So I have a soft spot for bloggers and debaters who share some of my faults, past and present. Sure, I can only take some of them in infrequent small doses, but I find myself sympathetic to the lack of diplomacy, the harshness, the having to be right at all costs, the "in your face" rhetoric, the trampling of other people, etc. Not that I approve of these things...it's just that I struggle with the same things and recall the days when I was, regrettably, insistent that I was right in behaving this way.
Grace, of course, won out. Not that I demonstrate that grace adequately, but Jesus has tenderized my heart.
So when I'm looking for those who point me to Jesus, who remind me of grace, who exemplify the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) there are certain blogs that I visit.
But --- and I regret to say that this still happens --- when I want to be entertained by debate that makes no pretense at being loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, etc., there are certain other blogs that I visit.
So recently I found myself visiting the Bayly's blog and, against my better judgment, involved myself in discussion. Just this morning, I posted the following, which has since vanished:
Singingowl, thanks for saying so much better than I did what I was trying to say.
And, Tim --- yes, of course there are some gender-specific commands. Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord is the one that usually comes most readily to the minds of many. Then there is the less popular "Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church". There are others of course. But the vast number of commands are, I strongly believe, not gender-specific. Love one another. Do not consider yourself more highly than you should. Put on the full armor of God. Be strong and courageous. Fight the good fight. Do not be weary in well-doing. Etc., etc.
Frankly, I fully appreciate why some of my ultra-conservative sisters balk at the above commands and want to pretend they are "blue" commands. My flesh balks at them as well. "Do not be weary in well-doing" is hardly what I wanted to hear or obey on those horrible days when I was puking my guts out with all-day-long sickness, trying to teach my older children, and having to change toddler diapers --- and then the mere thought of cooking dinner after all that! And "Be strong and courageous" seemed hideously unfair to say to a woman during the pregnancy following a second-trimester miscarriage. Surely God didn't mean ME. Why, those must be masculine commands!
Certainly whatever our hand finds to do we are to do heartily unto the Lord, whether that is working in the kitchen or providing for our family in some other means or serving those outside our family...
Tim, I found it interesting that you quoted the verse about not providing for one's own family. I understood you to be saying that Custis James is, according to you, disobeying this verse by not being a kitchen wife. I would agree with this if this meant that her family was not provided with meals. However, does this verse really mean that we are forbidden from delegating tasks to others or forbidden from hiring out domestic duties? How many meals can we eat out in a restaurant before we are guilty of not providing for our own families? Was I guilty of not providing for my family last night because my son cooked dinner? How many times can we call the plumber before we are in sin? Must the husband provide all the lawn-mowing and yard maintenance or can he delegate this to his son? Would it be more sinful for him to hire it out to a stranger? Would my husband be in sin if he didn't provide me with a knife rack he made himself but instead bought one?
I'm curious because I've never heard this application of that particular verse.
One more thing. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to what a "seminar caller" is. I have to confess that I'm not a fan of talk radio, so I have no idea what this phrase means, and am curious as to what it is that I'm being accused of. (No, I haven't been to any seminars in a very long time.)
Donna, you wrote: "I have no explanation for some of her ideas."
Which ones? the idea that our highest calling is to be servants of Christ? I admit that I once actually made someone laugh by saying this, many years ago, and I was told that I was crazy...and brainwashed by having a pastor for a father. I guess it is somewhat of a crazy idea to some. I hope that's not the idea of mine that you find no explanation for.
You also wrote: "I wish that she would not dodge the issue of Mrs. James' misuse of Scripture. "
Tell you what, Donna. When I've finished some huge ongoing projects around the house, have caught up with a number of things that need my attention, and have read through the stack of books I've been meaning to read for a long time, then I'll consider turning my attention to reading Custis James. I'll probably start with the lone book of hers that I think I still have around here somewhere, the one I dimly recall reading during some pregnancy or another and being encouraged to study God's Word more diligently. Which book do you suggest I read next? And what language resources do you suggest I study in order to gain an intelligent perspective on the Hebrew? I'm not just putting you on the spot, Donna. In fact, I'd like others here to weigh in. Which books would you suggest I read first in order to get the best picture of how Custis James uses or misuses Scripture? Which resources do you use in your study of Hebrew?
Then, a little bit ago, I attempted to post the following, only to get some sort of warning about my comment pending approval because of suspected spam:
I'm not sure why my earlier comment of this morning has disappeared. But, Tim, I wanted to thank you for provoking a wonderful study of 1 Timothy 5:3-16. When I asked my husband about his understanding of the "if anyone does not provide for his own household" warning, he --- as usual --- encouraged us to look at the verse in context. This is a great example of some very gender-specific commandments. Although I've heard of a widower who tried to claim that his family needed to support him, I think the Bible is quite clear that this passage deals with widows, not just with gender-unspecified people whose spouses have died.
Those who know me know that we have a number of widows in our family, including a young widow, and reading this passage was convicting to us as well as providing interesting family discussion.
However, I'll admit that we still don't see that this passage is forbidding wives from hiring out the cooking. I really wish you would address the questions I'd raised earlier in my comment that has since seemed to have vanished.
Donna, I didn't want to seem as if I was sidestepping you, so I decided to spend a little time searching the internet to see if I could find some direct statements, in context, that Custis James makes about Ruth. I did, and I posted this to the discussion:
"Excuse me for not offering a remotely scholarly or even well-researched perspective. But the whole topic of your perspective on the book of Ruth has come up elsewhere, so I set off in search of more information and landed here.
I'll freely admit that I've always been a bit baffled about the whole concept of "finding your voice". This may be due to the fact that I grew up in an extended family where, for the most part, my more carefully-considered opinions were very much valued and appreciated. In fact, because of that, it took me a few years of marriage to figure out that my mother-in-law had not spent her entire life in eager anticipation of hearing my every opinion on every topic. If anything, I had to learn the wisdom of silencing my voice.
However, this [quoting Carolyn Custis James in bold] did resonate with me:
“It’s a man’s world,” we’re told. To succeed as a leader, we must adapt ourselves to the world of men. We must learn to think and speak like a man.
While I don’t want to discount the importance of understanding men and how they think and operate, we aren’t men and are giving up something central to who we are if we lose ourselves by imitating them. We end up distancing our very selves from the message we proclaim. We can routinely prepare and deliver messages without connecting our words to our own hearts and struggles, without tapping into the rich perspectives God has given us as women or drawing out of our personal histories with God.
Back in my single days when I was out in the work force, I had a number of rather heated discussions with other women because I was rather stubbornly fond of my notion that I did not need to sacrifice my gifts and perspectives as a woman in order to be successful. As I would often say, "I have no interest in becoming a cheap imitation of a man." (Yes, my voice was a bit lacking in diplomacy at times.)
But I just finished re-reading the 2nd chapter of Ruth and I have to admit that I don't find in it what you have described here, at least not quite in the way that I think you are saying.
I see Ruth as someone who is a wonderful example of loyalty and of being protective. Her mother-in-law attempts to send her away, but Ruth insists on going with Naomi. Finally Naomi, seeing how determined Ruth is and that there is no persuading her otherwise, says no more (Ruth 1:18)
It is, I believe, that devotion and loyalty that initially attracts Boaz to Ruth. It seems to stir up in him loyalty, devotion, and protectiveness towards Ruth. I believe it is her example that speaks volumes. But I don't necessarily see this as an example of "finding one's voice", unless I am oversimplifying what you mean and taking the phrase way too literally.
I also don't think Ruth necessarily took on a leadership role here. But I need to qualify my opinion by saying that I think our culture is way too obsessed with leadership and tends to try to see it everywhere. It's as if we all feel that every situation calls for a leader. If my friend and I decide to bake a cake together, do we really have to make sure that one of us is leading and the other one is following? Isn't that silly? Am I leading when I say, "Hey, let's beat these eggs a bit longer" but then she's leading when she decides to put in more vanilla than the recipe calls for?
I simply don't see leadership in this wonderful account. I see a degree of loyalty on the part of Ruth that puts me to shame. I see devotion and concern and protectiveness on her part. And I see how God rewarded her through Boaz, who saw her devotion and rewarded it with devotion, loyalty, and protection of his own.
Of course, most importantly, the whole concept of Boaz as the kinsman-redeemer is a beautiful picture of Christ.
What am I missing and why?"
Here is my question to my readers, and I ask you to be --- if need be --- brutally honest: Would you have removed my first comment? If so, why? How could I have worded it in a way that was more in keeping with good Christian discourse?