How Should A Christian See Themselves?

What’s the way a Christian should view themselves? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Christians are supposed to be people of humility. No disagreement there. The problem is sometimes we think humility means thinking less of yourself and thinking lowly of yourself. It means you can’t accept compliments or praise from other people. This is not humility. If anything, it’s pride. It’s putting an emphasis on yourself really instead of graciously accepting praise. (You can receive praise in an arrogant manner after all.)

Yet the reality is we should not think of ourselves in lowly ways. We should realize the Bible itself really speaks highly of us. Of course, I can’t cover everything, but I will try to hit some highlights. Note I won’t share something if I think it applies specifically to, say, the nation of Israel and not to us.

First off, Genesis 1:26-27 says we’re in the image of God. Now in my view, this is meant to say that we are to represent God on Earth, but whatever view one takes, it’s not a lowly thing. Of everything in creation, only human beings share the image of God. Angels don’t. Other animals don’t. Only us.

Psalm 139 is one of my wife’s favorite passages. Why does the Psalmist praise God? Because he is fearfully and wonderfully made? Wonderful? Yep. You are a wonderful creation. My own wife struggles with a lot of mental illnesses and wonders how I can love someone like that. I tell her consistently I don’t see the illnesses. I know they’re there and I’m not blind to them, but I see her first. As far as I’m concerned, she is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.

If we move on to the New Testament, the incarnation itself is a statement about us. God is not ashamed to take on the form of a man. The Son to this day still maintains His humanity. Humanity is not a disgusting and shameful thing.

If anything, Jesus is the only one who is truly human. He is the most normal human being that has ever been. Every other human being is unhuman in some ways, insofar as we are sinners. Jesus had no shame in being a human being and has no shame in it right now.

In speaking of us in the sermon on the mount, He calls us a city on a hill, the light of the world, and the salt of the Earth. We are to be all of that to the world around us. Jesus could have had it be that He would go out into all the world or send angels into all the world. Nope. He trusted the Great Commission to us.

In Luke 12:32, we have one of my favorite passages. “Fear not little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” Get that? Not obligation. Not duty. Pleasure. God takes joy in giving us the Kingdom.

If anything, God has no obligations and duties towards us. The only thing God ever owes us really is what He’s already promised us. If we all got what we deserved, well, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now and I’d be in a place of eternal shame and misery. So would you. This should also give us pause with our own enemies at times. We often pray for justice for them and mercy for ourselves. Whatever they have done to us, we have done worse to God.

Jesus also tells us that we are worth more than the sparrows and the flowers and that God knows what we need. He doesn’t promise to give us our wants, but ultimately, we will get what we need. It’s our own fault if we do not trust Him.

Romans 8 is a great passage for Christians to turn to. I have a fear that many of us turn to Romans 7 and read it as autobiography and see ourselves in it. We should really realize that if we want to see what Paul says about us now, it’s in Romans 8. Go through and read the passage. It’s about you.

In 1 Cor. 3, Paul tells the church that they are the temple of God. Think about this. Your bodies are where the Holy Spirit now dwells if you are in Christ. Paul wrote this while the temple was standing. That beautiful massive work that took about 30 acres or more up in Israel was just nice architecture then. The real true temple is you. God has chosen to take up residence in you.

Galatians tells us that we are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. (Or daughters) Do you realize how big a deal adoption is? A reigning Caesar was an adopted son even. God has taken you into His family.

There’s a story that Napoleon was on the battlefield once and his horse ran off. A private ran after the horse, retrieved it, and brought it back. Napoleon looked at him and said, “Thank you, captain.” That men went back to the camp and immediately went into the captain’s quarters and lived like a captain. Napoleon had said he was one. That was good enough.

From the late first to the early second century there was a philosopher named Epictetus. He wasn’t a Christian, but he had a lot of wisdom. One of his favorite of the golden sayings of his that I like is the following, the ninth one.

“If a man could be throughly penetrated, as he ought, with this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if Caesar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these two things are commingled–the body which we share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?–A wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?”

Seriously. If God says you are His son (or daughter) on what basis do you downplay yourself? Is it a lowly thing to be a child of God? It’s really prideful to try to overrule that with lowly thoughts.

Ephesians 2 tells us that God has already seated us in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. He will have us in His presence for all the ages to show the love He has for us. Get that? God loves us so much that He will take eternity to show us how much He loves us. If it could ever be fully expressed, it’s not much of a love.

Why do spouses pursue and chase after each other? (Or they should.) It is because they can never fully express the love they have for the other. The beautiful thing also about such love is it keeps growing itself. It’s a cycle that the more you do loving things, the more you love. The more you love, the more you do loving things. I love my wife today more than I did when I married her. I hope when we’re together for fifteen years I will say, “Wow. I didn’t have a clue what love was back then compared to what it is now.”

Paul goes on to tell us that we are no longer strangers and aliens, but we are citizens of God’s house. We are fellow citizens with saints. We are not slaves in the household. We are heirs in the household. We aren’t hired hands. We have been asked to live there and it’s not because we provide a service, but because we are wanted.

In Philippians 3, Paul will refer to the people as citizens of the Kingdom. This was said to a colony where everyone was a Roman citizen, the most powerful empire on Earth at the time. That citizenship didn’t matter nearly as much as citizenship in the Kingdom of God.

Peter tells us we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. It’s like Peter is trying to lay it on us how much God has done for us. This was to be the case for Israel, but now it’s the case for us.

1 John 3:1 is a very explicit passage. It’s about the love that God has lavished on us that we should be His children, and that is what we are! It’s as if John cannot really believe it or doesn’t really think we’ll believe it, or both. He has to restate it so it will hit home.

All of this and more is what God says of us. If anything, our problem isn’t humility, but pride. We think we know better than God. We think we know who we are and He doesn’t.

How are to respond to this? Think of the way a spouse responds to another. If you respond with arrogance, it’s wrong. When I realize the love my wife has for me, it leaves me in humility. It leaves me amazed that someone like me is loved and it makes me want to be a better man.

God does not love us because we are worthy. He loves us even when we are worthless so that we can be worthy. The lesson of Beauty and the Beast is that you must love something before it becomes lovable. It’s not that we’re so awesome God loves us. It’s that God loves us because He’s so awesome, and that love makes us pretty awesome in the end too.

In the same way a spouse should respond, so should we. I can assure you if I responded to Allie’s love by acting like I was all that, I would be very unlovable. Nothing wrong with confidence. That’s good. Something wrong with inflating your own ego. Graciousness and appreciation is the way to respond.

Christian. You are loved. Have an honest assessment of yourself starting with what is said in Scripture about you. It will help immensely.

Deeper Waters Podcast 5/5/2018: J.P. Holding

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, we live in a world that has largely been Christianized. While there are still many people that have never heard the name of Jesus, there are billions that have. Christianity is the major dominating force in the world today. Jesus Christ has had more impact on the world than anyone else who ever lived.

How did we get to this point? What is it that made Christianity survive? It’s easy to say Constantine and blame him for everything, but how did Christianity even get to Constantine? It was a highly persecuted faith and a very shameful one.

Bart Ehrman has a theory and he recently discussed his theory in the book The Triumph of Christianity. As readers of this blog know, I was not impressed with this one and found it severely lacking. Ehrman never even touched on many significant issues.

However, there are other theories about how Christianity came to survive. One that is anathema to Ehrman would be that Christianity is true. Even still, how did it survive? What made it difficult to survive? Would Christianity have even been seen as appealing by the people at the time?

One of my favorite explanations for the rise of Christianity comes from my ministry partner. He has talked about it in his book The Impossible Faith. This is that if Christianity was false, it should have died out and it should have died out easily. That Christianity survived is in reality a testimony to its truth. He’s J.P. Holding and he’ll be returning to the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday.

So who is he?

J. P. Holding has a Masters’ Degree in Library Science and is a contributing writer to the Christian Research Journal. He has also written for the publications of Creation Ministries International.

I also want to give a special update. A kind fan of Deeper Waters has donated to us a webcam and some web editing software. Hopefully, we will be able to make videos soon. We will be doing this episode on Facebook live so you can hear the interview live and if you have questions, you can feel free to ask those. It’s up to my discretion if a question gets on the air or not, but it will be good to see your interactions.

We will be talking about the problems of Bart Ehrman’s book and where he goes wrong and anything he might get right as well. We will be talking about his approach to the Gospels and to ancient evidence. One aspect I definitely hope to touch on is why is it that honor and shame get no real traction in his book? Does Ehrman still not understand how the ancient world worked?

I hope you’ll be watching for this latest episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. We can be sure of Facebook Live, but we could also try for YouTube Live. It’s a great way of branching out. Please go on iTunes also and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Modesty and Respect

How should victims of #MeToo live? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had my concerns when the #MeToo movement started, but I appreciate many of the women who were in it. Real sexual abuse and sexual harassment happens. The problem is that the terms are also often too vague. There are girls who can have a guy ask them out at work and consider that sexual harassment. If a man tells a woman she is beautiful in some way, that can be called sexual harassment.

Then there are evils out there like Dr. Larry Nassar. Nassar is without a doubt a sick and twisted individual who has brought much destruction to the lives of the women that he worked with. Nassar used them for his own pleasures and their sexual peace has been sacrificed at the altar of his pleasures.

Sometimes, the response can go too far. An article in The Mighty recently spoke about Aly Raisman and her nude photos for Sports Illustrated. Normally, I would link, but I know that there are guys who will struggle and a link right there could be a problem. The link doesn’t show any frontal nudity, but it is clear that Raisman is nude in it. The writer of the piece says her appearing nude does not negate #MeToo.

The article quotes something said apparently on Instagram by Raisman.

“Women do not have to be modest to be respected– Live for you! Everyone should feel comfortable expressing themselves however makes them happy. Women can be intelligent, fierce, sexy, powerful, strong, advocate for change while wearing what makes them feel best. The time where women are taught to be ashamed of their bodies is OVER. The female body is beautiful and we should all be proud of who we are, inside and out.”

Much of this is fine, but some of it makes no sense. Everyone should feel comfortable expressing themselves however makes them happy? The way Nassar expressed himself was by abusing several young women. Do we have a problem with that? We sure do. The implication here is that you should do what makes you happy, and if sex makes you happy, you should express yourself sexually however you want.

What is ignored is if there is any real purpose to sex? There are a number of purposes, but many people today only look at one purpose. Sex is there only for this one purpose and that’s it.

One such purpose of sex is the continuation of the species. Some people can’t do this because of infertility or medical reasons of some sort or financial reasons or because age has made it impossible to conceive. Another reason also is the unity of a husband and wife. Sexuality is the greatest expression of love between a husband and a wife. It is a way of saying that the two give themselves entirely to each other as they are. It’s hard to do that with your bodies if you haven’t really done it in reality yet with a marriage commitment, which is a reason why living together before marriage actually makes divorce more likely.

Of course, pleasure is on the list. Husbands and wives also do this because it’s a lot of fun. The problem is too many today treat sexuality like just a hobby. In essence, it’s treated as something common. You watch TV with your friends. You go play a sport with your friends. You have sex with some friends. Why not? It’s just another thing you do.

But what if it isn’t just another thing you do? What if it involves more than just an activity, but rather the bonding of persons? In sex, after all, oxytocin is released that bonds the man and woman together. This cannot be altered. Of course, the more you deny what comes with that bond, the more you will be going against your very own body and making it harder to bond. Sex really does change things.

Raisman also says a woman should not be modest to be respected. Okay, but that leaves us with the question of why should a woman be modest? When I go out in public, I see several women. They’re all wearing clothes. Why is that? Also, the men are wearing clothes as well. Why is that?

Are we wearing clothes because we are ashamed of our bodies? Is the only way to show love for your body and delight in your body to walk around naked all the time? If so, then we live in a society where the only people who love their bodies are the ones in nudist camps.

Or do we wear clothes for another reason? (and I don’t just mean work requirements or keeping warm) Do we wear clothes not because our bodies are something shameful, but do we wear them because they are something sacred? We don’t want to expose what is sacred to everyone else. That treats the sacred as if it was just common. We save them for the people who are really special.

The only woman who sees my body totally is my wife. The only man who sees my wife’s body totally is me. By that action alone, we each know that we are something different to each other. We are the only ones that share this unique bond. Sex takes it even further. It’s not that Allie’s body is a place of shame. In reality, it’s a place of honor, but in her life, only one person has the honor necessary to totally receive the honor she has. Likewise, there is only one person out there I consider worthy of totally giving the gift of myself to.

What happens for women who bear it all sexually? Everyone gets that, and that includes multitudes who don’t deserve that. That includes the men sitting in their basements watching porn and not going out and meeting a real woman because they just need a fake one. When they do meet real women, these real women aren’t enough for them because they’ve seen the fake ones only and expect real women to be like fake photoshopped women. There’s a reason there are men in their 20’s taking Viagra now.

A woman does not dress modestly because she is ashamed of how she looks. She does it because she honors how she looks. She wants everyone to know that she is not to be treated as common. Her body is something sacred and is not to be put out on display. Getting to see her body and all her beauty and glory is not a right that a man has. It is a privilege. A woman determines who is worthy of that privilege. If she wants to say everyone in the world is, then she has lowered herself. Everyone in the world includes some despicable people.

The response article tells us that clothing is just clothing and our bodies are just bodies and your body, your choice. Yes. You do choose what you do with your body, but notice how the writer says our bodies are “just bodies.” It’s like saying, “No big deal. This is just the human body being shared.” It is a big deal. Every human being is a big deal. If you believe every woman should be honored, then you should also not believe that they are to be treated as common.

That’s the great danger also with young women especially doing the whole sexting thing now. By doing that, you are letting a guy know that if he wants to see your body, all he has to do is have a Y chromosome. Nothing extraordinary is required. A guy is far less likely to pursue you and if he does, well he only wants to hit it and quit it. He’ll move on to the next fix after that.

Now some do say that it is always the fault of the perpetrator in sexual abuse. It is, but at the same time, if someone overeats on a diet, it is their fault, but it’s not wise for friends and family to come by and dangle unhealthy foods that the person likes right in their face. Women and men should seek to dress in a way that honors those around them. Even if those other people are not worthy of being honored, like Nassar, you deserve to be honored around them.

Does this go against #MeToo some? I think it does. So many women have rightfully complained about being treated as objects, but then act in a way that makes it more likely that they will be treated that way. Again, it’s never right to do that and that can happen sadly even in marriage. (Sorry guys, but your wife is there for more than just you having someone to have sex with and you need to treat her with honor as a person in the image of God and sacrifice for her.)

Women should feel empowered and confident as they are and not be ashamed of their bodies, but that doesn’t mean you treat them like they’re common. Go with the Christian idea of treating them like sacred vessels. Save them for a man who truly deserves that honor, say, I don’t know, by making a public lifetime commitment to you till death do you part?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Esther, An Honor-Shame Paraphrase

What do I think of Jayson Georges’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Esther is actually my favorite book of the Bible. As a child, when I was going through the Bible for the first time, I got to Esther not having a clue what was in it and I just could not stop. It read like a modern adventure novel. When I saw that my friend Jayson Georges had a paraphrase of this book from an honor-shame perspective, I asked for a copy which he supplied.

I was not disappointed. I get to see my favorite book of Scripture through new eyes and eyes I have wanted to see the Bible through more and more, those of honor and shame in Jewish Mediterranean culture. Georges has read the best material he can on this and gone through Esther showing how honor and shame play a great part in it.

In our Western context, we only see things from that perspective for the most part. The great tragedy of being in our culture is that we think everyone thinks just like us and when there are missing pieces, as there always are, we fill them in with information from our own culture. After all, why should we think the rest of the world is different?

Looking at Esther shows a whole new world. The feast at the start is not just a feast. It is a way for the king of Susa to show how much honor he has and to receive honor from his associates. Men today might laugh at the idea that Vashti going against the wishes of the king would cause women all across the empire to disrespect their husbands and thus lead to chaos, but it was no joke. It’s not a sitcom being written. It’s maintaining the order of hierarchy that the society thrives on.

The constant back and forth between Mordecai and Haman fit into this as well. In this, you have the reversals of honor and shame. Haman is to be the most honored of all because he’s practically as close to the king as you can get without sitting on the throne yourself. Mordecai meanwhile is a nobody resident in the empire. That’s one more reason Haman is not content with just killing Mordecai. After all, he is the great Haman. He should go for something grander than that, so why not go and kill all of Mordecai’s people which would also fit in with Haman’s own heritage as an enemy of the Jews?

If there was something I didn’t like about the paraphrase, it’s that it talks about God. That sounds odd for a book of the Bible, but the wonder of Esther is that you know God is working behind the scenes, but He is never explicitly mentioned in the text. I was troubled then to see God mentioned in the text as that took away from me one of my favorite aspects of the book in that the reader is the one who has to work to see the hand of God at work and then we ask, could He be at work in our own lives in ways that we don’t know about?

Despite that, this is a wonderful idea Georges has had. So far, two books have been done from an honor-shame perspective. I look forward to the rest of them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/29/2017: Jayson Georges

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we talk about doing missions work, one of the lessons we emphasize the most is learning the language. You have to learn the language to communicate. We learn about some aspects of culture, but often times we tend to assume a culture is very much like us. In the West, where many of us are modern individualists, this leads to a problem in reaching a culture that is largely honor and shame based.

Not only that, this causes us to misunderstand our Bibles. The Bible itself is written in a culture that is honor-shame as well. If we read our culture into it, we will badly misunderstand the text. In some cases, we could get a meaning very opposite to the one the ancient author intended. How are we then to reach people in these cultures?

If we want to minister to these people, why not have someone come on who understands this having done it and has co-written a book on it? As you can imagine, I have done just that. I am delighted to get to host Jayson Georges on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Who is he?

 

Jayson Georges (M. Div., Talbot) is the founding editor and primary blogger of HonorShame.com.
headshot1(small) copyOur family served in Central Asia for nine years doing disciple-making, church-planting, and microenterprise development. Understanding honor-shame dynamics helped me to navigate relationships, share the gospel, seize Kingdom opportunities, and more deeply experience God’s grace. My current role is Missiologist-in-Residence at an evangelical mission organization, focusing on developing resources and leading practical training workshops.
We’ll be talking about his book that he co-wrote Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures. Some of you might not see any time in the future when you are going to another culture like that. Do you still need to listen to this podcast? Indeed you do.
As said earlier, the Bible is written in such a culture and if you understand the culture better, you can understand the Bible better. Not only that, but many of your neighbors are likely to be more honor-shame people. If you have neighbors who are more Eastern than Western, this is the way that they think and you want to avoid doing anything around them that could give the wrong impression about the Gospel. How do you confront them? How do you ask a favor? Is it proper to turn down a request? All of these are important skills to learn.
I have long been an advocate of this kind of understanding and consider it a great lack in our modern Western culture that we so often forget this and just assume that everyone is like us. It’s great to be able to have another guest on my show to talk about this kind of topic that can help us with reaching people in these cultures and better understanding the Bible. I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and please leave a positive review on ITunes.
In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Ministering In Honor-Shame Cultures

What do I think of this book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jayson Georges and Mark D. Baker have done us a great service by producing this wonderful book. If I could give any encouragement right now at the start, it would be simple. If you want to have an impact with most of the world and learn to understand the Bible in the world it was written in, here’s my advice.

Buy this book and read it right now.

Seriously. I found myself reading this book and wishing I could put it in the hands of everyone in ministry. I would be thrilled if more Christians would learn about the honor-shame culture. Most Christians are shocked when you tell them that most of the world doesn’t work with the idea of a guilty conscience like we in the West do. We have become so focused on ourselves that we are aghast that the rest of the world could be any different from us.

The danger here is we are not only able to give the Biblical message to people in other cultures, who are living among us here in the West more and more and still thinking in the same way, but we are unable to give the Biblical message to ourselves. So many misunderstandings about the Bible would be cleared up if we realized the text speaks in honor-shame language.

On page 28, the authors say something I wish we could all hear and when I speak about honor and shame to Christians, I point this out:

As we have taught Christians about honor-shame in theology and ministry, students note the degree to which shame influences their own identity and relationships. Shame is a defining aspect of human existence, but rarely addressed in churches or ministry. When is the last time you heard a sermon addressing shame? Most people have never heard such a sermon. (p. 28. Bold mine. Italics theirs.)

Indeed! We are so saturated in our culture with our own thinking that we think everyone must be just like us. They are not. Many people all over the world struggle with shame. In reality, we know we do too. How many victims of especially sexual abuse struggle with shame? You can tell them about forgiveness all day long. Forgiveness is great and wonderful, but it won’t help them. They haven’t done anything wrong and telling them they’re forgiven won’t deal with their shame. Forgiveness is indeed part of the Gospel, but if we make the Gospel be just about forgiveness, we severely limit it.

We also do have aspects of honor-shame here and most of us don’t realize it. What happens in high school where a lot of students think they need to where X brand of clothing and not Y? (Something I have no recollection of, but many do.) What happens on Facebook where we talk about people liking and sharing our posts? Everyone wants to be thought well of by good people.

To help us with the task of the book, the writers do explain how honor and shame work and then show it in the Bible. Hopefully, Christians reading this will go back and look at the text through new eyes. I encourage Christians to go to the New Testament and use a site like Bible Gateway. Do a search of terms like innocence and guilt. Note that when they’re used, they speak of it in legal terms and not feeling terms. See also where the terms do not show up. Romans, for instance, does not talk about guilt. Many of the Pauline epistles do not. Then look for terms like honor and shame. See how often they show up. Why is it we have so many sermons on guilt and innocence and none on honor and shame?

From there, the writers show how this all works out when dealing with people in these cultures, especially using their own experience. A lot could be said about this, but I think it’s better for you to get the book and read it yourself. The content is exceptionally thorough and easy to understand. It left me looking at matters differently and striving to think more in terms of honor and shame.

I think if there was one aspect I would have liked some light shed on, it would be what is a worship service like in an honor-shame culture? We in our culture have so much that is focused on application and dealing about how we feel and helping us be better individuals. We also greet each other for about a minute (The time we introverts refer to as torture aside from that I greet my wife with a holy kiss) and then sing the same worship songs which are often very self-focused as well.

So then, final advice.

Get this book.

Read it.

Share it with everyone else you can.

This is that important.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Honor and Shame in Marriage

Does an honor and shame dynamic help you understand your marriage? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the most fascinating areas in Biblical studies today is the work of the context group in understanding honor and shame. Honor is basically your view of your self combined with the views everyone else has of you to judge your rating, as it were, in society. Shame is being thought of lowly in society. In the ancient world, honor and shame were everything. You would rather die with honor than live with shame. I think much or our thinking is still unknowingly honor and shame based, though we are moving more and more towards an individualism that causes each of us to be a god unto himself. Our high school culture for instance could be like this where we have peer pressure. People do what they can to fit in and not rock the boat. Deviancy is viewed as something to be shunned.

How can this apply in your marriage?

My wife recently had dental work to get a wisdom tooth removed. Honest question here. Who will you allow to stick something in your mouth? Would you let a random stranger do such? No. You leave that to people that you do trust. You could let your spouse give you a passionate kiss along those lines or you could let a friend place a bit of food for you to try in your mouth, but the fact that you let someone have that kind of access indicates a degree of trust. You let a dentist do that or a doctor stick something like a tongue depressor in your mouth because these are people who have the ability to do things that need to be done. It’s not because you think they’re particularly good people. (My wife thinks I’m great after all, but she’s sure not going to let me remove a wisdom tooth from her mouth.)

So let’s apply that further. For a husband and wife, what is being given is total access to one’s body. That means that person who you are giving that access to is one that you are giving a high degree of honor to and worth to. (In fact, some marriage vows have said “With my body, I thee worship.) You do not get more vulnerable physically than you do with sex. (This is also one reason rape is such a devastating evil) While a man has to be vulnerable, there can really be no doubt that the woman is the one who is making herself the most vulnerable. This means the wife is showing her husband a high degree of honor. A good husband then is to honor that commitment and treat his wife like the treasure that she is.

This also impacts how we interact in public. If one person says to do something in public and all things being equal, the other disregards it, the one who made the request is shown to the rest of the world to be someone not even honored by their spouse. Now I am one that does believe in male headship, but that means my wife is to be treated like a queen. If a wife thinks her husband is the head and disregards him in public, then the message received by the public is “So this wife doesn’t think her husband’s requests are worth honoring. Why should I pay attention to this person?” (This is also a reason why I think all things being equal that if a parent sets a requirement and the child does not follow, the parent needs to follow through with the consequences they said they would follow through with.)

If a wife does in fact honor her husband (And keep in mind a wife is never to break the law of God) in public, then she will improve the way that her husband is seen in public. Of course, if you don’t hold to male headship, you can say that goes both ways, and a husband in turn must honor and respect his wife in public, meaning he must be careful to not hurtfully belittle her. (Although those of us who do hold to male headship should know that Peter tells us to treat our wives with special care and we must honor her in public as well) In the marriage relationship especially, each person should make it their point to show the other how much they care for them. (And keep in mind for we men, respect actually means a whole lot more than love.)

Marriage is hard work, and the best way to make it work is if both parties give 100%. Perhaps a mindset outside of our own has a lot more to teach us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 2/7/2015: Werner Mischke

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not too long ago, I reviewed a book called The Global Gospel by Werner Mischke. Mischke’s book is one that seeks to bring the honor and shame dynamic to Western readers who aren’t familiar with it. This has long been a point of mine that we have not really understood the Bible properly in many cases because we too often read our own culture into it. Mischke’s book not only brings out the culture of the Bible, but shows from often a pastoral perspective how that can be applied to us in the West today.

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According to his bio:

“Werner Mischke has been serving with Mission ONE since 1992. He is currently Executive Vice President and his role is Director of Training Ministries. Mission ONE’s purpose is to train and mobilize the Church, focusing on cross-cultural partnerships to engage the unreached and serve the poor and oppressed. Mission ONE’s indigenous partners are engaged in evangelism, church planting and holistic ministries in such countries as Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, India,
Pakistan, and Thailand. Mission ONE is engaged in a long-term vision to helps its partners develop sustainability through “business for transformation” strategies.
• Werner has a long-term special relationship with Mission ONE’s partner in the Middle East—where Arab nationals are building a network of house churches through holistic ministry among various Muslim peoples. Werner’s experiences there have led him into a passionate pursuit of understanding the pivotal cultural value of honor and shame in Scripture and the cultures of the Majority World.
• Werner’s recently published book is THE GLOBAL GOSPEL: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World. The singular issue which this book addresses may be defined by posing this question: How can the honor/shame dynamics common to the Bible and many Majority World societies be used to contextualize the gospel of Christ in order to make it more widely understood and accepted?
• He has done training on the dynamic of honor and shame for ISI, Frontiers, TOAG, as well as various church and ministry groups. His seminars are designed on the basis of adult learning theory for a rich learning experience.

• As Director of Training Ministries for Mission ONE, Werner has designed and produced three resources to equip followers of Christ for cross-cultural missions engagement:
• Operation WorldView is an introductory DVD missions curriculum for small groups inspired by the Perspectives course. Operation WorldView has been used by some 800 churches and mission leaders in America, Canada and other nations.
• The Beauty of Partnership—a six-week small group curriculum based on adult learning theory to help mission teams gain the skills to achieve successful cross-cultural partnerships.
• The Father’s Love Gospel Booklet—a pocket-size booklet to help believers know and share the blessing of Jesus Christ in the language of honor and shame. It is an evangelistic resource based on the story of The Prodigal Son. Available in English and Spanish. Through Mission ONE’s partner in Lebanon, an Arabic version has also been developed and widely shared.
• Since 2004, Werner has served on the Resource Team of COSIM (Coalition on the Support of Indigenous Ministries)—a fellowship of evangelical organizations with a common interest in the support and development of majority-world ministries. Werner has contributed significantly to the design of COSIM’s annual conferences.
Currently living in Scottsdale, Arizona, Werner and his wife Daphne are members of Scottsdale Bible Church, where Daphne serves as a teacher in the Special Needs Ministry. Werner has also been a student at Phoenix Seminary in their Intercultural Studies Program. Werner and Daphne have two adult sons and two grandchildren”

I am looking forward to this show in bringing out an aspect of the culture that many people are likely unfamiliar with. Not only will we discuss it, but we will discuss how it relates to the world we live in in the West today. I hope you’ll be watching your ITunes feed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Global Gospel

What do I think of Werner Mischke’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Global Gospel

Mission One has released the Global Gospel by Mischke to illustrate the problem in reaching people in the Majority World. We have been hampered growing up in a guilt-innocence culture whereas the world of the Bible is that of an honor-shame culture. It also has impacted our reading of the Bible as where there are parts that are not made explicit, because these would be part of the background culture, we automatically tend to plug in our own culture.

Consider marriage. In the ancient world, a marriage would often be a matter between two men. No. Not the way you’re thinking in our debates today. It would be a matter between the father of the groom and the father of the bride. The two would arrange it and it would be a sort of trade. Marriage would be used to unite families and often could be used for political alliances as well. If we read in our concept of dating and marriage, we misread the text.

Mischke has a great line that I wish we all could learn in the west to show this.

Culturally speaking, the Bible does not “belong” to you; it’s not your book.

What a great lesson to learn. While we can agree with Paul that everything was written for us, it was not written to us. We of necessity need Scripture to understand the salvation of Christ and what it is we are to do, but we do not have to have Western culture being assumed as part of Christianity. This is not to say that Western culture is a bad thing, but it is to say that it does not need to be married to the Gospel. Too often in our evangelism strategy, we’ve brought over not just the Gospel to unreached people, but we’ve also brought over our own culture and included it in the Gospel.

If you go to people of an honor-shame culture and start talking about the guilt that is experienced because of our sin and the beauty of justification by faith, you will not get much of a response to your altar call. These people are not thinking primarily about guilt. What matters most to them is honor and shame. In fact, maintaining honor means more to them than life itself does. This is why Japanese pilots could crash on Pearl Harbor as an attack and why some terrorists can do suicide bombers. They value the honor of what they fight for and the honor they can gain more than their own lives.

Now imagine going to these people instead and telling them about how they are living in a state of shame. They have dishonored the one true God and will be having to face His eternal shame. However, this God has provided a remedy. His Son has come and faced the shame that we all deserve by dying a most shameful death on a cross at the hands of His enemies. However, in facing this, God honored Him by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand to rule the world. All who trust in Him, He will bestow His honor on and adopt them into the family of God.

Okay. Now you’re talking. If you’re speaking of honor and shame to these people, they will be listening. While you should believe in justification by faith, that is not the message that will reach these people because that is a message about guilt. Of course in honor-shame cultures there is guilt in the sense of having done an objective wrong to someone, but the result is not an internal feeling that we must make amends and fix the problem. The main sense for the honor-shame is that the person has been a disgrace and has dishonored their family and their culture. In fact, this is one reason suicide can be so prevalent in an honor-shame culture like Japan. It is better to die than to live with shame.

Mischke takes us through several aspects of an honor-shame culture. Why is the face so important? What is challenge-riposte? What is a patron and how does he relate to his clients? Why is purity such a big deal? These and many other questions are asked. Mischke also wants to stress an important point that this not only applies to how we reach people in the majority world, and yes, most of the world does think in terms of honor and shame, but how we reach our own people over here.

How many of us have had guilt for a past sin that we’ve done and while we know forgiveness, we still have a lot of shame over it? It is just painful to look back and think on it every time. Many of us to some extent carry shame. I am convinced none of us can live fully in an individualistic culture. There is always still going to be this background culture of honor and shame no matter how much we try to bury it.

How would your presentation of the Gospel be different if you not only removed the objective guilt someone has before the throne of God, but you also shared with them that God has taken away their shame. What if you showed them that God has honored them? What if you showed them that honor is something they are even commanded to seek for in Scripture? What if you showed them they really are adopted into the family of God?

For this, Mischke’s book will also give a greater appreciation of the work of Christ. Removing guilt is good and important and we should never lose sight of that, but the idea of honor is essential. So much we have songs in our contemporary culture that speak of God as if He is our buddy and our best friend. What if you instead got the message that you are seated in the heavens as Ephesians 2 says? What if you were told you were adopted into the family of God, as can be found at the end of Romans 8? I can’t help but think of C.S. Lewis who said we are far too easily pleased. We want to be a friend of God. He wants us seated in the heavens.

Now I do not agree with everything Mischke says. For instance, with challenge-riposte, I think Mischke does go against it some. I think Jesus in fact engaged heavily in it and the resurrection, as Mischke rightly shows, is certainly the ultimate riposte. The early church did the same as did the apostles and where the honor of God is challenged today, we also need often to engage in challenge-riposte as well.

Still, this is the kind of book I wish every pastor would read. It is an excellent introduction to this kind of thinking for those who might not be familiar with it at all. If we could reclaim this, we would not only have much more vibrant Christian lives, but we would also be able to understand the Bible and the historical Jesus far better than we do. In fact, while some have said there could be a fourth quest for the historical Jesus starting with taking the Gospel of John more seriously, I believe the next real quest for the historical Jesus will involve learning to understand Jesus from a majority world perspective.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

When Shame Dies

Is anything wrong in our culture besides saying that something is wrong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you are quite likely fathers of daughters and so when I present an article called “What It’s Like To Date Your Dad“, you could be thinking, “I encourage fathers and daughters to have date nights. It’s one of the best ways I find out what’s going on in the life of my daughter, find out about the boys in her life, get to know her as a person, and just have some real bonding time together.” God bless you if that’s you. You’re being a good father.

But that is not what the article is talking about, unless you mean your date nights with your daughter end with the two of you making out in the bedroom together.

Unfortunately, this is what has happened. The girl in the article describes meeting her long lost father who had been missing from her life for years and feeling sexual attraction to him. Apparently, it was mutual. She describes meeting him and then within five days she lost her virginity to him. Note that this happened in the house of his girlfriend who he was living with at the time. (By the way women, if a man is willing to leave another woman because he thinks you’re better, be cautious. Who’s to say he won’t do the same to you when he finds someone he thinks is better?)

Was this a one-time thing? Nope. The girl now says that they are engaged and that they will get married and that they plan to have kids.

And this is also being defended. You can find many comments that do say that this is sick and this guy should go to jail since the girl is a minor. But then, there are others who are saying “Well who are we to judge?” and “As long as they’re happy that’s what matters.” While some of this goes into the marriage equality debate, it’s important to remember that when this whole thing started, we were told there was no slippery slope at all.

I think it’s conclusive now that that statement was wrong. We are sliding down that slope. People are defending a father having sex with his own daughter. Why?

I am convinced the reason is that they have no choice.

Sex has been treated like a deity in our culture. In a way, I understand it. If you remove God, then in all honesty, sex is the most transcendent experience that you have normally. It is radical and earthshaking and totally transforms your view of the other person. The next closest thing, and I cannot speak from experience on this one, could be drug usage. In any case, people are searching for the transcendent.

Let’s be clear also. We are a pleasure loving society. Of course, I am not anti-pleasure, but I am opposed to assuming our pleasures are the highest good. (This is not to disagree with someone like John Piper’s Christian Hedonism. I disagree with Piper in other areas, but I think he’s correct on this one.) There is no doubt of course that sex brings with it a great deal of pleasure and for many, it could be the highest pleasure. (And as far as the pleasures of the body go, yes. This one is right at the top. There is no comparison.)

So when we start talking about our society’s obsession with sex, let’s be clear right at the start. It makes sense. Since men so often think about sex, let’s note that those of us who are Christian men could be said to be just as much obsessed. Even when times come that we are not thinking about sex, it is always on the back burner and it can be brought up to our mind again immediately.

I remember the Christmas when my parents got me my first car. What did I want to do immediately? I was driving to see all my friends to show it off. I had my own set of wheels and it was a taste of freedom and I was looking forward to going everywhere I could, but I had to make sure everyone knew exactly how much I was going to be enjoying the freedom and experience I had.

Our society has done the same with sex.

When we thought we had liberated it, we wanted to show it everywhere. In the past, all you needed to see in a movie was a man and a woman going into a room and seeing the door close and perhaps hearing a click of a lock. You didn’t need to see what was going on. It was known. We can all be sure that our imaginations work well enough to supply the details. This is also why I tell men to wait until marriage to have sex as your view of women will also change. It’s very easy to imagine a relationship with a fully-clothed woman.  This is why myself and many other Christian men have to do the look away or the sky look when we’re out in public and see other women.

How much harder is it when you can so easily see them taking their clothes off right in front of you? Modern media has made that possible. Sexual relationships outside of marriage are seen as the norm and common. Of course, we just have to ask who are we to judge? As long as people are happy, what right do we really have to intrude? Are we going to be seen as prudes?

Now as I’ve said, we should not be prudes. None of us should be anti-sex. What we are really for is sex in the right place and in the right context. Put it right there and Christians should agree that it’s absolutely wonderful and a gift from God. Put it in the wrong spot and it’s just like nuclear energy. It’s fine when used properly and directed toward a proper purpose in the proper context, but get it wrong and you get Chernobyl.

A few months ago, one of my friends put up a status on Facebook saying our culture’s problem is we think way too much about sex. I argued that was the exact opposite of our problem. We do everything but think about sex truly. We have thoughts of it of course, but think about it? We do it. We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We do everything but really think about the act itself. It’s become more of a reflex than anything else.

If you don’t think but just say “If it feels good, do it” and don’t really see a purpose to sex, then in the end, how can you say someone is misusing sex? The only way to misuse it is if you think there is a proper use of it. Remove the proper use and there is no misuse. What becomes allowable at that point? Anything at all. Why is this trumpeted everywhere? Because we have to have acceptance. Without acceptance, all that is left is shame.

And that ultimately is the problem in our culture. We are becoming a culture without shame.

Shame in itself can be seen as a bad thing. No one likes to experience shame. Note I am not talking about guilt. Guilt is the internal feeling that you have done something wrong. Shame is the external awareness that your actions are not accepted by society and that you internally notice their condemnation. If society is not condemning, there is no reason to hide, so do what you want.

Ultimately, when we sear our morality this much, we actually cheapen ourselves and the world around us. What does it say about a woman who’s willing to take her clothes off for just anyone whatsoever? It doesn’t speak of a confident woman. It speaks of a woman who just sees herself as a body and of her body as the highest good she has to offer. Ultimately, it speaks of a woman who is treating herself in a cheap way.

The Christian ethic here is different. Here, the woman is told to say that she is a temple and in fact a temple of the Holy Spirit, which means she is to be honored above all. You don’t get to enter that temple cheaply. The right to come into that temple comes with a price. You must be in covenant with the person themselves in order to have a right to go into their temple. What is the price the woman charges? Your whole life. Until death do you part, you are hers and hers alone and she is yours and yours alone. You are to be faithful to her and be to only her and only then are you granted the right to enter the temple.

That we look on this as bizarre and look on the other as common tells me our society does not know what shame is really any more. As said, shame normally has a bad side to it in that no one wants to experience it, but when we do, it can be an indication that we are actually doing something wrong. If we do not have shame, then we are just like a person with CIPA who is incapable of feeling pain. It might sound nice to not be able to feel pain at first, until you realize how much not feeling pain can cause you trouble. Pain is really a gift in that case. Without being able to experience pain, we would have far more suffering in this life.

If there is no shame, then we will not be able to say anyone is doing anything wrong. We might be able to say we find it personally gross, but can we say it is wrong. “Oh I would not want to have a sexual relationship with my father, but can I really say what they are doing is wrong?” In fact, the only thing that is said to be wrong today it looks like is to say that anything is wrong.

But if some things are wrong, then silencing that warning is not helping us. It’s hurting.

If we as a society defend this, then we have to ask really where will it end? We can say that some things today are unthinkable. That’s what we would have said about redefining marriage thirty years ago. Today, it’s becoming more and more common. How many times do you see the homosexual on the TV show being seen as a celebrated figure? Even if you think the belief is wrong that homosexuality is wrong, there can be no doubt that society had a strong stance against this in the past and it would have been seen as unthinkable for many.

We have a precedent for where this is going and that there are people who are willing to defend a father sleeping with his daughter is ample demonstration of that today.

On the other hand, while society has no shame, the tragedy for the church is that we do have shame. We act like sex is something shameful to talk about. It’s not. God talks about it a lot in Scripture. Someone once told me years ago says that God talks about sex all the time because He knows that we think about it all the time. Some might object “Well why do Christians have to seem to put their noses in everyone’s bedroom and saying what they think is wrong?”

It’s not that we’re putting our noses in your bedrooms. In fact, I don’t know any Christians who are for being the sex police as it were and monitoring what goes on in bedrooms. It’s that what is going on in your bedrooms is being thrust in our face every day and when we dare say anything about it, we are immediately told that we are just talking about it too much. We’ve reached a point where a Christian cannot really have a discussion about the issue. We have to start out saying “I’m not a homophobe,” or “I don’t hate homosexuals” or something of that sort. Why? Because the “tolerant” opposition has said that if you disagree, you must be a hater or something of that sort.

For all the talk on tolerance, you’d think this Gospel that was preached would be practiced some.

Christians sadly then end up giving just a negative message on sex. We need to give a positive message, kind of like the kind I said earlier in this post. We need to celebrate and uphold sex. It has been said that one problem in our culture is that unmarried people are having too much sex and married people aren’t having enough. Why should the society outside of the church think that the church has no problem with sex if we seem to have such a negative view of it?

Too often, our messages have in fact been just that. Negative. There is a time and a place for the don’ts, but there is a place for the positive and we must give the positive. I can still think of years ago as a college student being in a church service and hearing a pastor speak to teens who had just done the Silver Ring Thing. He was telling them if they have sex before marriage, that will be for selfish reasons. Okay. I can agree with that. Fine. So what were the reasons to not have sex before marriage?

Think of the guilt that you’ll feel. Think of how embarrassed you’ll be on your wedding day. Think of the possibility that you could get pregnant or you could get an STD.

And as I was listening I was thinking “Those sound like selfish reasons to me too.”

Never seemed to occur to say “This is wrong. It’s wrong because God made sex and here’s how He made it to be used and why and here are the benefits when you use it this way.”

In fact, during this sermon I was getting bored.

Note to all pastors reading this. If you are preaching a sermon on sex, and your audience is getting bored, especially college age guys, you are doing something wrong. (In fact, we could say at this point if you preach on Christ and your audience is not keeping interest, you are doing something wrong.)

If we do not get our message out about what sex is, our youth will only hear one message and that message will far overwhelm ours. Think back to when you were dating. If all you had when you were alone with your boyfriend/girlfriend at the time consisted of nothing more than a few verses from Paul, do you really think that those alone would have overpowered your hormones at the time? Those of us who are married today know well that in the proper context it’s still extremely difficult to override our hormones if we have to and those hormones can often provide some darn good justification for something we want.

We need to get our positive message out and we need to celebrate it. Yes. What goes on in our bedrooms is a private matter, but the subject matter of our bedrooms should be discussed. Churches need to have messages on sex on a regular basis. Why? Because the people in your congregation are thinking about it on a regular basis.

If you lived in Salt Lake City and were the pastor of a Christian church, you would need to have messages addressing Mormonism regularly because your congregation sees it regularly. If you lived in Egypt in the same situation, you would need to talk about Islam. If you were an Israeli pastor in Israel, you’d talk about Judaism. Well in America, the great deity that is being talked about is sex, and we need to talk about it.

As it stands, our culture not only looks at illicit sex with approval, but broadcasts it. This girl in the article I linked to earlier has her fifteen minutes of fame today. Why? She is sleeping with her father. These kinds of stories are being broadcast everywhere. Just look at the magazine rack in the grocery store. This woman in the story is being interviewed as if this is a real deep human interest and we all want to know what it’s like to be sleeping with your Dad.

How do we reverse the trend where sexual stances that should be shamed are celebrated and sexual stances that should be celebrated are shamed?

For one thing, we have to drop out of this mode of “It’s not for me to judge.” Of course it is. Jesus did say judge not, but He spoke of hypocritical judging. Not all judging. How else are you supposed to know who the pigs and dogs are that He spoke about? If you have enough information to make a judgment, then you need to make a judgment. Believe it or not, how someone feels is not the most important thing in the universe. Whether they’re doing something right or wrong is more important.

It’s also because of our individualism. The self-esteem movement has told us that how we think about ourselves is most important, but in reality, I don’t think any of us have fully bought into that myth. Why? Because we are all still seeking everyone else’s approval. But if we hold to a strong individualism, then you dare not speak out against what the individual does. What right do you have to speak against their feelings after all?

Reality is that we can reverse the trend and the best way the church can do this is simply to be the church. We must speak where Jesus would speak and be silent where He would be silent. Jesus had the greatest of love for sinners, but He never once hesitated to call sin sin. Many of us consider the story of the woman caught in adultery, but even then while Jesus did not condemn her, He did say “Go and sin no more.” (I do not think the story was part of the writing of John, but I do think that it is a true story that found its way into the copies of John.) Jesus called the action sin still. You can have utter hatred of sin, as Jesus did, and total love of sinners, as Jesus did.

We should not be ashamed of our stance on sex and we should in fact celebrate sex, while making it clear that we find what the world does shameful. When Duck Dynasty had its situation with people caling A&E and disconnecting their cable, what saddened me most afterwards was how Christians stopped their actions after their show was restored. Christians were willing to fight for a TV show, their entertainment, but they were not willing to keep going for marriage.

Remember church. We can win battles. We often do. We just don’t usually show up.

Go look at the above story again. Really look at it. A girl is sleeping with her father. If she has a boy, he will be her son/brother and if she has a girl she will be her daughter/sister. The father will always be a father/grandfather. The reason she is able to do this so confidently in society is she sure she will be accepted.

How far is this going to go?

As far as we let it.

How far are you willing to let it go?

If we do not speak today,will there be anyone to speak in the future?

In Christ,
Nick Peters