SAM_1517

Four short stories illustrating the checks the New Testament puts into place to prevent a slippery slope.

Story Number 1

A Christian in the young church in Corinth has finally been able to convince his friend, Jonas, to come to a church meeting. The friend has been expressing dissatisfaction with the Roman gods and temples. They arrive and find out that a letter has been sent to their church by the Apostle Paul, a founder of the church, and a portion of it will be read aloud.  Jonas is very interested to see what this leader has to say. He’s listening and finding the expressed theology to be very intriguing and compelling, especially as the content turns to sexual purity and marriage.

He hears –

For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does.”

And he thinks, “Yes, very good. That’s as it should be. Theonica will hear this message when I get home to her. She’ll have to -”

But then he hears the reader say –

“Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

Jonas does not explain himself to his friend as he stands up and quickly excuses himself, even as the reader continues to finish the passage. It should be obvious. By Jove, my body is not my wife’s! That’s ridiculous. She is merely a woman, after all.

He didn’t go back.

Story 2

Evelyn, a twenty-year old woman greets her friend Ruth at the door and invites the older woman into the small bedroom in the community home she lives in. It is a religious community, where it is Evelyn’s work to do laundry ten hours a day, six days a week. The older man who leads their sect demands obedience and subservience, but Evelyn states with a weak smile that she is happy. Ruth notices a blue crescent moon tattooed on Evelyn’s wrist and the young woman covers it up quickly with her sleeve.

They speak at length, sitting on Evelyn’s bed, but Ruth mostly listens and asks questions. After some time, Ruth finally pulls out a writing and says, “My brother Timothy, who is a pastor, received this letter from a wise church-planter named Paul a few days ago. He has let me read it and I asked him if I could bring it and read a small part of it to you. Would that be okay?”

The younger woman nods hesitantly and then listens as Ruth reads –

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

A few minutes later, with Ruth’s help, Evelyn started packing.

Story 3

The Jewish basket weaver has a surprisingly good sitting place to hear the new teacher as he preaches about the Kingdom of God from the top of a hill, but his heart is closed. He doesn’t want to hear about the meek and merciful, and he’s not interested in how great his sin is.

And then he hears –

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart,”

– and he thinks, “That is nonsense. I have not committed adultery! One of two things are true – either God is fine with me looking on the form of a woman to my own pleasure, assuming I don’t touch her, or the woman should cover herself so that her form is not visible. If it is right there in front of me, God will not hold me responsible when I look, no matter what my thoughts are. A just God will hold her, and her alone, responsible for the thoughts her body provokes.”

He slipped down the hill and away from the foolish rabbi.

Story 4

The man holds in his hands a scroll copied from a letter from one of the Son of God’s own disciples. It is an honor for him, new to the church and the faith, to be able to take these writings home and read it in the days between Sabbaths. So he is reading. The words move and motivate him. And then he reads –

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

And he stops reading. He feels a stabbing in his soul. He puts his face in his hand and he weeps.

Yesterday he hit his wife. She had something insufficiently honoring to him and he had put his hand across her face. It was his right as Husband.

Today he hasn’t had the courage to look at her fully, but he is afraid there’s a bruise on her cheek. He feels the weight of his error.

He steps into the other room and finds her, the one he loves, and she sees that he has been crying. He repents before her and God and states (truthfully) that he will never touch her violently again. They cry together. She forgives him. God forgives him.

He took her hand and together they went back and found the scroll and continued reading it together.

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Egalitarian or Skeptic, do not fear that following the New Testament’s teaching about the differences between men and women will lead to the mistreatment of women. God has seen to it that this won’t happen for the one who is truly seeking His Word to know His Will.

Young man, old man and husband, God has written for us how we are to treat women in and before Marriage, which is an ancient picture of our relationship with God. If we defy His Will in these matters, we defy His Gospel.

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