Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Bible is Pro-Woman - The Old Testament, Misogyny, and Feminism

I wanted to write something special for my 20,000 hits and have really wanted to write an article about women and the Old Testament (OT). The OT has been very unfairly criticized for being misogynistic and I have heard people say things like how the OT treats women like objects. It does take some time to understand many of these verses. Simple things like realizing that there were no jails and that slavery was a way of enforcing justice like paying off your debts (i.e.Bernie Madoff), really helps elucidate the whole picture. We also should remember that the Torah (the first five books of the BIble) was written about 3,400 years ago and if we compare it to the other cultures at that time, there would be no doubt that the OT is what I call “pro-woman”!


Keep in mind the big picture of how the OT views women before becoming bogged down by the small aspects of civil and ceremonial laws. As Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law...” The Bible gives men and women full ontological equality  (i.e. equal in their being) in Genesis 1:27, as man and woman, are both made in His image. When they have physical union, they are united as “one flesh”(Genesis 2:24), so that sex is not just a physical act for pleasure, but one that should be used only with his wife, because it makes you one flesh. I think that it is highly significant that God made sex not just some free physical activity because women are not able to be treated as mere sex objects, as sex metaphysical unites man and woman. This was Paul’s concern in 1 Corinthians 6:16 where he says, “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, ‘the two shall become one flesh.’”


Monogamy is also held to an incredibly high standard. Not committing adultery is one of the 10 commandments (the seventh) and in the ninth commandment “thou shall not covet” it explicitly states not to covet your neighbor’s wife. Moses, it seems, to go out of his way to make sure Kings “shall not multiply wives for himself” in Deut. 17:17. The man with the most power, the king of Israel, receives a special prohibition. Before we move on, it is important to note here that if people were perfect there wouldn't need to be laws, but as Jesus says in Matthew 19:8 “... Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way,” thus there are laws to enforce sins such as divorce and polygamy.


Summary: Men and women are ontologically equal and both are created in God’s image. Monogamy is held to the highest standard with adultery making it into the 10 commandments.

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With this view in mind let us tackle some of the some verses in the OT. Some of these cover very “pro-woman” verses and others tackle more controversial verses, in no particular order.


God gives protection for married women


God in His own words said, “Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth. For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel” (Micah 2:15-16). However if it were to happen Exodus 21:10  says “If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.” Furthermore, the Bible has Levirate marriages, so that if a woman had no children then the husband’s brother would have to marry her. First, it is important to note that it does not say “his conjugal rights” rather "her." Second, it was important for women to have children so that they in return could help take care of their parents, as one got older, because of the poor economic opportunities for women, especially divorced women, who had a much more difficult time becoming remarried, as marriages were arranged.


So the conjugal rights were a protection for the women in this case. Do not think the men were excited to be able to continue intimate relations - this is a 21st century fallacy. In fact, men did not want to have have sexual relations with these women, so that they did not have to split their wealth. This is one of the reasons why Deut. 25 goes in depth of how the woman may publicly shame men who do not fulfill this role. Also, the story of Onan in Genesis 38 a tells us that he did not want to impregnate his sister-in-law and “wasted his seed on the ground. God saw that action and took his life! This is a system of alimony over 3,000 years ago designed to protect women.


There are even protections for even more vulnerable women, namely, foreign women captured during war. I believe this section is one of the most pro-woman verses in the Bible. Deut 21:10-14:


10 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, 11 and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13 She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not mistreat her, because you have humbled her.


I’m sure in other ancient cultures they took women as slaves and concubines and gave them absolutely no rights, but this is not so in Israel. Remember, when we talked about the equality of women and the high standard of monogamy? When they conquered a nation, they could not just do with the women what they wanted. If they wanted to have intimate relations with them then they needed to marry them. The text says they needed to make the beautiful woman that captivated them his wife, not slave. Furthermore, to make sure you really wanted to marry the girl, she had to cut her hair and trim her nails, so that it wasn’t simply external. If you still wanted to make her your wife with how she looked after all that, then you needed to give her one month to mourn given all that has just taken place in her life. If you divorce her you cannot mistreat her and make her your slave or concubine. This is a far cry from objectification.


God gives women the ability to inherit land


Numbers 27:6 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 7 “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in their statements. You shall surely give them a hereditary possession among their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer the inheritance of their father to them.”


Women able to own property. Nuff said.


Some Controversial Verses


1. Lev 12:1-5


‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. 3 On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. 5 But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.


Critics of the Bible complain here that b/c males have a shorter uncleanliness period, they must be more valuable than females.What is actually happening is that b/c the male have to become circumcised there is a longer wait for the female babies. In the pre-anesthesia days, this was definitely not in favor of males.


2. Deut 22 28


“If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days."


This is a horrible situation emotionally, spiritually, and physically. When a woman is raped or is divorced,as previously mentioned, it was extremely difficult for them to be married. Without marriage, women were in a dire economic situation. So what to do here in the instance of rape? Remember, there is no welfare or social security. Furthermore, only in recent times has society really married for romantic love. Marriages were arranged. Who in that society would arrange for their child to be married to her? Probably none, so the best thing to do for this unfortunate woman, so that her future is not totally decimated was to make the man who did this horrible thing to her take care of her forever. Note, there is an extra-stipulation here that she cannot be divorced, further reinforcing that she is taken care of by him.


Conclusion:

Anyone with a bias against the Bible can spin anything toward their own point-of-view. Some see OT as being hopelessly misogynistic, but I hope I have helped dispel that notion and show that much has been misunderstood, misinterpreted, or purposefully maligned. Part of the difficulty of understanding all this is having our 21st century mind has to be transported back over 3,000 years ago. As always, if we look a little deeper, we always see the justice, holiness, and love of our great God! May God give us the eyes to see the beauty of His Word.


Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Problem of Hell and Those Who Never Heard About Jesus / The Gospel

This is one of the most frequently asked questions concerning salvation and there are several factors one must understand in order to fully appreciate the biblical answer. 

1) The first hindrance is the idea that we are born morally neutral, akin to a “tabula rasa,” but this is completely wrong. In reality, we are born sinful and are hence deserve the appropriate outcome for being sinners. The Bible is clear in saying that even from conception were are sinful:

Psalm 51:5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin my mother conceived me.“

and to make matters worse, we even inherited sin from our forefather Adam:

Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”

2) The second idea that people have a hard time grasping is the idea of fairness. The main argument of why it is wrong for God to send people who never had a chance to hear about Jesus to hell is that it is “not fair.” Now, as we just learned, God is actually being fair because we are born into corruption and furthermore everyone has sinned:

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

If everyone is born sinful and (even if they weren’t) all have sinned, God has not been unfair to anyone, but justly gives what is deserved. The only “unfair” thing God has done is that He actually let’s anyone go to heaven in the first place, because none of us deserve it!

3) The third issue is that people say they never had a chance to know about God, but in fact the Bible makes clear that this is absolutely false. See what Paul says in the book of Romans:

Romans 1:20  “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

See what is being said here? There is absolutely no excuse for not knowing God. In fact, even God’s invisible attributes can be seen from creation!

4) Finally, it is a commonly held fallacy that people just go to hell for not believing in the Gospel. No one can go to heaven without accepting the Gospel, but this is different from saying the sole reason people go to hell is that they do not believe the Gospel. The reason anyone goes to hell is because of their sins. One of those sins may be that you have rejected and thus do not believe the Gospel that Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead, however it is not the only sin for which one is sentenced to hell. The man who has genuinely never heard the Gospel, he will not be held guilty for rejecting the Gospel, but will nonetheless be guilty for the other sins he has committed.

In conclusion,

For the one who has never heard the Gospel:

1) In his innermost and in the totality of his being his is sinful from birth.

2) He has committed thousands, if not millions, of sins that any good judge must justly punish.

3) He has absolutely no excuse about not knowing about God’s attributes, power, or nature and is responsible for sinning despite having that knowledge.

4) Rejecting the Gospel will not be held against him, but he is still culpable for all his other sins.

Emotionally, this may at first be unsatisfying, but the truth and logic of it is sound and in accordance with the truth God has shown us. Remember that God did send His only Son to die on our behalf and that we can receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life for free! This truth, once understood and accepted, brings more emotional and intellectual satisfaction than anything else can in the whole world.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm on Twitter Launch Article - Limited Atonement


I decided for some reason or other to open a twitter account -- woohoo -- and in order to "celebrate" I have written a short article on limited atonement - Enjoy!



My twitter account is @PredestinedBlog , not @thepredestinedblog, but the name of the twitter account is "The Predestined Blog" - confusing I know...

Quick introductory points

This is truly one of the most, if not the most, contentious petal of TULIP. One reason, I believe this is so is that limited atonement is an agreement within the Godhead (i.e. a meeting just between the Father, Son, and Spirit)  itself. Whether they want to extend to atonement to all sins or to just the elect is a divine prerogative. The other 4 points are about the ability of man in some way:

Total Depravity - Can man choose God?
Unconditional Election - Are there be conditions man must fulfill for salvation?
Irresistible Grace - Can man refuse God?
Perseverance of the Saints - Can man leave God?

The most important point I want to emphasize is that for both sides of the coin (Calvinist side: Limited atonement / Particular redemption and Arminian side: Unlimited atonement / Universal redemption) the atonement is LIMITED in some aspect.

1. The same amount of people go to heaven with either doctrine.

2. The Calvinist side states the atonement is UNLIMITED in its power, scope, and reach, but God chooses to limit its efficacy to the elect.

3. The Arminian side is LIMITED in its power because although “all sins” have been atoned for, it is not powerful enough to save all.

Repeat:

Calvinist: The value of the atonement is unlimited and infinite because of the value of Jesus Christ, but it is efficacious only to the elect. It is like a rich person who has an infinite amount of money and has the chance to buy all the cars in the world, but decides to buy just all the American cars (to help our economy :P). He could have bought all the cars in the world, but planned to buy just the American ones. His plans are fulfilled (i.e his goal of buying all the American cars is attained).

Arminian: The same rich person wants to buy all the cars in the world and pays for them, but is only able to obtain just the American ones, even though he really wants all of them. His plans are frustrated b/c he is limited only to the American cars (i.e he wants all the cars of the world, but cannot attain his goal).

Main questions against limited atonement

Q: Is it a real offer if the atonement is limited?

A: First, Christ’s death did lead us to offer the Gospel freely. We do not know who is saved and thus Christians freely distribute the Gospel to everyone. Second, it is a true offer that we give b/c those who reject the gospel freely do so without any constraints b/c they voluntarily want to reject it. Finally, it is like a group complaining about how cruel it would be to torture unicorns. This would all be empty talk b/c there is no such thing as a unicorn!  In the same way there is no one who wanted the Gospel and salvation and was not able to receive it b/c of limited atonement. Meaning, all the complaints about this not being fair falls flat b/c there is absolutely no one that wanted to be saved that was not saved. Just a lot of theory that does not approximate reality.

Q: What does take away the sins of the “whole world” and for “all men” mean?

A: Please see here: An Overview and Defense of the  Reformed Doctrines of Salvation  Limited Atonement, part 20  by Ra McLaughlin

Basically, there are different uses of the “whole world” and “all men.”

The “whole world” and “all” can have at least two senses:

1) All without exception i.e. every single individual person

2) All without distinction i.e. all kinds of people - men and women, Jews and gentiles, educated and uneducated, etc.

In regards to salvation, the Bible uses the 2nd definition frequently and we need to be careful not to automatically jump to either definition.

Other considerations

1. Sins of the Demons and Satan

The sins of the demons and satan are not atoned for thus some sin is left unaccounted for in the universe. Further limiting, “unlimited” atonement. This is not an issue in the limited atonement view, but is for the universal redemption view.

2.  Double Jeopardy

The idea of double jeopardy b/c God is punishing people for sins that are already paid for by Jesus. The common response of “they are being sent to hell for their unbelief” does not fly b/c unbelief in itself is a sin.

3. Actuality of the Purchase

The actuality of the purchase of Christ’s atonement. This is an important fact. When Jesus died did He actually pay for anyone’s sin? In the Arminian view, no one could be guaranteed salvation that day b/c no ones salvation was  personally secured by Jesus on the cross. Your salvation is only secured after you profess faith and actually, in the true Arminian scheme, your faith is not secured even then b/c you can lose your salvation.

To clarify, in the Arminian view, if Jesus died for all sins in general, he did not die specifically for you, so on His death on the cross, He only potentially died for you, but did not actually die for you. He heroically paid for all sins, but did not specifically guarantee your salvation.

In the Calvinist view, where Jesus died for the elect, Jesus actually did die for your personal sins on the cross and secured your individual salvation. Many people call this the “actuality of the purchase.” Only in the limited atonement view did Jesus secure anyone’s salvation on the cross.

4.  Analogy of the Old Testament Sacrifices

The Old Testament sacrificial system, which foreshadows the cross, definitely favors a limited atonement view.

a) Individuals brought sacrifices to atone for their own personally sins and not for everyone.
b) There were special events of the year (ie Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur) where the sacrifice was for the nation of Israel, but these were to atone for the sins of only Israel / God’s chosen people. This the perfect analogy for Christ’s death atoning for the sins of just the elect

5. The Unpardonable Sin

Now, it makes little since for Jesus to die for a sin that cannot be pardoned. From the verses below, it is clear people who blaspheme the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven, but if Jesus dies for their sin, why not? I believe this concept strongly favors the limited atonement view

Mark 3 28"Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin"--30because they were saying, "He has an unclean spirit."

Matthew 12
 32"Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Verses in Support of Limited Atonement

1 Tim. 4:10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

John 17:9"I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours;
 
Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." 

-He does not give His life for all, but many

Mark 14:24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many
-He does not pour out his blood for all, but many


Links

Additional Reading Material:

Short: (Limited Atonement: Sufficient for All, Efficient for the Elect)

Longer:

Limited Atonement by Hoeksema

Was Anyone Saved at the Cross by Dr.  James White

Audio Lecture Links:

Steve Lawson series (Highly Recommend):

http://www.cfbcmobile.org/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=421&sec_id=377&sa_action=mode_bible&sa_search=Ten--SPC--Reasons--SPC--Why--SPC--the--SPC--Bible--SPC--Tea

S. Lewis Johnson series (Highly Recommend):

http://www.believerschapeldallas.org/temp/tapes/slj-69_systematic-theology/part-5.htm