesis 1:28.

Candice’s best case for a parallel is the first one. However, even then, it is difficult contextually. Consider, first of all, the context provided by verses 5-8:

Isaiah 45:5-8 "I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, 7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. 8 "Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.

Notice that the context is not about any kind of Creation mandate for man. Quite the contrary. The text is talking about God’s dominion, not our dominion. The text is focusing upon the sovereignty of almighty God. He is so far above us in power and authority, that he even causes well-being as well as calamity! This is the first problem with a parallel to Genesis 1:28.

Secondly, there seems to be a twofold woe in the text of which verse 10 is the second part. Here are verses 9-10, and you will see what I mean:

Isaiah 45:9-10

"Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker-- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, 'What are you doing?' Or the thing you are making say, 'He has no hands '?

10 "Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' Or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?'"

Notice how, after asserting the sovereignty of God above man, now we have a two part woe upon the person who would quarrel with his maker, of which verse 10 is the second part. Hence, it appears that, saying to the potter “what are you doing?” or something you are making saying “he has no hands” is parallel to a infant saying to his father while he is being born “what are you begetting,” or to his mother “what are you giving birth.” Hence, no one can complain about their mother and father giving birth to them, in the same way that no one would dare complain to their creator about the way they are being formed. Hence, the text has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any kind of mandate to “Be fruitful and multiply,” but rather, it is pointing out the silliness of an infant being born who would complain to their parents about their being born.

Now, the final attempt that could be made is to refer to verse 18, and say that the phrase “he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited” means that God created the world to be inhabited, and, therefore, we are still under obligation to inhabit it. I will point out later that, if this is understood in a covenantal fashion, I can agree with this. However, this would not be a good text to use to prove that. One might also try to use this text to say that God created every square inch of this earth to be inhabited, and thus, we need to have children until we fill every square inch. That is a gross misunderstanding of, not only this text, but also Genesis 1:28.

This text does, indeed, reference creation, but it references creation long before Adam and Eve ever came onto the scene. The Hebrew term for “empty” is Whto the same word found in the famous word pair of Genesis 1:2: Whbow" Whto “formless and void.” This will become important later on.

This is a beautiful text in that we reflect upon various aspects of the nature of God and his creation:

18. For

a. thus saith the Lord.

b. The one who created the heavens

c. He is God

d. The one who formed the earth, and made it.

e. He established it.

f. He did not create it formless.

g. He formed it to be inhabited.

h. “I am the Lord, and there is no other. [translation mine]

The beauty of this text is in the fact that this is practically all an introduction to the speech of the Lord in 18h, and yet, it is so very rich in meaning. The first section is what is called a quatrain, that is, a unit of four colons or lines of poetry. It is in the form of ABAB. Notice:

A- thus saith the Lord.

B- The one who created the heavens

A- He is God

B- The one who formed the earth, and made it.

This text is set apart by the use of substantive participles to describe the Lord. Obviously, in this text, the two A’s go together, and the two B’s go together. Thus, this text is emphasizing the fact that the God who is speaking is the very creator of the heavens and the earth. It is not just any old pagan God who is speaking, it is yhwh himself, the one who created the heavens and the earth!

The next section is a tricolon, that is, three lines of poetry, and it is pretty amazing how this text is constructed. It is in the form A-B-B’:

A- He established it.

B- He did not create it formless.

B’- He formed it to be inhabited.

Notice how the first colon connects it back to the previous quatrain, although with a totally different construction in the Hebrew. This intimately connects these colons together, and shows us that we are going to be expanding upon the theme of God as creator.

Often times in parallelism, you have a type of parallelism wherein the first sentence or phrase is somewhat ambiguous, and the second sentence or phrase clarifies the ambiguity [Berlin, 96-99]. That is what we have from the first colon to the second colon. The second colon is more specific than the first. It is not just that God created the world, he didn’t create it as the wasteland that it was in Genesis 1:2. He kept on going, and made it the beautiful creation that it is today.

Another type of parallelism is between the second and third line. In this kind of parallelism “the negative transformation is performed on a parallel (i.e. equivalent) sentence” [Berlin, 56]. Other examples of this include Proverbs 3:1 which reads:

My son, do not forget my teaching,

But let your heart keep my commandments;

Proverbs 6:20 is another example:

observe the commandment of your father

And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;

In other words, in this type of parallelism, you say something in a positive way, and then you say that same thing in a negative way. This is very important, because it means that “to be inhabited” is being paralleled with the “formless” that is alluding to Genesis 1:2. Hence, inhabited here is not talking about having so many people that you cover every square inch of the earth, or even having people on every part of the earth. It is referring to the fact that God made this a place in which human beings can live, and not the formless and void wasteland of Genesis 1:2 that is impossible for human life. Thus, even if two people inhabited the earth [as Adam and Eve did], it would fulfill this purpose. Thus, the illusion it not to the creation mandate, but every single creative action of God, in contrast to the “formless and void” of Genesis 1:2. It is not about how many humans are on the earth, but whether or not there are humans on the earth at all!

However, it seems to little to leave this at a simple response. This is all an introduction to the speech of the Lord, and yet, in this short, not even one verse introduction, we have the introduction of yhwh, the distinguishing of him as the true God from the false gods, and a statement about the goodness of yhwh, in that he takes care of his people, and gives them what they need. There is a real artist at work when you can do all of that in a simple introduction to someone’s speech! Think of how many times the introduction to the speech of the Lord is simply “thus saith the Lord.” Now, obviously, there is nothing wrong with that. However, Isaiah, being the beautiful poet that he is, has given us a much more full introduction that moves from the introduction of yhwh, to him as creator (distinguishing him from the false gods), and finally to him as a good Lord who cares for his people. That is especially important in light of the comfort the Lord gives the people of Israel in the verses that follow!

Now, let us return to Genesis 1:28. The main problem with applying this text to individuals is that you cannot read it consistently the whole way through. For instance, if [virtually] every individual is commanded to “be fruitful and multiply,” then is virtually every individual under the obligation to have seven billion children so that they “fill the earth?” Well, of course, no one is going to be willing to say that. However, if you read the first two imperatives as commands to individuals, you must do the same to the third. There is no exegetical warrant whatsoever for a changing of the person to whom the third command is given. It is the very next word in the exact same form as the first two.

The only response I can think of is someone like Albert Mohler saying that he only believes that virtually everyone must be open to having children. He could say that this would harmonize well with this third imperative, since every couple must be open to having that many children, if that were possible [which, it obviously is not]. While this certainly does harmonize well with the third imperative, it does not harmonize well with the fourth. Are we to suggest that we are only to “be open” to ruling over the fish of the sea? Such a view turns the “dominion mandate” into “dominion openness.” Again, the problem with people who take the position of Candice Watters, Debbie Maken, or Albert Mohler using this passage is that they cannot read the text consistently from beginning to end.

Now, there have been some scholars who say that this text no longer applies. I do not agree with that. However, Dr. Morken’s response does not even begin to address the issue. The dominion mandate would no longer apply if, indeed, we “filled the earth.” For instance, proponents of this view will point to passages such as Genesis 6:11 where it is said that the earth was “filled with violence.” It obviously does not mean that there was violence on every square inch of the soil of the world. Augustine is a person who held this perspective, and he said that, it was in the light of this blessing, that there were people all over the world. Now, I could agree with Augustine’s position, but the problem is that, if there are no more children, then the earth is no longer full. Hence, in order to keep the earth full, children must be a vital part of Christian society.

Of course, I would take a totally different interpretation of this passage, as I hold that, as these terms “be fruitful” [hr'p'] and “multiply” [hb'r'] are terms that are consistently used in covenant contexts throughout the Pentateuch, referring to the elect line of the book of Genesis, [Genesis 9:1, 7; 17:2, 6, 20 (spoken of Ishmael in distinction to Isaac); 28:3; 35:11; 48:4], and after this, it is used to refer to the nation of Israel [Genesis 47:27; Exodus 1:7; Leviticus 26:9]. Hence, these terms are very clearly meant to be applied to the covenant as a whole, and not to any one individual in the covenant [unless, as it was in the time of the patriarchs, there was only one individual in the covenant]. Hence, my position is that, the way in which this command is to be fulfilled today, is not by saying that almost every individual must have children, but by saying that every Christian community is under the obligation to raise up a second generation to whom we can pass along the faith. In other words, just as every church must have elders and deacons, every church must have married couples who have children, and bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord with the help of the entirety of the church community.

Thus, I would say that Dr. Morken, as well intentioned as he might be, has applied a text to individuals that simply cannot be applied to individuals. I obviously believe my interpretation fits better with the context of Genesis 1:28, and fits like a glove into my covenant theology. I think that, part of the problem is that we live in such an individualized society, that we think the solution to every problem has to do with individuals. We have even framed the statistics in this fashion, talking about how many children each individual woman needs to produce on average to increase the population. The reality is that, if as much as one third of married couples do not decide to have children, and all the couples that do decide to have children have four children, then you have enough, according to the statistics, to increase the population. Combine that with the fact that, in a lot of reformed churches, you have one family that usually has over ten! Also, combine that with the fact that, later on in life, some couples that had initially decided to not have children, my end up getting pregnant, and that also takes down the number per couple. Not only that, but with all of these children floating around, you are going to need to educate them [both on Sunday and during the week], you are going to need people to watch the children if the mother goes off to work. Add to this the fact that raising children is hard work, and you will need the wise council of other Christians for help. One can see that when the Christian community is “fruitful and multiplies,” it is a whole community effort with the leadership of the parents. That is, I believe, what this text, and the others mentioned are pointing us toward.

Something Found in Proverbs 18:22

Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD.

Candice quotes this text ad infinitum ad nauseum. She also kept on italicizing the word “finds.” I was absolutely perplexed as to why it is that this was being done. Then, I came upon this on pages 63-64 of her book:

It’s one thing to tell a woman to stop looking for a husband and just trust God to bring you one, but to tell a man to stop looking for a wife is a big part of why so many singles who’d like to be married aren’t. To tell a man, “Stop looking for a wife and then she’ll appear” is like telling him to stop studying, stop looking for a job, and stop house hunting in order to get a college degree, land a job, and buy a house. Sentiments like this may be well intentioned and even sound spiritual, but they’re not Biblical. Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” To find something-or in this case, someone-requires looking. Marriage is not a thing that’s out looking for people to join. It’s a state to be pursued. Ideally the one doing the pursuing is the man.

Now, I wondered where I had heard that argument before, and, indeed I had, on a comment on my blog. I still stand by what I said on that, but with a few qualifications. First of all, to repeat what I said on that blog, it is totally fallacious to try to use one word to decide a debate. You leave yourself open to all kinds of counter examples, and refutations on the basis of grammar and context.

First of all, the idea that the Hebrew term ac'm' has, in and of itself, some idea of “looking to find” is easily refuted by just a few references to this term in the Hebrew Bible:

Proverbs 6:33 Wounds and disgrace he will find, And his reproach will not be blotted out.

Are we really to suggest that the one who commits adultery is going out looking for disgrace?

Proverbs 20:6 Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy man?

Is this text really meant to suggest that it is not possible to go out and actively find a trustworthy man, but that it leaves open the possibility of a trustworthy man being “stumbled upon?”

Proverbs 25:16 Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, That you not have it in excess and vomit it.

Again, the clear meaning of this proverb is that, whether we go out and look for honey, or stumble upon it in a nest by the road somewhere, we are only to eat what we need. Again, the artificial distinction found between finding and stumbling upon something takes away the punch of these proverbs.

Genesis 37:32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, "We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or not."

Now, obviously, Joseph’s brothers did not mean to tell their father that they went out looking for this tunic! Remember, they are trying to hide that fact that they sold him into slavery.

Genesis 44:8 "Behold, the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks we have brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord's house?

This is referring to the fact that Joseph had given orders to restore their money to their sacks of grain, and, in Genesis 42:27, which describes the event to which the brothers are referring, there is a hNEhi clause used showing the great surprise of the brother at seeing his money in his sack. That is hardly someone who went looking for the money in his sack! Yet, the Hebrew term ac'm' is used here.

Now, I write all of this simply to point out that relying on the one term “find” is not only bad hermeneutics, it is also a fallacious argument as the term does not make any lexical distinction between finding by searching, or stumbling upon something. In fact, we use this kind of language in English all of the time. Let us say that a young boy goes out to the field to fly his kite, and while he is running to get the kite in the air, he trips, and when he hits the ground, he sees something shining on the ground next to his face. It turns out to be a gold coin. Now, would it be somehow wrong for this boy to tell his mom when he got home, “Look mom, I found a gold coin in the field today.” Of course not. Hence, you cannot even get this from an English translation.

However, that does not mean that Proverbs 18:22 does not imply some kind of searching. This is where I have changed my views on this text from the time I wrote the response on my blog. I had a class on poetic and prophetic book studies, and I had a little bit of time to study this. It is true that the term itself does not imply some kind of searching, but that does not mean that this kind of searching is not implied in the text. However, that must be argued from the context. A much more sophisticated argument that this is an intentional pursuit is provided by Dr. Bruce Waltke in his commentary on Proverbs [Waltke, Vol 1 p.425; Vol2 p.94]. He argues that this text has parallels to the pursuit of wisdom. For instance, consider Proverbs 8:17:

Proverbs 8:17 "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.

Now, compare that text with Proverbs 8:35 and 18:22:

Proverbs 8:35 "For he who finds me finds life And obtains favor from the LORD.

The parallels between this text and 18:22 are obvious. The word for “find” is exactly the same, the word for “obtain” is exactly the same, and the word for “favor” is exactly the same. Not only that, but the only difference is in the forms of ac'm' and the fact that “what is good” is replaced by “life” here. However, given that they syntax of the first ac'm' in Proverbs 18:22 is awkward anyway, and given that it would be consistent that the book of Proverbs would not want to give life to everyone who is married, such differences are readily understandable.

However, we need to notice the leap in logic that is being displayed here. The problem is that the pursuit here is assumed to be something that is uniquely male. Let me ask a simple question. Where is that in this text? What if I were to define pursuing a wife as “helping marriage happen” [a concept that, as a Calvinist, I believe is totally misidentified]? Obviously, Candice would then have to say that both men and women have to do that, since the title of her book is how women can help make marriage happen. While, upon further study, I have found justification for the idea of pursuit in this passage, where the argument falls apart is in trying to make this something that is uniquely male.

Not only that, where does it say anything about how long this pursuit is to be? Perhaps the pursuit can be something as simple as telling a girl who has said that she would like to start a relationship with you that you would be interested in starting a relationship with her as well. Perhaps it is something as simple as living a life of faith as Boaz did. Either way, the assumption made throughout this book that this is something uniquely male, and somehow connected to initiation of a relationship is totally and completely unwarranted exegetically. This says nothing whatsoever about the initiation of a relationship, but only that no one can sit around and do nothing if the expect a relationship to start. Imagine if a girl says she would like to start a relationship with you, and you say nothing, and ignore her. Will a relationship happen? No, of course not. You must answer her, and this answer is the pursuit and the finding of a wife that is mentioned in this text.

Thus, I would say the emphasis on the text has to do with the goodness of the pursuit, and the goodness of a wife. What it is saying is that, when you find a wife, you have found what is good, and obtained favor from the Lord, and thus, even the pursuit of a wife is something, like the pursuit of wisdom, that is good.

I don’t want to belabor this text, but I would finally like to point out that I think, because of the fact that men are, by nature, more of the “go-getters,” then there will be more instances of men asking women out, rather than women asking men out. When this doesn’t happen, we can see that something is wrong in our society. However, that is no justification for making a blanket statement that it must always be the man who initiates the relationship, as there is simply no Biblical warrant for such a statement.

The “Marriage Imperative”

1 Corinthians 7:2 is one of those texts that is very often quoted by folks in this movement, and Candice Watters is no different. This is another one of those texts upon which Candice relies heavily. I remember that Debbie Maken brought this text up in a dialogue with me.

1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:2 is one of those texts that is very often quoted by folks in this movement. I remember that Debbie Maken brought this text up in a dialogue with me. Of course, one of the reasons why this text is used so often by Candice Watters is because, according to her, not only does it state that people must marry, but that they must marry to stop sexual immorality.

I have already dealt with that passage here in the context of a response to Candice Watters on the Boundless Blog, and I stand by virtually everything I have said on it. I will repost the comment to which I was responding [in italics], as well as my response:

I would also add that while singles often quote 1 Corinthians 7 in their defense of their "spiritually-superior" unmarried state, Paul didn't just say it's good for the unmarried and widows to stay that way. He also said, "But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband." (v. 2). This is the most unquoted portion of that passage. And given our present circumstances, I believe it is the most relevant.

And, this text is the most often misused by people who try to say that, because sexual immorality is so rampant, therefore, everyone must get married. That is not Paul's point at all. First of all, notice the structure of verses 2-4

3. ...husband...wife...wife...husband
4. ...wife...husband...husband...wife

Notice, that verses 2-4 have exactly the same structure, namely, a chiasm. It is in the form of:


Thus, most scholars [including Gordon Fee, whom Debbie Maken quotes in her book], will say that verses 2-4 are a unit. However, verses 3-4 are talking about the marital duty of sexual relations. How can this be?

Of course, the simple solution to the problem is that the Greek term echo [to have] can be used as a euphemism for sexual relations. The following texts in the Septuagint and the New Testament are some of the texts mentioned by Gordon Fee as instances in which echo bears this meaning:

Exodus 2:1 There was a certain man of tribe of Levi who took [a wife] from the daughters of Levi, and he had [echo] her. [translation mine]

Deuteronomy 28:30 thou shalt take a wife, and another man shall have [echo] her; thou shalt build a house, and thou shalt not dwell in it; thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes of it. [Brenton Translation]

Isaiah 13:16 and they will strike their children in front of them, they will plunder their houses, and they will have [echo] their wives. [translation mine]

Mark 6:18 For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have [echo] your brother's wife." [NASB]

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has [echo] his father's wife. [NASB]

Thus, the meaning of verse 2 would be "because of sexual immorality, let each man have sexual relations with his own wife, and let each woman have sexual relations with her own husband."

This interpretation would also fit with verse 1. Paul would be admitting that there is some truth to what is said in verse 1 but, because sexual immorality will exist in this life, we are not to refrain from sexual relations with our wives. Indeed, he goes on to say that there is only one case where someone cannot have sexual relations with their wife, and that by an agreement for a period of time so that they can devote themselves to prayer [v.5]. Thus, the text is addressing one topic from verse 1 until verse 5.

There are also some criticisms that can be levied against your interpretation of this passage. First of all, there is a Greek word for "to marry," namely, gameo, and Paul uses that term down in verse 9 in the imperative. It is hard to explain why it is that Paul used the imperative of gameo in verse 9, but not in verse 2. There is no literary reason why he would change, nor is their a contextual reason why he would change.

Also, it would seem, if we take your interpretation, that Paul contradicts himself twice in this passage. First of all, he says that he has no command from the Lord concerning virgins [7:25], and, given your interpretation, this certainly would be a command to virgins. Not only that, but Paul later on commands them not to seek to change their state [7:27]. Now, whether you limit this to the time of the "present distress" or not, you have just made Paul command the virgins in the Corinthian congregation to get married, and yet, to not seek to change their marital status. Such makes Paul utterly self-contradictory.

Not only that, but your interpretation completely disrupts the text of verses 1-7. Verse 2 would be a statement addressed to virgins, verses 3-4 would be a text addressed to married people, and verses 5-7 would again be referring to virgins. Such an interpretation thus makes the structure of the entire passage totally random, and inserts an unnatural break at every change of audience.

Thus, I would say that 1 Corinthians 7:2 is not at all relevant to our present circumstances as single people.

I have also found out something interesting with regards to this passage. The NET has interestingly translated this text as:

1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of immoralities, each man should have relations with his own wife and each woman with her own husband.

What is also interesting is the footnote that they give explaining the reasoning for their translation:

tn Grk “each man should have his own wife.” “Have” in this context means “have marital relations with” (see the following verse). The verb ἐχέτω (ecetw, “have”) occurs twice in the Greek text, but has not been repeated in the translation for stylistic reasons. This verb occurs 8 times in the LXX (Exod 2:1; Deut 28:30; 2 Chr 11:21; 1 Esd 9:12, 18; Tob 3:8; Isa 13:16; 54:1) with the meaning “have sexual relations with,” and 9 times elsewhere in the NT with the same meaning (Matt 20:23; 22:28; Mark 6:18; 12:33; Luke 20:28; John 4:18 [twice] 1 Cor 5:1; 7:29).

It is interesting that they have said the very same thing I said above. Not only that, but other very well known commentators say the same thing. Dr. Craig Blomberg [pgs. 133, 136], Gordon Fee [pgs. 278-279], and Dr. Richard Hays [pgs. 113-114] have all taken this interpretation of this passage in their commentaries. In fact, Gordon Fee says he knows of no instance in which the idiom "to have a wife" means "to take a wife" [Fee, p.278 n48]. He says that, in most of those instances, the Greek term lamba,nw is used. He sights the fact that this idiom is used in a Western text variant of 7:28 where it replaces the Greek verb game,w which means "to marry." He also cites an apocryphal text in Tobit 4:12 which does, indeed, refer to taking a wife because of sexual immorality [pornei,a], and lamba,nw is clearly used there. He concludes that, "Paul's usage is clearly different from these" [Fee, 278 n.48]. Furthermore, Fee notes that, for a woman to "take a husband" was utterly foreign to first century cultures [Fee, 278 n48].

Hence, when someone tells you that you should marry because of the rampant sexual immorality in our culture, and they point to 1 Corinthians 7:2, read it from the New English Translation, and then have the citations from Gordon Fee, Craig Blomberg, and Richard Hays ready and waiting.

This concludes the first section in my review of Candice Watters' book.


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