A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Separating the Men from the Boys

In response to my post about "Realmannspracht," a reader brought up a concern about how we, as a society, can mark the transition from boyhood to manhood. In the past, society had various rites by which males moved from being a child to being an adult. However, we need to realize that the transition is not really dictated by society, but by biology. Manhood is still something God, not culture, gives to men. I think we've fooled our ourselves into believing otherwise, but inasmuch as we have done so, it has been to the detriment of boys, men, and our culture as a whole.

Let's look what the Apostle Paul said:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. (1 Corinthians 13:11, NASB)
Note the progression: (1) A child acting like a child, (2) becoming a man, and then (3) putting away childish things. Step 3 does not come before Step 2.

We like to say, "Act your age." Why do we do this? Because we have subconsciously regarded biological age as the determining factor of someone's development. You don't expect someone who indeed a boy to act like a man. Likewise, you don't expect someone who is indeed a man to act like a boy. Life is indeed a series of initiations for men. They are not initiations from boyhood to manhood, but initiations from one social set of expectations to another. Some rites are indeed optional, like marriage or having children.

The cultures of the past understood this. They may have said, "You don't become a man until you do (xyz)" but their actions pointed towards a different, far deeper reality. Think about the Bar Mitzvah. People don't have the ceremony for 26-year-old men with jobs, houses, spouses, and children. They don't say to these men, "Ok, now you're a man." No, the Bar Mitzvah happens at a very young age. While the Bar Mitzvah may not be a initiation in manhood, per se, the Talmud is clear that boys become men around the time of puberty.

So, we need to remind teenagers of a sobering reality. They are no longer boys and girls. They are men and women. They are at an age of life when their focus should be on taking on the responsibilities of adulthood. What I am saying is shocking to a culture that clings tightly to extended adolescence, the banalities of youth culture, and the choice of older people to refuse to act their age ("60 is the new 40" or whatever). And yet, what I am saying has support from other conservatives.

Teenagers need to realize that just because they are adults, they do not get the privileges of adulthood until they earn them by acting responsibly. I didn't get to use a car for myself until I learned to drive. I didn't get to come and go as I pleased from my home until I moved out, got a real job and payed my own rent at age 24. The expectation was there that I needed to move towards these things. If I stalled anywhere along the way, I got dressed down.

Teenagers are not ready for sex until they are ready for marriage. If they are ready at age 18 like their great-grandparents, more power to them. If they have to wait till their forties to get ready for marriage, so be it. Marriage and sex are the a privileges of adulthood, not the things that make you an adult.

Someone will retort that a 16-year-old "boy" [sic] is not as mature as a 26-year-old man. True, but a 26-year-old man is usually not as mature as a 46-year-old man. Just because a male teenager doesn't have all his ducks in a row doesn't mean he is not a man. In fact, having all one's ducks in a row usually takes a lifetime. The 16-year-old man just happens to be near the beginning of the journey unlike some of us. Remember, the State may say one is a man at 18, then bump the age up to 21, then to 25, etc. But what the State does is irrelevant to nature. It may prohibit me from doing things until I reach a certain age, but it can't deny that I am a man when indeed I am a man.

What have we learned? There is no real initiation into adulthood, per se. You are an adult when your body says so, but you don't get the perks and privileges that adults enjoy until you earn them. The last point goes for any age.

Now, a reader said something about people regarding me as a "boy" when they denied I was a "man." Well, if I was indeed a boy, then why the contempt? If I was indeed a boy, then I was acting according to the stage of my physiological development. However, if I was actually a man, then the people calling me a "boy" were most likely trying to insult me and trying to play upon any insecurities society attempts to inculcate into men about their masculinity.

Inasmuch as people uphold the age-old lie that manhood, unlike womanhood, is something that can be granted or denied by culture, then I must regard any charge they make against my manhood as being in earnest. After all, such people clearly think they can invalidate my manhood through opprobrium and censure. They would, however, be guilty of slandering me, an action which is regarded as sinful by the Word of God (1 Corinthians 6:10). If God and nature says I am a man, then who are you to bear false witness? If we want men, but especially young men, to be mature, then let's do it by speaking according to the truth, not by resorting to playground insults and acting like children ourselves.

89 comments:

Niko said...

Shhhhhhhh.....be wery wery quiete, I'm hunting vysota today....

Good post Anakin.

SavvyD said...

So true, we have no rites of passage. Also, the rites of passage that some have are rendered meaningless in many ways because puberty and a Bar Mitzvah no longer mark adulthood. The concept of the "teenager" did not occur until our country's wealth allowed for children to complete high school on a large scale. Back in the 40s most did not complete high school. The 50s were the early heyday of the teen--allowed for by our country's increasing wealth, urbanization and the automobile. And today it gives us all angst.

Amir Larijani said...

Our society does not separate the men from the boys; they are separating the men from their balls.

That is the larger dilemma.

TMink said...

What a thoughtful, cool post. I need to let the ideas sink in, but it is obvious that there is wisdom in your perspective. Thanks!

And good one Amir!

Trey

TMink said...

After just a little thinking, I see two flaws in the Jungian and psychological perspective that I had been familiar with. Your post cleared both of these up for me. I honestly feel foolish for missing them, but I will be glad for being free of them!

The secular men's movement's point was that men are made by initiation, not developmental maturity. They posited that only women were made by maturity. They quoted and frankly venerated aboriginal initiations as necessary for boys to become men.

Two assumptions fundamental to this position are clear to me now. One is that men are biologically and maturationaly inferior to women. They do it by themselves, we need help is the assumption. The other is that we on our own need to guide and transform ourselves. God did not make so that we matured naturally, we had to make ourselves mature.

Both are such obvious claptrap when I write them out! The latter replaces God with us, a classic mistake, and the former recapitulates yet another version of "women good, men bad."

Sheesh, and I fell for it.

Thank you brother, I am wiser this morning than I was last night.

Trey - whose word verification was mandol!

Learner said...

Anakin,

This post is an excellent example of why I read your blog. You have obviously thought through these ideas quite thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

"We like to say, "Act your age." Why do we do this? Because we have subconsciously regarded biological age as the determining factor of someone's development. You don't expect someone who indeed a boy to act like a man. Likewise, you don't expect someone who is indeed a man to act like a boy. Life is indeed a series of initiations for men...
...They are not initiations from boyhood to manhood, but initiations from one social set of expectations to another."

Why do those initiations and thus expectations exist? Because mere biological development into adulthood doesn't mean much. "Manhood" is a qualitative judgement.

"You are an adult when your body says so, but you don't get the perks and privileges that adults enjoy until you earn them."

Exactly. So when people don't meet the usual markers of adulthood (such as marriage and family), they won't be getting the recognition that goes along with them. To complain about that is childish. And that is why you get guys like vysota (among others) making qualitative judgements about your manhood, Anakin.

Triton said...

And that is why you get guys like vysota (among others) making qualitative judgements about your manhood, Anakin.

I doubt Anakin lies awake at night worrying about what Vysota thinks of him.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Exactly. So when people don't meet the usual markers of adulthood (such as marriage and family), they won't be getting the recognition that goes along with them. To complain about that is childish. And that is why you get guys like vysota (among others) making qualitative judgements about your manhood, Anakin.

On what authority would they be making those judgments (James 4:12) and why should I respect their judgments (Galatians 2:6)?

Amir Larijani said...

Triton says: I doubt Anakin lies awake at night worrying about what Vysota thinks of him.

Come to think of it, I had a good night's sleep, too. LOL

Seriously, why should anyone stay up at night, and wonder what some blogospheric personality thinks of him or her?

Amir Larijani said...

In all seriousness, this was a very good post.

On the other hand, while I definitely am in agreement regarding when one becomes a man, it is also true that increasing maturity into that role, will also afford increasing respect and credibility.

The issue here is what are the markers that are indicative of that maturity?

Obviously, Mohler, Maken, and their allies tend to think in terms of marriage, children, and families.

That might sound appealing to many "pro-family" folks, but it isn't necessarily Biblical. After all, we can all go to Africa and find some tribal families where they are punching out babies like movie tickets, and yet they are as far from God as Richard Dawkins.

Marriage and procreation are good things--gifts from God even--but they are not necessarily indicative of greater maturity.

Discernment, prudence, wisdom, diligence--those wonderful qualities often spoken of in Proverbs--now we're talking.

The fruits of the Spirit--those indicators of Christian growth--now we're getting even warmer.

Is every Christian on this thread perfectly mature? Certainly not. But those are much better markers of "Biblical manhood" than the social ones set by the otherwise well-meaning cultural elitists of the Christian right.

Novaseeker said...

So when people don't meet the usual markers of adulthood (such as marriage and family)

I really don't see how this can be viewed as biblically-based, to be honest. I realize full well that a goodly number of conservative Christians say that, but it isn't really at all what Paul said. I think sometimes conservative Christians are rather uncomfortable with the outright radicalism of Paul.

TMink said...

God calls us to various tasks and functions. Some of us are called to be dads and husbands, some are not. I totally agree that this is not a measure of maturity. Often when God calls us to something, He gives us a heart for it.

I don't get it when people think that it is God's will for all to be married. As nova said, this is just not Biblical.

Trey

Anonymous said...

"On what authority would they be making those judgments (James 4:12) and why should I respect their judgments (Galatians 2:6)?"

Here's the dilemma:

If you declare that there is "Biblical Manhood", then you must base criteria for that on, as Learner puts it, "a myriad of descriptions to define something from scripture when one concise definition does not exist".

The thing is that the overwhelming majority of these descriptors are written in the context of marriage and parenthood.

I'm not saying that being Christian and a married parent equals "biblical womanhood/manhood". Nor that missing out on those things means you're not biblically a man or woman. At the same time, we can't assume that the kind of exceptional singleness Paul and Christ mention apply to all single people, either. It's more than just a matter of "lifestyle choices". When we try to remove marriage and family life from our conception of manhood and womanhood so as to not offend the single and/or barren, we're left with a incomplete fragmented picture.

You could try to take neutered approach and declare "biblical adulthood" based on biblical definitions and descriptors of what it means to be a faithful believer. But again, you're left with remnants, with a core element of our humanity, our sexuality, missing.

Novaseeker said...

I don't read Paul this way at all.

Paul's treatment of marriage vs singlehood hardly refers to singlehood as necessarily exceptional or as the married state and parenthood as being normative for Christian men and women.

1 Cor. 7:2 seems to say something like that, but Paul quickly adds in 7:6 that this is a "concession" and in 7:8 he plainly says that it is good for the unmarried to remain single, if they can exercise self control. This sentiment is echoed, again, in 7:27, 7:32-35, and 7:38. Paul, when one examines 1 Cor. 7 as a whole, sees marriage as a necessary concession to human weakness when it comes to passion ("burning") and as preferable to being tempted to sin. But his descriptions of the unmarried state in 1 Cor. 7 can't reasonably be interpreted, even looking at the text alone, to support the idea that Paul saw marriage as normative and non-marriage as exceptional. The claim that Paul is speaking only about rare cases like himself, Christ and other apostles is refuted roundly by 1 Cor. 7, where he is addressing the Corinthian church at large, not apostles and exceptional people.

TMink said...

Nova, what you say makes perfect sense to me and my understanding of Scripture. I do think that there are advantages to children being raised by two believers, but there will always be Christian couples. My marriage and children are my responsibility in the Lord, but that also focuses me in on my family instead of out on the world. Paul, unencumbered by a family, could focus out on the world. The kingdom of God needs that as well.

Trey

Learner said...

So when people don't meet the usual markers of adulthood (such as marriage and family), they won't be getting the recognition that goes along with them.

Circular reasoning. The issue is whether marriage and family is what qualifies one as an adult. Calling those factors "usual markers of adulthood" attempts to prove your point by assuming your point is true. To quote you, "no dice".

Learner said...

The thing is that the overwhelming majority of these descriptors are written in the context of marriage and parenthood.


I disagree with this assumption. But, even if it were true it doesn't matter because descriptors about married people or parents obviously do not apply to the single or childless. There is no reason why it would matter how many there are aimed at one group or the other, the fact is that there are plenty of descriptors aimed at people in a generic sense that paint the picture of what an adult man or woman following Christ looks like and thus what Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood is.

Anonymous said...

"1 Cor. 7:2 seems to say something like that,"

Yes, it does.

" in 7:8 he plainly says that it is good for the unmarried to remain single, if they can exercise self control."

And most do not.

"Paul, when one examines 1 Cor. 7 as a whole, sees marriage as a necessary concession to human weakness when it comes to passion ("burning") and as preferable to being tempted to sin."

No. He was not referring to marriage as a concession in verse 6 or anywhere else. That verse "I speak by concession and not command) is debated as either referring to temporary abstinence in marriage, or celibacy for those so gifted. It contrasts with his teachings on divorce in verses 10-11 where he says that he is speaking by way of command from God.

"But his descriptions of the unmarried state in 1 Cor. 7 can't reasonably be interpreted, even looking at the text alone, to support the idea that Paul saw marriage as normative and non-marriage as exceptional. The claim that Paul is speaking only about rare cases like himself, Christ and other apostles is refuted roundly by 1 Cor. 7, where he is addressing the Corinthian church at large, not apostles and exceptional people."

For one, he was speaking in the context of the "present distress", so we have no reason to think that Paul thought most could remain single for very long ("the time is short"). Elsewhere he encourages younger widows to marry.

Anonymous said...

"The issue is whether marriage and family is what qualifies one as an adult."

That is not the issue. It's already been established that you are qualified as an adult at 21. We're talking about what are the qualitative features of "biblical" manhood and womanhood.

Learner said...

That is not the issue. It's already been established that you are qualified as an adult at 21.

It has? Where?

We're talking about what are the qualitative features of "biblical" manhood and womanhood

1. The "adulthood" was a quote from you Catwoman, if it was not the point why bring it into the discussion?
2. I was not saying that was the point of the post, I was pointing out the circular nature of your argument.

Anonymous said...

"The thing is that the overwhelming majority of these descriptors are written in the context of marriage and parenthood."

"even if it were true it doesn't matter because descriptors about married people or parents obviously do not apply to the single or childless."

You're making my point for me. Remove those verses and it doesn't leave much in the way of biblical recognition, as far what it means to be a woman of God, in contrast to a man of God.

"The fact is that there are plenty of descriptors aimed at people in a generic sense"

Sure, as I was saying, instruction to believers (presuming they are adults) in general.

"that paint the picture of what an adult man or woman following Christ looks like and thus what Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood is."

An adult, perhaps, but not specifically a man or a woman.

You can't have it both ways. You can say that there's a "biblical manhood/womanhood", based on scriptural examples of gender roles rooted mostly in marriage and parenthood, OR you can say there's no such thing as "biblical manhood/womanhood" because no such definition exists in the bible.

But to make a descontructed claim for biblical manhood or womanhood without those marital and family roles would require such a severe vivisection as to render the animal barely unrecognizable.

Learner said...

You're making my point for me. Remove those verses and it doesn't leave much in the way of biblical recognition, as far what it means to be a woman of God, in contrast to a man of God.

You are setting up a false comparison, Catwoman, that only works if one starts with your assumptions, which I do not (ie; circular reasoning). First, the qualities of Biblical manhood and Biblical womanhood are not mutually exclusive. Also the contrast between Biblical womanhood and Biblical manhood isn't the issue. The issue is what Biblicla Manhood is. I have already rejected your assumption that manhood is defined in relationship to women so the presence or absence of commonalities between godly men and women does not play a role in defining Biblical manhood.

You can't have it both ways. You can say that there's a "biblical manhood/womanhood", based on scriptural examples of gender roles rooted mostly in marriage and parenthood, OR you can say there's no such thing as "biblical manhood/womanhood" because no such definition exists in the bible.

Another false dichotomy. I don't need to have it "both ways" because neither of your "ways" is the case.

Anonymous said...

"I don't need to have it "both ways" because neither of your "ways" is the case."

All you're left with is "biblical adulthood", Learner. And it's the same for men and women, unless of course, you're married. A liberal feminist couldn't have come up with a better model.

Learner said...

Wrong again Catwoman, but not surprising. You are still clinging to the same assumptions that only "prove" your point in a circular manner.

Anonymous said...

You're saying that to distract from the fact that you cannot meet my challenge to produce scriptures to delineate biblical womanhood and biblical manhood apart from what is written about marital and familial roles.

Learner said...

Well, you are entitled to that opinion Catwoman. I think most of the people reading this thread, and indeed most Christians, are well aware of the scriptures that describe Biblical manhood and womanhood outside of marital and family roles because they try to live their lives by them on a daily basis. If you see no such guidance for you as a single women in the scriptures it answers a few questions for me.

Anonymous said...

"I think most of the people reading this thread, and indeed most Christians, are well aware of the scriptures that describe Biblical manhood and womanhood outside of marital and family roles because they try to live their lives by them on a daily basis."

Great, I'd be glad to hear all about them, chapter and verse.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Learner,

I think most of the people reading this thread, and indeed most Christians, are well aware of the scriptures that describe Biblical manhood and womanhood outside of marital and family roles because they try to live their lives by them on a daily basis.

I don't know if I would include family roles in this. We are all, at very least, sons and daughters in a family, and maturity has a whole lot to do with how you treat others in your family.

However, with regards to marriage, anon said:

Great, I'd be glad to hear all about them, chapter and verse.

How about the whole book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs speaks a lot about growth in wisdom and never once makes it dependent upon marriage.

In short, I would say that Biblical manhood *does* have to do with how we treat others, and especially our family. However, it has *nothing* to do with marriage, and the burden of proof would seem to be on the one who says that it does.

God Bless,
Adam

Learner said...

Adam,

I don't know if I would include family roles in this.

Agreed. Sloppy commenting on my part. We are all members of a family.

Anonymous said...

"How about the whole book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs speaks a lot about growth in wisdom and never once makes it dependent upon marriage."

You're coming in late on a discussion, Adam. I agree that the book of Proverbs has a lot to say about "growth in wisdom" (isn't that what the whole book is about?), but has few verses that direct its wisdom teachings to men specifically, or women specifically -- outside of their marital and family roles, and when you remove those, you're not really left with much to define "biblical manhood" (or womanhood). Biblical adulthood, perhaps, lol, but even that is a much more sparse landscape.


"I would say that Biblical manhood *does* have to do with how we treat others, and especially our family. However, it has *nothing* to do with marriage, and the burden of proof would seem to be on the one who says that it does."

I'm not even claiming there's any such thing as "Biblical Manhood", but if there is, you can bet the quality version of it doesn't include abstaining from marriage because of a disparaging attitude towards "women today". Yet here's Anakin, with a blog called "Biblical Manhood", a term he cannot seem to define himself. When challenged to do so, all he could come up with is three posts on what Biblical Manhood is "not".

novaseeker said...

I'm not even claiming there's any such thing as "Biblical Manhood", but if there is, you can bet the quality version of it doesn't include abstaining from marriage because of a disparaging attitude towards "women today". Yet here's Anakin, with a blog called "Biblical Manhood", a term he cannot seem to define himself. When challenged to do so, all he could come up with is three posts on what Biblical Manhood is "not".

This line of argument seems tendentious to me.

The Bible is replete with examples of unmarried men who are held up as exemplars, presumably of manhood as well as holiness. This is particularly true of the NT, but not exclusively so.

Anonymous said...

"The Bible is replete with examples of unmarried men who are held up as exemplars, presumably of manhood as well as holiness."

These were men with a mission, not a sour attitude towards women.

Learner said...

These were men with a mission, not a sour attitude towards women.

What does that have to do with whether or not there is such a thing as "Biblical manhood" apart from sexuality, marriage and having children? Absolutely nothing from what I can see.

More circular arguments from Catwoman.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

You're coming in late on a discussion, Adam. I agree that the book of Proverbs has a lot to say about "growth in wisdom" (isn't that what the whole book is about?), but has few verses that direct its wisdom teachings to men specifically, or women specifically.

Isn't that what the whole first nine chapters of the book are about? Isn't the author specificially addressing his son? If he is addressing his son [which he is], and the principles that he gives can be applied to both men and women [which it can], is that not the strongest refutation of what you are saying? Isn't it the case that true adulthood for men and women has to do with growth in wisdom, and nothing to do with marital roles?

outside of their marital and family roles, and when you remove those, you're not really left with much to define "biblical manhood" (or womanhood). Biblical adulthood, perhaps, lol, but even that is a much more sparse landscape.

Not at all. Again, the book of Proverbs solves all of these problems. True manhood has to do with growth in wisdom. The book of Proverbs in fact uses an interesting term, na'ar to refer to a youth, that is, a young, simple, inexprienced person, [i.e. someone who is not yet a man] and calls that person to gain wisdom and to learn the fear of the Lord. When a person truly decides that he loves wisdom, and commits himself to that lifestyle, then he is a Biblical man according to the book of Proverbs.

God Bless,
Adam

Pro-Male/Anti-Feminist Tech said...

Have you guys considered just ignoring catwoman? She never posts under her own name in a pathetic and unsuccessful attempt to engage in virtual sock puppetry.

catwoman is a troll. Don't bite and give the troll what she wants.

TMink said...

Proverbs 27 (New American Standard Bible)

15 A constant dripping on a day of steady rain
And a contentious woman are alike;
16 He who would restrain her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand.

Proverbs 21 (New American Standard Bible)

9 It is better to live in a corner of a roof
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.

19 It is better to live in a desert land
Than with a contentious and vexing woman.

These verses do not mention marriage or marital status while they do address gender, and both are really quite applicable. There is truly wisdom in Scripture.

So here we have clear examples, chapter and verse, of Holy Scripture discussing gender outside the context of marriage. It is important to note that none of the verses are given as representative of all women, just some.

There is advice on dealing with them, which supports the post immediately preceeding this one. The clear implication is that it is not a good thing to be a vexing and contentious woman. It cannot be pleasing to God.

Have a blessed day.

Trey

Anonymous said...

"Isn't that what the whole first nine chapters of the book are about? Isn't the author specificially addressing his son? If he is addressing his son [which he is], and the principles that he gives ***can be applied to both men and women [which it can]***, is that not the strongest refutation of what you are saying?

No. Actually it confirms what I'm saying.

"Isn't it the case that true adulthood for men and women has to do with growth in wisdom, and nothing to do with marital roles?"

In that case, you could say it has nothing to do with gender roles either. You cannot find much speaking specifically in regards to gender without it also speaking in the context of "husband, wife, mother, father".

"The clear implication is that it is not a good thing to be a vexing and contentious woman."

Actually, the greater implication is that it is not a good thing to ***live*** with a contentious woman. But if you choose to do so biblically, you'll have to be married to her.

Also, let's not confuse "what not to" with "what to". As I has said before, this blog fails at defining biblical manhood/womanhood because all it does is declare what biblical manhood isn't and complain about things some women do that they shouldn't.

For a clear definition of anything, you've got to start with ***what to*** do and be, not with "what NOT to" do and be.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

Did you and Anakin date in the past or something? Did he run your pet over? You seem to have this obsession with this blog. What is with your vendetta against him and others (such as Trey)? Seriously, if you think this blog fails, then why on Earth would you waste your time reading it or commenting here?

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

No. Actually it confirms what I'm saying.

How, when the meaning of adulthood is presented to the son only [your requirement], and all of those principles can likewise be applied to the woman? Here we have a view of manhood that is being specifically addressed from father to son, but never says anything about marriage.

The point is that marriage has nothing to do with it. The requirements for Biblical manhood and womanhood are exactly the same...wisdom. When a boy grows to love wisdom, he has become a man, and when a girl grows in wisdom she has become a Biblical woman. To add any other category is to abuse the text of Proverbs.

God Bless,
Adam

PuritanCalvinist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"How, when the meaning of adulthood is presented to the son only [your requirement], and all of those principles can likewise be applied to the woman?"

I'm not sure what your problem is here, Adam. You are saying that Proverbs (or at least, much of it) is wisdom that can be applied to both men and women -- and I agree with that.

"Here we have a view of manhood that is being specifically addressed from father to son, but never says anything about marriage."

Look at the entire book of Proverbs. It says much more about husbands, wives, fathers and mothers than it does about "men" and "women" outside of those roles. Even then, the book of Proverbs is not a complete treatise on womanhood, manhood or wisdom for that matter -- and where does it say anywhere in scripture that "biblical manhood" is ONLY about wisdom?? There must be action that flows from it, wisdom (or foolishness) manifested in what you do (or don't do) to live out your life.

"Gender roles come in recognizing the purpose of creation, and thus, beginning with wisdom and the fear of the Lord as our creator."

Rhetoric, without a prooftext, even.

"Given that logic, it means that an infant that comes out of the womb cannot be said to be male. If gender cannot be divorced from marriage, then every baby is neuter."

The passage is addressing a young man (a boy, perhaps) who has the potential to marry -- presumed in chapter 5 "wife of your youth", addressed in many other places. If you look at biblical history, much of the significance of a child being born male or female had to do with the family roles they were anticipated to eventually fulfill, ie. producing an heir, carry on the family name, faith, etc. Otherwise, why would gender be so relevant?

TMink said...

Actually, gender roles are part of our creation. We were made male and female. It was part of God's purpose from our inception.

Trey

Anonymous said...

"Actually, gender roles are part of our creation. We were made male and female. It was part of God's purpose from our inception."

Right. So why did God create us male and female? To further his creation -- and you know how. It's not enough to think that we just acknowledge in our heads the idea of creation, "begin with wisdom and the fear of the Lord as our creator" -- that's just rhetorical gobbledegook -- either we actively, physically take part in the creative process of family making, and enjoy the blessings that come from that, or be eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom...

...or resign ourselves to lesser roles (and just shut up about it). It brings to mind the virgin goddess "Hestia", one of the lesser figures in Greek mythology whose job was simply "keeper of the hearth". Yet here we are as modern western Christians with itchy ears, begging for the flattery of being told that our singleness is a gift "equal" to marriage, something of the same stature of Paul's! Pathetic.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

I'm not sure what your problem is here, Adam. You are saying that Proverbs (or at least, much of it) is wisdom that can be applied to both men and women -- and I agree with that.

I think that the appropriate thing to ask is why it is that it is exclusively addressed to the son?

Not only that, but, apparently, in a book entirely devoted to growing in wisdom, we have not once a mentioning of marriage as essential to that growth. I find that a huge hurdle to get over. It would be one thing if we were talking about a book like Leviticus, but we are talking about the book on this topic!

Look at the entire book of Proverbs. It says much more about husbands, wives, fathers and mothers than it does about "men" and "women" outside of those roles.

I don't agree. I think quite the opposite. Its definitions of a wise man and woman are almost always apart from their marital status.

Even then, the book of Proverbs is not a complete treatise on womanhood, manhood or wisdom for that matter -- and where does it say anywhere in scripture that "biblical manhood" is ONLY about wisdom?? There must be action that flows from it, wisdom (or foolishness) manifested in what you do (or don't do) to live out your life.

The point is that this is the par excellance book about growing into a man. That is the whole point of the first nine chapters. Yet, it leaves out one *essential* point? That doesn't make any sense. I could see if there were some minor truths about spiritual growth that were not addressed in the book, but you are positing an essential element of growth as marriage, and you won't find that anywhere.

Rhetoric, without a prooftext, even.

Well, this is something I never thought any orthodox Christian would question. Very well, proof texts will be given:

God created us male and female [Genesis 1:27].

Wisdom begins with the fear of that creator [Proverbs 1:7].

Wisdom understands that God has made everything for a purpose [Proverbs 16:4].

That is why I say that it is the pot calling the kettle black to accuse me of rhetoric.

The passage is addressing a young man (a boy, perhaps) who has the potential to marry -- presumed in chapter 5 "wife of your youth", addressed in many other places. If you look at biblical history, much of the significance of a child being born male or female had to do with the family roles they were anticipated to eventually fulfill, ie. producing an heir, carry on the family name, faith, etc. Otherwise, why would gender be so relevant?

So, then, ones gender comes from something outside of themselves, namely, other's expectations? So, if someone doesn't have the expectation that a baby is going to eventually get married, then that baby is neuter?

Secondly, I do not agree that gender in the Bible was based upon some expectation that people were going to get married. I agree with TMink. Gender is based in the way we are created, clear back to passages like Genesis 1:27. If you say otherwise, then I ask *you* to prove it Biblically, and also without using standards that would make an infant neuter.

God Bless,
Adam

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

Right. So why did God create us male and female? To further his creation -- and you know how.

I actually have done a full exegesis of that passage, Genesis 1:26-28, and I would be interested in seeing your response. It can be found here:

http://otrmin.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/exegesis-of-genesis-126-28/

The short answer to your comment is that Genesis 1:27-28 does not address why God made each individual male and female, but it refers to why he divided the human race into two different classes, namely, the males and females. Without this division within mankind, procreation is impossible. Hence, to apply this text to individuals is to totally misunderstand the text.

either we actively, physically take part in the creative process of family making,

We don't take part in the creative process. Only God is the creator. Only he can truly cause life. He may use us, but we cannot participate in God's creative process.

and enjoy the blessings that come from that, or be eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom...

...or resign ourselves to lesser roles (and just shut up about it)
.

Or, we could exegetically challange this paradigm, and point out that, in order to get it, an elephant must be read into the text of scripture.

God Bless,
Adam

Dani said...

Or, we could exegetically challange this paradigm, and point out that, in order to get it, an elephant must be read into the text of scripture

Amen.

Anonymous said...

"in a book entirely devoted to growing in wisdom, we have not once a mentioning of marriage as essential to that growth."

Again, you're walking late into a discussion, Adam. No one has made any claims about the "essentials" of biblical manhood, marital or not. It's about whether or not you can use, as Learner put it "a myriad of descriptions to define something from scripture when one concise definition does not exist".

You're trying to use Proverbs as a comprehensive treatise about manly wisdom, when it is not, however excellent it might be. What's more, you falsely claim that it says that "when a person truly decides that he loves wisdom, and commits himself to that lifestyle, then he is a Biblical man" -- as if it all takes place in the head.

"Rhetoric, without a prooftext, even.

Well, this is something I never thought any orthodox Christian would question. Very well, proof texts will be given:

God created us male and female [Genesis 1:27].

Wisdom begins with the fear of that creator [Proverbs 1:7].

Wisdom understands that God has made everything for a purpose [Proverbs 16:4]."

Even with your prooftexts supplied, it does nothing to dispell your rhetoric or make sense of your statement (which you removed from your original post, because you knew it didn't make sense, but now you defend it -- whatever).

"ones gender comes from something outside of themselves, namely, other's expectations? So, if someone doesn't have the expectation that a baby is going to eventually get married, then that baby is neuter?"

No, I don't know what you're trying to twist here, but no one said that gender comes from the expectations of others. The implications for family making imbues added meaning on something that would otherwise be a simple biological fact about a baby being a boy or a girl.

"I actually have done a full exegesis of that passage, Genesis 1:26-28,"

No mortal has done a "full exegesis" of any passage, let you boast.

"The short answer to your comment is that Genesis 1:27-28 does not address why God made each individual male and female, but it refers to why he divided the human race into two different classes, namely, the males and females. Without this division within mankind, procreation is impossible....

...We don't take part in the creative process. Only God is the creator. Only he can truly cause life. He may use us, but we cannot participate in God's creative process."

And how does he use us in that process? With the parts of us designed by him that characterize us as male and female, without which "procreation is impossible". No way around that exegetical and biological fact, Adam.

Dani said...

With the parts of us designed by him that characterize us as male and female, without which "procreation is impossible". No way around that exegetical and biological fact, Adam.

Except, of course, for God who can organise things like having a virgin woman fall pregnant.

Which makes your absolute and factual statement not so absolute and factual after all.

TMink said...

"So why did God create us male and female?"

Because it was not good for man to be alone.

Trey

Learner said...

No one has made any claims about the "essentials" of biblical manhood, marital or not. It's about whether or not you can use, as Learner put it "a myriad of descriptions to define something from scripture when one concise definition does not exist".

First, you made such a claim here:

"So when people don't meet the usual markers of adulthood (such as marriage and family), they won't be getting the recognition that goes along with them. To complain about that is childish. And that is why you get guys like vysota (among others) making qualitative judgements about your manhood, Anakin."

Second, that claim is exactly what this conversation is about.

The idea that there must be a concise definition of everything in scripture in order for scripture to define something is absolutely preposterous. Please tell me that is not what you are claiming. If not, what was your point here: It's about whether or not you can use, as Learner put it "a myriad of descriptions to define something from scripture when one concise definition does not exist"

TMink said...

Or, is your purpose just to confound and argue and disrupt? Honestly Anon, it appears that this is the case. I would love to be wrong, so can you show me where someone, anyone in these discussions has made a point that you consider valid, interesting, or worth anything other than derision?

Trey

Anonymous said...

"With the parts of us designed by him that characterize us as male and female, without which "procreation is impossible". No way around that exegetical and biological fact, Adam.

Except, of course, for God who can organise things like having a virgin woman fall pregnant.

Which makes your absolute and factual statement not so absolute and factual after all."

Sure Dani, and that happens ALL the time! Perhaps you should be directing your statement to Adam, since he is the one who's claiming that without the division of the human race into males and females, "procreation is impossible".

Or perhaps you're not comfortable with sex being in the equation. From what can be seen from other posts, that seems to be a pattern with you.

Anonymous said...

"So when people don't meet the usual markers of adulthood (such as marriage and family), they won't be getting the recognition that goes along with them. To complain about that is childish. And that is why you get guys like vysota (among others) making qualitative judgements about your manhood, Anakin."

There is nothing objectionable about this claim, because it contains no definitions, essentials or absolutes. We were discussing the qualitative aspects of manhood, that are better discerned through biblical example and description, than concise definition. Those who are single (but not chosing to be that way for kingdom sake) who object to not getting the recognition given to those married with children is like complaining about not getting a prize for being the hardest worker, when there are, in fact, harder, more productive workers than you.

There is simply no biblical recognition for being single because you have high standards, or you'd rather play the field or you think women or men today are jerks.

Credit given, where credit is due.

Anonymous said...

"Or, is your purpose just to confound and argue and disrupt? Honestly Anon, it appears that this is the case. I would love to be wrong, so can you show me where someone, anyone in these discussions has made a point that you consider valid, interesting, or worth anything other than derision?"

I could ask those same questions of anyone that disagrees with me. Any of us could.

Learner said...

Or perhaps you're not comfortable with sex being in the equation. From what can be seen from other posts, that seems to be a pattern with you.

At it again eh Catwoman? Your tendency throw personal comments at people who disagree with you seems to be escalating.

Those who are single (but not chosing to be that way for kingdom sake) who object to not getting the recognition given to those married with children is like complaining about not getting a prize for being the hardest worker, when there are, in fact, harder

What recognition exactly? being recognized as a man? The subject of the post is separating the men form the boys.

Anonymous said...

"At it again eh Catwoman? Your tendency throw personal comments at people who disagree with you seems to be escalating."

I could say the same thing about you. Case in point, from earlier in this thread:

"Catwoman,

Did you and Anakin date in the past or something? Did he run your pet over? You seem to have this obsession with this blog."


...Or do you blame someone else for how you comment, as you did on your blog?

"Yeah, it was pretty snarky, wasn't it? I must be learning from a master of snark."

(July 30, 2009 12:58 PM)

Learner said...

I could say the same thing about you.

An often given and convenient retort from you. Never address what the person said, just say that the same could be said about someone other than you.

And, saying I learned snark from the master of snark (that would be you) wasn't an attempt to blame you, it was just what was happening. And actually I should cut the snark with you (which would be all together since you are the only person who I "snark" at) since the "treat someone like they treat others and see how they like it" tactic does not seem to be working at all with you. I should accept that you know exactly what you are doing when you speak to other people like you do and that you do it on purpose. For what reason you tend to treat others so disrespectfully when they disagree with you I have no idea, but, it appears to be a purposeful choice on your part. I believe it is time I stopped responding to you here.

Dani said...

Or perhaps you're not comfortable with sex being in the equation. From what can be seen from other posts, that seems to be a pattern with you.

LOL

Anonymous said...

"And, saying I learned snark from the master of snark (that would be you) wasn't an attempt to blame you, it was just what was happening."

Excuses, excuses.

"And actually I should cut the snark with you (which would be all together since you are the only person who I "snark" at)". I believe it is time I stopped responding to you here."

In case you haven't noticed, when you leave me alone, I leave you alone, so I'm not sure where you get off being so self-righteous.

TMink said...

OK, so you are just a troll. Sad, but OK.

Trey

Anonymous said...

"OK, so you are just a troll."

Nice name calling, Trey.

"Sad, but OK."

And what's that supposed to be? A "you-feel statement" or an Eric Berne bromide?

If you don't know whether to wind your butt or scratch your watch, best to leave well enough alone.

Mordecai Lament said...

I'll take this in two comments:
1. Right. So why did God create us male and female? To further his creation -- and you know how. It's not enough to think that we just acknowledge in our heads the idea of creation, "begin with wisdom and the fear of the Lord as our creator" -- that's just rhetorical gobbledegook -- either we actively, physically take part in the creative process of family making, and enjoy the blessings that come from that, or be eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom...

Rhetorical? So, let me get this straight... as a human being, fear of the Lord is rhetoric? Scripture again and again says that the "fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Humanity is made "a little lower than the angels." We have to get that idea through our head first. To deny these facts makes both MEN and WOMEN into little more than tools. Forgive me for failing to believe this as it would seem that God thinks a little more highly of humankind by sending his only son to die for the reason that he loved us. Elementary? Yes. However, If you can't understand the former (that God created male and female and gave them dignity.), then you most certainly will not understand the latter (that because of the worth Christ finds in us, the new creations are expected to treat their fellow man with the same respect and dignity. This includes marrieds as well as singles.) Without understanding this as the foundation, we've missed the entire point and cannot possibly build any further because there is no foundation. You not only don't have a marriage, (because again, it all comes back to the cornerstone, Jesus Christ) you don't even have a relationship. Without understanding our relationship to Christ, how can we possibly understand the "horizontal" relationship? And if we don't understand relationship to our fellow man, how are we to understand the relationship to the spouse?

The "fear of the Lord" is the blueprint by which every other relationship exists. (Further, I'd argue that relationships are not something you "have," relationships are something you work at.)

I'm sure someone's going to accuse me of being deliberately obtuse. Oh well. I've been accused of worse.

Mordecai Lament said...

2. ...or resign ourselves to lesser roles (and just shut up about it). It brings to mind the virgin goddess "Hestia", one of the lesser figures in Greek mythology whose job was simply "keeper of the hearth". Yet here we are as modern western Christians with itchy ears, begging for the flattery of being told that our singleness is a gift "equal" to marriage, something of the same stature of Paul's! Pathetic.

Did Paul not express a personal preference that he wishes all men could remain single as he was? But I'm getting off the point. Because you seem to fail to understand that A. Human beings have a dignity assigned to them which no one except the creator himself has a right to rescind, and B. "It is for freedom the Christ set us free..." So, taking the logic a bit further, Christ according humanity with dignity and with freedom. In this, he gave man the freedom to choose. This includes the freedom to choose whether or not to marry. Jesus himself admitted that not everyone could accept the teaching of marriage, just as Paul makes the concession not everyone can be single. Singleness was not a concession, but a legitimate option. If you have problems with this, I suggest you take the matter up with him.

However, it seems that marriage mandators have decided that shame is a useful tool and that condemnation is also extremely useful. The problem with that approach is that you are doing the work of the "accuser of the brethren" for him. And I don't think he needs your help, though he will gladly take it.

Using your logic, you can only be in a state of "actively looking for Mr/Mrs. Right" or you can be single for the sake of the kingdom. Anything other than those two is "sin." So, since we're all so fond of sola scriptura here, please kindly point out the chapter and verse under which you make your claim. Otherwise, I suggest that we make use of a maxim that has been well regarded over the years, "Where the scriptures are silent, we are also silent." As I recall, it is the marriage mandators who started this invention and I am curious under which chapter and verse they claim their views as I have examined their writings at length and fail to understand what on earth they are talking about. Torturing the data makes it confess to anything.

Finally, I seriously doubt any of us here are seeking flattery and praise from everyone else about the exercise of freedom which Christ has given us. Christ's praise is the only thing that matters. We are simply asking not to be treated as second class citizens of the Kingdom, which it seems that marriage mandators are doing by declaring it "sin" to be single without doing some great work for the kingdom. (Because then we have to define greatness as Jesus himself would define it as opposed to how man would define it. Another topic entirely which I won't bore people with. In fact, I fear I may have already worn out my welcome...)

I can only hope I'm making sense to everyone. I'm working on very short sleep and a very stressful period. If I have offended anyone, that is not my goal. I'm simply trying to get people to think about what they are doing.

Dani said...

However, it seems that marriage mandators have decided that shame is a useful tool and that condemnation is also extremely useful. The problem with that approach is that you are doing the work of the "accuser of the brethren" for him. And I don't think he needs your help, though he will gladly take it.

Very, very well said. In fact, I think that applies to your two posts in full :)

Learner said...

Good stuff ML

Anonymous said...

"Rhetorical? So, let me get this straight... as a human being, fear of the Lord is rhetoric?"

Cool your jets, ML.

No one is disputing fear of the Lord or that "fear of the Lord is the ***beginning*** of wisdom."

What's rhetorical is the notion that this internal fear and wisdom are sufficient as criteria for quality manhood or womanhood. If fear and wisdom don't manifest in how you live your life as an adult, then something's missing.

Anonymous said...

"Did Paul not express a personal preference that he wishes all men could remain single as he was?"

Paul said that he wished that all could abide as he does. The context is one of self-control in the absence of sex (see previous verses about husbands and wives abstaining for times of prayer, but briefly so that they would not leave each other vulnerable to temptation. See also verse 8-9 where Paul says that it's good to remain as you are (at least for the "present distress", v. 26), but if you cannot contain it is better to marry. Do you think most singles today manage to "contain"?

"Jesus himself admitted that not everyone could accept the teaching of marriage"

Wrong. He said TWICE in Matthew 19 that not everyone can accept the teaching of making yourself a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom.

"Because you seem to fail to understand that A. Human beings have a dignity assigned to them which no one except the creator himself has a right to rescind" and B. "It is for freedom the Christ set us free..."..."Using your logic, you can only be in a state of "actively looking for Mr/Mrs. Right" or you can be single for the sake of the kingdom. Anything other than those two is "sin."

What a black and white overreaction! No one is disputing basic respect and dignity in the treatment of all human beings, or freedom in the path to walk one path or another in regards to marriage or singleness. No one has called singleness a sin here. The issue is whether there's any such thing as quality and excellence, as far as walking one path or another.

The scriptures are not indifferent to matters of quality and excellence. Take for example the description of how deacons are supposed to live their lives in 1 Tim 3. Proverbs 31 also describes an exceptional wife with a husband who is "respected at the city gates". I suppose a believer may have the freedom to choose a less excellent path, but don't complain when you receive less fruits and less recognition.

You would have no problem judging some marriages as more or less excellent than others, would you? Now why would you suspend that judgement for singleness, as if one Paul's path of singleness (marked by service and self-sacrifice) is no better than any other? There is more service and sacrifice taking place in the average marriage than the average singleness you see in the church today. See my post on the thread after this one.

Mordecai Lament said...

Paul said that he wished that all could abide as he does. The context is one of self-control in the absence of sex (see previous verses about husbands and wives abstaining for times of prayer, but briefly so that they would not leave each other vulnerable to temptation. See also verse 8-9 where Paul says that it's good to remain as you are (at least for the "present distress", v. 26), but if you cannot contain it is better to marry. Do you think most singles today manage to "contain"?

I'll take a closer look at the verses at a later time, but I am going to point out the faulty logic (at least to me it is). "Can most singles contain?" The short answer is... yes. The problem with most reasoning from the marriage mandators camp is that we are a slave to out impulses. We read Paul's statement of (which I'll paraphrase here from Romans) "I do that which I don't want to do, oh wretched man that I am!" while ignoring the context that this is before Jesus Christ came on the scene. The simple fact is that now we have a choice whether or not to act on those impulses. With freedom comes responsibility. Again, I come back to the point that we are free men because Christ set us free. So to answer the question... yes, we have a choice in the matter and are no longer slaves to the old man. We choose freely. I will concede that most of us desire marriage and I will also say that marriage is a wonderful thing. Where I draw the line is where people want to exalt marriage over singleness and make it the standard de facto of how "real Christians" live their lives. Further, I will hold two examples up of two men who did not act on their impulses: Jesus Christ and Paul. Remember, Jesus Christ was tempted in EVERY way. He could choose not to act on those impulses. Just as Paul chose not to act on those impulses. Since we worship a Jesus Christ and accept his resurrection power on earth... and since we have gained the power of the Holy Spirit then YES... we can choose not to act on those impulses just as Christ and Paul chose not to.

I would kindly remind you if you do find fault with my answer that you are asking about ability. Whether or not most singles will choose to remain celibate is not for me to say and is an entirely different question. Since Christ has given us freedom, it is not for me to decide for another man. As for myself, I would prefer marriage because I myself would not be able to control it. I realize this is a choice. I am expressing a personal preference. That is different than most Marriage mandators who prescribe a "one size fits all" solution. Since the church has been presented both options by Paul and Jesus, who are "the foundation" and "the cornerstone" respectively, as indicated in Ephesians 2, I find it unwise to tinker with either.


More to come...

Mordecai Lament said...

"Jesus himself admitted that not everyone could accept the teaching of marriage"

Wrong. He said TWICE in Matthew 19 that not everyone can accept the teaching of making yourself a eunuch for the sake of the kingdom.


I would agree with you that he is saying not everyone can accept the teaching of singleness, but I would also argue that in his response to the disciples, he is saying that not everyone can accept the teaching of marriage, judging by what I read of the exchange. I would submit for some others here to read Matthew 19 and see if their findings coincide with mine.

What a black and white overreaction! No one is disputing basic respect and dignity in the treatment of all human beings, or freedom in the path to walk one path or another in regards to marriage or singleness. No one has called singleness a sin here.

Is it? As to what I see of Albert Mohler, Debbie Maken and others, it would seem I am not overreacting. I need only point to the numerous statements here and elsewhere. Forgive my bluntness, but you would either have to be blind or ignorant to miss it, so I'm simply not going to cite the numerous examples here.

The issue is whether there's any such thing as quality and excellence, as far as walking one path or another.

There is. However, the matter is not for the church to decide. It is putting itself the the place of judge, a matter that is accorded to the Lamb himself.

The scriptures are not indifferent to matters of quality and excellence. Take for example the description of how deacons are supposed to live their lives in 1 Tim 3. Proverbs 31 also describes an exceptional wife with a husband who is "respected at the city gates". I suppose a believer may have the freedom to choose a less excellent path, but don't complain when you receive less fruits and less recognition.

I agree that the scriptures are not indifferent, but I disagree with the idea that marriage is somehow the superior choice. As to receiving less fruits and recognition? From who? Men? I'm not looking for that. Since I appeal to God as the judge, it is he I am most concerned about. Not that we completely disregard the opinion of man... but neither do we make it an idol.

You would have no problem judging some marriages as more or less excellent than others, would you? Now why would you suspend that judgement for singleness, as if one Paul's path of singleness (marked by service and self-sacrifice) is no better than any other? There is more service and sacrifice taking place in the average marriage than the average singleness you see in the church today. See my post on the thread after this one.

You again presume I wish to judge. This is a place only accorded to the Lamb himself. It is he who judges. Not I. And not the church. Again, we are trying to prescribe a "one size fits all" mentality.

Anonymous said...

"I'll take a closer look at the verses at a later time, but I am going to point out the faulty logic (at least to me it is). "Can most singles contain?" The short answer is... yes."

But in the long term they won't -- and certainly Paul never expected that most would. And that is why he immediately suggests in the first few verses of 1 cor 7 that it's good "not to touch a woman", "2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband", and again, verse 8-9 where he says that if you cannot contain, get married. Paul's recommendations to remain single were made only to those who were gifted with enough self-control and desire for undistracted devotion to the Lord, the "present distress" and "the time is short" removing any assumption that this would be something that most could do for an extended period of time.

"We read Paul's statement of (which I'll paraphrase here from Romans) "I do that which I don't want to do, oh wretched man that I am!" while ignoring the context that this is before Jesus Christ came on the scene. The simple fact is that now we have a choice whether or not to act on those impulses...Just as Paul chose not to act on those impulses."

Romans 7:15 (my favorite tongue twister!) does not mean that bodily drives and our response to them has now changed because of Christ is now on the scene. If anything, it shows that Paul was human and he did cave in to temptation (although in this passage, we don't necessarily know that what he's doing is something sexual).

Certainly, self-control is a spiritual virtue that all believers should cultivate, but clearly Paul does not want the masses he is addressing to be vulnerable to unnecessary temptation. It is obvious from his writings on marriage and singleness that he knew what most people would end up doing, and so he recommends the former, and the latter under certain conditions.

"Whether or not most singles will choose to remain celibate is not for me to say and is an entirely different question."

So people aren't supposed to talk about whether modern expectations of singles are feasible and how well (or not well) they are truly managing with them?

"Since Christ has given us freedom, it is not for me to decide for another man. As for myself, I would prefer marriage because I myself would not be able to control it."

So no one close to you should be able to challenge you, if it appears that you aren't controlling it. Being your brother's keeper applies to other things, just not the choice to remain single, regardless of how you're handling it?

Anonymous said...

"I would agree with you that he is saying not everyone can accept the teaching of singleness, but I would also argue that in his response to the disciples, he is saying that not everyone can accept the teaching of marriage"

Christ starkly acknowledges that some are involuntarily single, due to birth defects (or other natural phenomena?) and the actions of others. Other than that, you have the options to remain single "for the sake of the kingdom" -- he really doesn't offer any other options. There's nothing in the scriptures that validates the idea of staying single to pursue your own pleasures at your own leisure. I'm not saying that it's wrong, just that our modern conception of singleness is unprecedented.

"There is. However, the matter is not for the church to decide."

But they do need to discern quality, especially when it comes to making decisions about things like appointing leaders, etc. Also, the teaching of wisdom does involve learning how to recognize and emulate quality. And no, I'm not saying that all single leaders are inferior to all married leaders.

"but I disagree with the idea that marriage is somehow the superior choice. As to receiving less fruits and recognition? From who? Men?"

I was talking about the fruits that come from caring for the kingdom, which is essentially about caring for others, be it your family or those you minister to in other ways. In no way am I saying that this should only be done for the sake of getting recognition from others.

Dani said...

But in the long term they won't -- and certainly Paul never expected that most would...It is obvious from his writings on marriage and singleness that he knew what most people would end up doing, and so he recommends the former, and the latter under certain conditions.


I don't think 'it is obvious' at all. In fact that statement flies in the face of the rest of the Pauline corpus.

ML got it spot on. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit living in us and we have been freed to be slaves to God.

Yes Paul made the concession that it is better to marry than to burn. But numerous times in that same chapter he exhorts the Corinthians to deliberately, actively, intentionally exercise self-control. Elsewhere in Corinthians he talks about how he has to discipline his own body. And in other letters he reminds his readers that self-control is a gift of the Spirit.

Your constant refrain that most Christians don't exercise self-control (and that Paul had resigned himself to that) flies in the face of New Testament theology. As ML said - we are no longer slaves to the old man. God is sanctifying his children so that they will become what they already are in his sight.

Will Christians still sin at various points in and various ways. Tragically yes (and hence some will indeed sin sexually). But we do not live our lives as people enslaved to it any longer. And yet the whole basis of your argument seems to be based in the idea that we must resign ourselves to the fact that the majority of Christian men and women will sin sexually. And so we should all just plan for the worst case scenario now.

That is just so out of step with the broad sweep of NT theology.

Of course we have had this discussion at length before and I doubt we are going to move further towards any sort of agreement this time either.

Anonymous said...

"We are no longer slaves to sin. We are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit living in us and we have been freed to be slaves to God."

Excuse me? Are you suggesting that no longer being slaves to sin means that the sexual longing of those who are single happens to be something sinful, that they must sanctified from? There is no need to be sanctified from something divinely designed (designed to motivate you towards marriage).

"Yes Paul made the concession that it is better to marry than to burn."

Yes he did.

"But numerous times in that same chapter he exhorts the Corinthians to deliberately, actively, intentionally exercise self-control."

Oh really? Let's look at what Paul really says about sexual self control in 1 Cor 7:

5Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your ***lack of self-control***

9But if they ***cannot control themselves***, they should marry

36If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants.

But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing.

When it comes to sexual self-control, Paul acknowledges the lack of it (and its remedy: sex within marriage) much more than of the kind of sanctified celibacy you talk about.

"Elsewhere in Corinthians he talks about how he has to discipline his own body. And in other letters he reminds his readers that self-control is a gift of the Spirit."

That's right -- he acknowedged himself as having a gift of self-control, and made it clear that not everyone is gifted in the same way -- particularly when it comes to sex, which is frought with biologically based individual differences. Certainly, self-control is a spiritual essential for all believers, as sexual abstinence is a behavioral essential without marriage, requiring . But Paul was much more practical than you're willing to admit.

"Your constant refrain that most Christians don't exercise self-control (and that Paul had resigned himself to that) flies in the face of New Testament theology."

Not where he talks about normative sexual self-control. If most Christians remain single for long enough, they will have sex out of wedlock, just as the hungry will steal food if they have to. That fact might make you uncomfortable, but it's true.

"That is just so out of step with the broad sweep of NT theology."

And what you're presenting about it is so out of step with the actual text.

Dani said...

Excuse me? Are you suggesting that no longer being slaves to sin means that the sexual longing of those who are single happens to be something sinful, that they must sanctified from? There is no need to be sanctified from something divinely designed (designed to motivate you towards marriage).

Ummmm. No. I didn't suggest anything of the sort.

As for the rest of your last post...

We've been here and had this discussion before. From the other comments on this thread there appears little need for me to continue to defend my position as I seem to be on the same page as the other contributors anyway.

As such, because our theological differences on this matter are so obviously irreconcilable there seems little point continuing this discussion. I'll leave off on this thread by encouraging you to continue to read 1 Cor 7 in the context of the rest of the Pauline corpus, and indeed the rest of Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Alright then, Dani. I shall leave off with a collection of statements, made by you on another blog, that should leave no doubt to anyone (except one in particular who I shall not name) that anything you say about the bible and sex should definitely be taken with a grain of salt:

"This is where I think we have inherited (or developed) an unhelpful theology of marriage. Marriage was not created for sex (ie. people should have a spouse to avoid getting caught up in sexual immorality). Sex was created for marriage… in order that men and women might fulfil the creation mandate. In fact I’d go so far as to say that marriage wasn’t created to meet our needs at all."

"Marriage was instituted not to meet our human needs, but to enable humans to fulfil God’s mandate to them (Genesis 1:28 and 2:15) and to point towards the ultimate and real marriage between Christ and the church."

"these things are not what we ‘need’ as humans – if they were then marriage would need to continue in heaven."

"Yet too often 'being aflame with passion' is equated with merely having a sex drive (as per Mohler's claim that extended celibacy is 'battling our Creator's reproductive designs')...Yet to understand exactly what Paul means by his concession in 1 Cor 7:9 we only have to look to the first part of the verse - 'But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry'...Being aflame with passion = being unable to exercise self-control. It does not = having a sex drive."

"I am persuaded that a proper exegesis of 1 Cor 7:2... is not that ‘every man should find himself a wife and (and vice versa) so they can avoid sexual immorality’. But rather ‘that every husband should ‘have’ (ie. have sexual relations) with his own wife (and every wife with her own husband) . That is, v2 is saying the same thing as v3, and expanded upon in the following verses."


And btw, I did get through to that link to Ash's book and read his piece that denies the loneliness of Adam (or anyone else) as feature in God's reasons for creating Eve, and thus marriage. To that, I would direct you both to Psalm 68:6, which states "God sets the lonely in families". So I think God cares a little bit more about loneliness of the single than you guys give him credit for. As such, I would drop that book like a hot potato and explore other writers on the topic (avoiding all manner of pompous Brit-speak).

Anyways, these passages have been used for centuries to affirm the practical importance and common ordinariness of sex and marriage. But somehow, you've been imparted quite an number of novel interpretations that seem to go out of their way to diminish both. However, you don't seem interested in rethinking any of this sex-negative nonsense and I shudder to think of how you'll minister to the young on matters of sexuality.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and I forgot this one:

"Paul’s concession here in 1 Cor 7:9 is directly addressed at widows - those whose previous sexual activity in marriage potentially leads to a greater possibility of lack of self-control in the face of temptation. "

Although I'm sure you'll have at least one fan of that one (no names mentioned).

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

Alright then, Dani. I shall leave off with a collection of statements, made by you on another blog, that should leave no doubt to anyone (except one in particular who I shall not name) that anything you say about the bible and sex should definitely be taken with a grain of salt:

With all due respect, that is not an argument. Normally, when you say that someone's interpretation should be taken with a grain of salt, you then go on to show why it is that their interpretation must be taken with a grain of salt. Just simply putting it up and going, "Ha, ha, how funny," is not only not an argument, it is childish.

Even worse, some of the interpretations that she gave are from some of the best New Testament scholars alive today, such as Gordon Fee, Craig Blomberg, and Richard Hays.

Also, BTW, you might want to look at the context of Psalm 68:6. Simply read the previous verse. It is talking about orphans and widows, people who have no family. It has nothing to do with the lonliness associated with singleness. It is talking about someone who has been abandoned, or lost their family.

Also, in terms of what a text ultimately means, I don't think any of us bases our decision how people interpreted these texts in the past. You can find old interpretations of passages that are just plain stupid. Go read any interpretation of scripture by Origin [who lived from A.D.185-254], and you will read some of the most rediculious stuff you have ever read.

And, conversely, up until just before the time of Granville Sharp, no one believed that Titus 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1 taught the Diety of Christ. However, it is now firmly established that these texts do teach the Diety of Christ.

Therefore, you have to use discernment, and not just eat something up just because it is "the way things always were."

God Bless,
Adam

Dani said...

Thanks for going to the effort of copying and pasting all of those comments I made on the other blog.

I still stand behind everything I said and (despite what was no doubt your best effort to the contrary) I feel no shame or embarrassment or even discomfort at the fact that you have so diligently reproduced them here.

In fact here is the link for anyone who would like to read our extended dialogue in full (they should be aware that 'anon' here = gortexgrrl there). I include the link because I find that context can often make all the difference don't you?

Or perhaps you don't since you saw fit to remove various parts of some of my posts (and replaced them with '...'s) and cut at least one of my comments from it's context (re-inserted in bold below).

I agree – hence my ‘by and large’ disclaimer in my previous comment. I imagine the very fact that Paul makes his concession in v.9 means that there will be people who ‘cannot restrain themselves’. Although, I also think there is also something to be said for the exegetical argument of Gordon Fee and others, that Paul’s concession here in 1 Cor 7:9 is directly addressed at widows - those whose previous sexual activity in marriage potentially leads to a greater possibility of lack of self-control in the face of temptation.

The sentences you cut put a bit of a different spin on things don't they? Like the fact that I actually agreed with you, but suggested that there might also be something to be said for the argument of a world renowed NT exegetical commentator on that verse. I didn't claim his views, hook, line and sinker as my own (as you intentionally misrepresented on this thread). I indicated I thought there might be some value to his exegesis. And I still do.

A couple of final things:

Firstly - You referred to an article by Christopher Ash. For anyone who is interested, here is the link to his excellent article on the purpose of marriage. His two books (Married for God and Sex in the Service of God) are even better.

Secondly - with regards to your reference to Psalm 68. Praise God that he settles the solitary in a home! I suggest, however, that again context might be helpful in your biblical exegesis. Particularly when it comes to asking what home (or if you prefer what family) is on view there.

Thirdly -

However, you don't seem interested in rethinking any of this sex-negative nonsense and I shudder to think of how you'll minister to the young on matters of sexuality.

I do not view sex negatively. That's the last time I am going to reassert that. Please stop misrepresenting me.

As for my ministry to the young (or in fact anyone), if you are concerned for them then please do pray for them, and also for me. I serve in full-time vocational ministry and since I (like you) will not be perfect until Christ returns I need all the prayer I can get.

I'm done on this thread.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God”

(1Th 4:3-5 ESV)

Someone said...

>>> Or perhaps you don't since you saw fit to remove various parts of some of my posts (and replaced them with '...'s) and cut at least one of my comments from it's context (re-inserted in bold below).<<<

Nooooo! Not Kotex girl - Catwoman! She would never resort do this!!! Why -- she's BALAAAANCED!

Anonymous said...

"I agree – hence my ‘by and large’ disclaimer in my previous comment. I imagine the very fact that Paul makes his concession in v.9 means that there will be people who ‘cannot restrain themselves’. Although, I also think there is also something to be said for the exegetical argument of Gordon Fee and others, that Paul’s concession here in 1 Cor 7:9 is directly addressed at widows - those whose previous sexual activity in marriage potentially leads to a greater possibility of lack of self-control in the face of temptation.

The sentences you cut put a bit of a different spin on things don't they? Like the fact that I actually agreed with you, but suggested that there might also be something to be said for the argument of a world renowed NT exegetical commentator on that verse."

Glad you brought that up. As far as you "agreeing" with me, Dani, lol, you didn't seem to realize that I was not agree with you. You incorrectly summarized Fee's perspective on 1 Cor 7:9 as "widows - those whose previous sexual activity in marriage potentially leads to a greater possibility of lack of self-control in the face of temptation.", when in fact he NEVER suggested that widows had "greater possibility of lack of self-control" due to previous sexual activity. Fee simply leans toward favoring the theory that verses 8-9 were addressed to widows, which would thus render the passage irrelevant to young never-marrieds, but in no way does he suggest that the former group is more vulnerable to sexual temptation than the latter, or vice versa.

There is a pattern to be seen in the (re)interpretations that you favour when it comes to passages that have historically commended marriage. I smell a rat -- 'nuff said.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

You incorrectly summarized Fee's perspective on 1 Cor 7:9 as "widows - those whose previous sexual activity in marriage potentially leads to a greater possibility of lack of self-control in the face of temptation.", when in fact he NEVER suggested that widows had "greater possibility of lack of self-control" due to previous sexual activity. Fee simply leans toward favoring the theory that verses 8-9 were addressed to widows, which would thus render the passage irrelevant to young never-marrieds, but in no way does he suggest that the former group is more vulnerable to sexual temptation than the latter, or vice versa.

So What. All of the essential elements of her interpretation were in Fee. The fact that the explaination is not, is rather irrelevant, and, in fact, Fee never addresses it in the first place! So, all of the essential elements of her argument are in Fee, but you have to see everything she says in Fee before you will agree?????? Amazing.

There is a pattern to be seen in the (re)interpretations that you favour when it comes to passages that have historically commended marriage. I smell a rat -- 'nuff said.

Actually the rat I smell is someone who has to see every word in someone else before they will say that there is agreement. You can prove that anyone disagrees with anyone using this method. I simply let that speak for itself.

God Bless,
Adam

Anonymous said...

"The fact that the explaination is not, is rather irrelevant, and, in fact, Fee never addresses it in the first place!"

lol. The fact that she embellished Fee's explanation is not relevant?

You are funny, Adam, especially when defending damsels who have the same pious false pride around theology that you do. And about the same pet passages too. You'd make quite a pair.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

lol. The fact that she embellished Fee's explanation is not relevant?

How could it be when Fee presents the basic outline of her argument, and rejects your argument by so doing?

Also, why do you have to get so personal? Why can't you just deal with the text? We can agree to disagree, but mocking an argument is not dealing with the argument. Saying "you are really funny" and calling people "prideful" is not actually dealing with their arguments. As I said, I let those kinds of comments speak for themselves.

God Bless,
Adam

Anonymous said...

"How could it be when Fee presents the basic outline of her argument, and rejects your argument by so doing?"

Because she goes beyond Fee -- and I think you know that.

"Also, why do you have to get so personal? Why can't you just deal with the text? We can agree to disagree, but mocking an argument is not dealing with the argument. Saying "you are really funny" and calling people "prideful" is not actually dealing with their arguments."

Let's call it a deterrent to your red herring goosechases.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

What I find funny is that you are taking us on a red herring/wild goose chase. What relevence is the thing she added to whether or not your interpretation of that passage is correct? If Fee is correct, then the essential parts of her discussion are correct, and you are refuted. Plain and simple.

Again, I will simply allow your behavior to speak for itself.

God Bless,
Adam

Anonymous said...

"What relevence is the thing she added to whether or not your interpretation of that passage is correct? If Fee is correct, then the essential parts of her discussion are correct, and you are refuted."

Here's the thing -- Fee does not swear up and down that he is correct like you do, Adam. He acknowledges that other theologians lean towards an interpretation that's directed more towards the unmarried in general, rather than the interpretation that he leans towards, being specifically widows. Either way, he does not claim that widows had greater possibility of lack of self-control due to previous sexual activity than virgins -- any such suggestion is absurd.

"Again, I will simply allow your behavior to speak for itself."

Same to you, Adam. It would be hard to top your character smear of Deanna, complete with photo and personal information, that's still on your old blog. Pity you don't have the grace to remove it.

PuritanCalvinist said...

Anon,

And isn't it funny how everyone, including Amir, has said that it was a judgment call, and thus have not reacted in the same way that you have. However, everyone has criticized your behavior on this board. When it comes to your arguments, it is always personal, it is never exegetical. Once your arguments are exegetically challanged, you resort to this kind of stuff. I agree with Dani. There is no reason to continue this conversation with you. You need to take a hard look into the mirror, and exercise some hard self-criticism. I dare say, that is something all of the radical proponents of the mandatory marriage movement need to do.

God Bless,
Adam

Anonymous said...

"And isn't it funny how everyone, including Amir, has said that it was a judgment call, and thus have not reacted in the same way that you have."

You've experienced far more censure than that, Adam -- on and off these blogs.
-- and you know it.

"You need to take a hard look into the mirror, and exercise some hard self-criticism. I dare say, that is something all of the radical proponents of the mandatory marriage movement need to do."

lol! Silly boy, I've NEVER been "mandatory marriage", let alone a "radical proponent" of it. Perhaps you're not quite the "exegete" that you pride yourself on being. How did Al Mohler describe what you did when you called in on his radio show? "A very eccentric reading". Quite right, that about sums up your approach.