Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jesus Made The Difference!

Someone told me they recently realized when Jesus had a child stand before the disciples, he also took the child in his arms as he said, "Whoever welcomes this little child, welcomes me."  This started me thinking about how through seemingly insignificant gestures, Jesus made a positive difference, and still makes a difference to the cultures of this world.

 Jesus was born into a world that viewed women as less than men.  A woman in ancient times was often considered property.  Some cultures thought so little of women that when a man died, his wife (or wives) would be buried alive (or burned on the pyre) along with him.  In addition to gender, Jesus broke through ethnic and moral barriers when he reached out to the woman at the well in John 4.  This gesture signaled a new day for the "softer" gender.  Compare any Christian-influenced society with any non-Christian counterpart and see where Women's rights are greatest.
Jesus Made The Difference!

Children in the ancient Roman world were not the objects of love and affection that they are in the modern West.  The late Dr. James Kennedy said, "The Roman father's power over his child was absolute.  He could expose it to death; he could scourge it, mutilate it, marry it, divorce it, sell it as a slave, or kill it to satisfy his own blood lust."  Jesus took a child in his arms and the coldness toward all children began to melt away!
Jesus Made The Difference!

Today people look in shock at the practice of slavery.  We wonder how such a godless trade could have ever existed.  However, looking through the eyes of history, we see that virtually every culture has viewed slavery as normal.  Slavery is still common in many nations - The strong rule the weak.  The real wonder is that slavery ever ended anywhere.  Listen to Jesus putting forth our worth as God (the strongest of the strong) so loved the world (the weakest of the weak), that he gave his One and Only Son...  Jesus came to set us free from sin and death.  Societies that have come under the Christian influence have always been on the cutting edge of emancipation.
Jesus Made The Difference!

Where basic Christianity thrives, standards of living go up. Hospitals are built. Food and clothing is provided. Weird, painful superstitions (i.e. Pagan human sacrifices, Chinese foot-binding, African female circumcision, Indian Sati) come to an end.  Every church I know of sent aid to Haiti in light of its recent tragedy.  Many churches offer professional counseling to members and non-members at no charge.  
Jesus Made The Difference!

That's the Christianity I see, where charity and community is motivated from a God who furiously loves us and draws us to himself!  When I see the good deeds of just our local church people I think:  Even if I had doubts about Jesus, I sure would wish he were real! Why?  Because...
Jesus Made The Difference!


  1. Let us look at Exodus 21:28 "If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible."

    Let us also look at Exodus 21:29 "If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death."

    Let us look at Exodus 21:31 "This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter."

    Now, let us look at this verse Exodus 21:32 "If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull must be stoned. (but not to death)"

    Notice how in Exodus 21:28, if a bull gores a normal human being, then it must be put to death. Also, notice that Exodus 21:29 punishes the owner for not stopping the bull's habit by stoning him to death when his bull kills a normal human being.

    Notice however, that in Exodus 21:32, if a bull gores a slave male or female to death, then the bull will only be stoned but not to death. Unlike in Exodus 21:28, the bull will survive.

    I think we can conclude from the above that according to the Bible, even an animal has more value in it than a human slave.

  2. Ecclesiastics 7:26-28 "And I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare....while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all". The Bible claims that it is impossible to find a single good woman among a thousand women.

  3. Leviticus 12:2-5, if a woman gives birth to a baby boy, then she becomes unclean for 7 days. But if she gives birth to a baby girl, then she becomes unclean for 14 days. This verse is another proof that women in the Bible are disliked to be born !.

  4. The Bible teaches us that:

    1)Women should learn in silence and subjugation.

    2)Women should not teach.

    3)Women should not have authority over men but should remain silent.

    4)Adam and Eve were not equal in sin. Adam was not deceived but Eve was.

    5)Women are commanded to be under obedience to men. God ordained that men shall for all time rule over women

    6)Women must keep silent in Churches. It is shameful for them to open their mouths therein. If they have a question they should ask their husbands before going to church and then their husbands will ask for them in the church.

    7)A woman should neither pray nor profess with her head uncovered.

    8)If a woman prays with her head uncovered then she might as well shave her head.

    9)Man was created in the image and glory of God, and Woman was created in the glory of Man, thus Man must have power over her.

    10)Any woman who delivers a male baby shall be unclean for one week. But any woman who delivers a female baby shall be unclean for TWO weeks. Thus, females make their mothers DOUBLY unclean as compared to males.

    11)While it is possible to find one upright man in every thousand, it is impossible to find even one single upright woman in every thousand

    12)Woman is a snare, her heart is a trap, and her hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but she will ensnare the sinner.

    13)If a woman had her period and touches a chair or a bed or anything else then that item immediately becomes unclean. Anyone who then touches those things shall also become unclean. They must then bathe themselves and wash their clothes because they have touched an item that a menstruous woman has touched.

    What the canonized saints of Christianity said about women:

    "Woman is a daughter of falsehood, a sentinel of Hell, the enemy of peace; through her Adam lost paradise" (St. John Demascene)

    "Woman is the instrument which the devil uses to gain possession of our souls" (St. Cyprian)

    "Woman is the fountain of the arm of the devil, her voice is the hissing of the serpent" (St. Anthony)

    "Woman has the poison of an asp, the malice of a dragon" (St. Gregory)

  5. Paul's practice of allowing, even approving of male and female worshipers meeting together would have shocked his Jewish and pagan contemporaries. Jewish culture forbid women from even entering the temple courts, and pagan ritual often involved women as sexual objects for the satisfaction of the priests, rather than worshiping together. But we'll get back to Paul in a moment.

    * Jesus Christ set the example for his church. The following points listed, were usually unacceptable, or at least not the norm in ancient culture. Jesus shattered traditions of men:

    * Jesus taught both men and women

    * Jesus received praise from both men and women

    * Jesus had male and female followers

    * Jesus female followers were often mentioned by name

    * Jesus reacted with kindness toward a woman who washed his feet and anointed them ("She has done a beautiful thing to me. Everywhere the Good News is preached, what she has done will be told as well.")

    * Jesus scolded Martha for doing what was considered the traditional "woman's work" in the kitchen, while praising Mary for listening to and learning from him.

    * Jesus talked to the Samaritan women. This even shocked her. Jesus broke three barriers to speak to her:

    1. Race barrier - she was a Samaritan
    2. Gender barrier - she was a woman
    3. Moral barrier - she was a "sinner"

    Look at what Jesus did in light of his cultural surroundings. The cultural atmosphere was so male-oriented, I can imagine those Gospel writers almost gulping as they wrote so much about women. That is, they wrote so much about women compared to the culture in which they lived. I can't think of any ancient culture that afforded women the assumed rights they have in modern Western cultures. Jesus' inclusion of women was radical. Read some historical views of women and you should see.

    I think ones particular interpretation of the Bible is closely related to ones position on divine authorship. If you're starting under the assumption that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of human writings with no hint of divine inspiration whatsoever, you're likely to come to all sorts of conclusions.

    Another way to interpret the verses your conclusions seem to be based upon, assumes that the Bible is, as most Christians including myself refer to it, the Word of God. This is what I believe. Ultimately, if the Word of God (especially the New Testament) teaches a particular belief or practice, I am obligated as a Christian to uphold it even if it seems at odds with my personal feelings. To me this means that although I disagree with many of your conclusions, or interpretations of the text, I am trying to be careful not to allow my own cultural bias color my interpretations.

    If God is the author of the biblical writings, and God is infinite, perfect, just and loving, then these writings will ultimately have our best interests at heart. I'm not saying that we're always going to jump for joy at the prospect of obeying his commands, any more than my children jump for joy when I take away the sweets and send them to brush their teeth. What's best for us, isn't always the most pleasant.

    Think about it this way: I believe in order to be in a relationship with anyone sometimes I am required to be exposed to views and opinions I disagree with, and even occasionally to submit my will and desires to the other person's - that is unless I choose only friends who are identical to me, which already sounds boring. If God is personal, in order to relate to him personally, I'm going to at least sometimes encounter aspects of that relationship that I'm not comfortable with. However, if God is also perfect, then putting my personal feelings aside and following him will always be best for me.

  6. 1Corinthians 14:33-35 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

    In light of 1Corinthians 11:2-16 which assumes women are praying and prophesying (which usually requires speaking) in the church, this passage seems to be dealing with some specific incident or type of speaking in the church: Inquiry. I think Paul had particular women in mind. (I understand this is conjecture) I can only guess to what issue Paul was addressing, but according to the text it was related to learning something during the church service.

    Perhaps these women (as women at all these new churches), who were not accustomed to knowing what was going on, because they were not accustomed to such a hands-on worship experience that the "in Christ, no male or female" policy had suddenly afforded them, were interrupting the service (i.e. quenching / grieving the Spirit) with inquisitive outbursts about trivial matters. Add this to the singing, scripture reading, prayer, speaking in tongues and prophesying that people were doing as part of the service, and you have a recipe for disorder that needs some kind of clear instruction. The point is, women in the church at Corinth 2,000 years ago were freely participating in Christian worship with their voices!

    Paul was mentions women who were leaders in the church in more than a few places in his letters. We know there were female deacons. And one particular woman may have been designated "apostle." Women were also found among the prophets of the New Testament.

    About submission and authority. Looking through our modern Western cultural glasses submission sounds painful and just doggone... submissive! Even the word is pejorative to us! Another word that rubs us wrong, especially when we're not the ones in it, is authority. Even my pastoral self has recently felt like thumping a state trooper I believed was throwing his badge around our small town - which, by the way, manages just fine with our own local Sheriff's Department, thank you very much!

    Contrary to popular opinion submission is not the greatest evil. Jesus made some interesting comments about his own state of being while on earth. He was in submission to his Father in Heaven. "By myself I can do nothing..." (John 5:30). "...for the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28 - which seems to speak of Jesus' human state. See Philippians 2:6). "The head of Christ is God" (1Corinthians 11:3). Does this degrade Jesus? Does this make him less than equal with God? No. That State Trooper having authority over me on the highway, doesn't make me less of a person than he!

    There are also other ways to interpret this passage. Some Bible scholars interpret the passages about the husband being the "head" of the wife, as an anatomical head / body metaphor, rather than an authority metaphor. What's the difference? Well, the head / body idea puts emphasis on the oneness of a husband and wife, rather than authority roles. Imagine either a head or a body trying to operate without the other. That is just how close a married couple is, theologically speaking.

    If God (the Father) is the head of Jesus (who is the Word of God made flesh, the "Son" member of the trinity) and Jesus is the body, the hands and feet of God on this earth, or "God with us," as one passage states, does that make Jesus (God the Son) any less God (The Father)?

  7. About Being Unclean After Giving Birth:

    Personally I believe the uncleanness of a mother for having a male child was "cut short" for the sake of circumcision - no pun intended! Mom would need the all clear by the eighth day in order to participate in presenting the child to the priest. The fact that the offering requirements presented to the temple were the same for male or female infants indicates that there was no greater value placed on one gender over the other.

    Another possible reason for giving the newborn females more time away from the populous could be health related.

    "...mortality differentials arise from social or behavioral factors reflecting deliberate discrimination by adults in favor of boys over girls, resulting in atypical male to female infant mortality ratios."
    - Kana Fuse and Edward M. Crenshaw; Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, July 2005

    Those extra few days of isolation, just mother and baby, could have played a factor in the overall health of the baby, by allowing preemptive quarantine (childbirth fever, also known as Puerperal fever was highly contagious) as well as more bonding time for mother and child.

  8. "...mortality differentials arise from social or behavioral factors reflecting deliberate discrimination by adults in favor of boys over girls, resulting in atypical male to female infant mortality ratios."
    - Kana Fuse and Edward M. Crenshaw; Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, July 2005

    This quote was related to "underdeveloped" cultures

  9. On slavery:

    Slavery is seen in the Old Testament as an institution that needed to be "humanized." Land holders generally treated a serf as a member of the family - See Ex 21:5 - why would an abused slave wish to stay with his master? For the sake of his wife and kids? The text says, "I love my master and my wife and children..."

    Jesus came to change souls, which over time led to a change in social status. The Epistle of Philemon is a letter from Paul to a master about his run-away slave. Paul encourages Philemon to receive him back, not as a slave but as a brother.

    Even in the "cruel" Old Testament, an escaped slave was not to be returned to his master:
    Deut. 23:15 “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.
    Deut. 23:16 He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.

    (Read the entire Torah before you pick and choose those passages that best suit your argument)

    Also, you're argument from silence is a fallacy. The text does not say specifically "to death" but people didn't stone "half to death." That's a REALLY big stretch, my anonymous friend!


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