Thoughts On The SBC And Abuse

What do I think of the recent issues going on? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As someone who reads marriage blogs, I have seen several people writing about the events going on in the SBC. These issues have particularly centered around the treatment of women. The removal of Paige Patterson from his position is based on this kind of happening.

Controversies surrounding him have included people like Sheri Klouda and Darrell Gilyard. There was also a statement released concerning other allegations from the chairman of the Board of Trustees. One great concern I had in reading that was that Patterson said he wanted to meet with a student alone who said she had been raped. He wanted no officials there and he wanted to “break her down.” I’m not sure how to take that statement, but anyway I can think of is not good.

Also, some of this centers around women in abusive relationships. Sometimes, women were apparently told to just submit to their husbands. This would often put those women in great risk.

Patterson isn’t an isolated figure in this. Steve Camp who was a popular Christian singer back in the 80’s and today is a pastor got into a debate recently with Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. In the link, you can see Camp made a number of awful statements because Gregoire is a woman and began blocking other women on Twitter defending her. I believe it’s events like this that got J Parker of Hot, Holy, and Humorous to write her own take on this.

So let’s say a few words about all this going on.

I am not a member of the SBC, but let’s be sure that I do not think this represents the majority of SBC pastors and leaders. I think most of them want to be good and God-honoring men and if they are married, they want to love and honor their wives the best they can. Sadly, a few bad apples in any group can spoil the bunch.

As regarding marriage, I am complementarian in my approach. Yet as I say that, I have something important to say along those lines. If a man does think Biblically that he is the king of his castle, well guess what. Your wife gets treated like a queen. There is never any justification whatsoever for abusing your wife verbally, physically, emotionally, sexually, or any other way I might have left off.

I also hate divorce. When Allie and I go to another town around here for something else in the line of medical care, there is a billboard on the way back that says “Undo, I do.” I always reach over and softly pat Allie on the leg or something and just tell her, “Not us.” Because of a divorce culture where divorce is prevalent, though there are myths about how prevalent it is among Christians, there are many good marriages where one person fears a divorce from the other because it has become so easy to get one.

Yet my hatred of divorce can be much like our hatred of war. No one really should really like the thought of war, but sometimes it is necessary because of the evil of other people. Many people who have a concealed carry today carry it to protect their family and I am sure it is their great hope that they never have to use it.

Divorce is sadly a necessity if a spouse is abusive and they will not change. (While this is about women in abusive relationships, let’s not forget that women can be abusers of men too.) I would urge any couple that when abuse takes place, separate for a time being and try to work things out with a licensed professional counselor. If that cannot happen, there is no requirement that you stay with someone who is abusive, doubly so if children are involved.

Even still, divorce should be seen as a necessary tragedy. It is sad that someone who made a promise before God and man to love and cherish someone for the rest of their life ended up breaking that promise. It is a reminder that we live in a fallen world. We need to have zero tolerance for abuse.

So what about Biblical submission? What about wives submit to your husbands. I believe in it, but men, if you have to start quoting Ephesians 5 to your wives in hopes that she will get in line, you’re already not being a leader in your family. More importantly, when we are talking about someone’s spiritual condition, the only person we can do anything about directly is ourselves.

And men, we have a lot that is said to us in Ephesians 5. When I was engaged to my now wife, I remember once when I was visiting her and her family and one day it hit me that I was to be married really and then I remembered what the passage said. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.

As Christ loved the church.

Really.

Look at those five words.

Pause in your reading men if you’re married and think about those five words.

If we’re being honest, we all fall short of that one. Yet that is our calling. We are to be such great husbands to our wives that if they didn’t know better, they could swear they were married to Jesus. The number one person in your wife’s life who should remind her of Jesus is you. If you are not that person, you are doing it wrong.

Paul has many other commandments to us. To the wives, he only tells them to submit to their husbands and respect them. We get far more attention given to us.

Submission is something that should never be used as a whip. Sex is always a big area in a marriage and guys, if you are using submission as a way to get sex, stop it. I suspect many of you are not doing that, but there could be that lone wolf out there. If it’s not happening as often in your marriage as you’d like, then maybe you need to ask yourself how you could be more romantic so that your wife will feel safe and want to make love to you.

Let me offer some bizarre suggestions. Maybe you could take your wife out on dates more. Maybe you could actually talk to her some. Maybe you could do some work around the house or help with the kids more. Maybe you could touch her lovingly and do so other than when you want sex. And maybe all of this could be part of loving her as Christ loved the church.

Now to the women, many of them don’t understand this need in a man, but imagine you wanting to hear your man say he loves you and he says, “Okay. I love you. Are you happy now?” Well, no. Of course not. It was done, but begrudgingly. The same would be if he took you out on a date and acted like it was just a chore for him. Unfortunately, many women don’t realize that this is often how they come across to their husbands in the area of sex. It’s a necessary evil that they put up with. Your man wants not just to have intimacy with you, but for you to want him and want that intimacy with him.

Ideally in a marriage, this will begin a circle of love. A couple that is more loving will have more sex together. In turn, they will be more loving to one another. That will result in their having more sex together. As a result, you get the picture.

And men, our role is to love our wives and always seek to improve. For me, I started a men’s group on Facebook for Christian men who are married, engaged, dating, or hoping to date and marry called “As Christ Loved The Church”. Honestly, part of this was for myself. I wanted to be a better husband and I was sure other men wanted to join me on that journey. Nowadays, I am seen by many as a sort of expert in the field, but I realize I have a long way to go.

If any denomination has any issues with how men are treating women, they do need to clean house. By the way, a lot of this starts before marriage. The church needs to be teaching on sex far more often. Robert Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice has said we need at least one sermon a month. Think about it. Our kids in popular culture and all around them are seeing the world’s view of sex everywhere. How often are they going to get the Biblical view? What are they growing up believing about marriage as a result?

This also means that pornography must be talked about. This isn’t just a men’s issue anymore but if you’re engaging in pornography, stop it. You are doing damage to yourself and any future marriage relationship you will have. This can be undone, but it would be best to avoid it to begin with.

We should pray for the SBC in this time and hope the new president will build up the denomination to honor women to be sure, but even more that it will honor the name of Christ. Abuse in any relationship should never be allowed and definitely if you’re dating someone who is abusive, get out now. Husbands and wives need both to seek to honor one another in marriage and definitely get rid of pornography.

This scandal has given the world one viewpoint of how the church treats these issues. Let’s make sure we give them a better one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Me Too And The Failed Revolution

Has the sexual revolution ultimately failed women? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Have you seen the “Me Too” movement going around Facebook and other places? It’s because of people like Harvey Weinstein and letting women be able to share that they have suffered sexual abuse of some kind from people in their lives. It is quite surprising to me to see how many people are included in this and even in Hollywood we’re seeing women come out and admit that there is a problem and turning down time with a guy like Weinstein cost them in their acting careers as he would give a role to someone else then.

One of the things the sexual revolution was supposed to do was to make women equal. Now in a sense of course, women can never be equal to men and men can never be equal to women, but that is not because one is superior and one is inferior, but because both are different. Ask anyone who has been married for any length of time and they know that men and women are different.

For instance, in general, when a woman has a problem, she wants to talk about how she feels about it at first, while the guy wants to go and solve the problem immediately. A guy will often want sex just because and he needs to feel sex because that’s how he feels connected to his wife. The woman will want sex when she feels connected. A woman is much more relationship-oriented and a guy is often much work task-oriented. These are generalities of course as there are exceptions in every case, but one would have to be a fool to think that men and women are not different.

Yet where gender is irrelevant to some things, there is nothing wrong with striving for equality between men and women. In fact, with the movement of women’s suffrage prior, I think we were already moving there. One of the problems though was sex. Women wanted to have careers, but that problem of being a mother would creep up.

The problem was not the pill then, but it was more the desire behind it. Sometimes women came to see being a mother as a less than noble calling. Of course, some couples can’t have children for whatever reason and that’s fine, but then we went a step farther. While Christians can debate the pill back and forth, there is one issue that they should not have to debate within themselves, but they sadly do often, and that’s abortion.

Abortion has become such a law of the land that when we see a mass shooting take place in Las Vegas, we ask how such an evil could happen blind to the idea of how many babies we are killing every day in Planned Parenthood. If we have such a callous attitude towards life in its most innocent place, why should we expect it to be different elsewhere? With abortion, we are actually even worse than the people of the past who offered up their children in sacrifice. At least we could say they did it because they wanted a good harvest for their people. We sacrifice our children at the altar of convenience.

It’s quite odd because this doesn’t empower women. It destroys women. Abortion is one of the most anti-women acts out there. Around 50% of its victims are women. It also results in a woman killing her own children legally, the very opposite of what a mother is to do. She can say she’s not ready to be a mother, but as soon as she is pregnant, she is a mother. The choice is if she wants to kill her own children or not.

Not only that, in all of this, men stayed men. From the dawn of humanity, men have been attracted to women. Women have been seen as the great mystery to men and the wonder that they cannot explain. If it wasn’t for sex, men would not get married because when they marry, they have an extra expense and they have to sacrifice their time and money for someone else. There has to be a good incentive for the man, at least at first, to compel him to enter this relationship. Sex is a good incentive.

This is also why I personally follow the Pence Rule. (Yes. I know it does not originate with him) Why should I risk myself with another woman? Is it because I don’t trust others? Not really. I don’t trust myself. The moment I say I am above temptation and cannot fall to it, I already have.

Last month, we had another man staying at our place here who was a refugee from Hurricane Irma. He’s a Christian who wanted to learn some apologetics, but I also wanted to teach him how a man is to love a woman and a husband is to treat a wife, and indeed he did learn a lot of good from that. One rule we consistently followed is that if I went anywhere, he came with me. It was a way of respect and avoiding temptation.

You see, even a man who is happily married can still look at other women and be tempted and wonder. It’s not because we don’t love our wives. It’s just that’s the way that a man is wired. I’m not saying that it is at all right, but that is the way it is. A man was made to look at the human female form and to admire it and to desire it.

Normally, a man who has wanted that has had to be serious about it because the action could always result in pregnancy. Now, that is much less of a factor and the men are still men and women too often have sadly let themselves be used in this way to get ahead in their minds. Some women have an idea that if they give the men in their lives sex, they will either love them or get what they want.

For love, often if a couple engages in sex too early, such as without being married, their emotional build-up in the commitment will halt and possibly not even grow at all beyond that. They don’t get to really see each other as they are because they see each other for sex first. Note also a man will lose respect for a woman. After all, if she gave herself to me this early, how many other men has she done this with? Many men say they want virgins, but they will happily sleep with a woman. It quite likely means they don’t see her as marriage material, but just there for a good time.

This is one reason I encourage women to let the man know how much you are worth. Don’t pay in advance as it were. If a man really wants you, he will be willing to make a lifetime commitment to you in marriage and have that commitment done before the deed is done. If he is not, then you have to ask if he really wants you or not. Why should you settle for less than a lifetime commitment?

Abortion made this too easy and as I said, the men have stayed the same. Very rarely do you have an explicit statement of this, but there is such a one. It is one written by a Ben Sherman years ago about the #HB2 bill in Texas. The bill would make it much more difficult to get an abortion. As Sherman says:

Your sex life is at stake. Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion? Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.

Those of us who are pro-life owe a thanks to Sherman for saying this. If having sex with a woman could actually mean that a man has to take responsibility for the action, he is much more prone to not do so. This is one reason I am so confused by so many “feminists” who want abortion and don’t seem to realize that that better enables men to just use them.

This is what happened with Weinstein. He came to see women as objects of pleasure and nothing more instead of valuable persons in themselves. Let’s be clear also that this is not to say that men and women should not both enjoy the gift of sexual intimacy together. It is a wonderful gift and meant to be embraced in a marriage commitment. There’s a claim also that before marriage, the devil will do anything to get a couple to have sex. Afterward, he will do anything to keep them from having sex.

In marriage, sex is not the reason for the marriage, but it is hard to have a good marriage without it. Sexuality becomes more than just pleasure, but it solidifies the covenant between the man and the woman. Every time it is the man and woman coming together and each of them giving their complete trust and love to the other in a sacrifice. It is an exclusive relationship shared with only those two people and way they know each other that no one else does.

Treating women as consumer goods destroys their sacred value. This is another reason that pornography is such a problem. Let’s be clear that men want to see a woman naked and there is indeed nothing wrong with that desire. God made women to be beautiful and He succeeded greatly and there is just something absolutely amazing and gripping about the human female form.

Unfortunately, porn makes it easy for a man to get the benefits supposedly of being with a woman without the real sacrifice of being with one. You know, things like pursuing a relationship, spending time and money, proposing, and making a lifetime commitment. The more a man does this, the easier it is for him to see women as objects. In fact, it damages their marriages later on. Many men have seen so many women in porn magazines that a real woman in front of them doesn’t arouse them for sex and they have to take viagra in their 20’s just to be able to have sex.

(By the way, this is not to deny that women can’t watch porn and women can’t just as much treat men as objects. That too is a problem that needs to be dealt with, but right now I’m really wanting to focus on the problem of the victimhood of women.)

When we make a mockery of sexual purity and virtue and treat sex like a consumer good, why are we surprised to have someone like Weinstein in our midst? I hear the news and I’m not shocked in the least by it. Despite the sexual revolution, women are far more prone to be treated as objects than they were in the past.

When we encourage virtue instead, we might be surprised what happens. Believe it or not men, it’s possible to still have a good sex life and be virtuous. Sure, you have sex with only one woman until death do you part, but that is not seen as a downside. It becomes an ever increasing joy as you come to learn how to love and delight in the woman more and more and you come to love each other more and things get better and better. It is one area where the Law of Diminishing Returns doesn’t apply. A game or an act can get old after awhile, but truly a person never does.

For women who are abused, we need to be there for them and loving them and comforting them and if abuse is affecting your marriage and other relationships today, please go and talk to a qualified counselor. It is possible to overcome the past and you don’t need to be a continued victim of the people who hurt you in the past. If you are abused, it can be scary to come forward, but please do come forward. Silence will never end abuse. You deserve better than that. You are not just an object. You are loved.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 5

Does Jelbert have a refutation of why we suffer? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This chapter is a response to Bruce Little’s essay on why Christians suffer. At the start, Jelbert (Whose work can be found here.) says “You could say that this is evidence for the consistency of God, rather than evidence for God in the first place.” I agree. In this chapter, we are looking to see if Christianity can provide an adequate explanation for why we suffer.

Now Jelbert says this, but does he go there? I am not convinced he does. For one thing, one of the first things pointed out is that indeed, not all things happen the way we want to. Jelbert talks about prayer studies and other such things. I have never been convinced by prayer studies. You have to ask who is praying for who and assume that God is going to answer like a machine would. If any husband has a wife out there, they understand this. What will make your wife happy and please her one day will thoroughly annoy her the next. There are way too many variables with prayer studies.

Jelbert can also speak about the No True Scotsman fallacy for people who aren’t Christians. The thing is, I think this can be the case sometimes. If someone says it every time, it is indeed a cop-out, but there are many people who have a said faith rather than a lived faith. I think people can openly apostasize and such, but we should not use the claim too easily that they weren’t a real Christian. Real Christians can do evil. All I need to know that is to look in the mirror.

The problem with objections here is that the Christian position is that God does know data that we shouldn’t. Why on Earth should this be a surprise? If there is a God, I suspect He knows loads more about reality than I do. I suspect He knows more than all humans that have ever lived combined. What Jelbert needs to do is show that there is no good reason for what seems to be needless suffering. This is one reason in fact that the logical problem of evil is not really debated. The emotional and existential one is, but not the logical one. It is granted there is no logical inconsistency between the existence of God and evil.

Jelbert also says that the idea that evildoers will be punished seems to hopeful, but this seems odd grounds for rejecting an idea. You reject it because it seems too hopeful? Jelbert says this is common sense to want this and thus not evidence for God, but he said at the start this is not about evidence for God, but rather consistency for God. One of the great things about Christian theism is that it does explain that evil will be judged.

In fact, I consider this a major point. Evil is a problem for every worldview and not just Christianity. Atheism needs to explain the existence of real evil and based on Jelbert’s chapter on morality, I do not think Jelbert has an explanation. I say that with some hesitancy because in this chapter it looked to me like Jelbert was jumping all over the map. My point still is that we all have to explain it.

As I write this, it was just yesterday that we learned about a shooting in Las Vegas that killed and injured several. This was evil. In my worldview, I have no hesitancy saying that. Now I need to explain this evil. I think a lot of Christians who had no room to explain evil in their worldview due to not thinking about it were left reeling.

Atheism also has to explain it. One major difference is that Christianity I think can provide hope. It’s a wonder that evil should be seen as a problem for Christianity since evil is one of the things Christianity is meant to address. It’s why we have the cross.

Jelbert spends the rest of the chapter talking about abuse in the church as a result of the Scriptures. He goes to Romans 13 and says that people in the pew view what is said from the pulpit as the commandment from God. That is indeed part of the problem. People in the pew do not educate themselves enough to know how to assess what a pastor is saying.

Jelbert then says that because of this, we have a group of people who think they are ordained by God to dictate the behavior of their subordinates. Overall, I think Jelbert is being too harsh here. I have been to many bad churches, but I don’t think any of them really match what I see here. Still, there are cases, so let’s get to them.

Bill Gothard is one. I recommend that people go to Midwest Outreach like I did. There, you can do a site search like I did and find numerous critiques of Bill Gothard. Mark Driscoll is another one, but again, the church quickly did point out that we have numerous problems with this kind of behavior.

I just want to know that if Jelbert wants to do this, will he be consistent? Will he say that Stalin and Mao and Pol-Pot were being consistent with atheism? Sure, not all atheists are murderous dictators just like not all Christians are power-hungry leaders, but does Jelbert really think that the kind of leadership being done in some churches is really what Jesus had in mind? On the other hand, there is no one to have anything in mind for the murderous dictatorships of atheist rulers. All they have to say is that there is no God and then what tenet of atheism are they violating?

Jelbert goes on to say that if you take the theology seriously, then you believe that all is of God and God is good so that everything that happens must be good. You can then call evil good. Unfortunately (For Jelbert), the Bible doesn’t do this. It calls some things evil and wicked. All that God created is good, but not all that happens is good. Even Romans 8 pointed to at the start does not say all things are good. It says all things work together for good, and even then, only for good to them that love the Lord.

As someone who takes theology seriously, let me be clear.

Evil is real.

Jelbert also writes about situations where the church seems to forgive the abusers and abuse the victims. This does happen, but it’s not just in the church. How many women have been blamed for rape because what they were wearing was asking for it? To say we are all sinners doesn’t work. Even sinners have to accept consequences here. David was forgiven of his sin, but there were still consequences. I wholeheartedly condemn abuse and I am stalwart in my insistence that the church needs to get its act together.

I also agree with Jelbert that if all we do is pray, we have to wonder about what we’re really doing. Now in some cases, yes, prayer is all you can do, but if you can do more, then you’re in error to not do so. Interestingly, James would say the same. If you just go to your brother and say “Be of good cheer” and do nothing to meet his needs, you have not helped him.

Jelbert ends by saying that he is not trying to show that God does not exist here, but that the evidence is insufficient to accept it. Once again, it looks like he has forgotten that the chapter is not about the positive case but rather a consistent case. Jelbert has not shown an inconsistency in Christianity. He has shown an inconsistency in how it is lived out. That does not show it to be false at all. If he wants to say Little neglected to point out the suffering in the church caused by bad leadership, then I say Jelbert can be dismissed similarly because he failed to mention the suffering caused by wicked atheist leadership. If that does not work for Jelbert, then neither is it an argument against Little.

In Christ,
Nick Peters