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Monday, July 20, 2009

the security of one's place

The former president is confused. Jimmy Carter announced that he is separating from the Southern Baptist denomianation because of their policies regarding women which he interprets as making them subservient and subject to the various often brutal whims of men.

I must disagree. First, in my years attending a Baptist dayschool and visiting various functions they sponsored, I never saw women treated with anything but respect. In fact, it seemed they had a singular understanding of the specialness of women because they had a distinct and honored place.

Second, I must disagree with him because as I understand the Southern Baptist position, it is based in the Bible. And the God who is holy and love and who created women as the glorious reflection of His own beauty would never condone nor command their mistreatment.

Third, I disagree with him because I feel that sometimes the talk about rights is an easy way to camoflauge the self-centered desire to have no restictions, no fences, "no one above me telling me what to do." If we are talking about equality because of color, social level, age, physical/mental condition, or gender, I say remember we all bear the image of our Creator and have the same privileges to life and liberty. But, when we take that to the point of using it as a battering ram against the creative order, it is wrong.

See, each gender has a place. And when we find that place, we find we fit it perfectly and are content and happy. I would suggest the writings of Elisabeth Elliott to shed further insight on this topic; she says it so well. One place is not higher nor better than the other, it is only different. It is no more wrong for a woman to be fitted for certain roles than it is for the man to be inadequate in others. But the very feminists who are gleeful to point out the inefficiencies of men cannot bring themselves to admit that there are some things for which they are better suited than others.

Of course, one must subscribe to the theory that men and women are different and unique to believe it. And this flies in the face of the blending of the genders which has been subtly tilting the culture for decades.

Women are different from men, gloriously so. Because of this, they are not supposed to bear the same burdens that men do. They were not made for it. Does that mean they are inferior? No more inferior than is silk to denim. Each is good, but suited for different applications.

Knowing one's place gives security to life. It makes life sane and enjoyable and peaceful. This means that men must recognize the worth of women and not abuse them and that women must understand the value of male leadership and its role in society. I write about this in my book titled Reflecting Beauty, coming soon from Wesleyan Publishing House. I feel it is such an important topic because so much of the culture hinges on our interpretations of femininity and masculinity and how they relate to one another and to God.

Balking against the Creator's design is the heart of self-will. And it always leads to confusion and discontentment. God's plan is for both genders to show mutual respect for the other and for the strength of the man to complement the beauty of the woman. It is a perfect design. And that's why the former president doesn't have a good argument. He's trying to rewrite the Creator's guide to life. It doesn't work.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

the challenges of change

In the past couple months, I have compared my journey to two vastly different people--Abraham and Alice (in Wonderland, that is).

Now, I know that's quite a comparison. So, here's why I say that.

Sometimes, life brings change so unexpectedly that it does feel like following a white rabbit down a hole and waking up in Wonderland, "where nothing is as it seems." The mind scrambles to keep up with the feet. Like Alice, the experience gets "curiouser and curiouser" as we look for the way back to normalcy.

On the other hand, in the abrupt movings of our lives, we can trace the hand of God and listening closely, we can hear His voice calling to us to have faith and follow Him step by step. Like Abraham, we rouse the camels and start out, assured that God is guiding the trip.

As my family transitions (what a nice word for a lot of packing!) into a new ministry location, I feel all those accompanying emotions that come with a move. A pastor's home is a fluid thing--it is subject to change. We leave part of ourselves here and begin to affix another part of ourselves there. To pastor is to leave your heart scattered across the country. And God rewards you with multitudes of friends.

As Paul admonished young Timothy, through all the changes of life, we must "continue in the things we have been assured of." The unchangeables are the realities in this world. I want my life to be fastened to the rock solid strength of Jesus. He gives "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow." His faithfulness is great. (and with that, I've got more packing to do!)
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