The Strange Test In Numbers 5

Is this a misogynistic test? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Numbers 5, we have a test that seems to us to be very strange. This is a test for faithfulness in marriage. If a man suspects that his wife is being unfaithful to him. In our continuing look at marriage and divorce, we are going to look at this.

In this test, a woman was required to drink a substance and if her abdomen swells and her thigh rots, then she has been unfaithful. There is no doubt, some euphemistic language here, but there’s nothing to suggest that an abortion or miscarriage is taking place. It could be rendering the woman infertile, however, which would indeed be a mark of shame in that culture.

Why would such a test be found in Scripture? Does God hate women that he puts them through this and the man doesn’t have to do anything similar? This test is not actually put in to demean the woman, but quite the opposite. It is there in order to protect her.

For the most part, a man is not usually in danger from the women in his life. Today, with something like a gun that is an equalizer, that can be different, but in the time of Scripture, when it came to physical power, men held that. It is certainly wrong for a man to be unfaithful, but generally, he would not have to fear that if he wound up being caught, his wife would beat him. (And even in unfaithfulness, wife-beating is never okay.)

A woman doesn’t have that benefit in the culture. Generally, women are physically weaker than men are and don’t have the upper body strength that men do. In many cultures, if a man got jealous, he could easily kill his wife if he so wanted to. If not kill, he could at least seriously injure her.

In this culture, God steps in and has a solution. Undergo a ceremony that can have real physical effects on a woman. The result would be undeniable in that culture and would settle the manner once and for all. At least one person would leave that meeting very shamed. A husband could leave if he has falsely accused his wife and she passes the test with flying colors. If she doesn’t pass, she will leave shamed with physical conditions that she will likely be stuck with because of her unfaithfulness. He could leave shamed as well knowing that his wife has been unfaithful to him.

This also illustrates that in Scripture, faithfulness in marriage is highly valued. Every time a man in Scripture was unfaithful in any way to his marriage covenant, it did not end well. The same happens with women who are unfaithful to their spouses. When we get to the New Testament, we will find that when it comes to the question of remarriage, there is differentiation between a spouse who has been faithful to a prior marriage and the spouse who has been unfaithful to the marriage covenant, but that’s for in the future.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Get Your Own Girl

How should you treat your neighbor? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So far in this list, we have seen a load of people mentioned who are somehow related to you. Now God goes even further and says to avoid your neighbor’s wife. This is something that is extremely relevant today as we normally do agree that you shouldn’t sleep with relatives, but somehow, we do have many people today who sleep with their neighbor’s spouse or at least pursue that.

This is especially the case in the age of social media. A friend told me sometime within the past year about going through divorce records in a court, though I don’t remember what for, and being surprised how many times the word “Facebook” showed up. The problem with this is that you can get easily attached to someone you haven’t met and since they’re a fantasy, they can be whatever you want them to be.

Ladies. Prince Charming will likely snore when you go to bed at night.

And guys, her hair will not stay beautiful and pristine when she wakes up in the morning.

Very few people will wake up one day and say “I think I’ll have an affair today.” It generally starts with something innocent. This is one reason why when I normally message a woman and I think it could be a long conversation, I will include her husband in it as well. I also have some rules set up for whenever I go on dates again.

The action of an affair with someone else’s spouse damages relationships across the board. In my DivorceCare group, we watch a video every week from DivorceCare and one lady does describe how her ex-husband was sleeping with her ex-best friend. I’m pretty sure this other lady was her best friend before this happened.

Even if someone is a skeptic of Christianity, I am sure they will agree with the passage in Proverbs that says that jealousy arouses a husband’s fury and he will not be bought off. He will not be pacified when he seeks revenge. He will refuse a bribe however great it is. There’s something about this activity that gets spouses engaged on a whole new level.

This should also tell us that sexual activity is not like anything else that we have. A husband might be upset if his wife plays tennis with another man or something of that sort, but once he finds out she has slept with someone else, at that point normally all bets are off. Who knows where this could go from here?

So what’s a simple solution? Easy. If you want to sleep with someone, make a lifelong commitment to them first and go through with it. Don’t hedge your bets and say that we’ll be together for now, but there’s no need to make a commitment. You or they can just run out at any time then actually. This is something especially women need to realize who really control the market. Have a guy give a lifetime commitment upfront.

For both sexes, once you are married, build up yourself and your own relationship. If the grass looks greener on the other side, water your own side and care for it more. Be very careful on social media as well. Marriage is a terrible thing to destroy even if it is necessary sometimes such as in abuse and adultery.

The alternative of destroying relationships is far worse.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

You Shall Not Commit Adultery

What is adultery? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Centuries ago, there was a Bible published that was called the Wicked Bible. In this one, there was a misprint in the seventh commandment so it read, “You shall commit adultery.” The publishers were greatly fined for this.

We should all know adultery is wicked, but what is adultery?

Adultery is sexual behavior reserved for the covenant of marriage that is done outside of that covenant. This can be of a physical nature, sexual activity, or it can be of an emotional nature, an emotional commitment to another person where you share things with someone else that should really only be shared with your spouse. Both of these are incredibly harmful to a marriage.

Why is this so? Because marriage is a relationship built on exclusive trust. When you go outside of that, then you are violating that trust. Sexual activity is giving someone total trust with your body and it only makes sense if this takes place in the covenant of a promise that is followed through.

This is why I always tell women to not have sex with a man until he marries you. Why would I not say the same to a man? Technically, I would, but more often than not, the men are the pursuers in the market. If it wasn’t for sex, men would never marry. Men seek to be with women because we have strong drives and those drives drive us to love the woman also.

When a woman gives herself to a man without that, she is ultimately saying she will give him her very body for whatever he has done already. It’s hard to think of something greater one human can trust another with than their body. So a woman needs to decide what her body is worth. A promise to marry in engagement? Six months of dating? A month? A week? Dinner and a movie?

By the way, normally, once a man is given what he wants, odds are that he could have a good chance of plateauing at that level. Many a woman will think living together is a prelude to marriage. It isn’t. He’s got a great deal already. He gets the sex he wants, he can leave any time that he wants, and in the end, he doesn’t have to pay alimony if something happens because there was no commitment.

Now while I said it’s hard to think of something greater one human can give to another than their body, there is one thing indeed. Their heart. Emotional affairs hurt. I speak from experience. In the age of Facebook, they can much more easily happen. Most physical affairs also start off as emotional ones.

A man goes out from his office on lunch and there’s a woman that goes out at the same time. Why not just go together? We’re friends. We’re both married to other people, but why not? Then they begin talking over lunch and they enjoy each other’s company and not too much later, they’re meeting in a hotel room and having sex.

Yes. This happens.

Very few people get up one morning and say “I think I’ll have an affair to screw up my marriage.” It happens gradually. Often, the other side of the fence can look greener to which the reply is “Tend your own lawn first.” This will lead to hopping from relationship to relationship, especially when the spark dies down.

This is why vigilance is required to guard a marriage. In my own personal life, I have said when I get my own place again, I don’t want to be alone with a woman who is not family, even one I am dating. I know my temptations. I know as a man I greatly desire sex and having been there before, I don’t want to put myself in a position where it’s hard to put the brakes on.

Sex is reserved for the covenant of marriage. Taking it outside is lying with your bodies. It is a beautiful gift to be given to a man and a woman who have made a lifelong covenant with one another. Their bodies in sex show what they have done with their hearts to one another.

God stands against adultery not because He is anti-sex, but because He is pro-sex. He created everything about it after all. If we are to enjoy it to the best, then we need to follow His counsel on the matter.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Why Don’t The Ten Commandments Condemn Rape?

Why are the Ten Commandments supposedly silent on rape? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Skeptics will always be finding something to complain about with Scripture. This time it’s about the Ten Commandments. Why do they not mention rape? Isn’t that worth talking about?

For one thing, the Ten Commandments are not meant to be all-inclusive of everything. (Note that if we followed the first one perfectly, the other nine would be done naturally.) Laws in that culture were more didactic in that they were guidelines. Today, if you read a single law on a federal website, odds are it will be longer than the book of Exodus entirely itself. Every single possible exception is meant to be covered.

The ancients instead gave general principles and the role of a judge was to be wise and know how to apply the Law in every single case. Even if there was a prescribed punishment, no judge was forced to go that way. It was as said before more of a guideline.

Yet what about rape?

A simple answer is to say that rape would be understood to fall under the commandment against adultery. Adultery is any improper sexual behavior that is done outside of the marriage covenant. Rape is such a case. Of course, that can happen in marriage as well, but a wise judge would know what was going on.

Why would adultery be mentioned? Because looking at Israelite history, Israel seemed to have a much more consistent problem with adultery than they did with rape. Of all the horizontal sins that are mentioned in the Ten Commandments, the #1 sin that the Israelites were committing on that level was adultery. The idea that sex is the great god that people pursue in our culture is nothing new. It has been the same in most cultures throughout history. Honestly, I’d be surprised to find one where that wasn’t the case.

In the history of Israel, I can only think of two cases where rape takes place and both of them are condemned. The first is in the end of Judges where we have a scene much like Sodom and Gomorrah and a slave woman is raped and raped so much that she actually dies. What’s amusing is when skeptics quote this passage as a look at the depravity the Bible has and actually think it’s being endorsed, when Scripture records this to show an example of what happens when a society abandons the covenant with God. If you think it’s something horrible and disgusting, Scripture agrees.

The second is the case of Amnon and Tamar. In this, Amnon is in love with his half-sister Tamar and rapes her. After that, the text says he hated her and he hated her so much that his hatred was greater than the love that he had for her. (Which shows that it wasn’t really love.) Again, this is condemned. It’s seen as a sign of judgment on the house of David and later, Absalom will sleep with the concubines of David, though that’s not specified as rape.

Ultimately, by condemning adultery, the Ten Commandments do condemn rape. It’s my plan that next time we will look closer at adultery. It’s one of those commandments that many of us didn’t ask about as kids and I always wonder now what goes through the minds of children at church when it is mentioned. Hopefully, we can give the adults a better answer.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce as Rejection

What ultimately is divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have my laptop back and everything looks to be working fine, so let’s jump back into this topic. When it gets down to it, what is the #1 pain of divorce? If I could sum it up in one word, it would be rejection.

Many of us have experienced a break-up in our lives or have asked someone out and been told no, and those can compare, but divorce is just so much worse. Divorce is when someone makes a promise to you and then breaks it. Divorce is when in a marriage you have given everything you have to someone and they have said that it wasn’t good enough.

For me, this has hit quite hard as if you asked my parents about me growing up, I always wanted a woman in my ilfe, and this was long before I knew about the birds and the bees. I never had that faze in my life where girls were icky and had cooties or anything like that. I can still remember the first crush I had was back in elementary school in Transition and that lasted all through elementary school.

I also had got used to being told no later on when I would ask any girl out. No. No. No. I still want to roll my eyes when I hear a lady say something like “I just want a nice guy who cares about me and my feelings.” Let’s face it. We’re all a bit superficial at times and those looks play a big role in it. I would just prefer the honesty.

So when she came into my life and was interested in me, it was something incredible. I had never once encountered a girl that was actually desiring of me. Not only that, she didn’t get turned off by the Aspie traits that I have. Everyone who saw us thought we were the best couple. My best man at the wedding in his toast said he didn’t think there were two people more suited for each other. The counselor doing our pre-marital counseling said he had only met seven couples he thought were a match made in Heaven and we were one of those couples.

And yet something went wrong.

Did I make mistakes? Obviously. Everyone does. Only a fool says he goes into a marriage and makes no mistakes. Anything worthy of this? Not a bit. The message given is that things were so bad with me that she thought she had to break her promise to God to escape.

Now I realize that sometimes people divorce over issues like divorce and adultery being done. In that case, the party that divorces when their spouse is unfaithful in that way is responding to a rejection already. I recommend trying to work things out if possible, but if the other party isn’t willing, there’s nothing you can do.

Today, I notice that I am very sensitive to rejection. It’s different for different people. A girl I used to go to DivorceCare with said once the ultimate one breaks the promise and rejects, the other rejections don’t really hurt anymore. For me, they do. They remind me of that rejection.

I used to tell people I was on the spectrum and have no problem with it. Now I do it and get nervous beforehand worried that they will reject me. If I make a mistake at my job, I am sure for some time that I will be fired. It hasn’t happened yet, but that is still there. I do try to approach women, but I am still again sensitive to any hint of rejection.

Rejection is so painful because the message given is not just your actions but that you as a person are inadequate. You are not good enough. I find this ironic since what she always complained about was other people saying she wasn’t good enough. Now who is the one saying that?

By the way, I want to stress that while I am honest about her behavior when I speak of it, I am not trying to speak ill of her honestly. For her, I really do want the best for her. I want her to have a holy and happy life eventually. I do have my concerns about that, but I try to eliminate any animosity. That doesn’t do me any good after all.

My DivorceCare leader and I had a discussion a few months ago that covered rejection. I told him that I didn’t understand when he said he wanted me to speak less, but was always praising other people when they spoke. That was one thing among many. He thanked me for sharing and said “I thought you knew that I was encouraging them because they were new. I didn’t realize you didn’t see it that way.” In truth, I didn’t. It felt like a rejection every time.

I also realize that ultimately, this is not an issue with other people. This is an issue with me. I cannot demand that other people change to fit my happiness. None of us can. Anyone has a right and freedom to reject me if they wish. It could be wrong perhaps, but it is their choice. I also have a right to not accept everyone who comes to me. I have a desire to remarry, but I don’t want to remarry someone who isn’t a Christian.

I do know that at my workplace I will soon be able to have health insurance. I have a therapist already, but one of my plans is also to get a psychiatrist then so I can work on the issues that I am dealing with and if need be, get medication. I wonder if I might have a form of PTSD from everything I went through and I think a psychiatrist can best determine that.

Now some of you might be tempted to go all spiritual on me and say “Well God accepts you. Isn’t that good enough?” In a sense, it should be for all of us, but God also made us social creatures. We are not meant to be alone. Even in the most glorious state in creation for man, it was not good for man to be alone. When our Lord walked this Earth, He had friends. Could there not be a hint of the pain of rejection in his words when he says to His disciples in John 6, “Will you go also?”

If I desire friends in my life and don’t want to be rejected, will anyone really tell me that’s wrong? If I desire for even strangers to like me and not reject me, is that wrong? If I also, which I do, desire a lady in my life to share my journeys with, will anyone say that that is wrong? These are all desires that I think are God-given so we should celebrate them and try to meet them.

Can this kind of thing be taken too far? Yes. That is something that I have to work on on my end, but at the same time try to better myself for my interactions with other people. I have read some books on interacting socially lately to try to work on this all the more. I can easily say I don’t ever want to go through the pain that divorce brings and is bringing again.

I say bringing because everything I do around me often is a reminder of it. When I go to bed at night, there’s no one lying next to me or no one who can reach over and touch me or vice-versa. She was the only person who I really craved the touch of. I live with my parents again now and I don’t even like it if they touch me.

When I am at work, I wonder if I would be where I was if she hadn’t rejected me. When I find myself going out there trying to make friends again and trying to win the heart of a lady, i often think about what I have lost. Yes. Despite the wrong that has done, I have lost something.

The Scripture says the two become one flesh. How can you become one flesh with someone and then when they are gone not have a real loss? When you marry, so much of your life becomes integral around another person and then that person says they don’t want you anymore? What are you to think of that? In some sense, does your identity not come into question?

I look through Facebook memories and so many times, I see myself making a post on how much she means to me. In the comments, I can sometimes see her talking about how much she will always be devoted to me and always love me and how thankful she is. Yep. That stings every time I see it.

I had a coworker ask me about animes recently. I don’t remember what brought it up, but that was hard to talk about. After all, the main person I know about those through is her.

When you’re 41 also, it’s much harder to find someone who is in your age range who is still looking for someone for marriage. Put in all my eccentricities and it can become even harder. Still, I think it’s worth it. I have a therapist working with me in this regard, but it is difficult.

If you’re in a marriage and struggling, please do try to work out your struggles. Aside from abuse and adultery, divorce should be a last option. It is a great pain to the person who is being rejected. I have met people who have lost a spouse to divorce and death and to a person, I think aside from just one maybe, all of them said divorce was worse.

Yes. Divorce is worse than death.

It’s worse I think because it’s an ongoing living death. You know the other person is out there and has intentionally acted in this way to get away from you. This person has decided that you are unlovable. Now I still maintain that if you think your neighbor is unlovable, the real deficiency is in you and not in them, but that doesn’t change that it hurts.

Yet I think the more I stay hidden away and don’t get myself out there, the more I am just bringing that rejection on myself. As I go out in the world, will I still get rejected? Obviously. Whether it’s for friendship or a date or a job interview, it will always hurt, but that’s life. You can’t control that other people will do hurtful things to you, but you are in control of how you respond to them. I have to make a deliberate choice to choose to overcome. Everyone has their choice to make. I also have mine.

Thank you for all who have been supporting me on this journey, fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

 

Has The Bible Been Changed A Lot?

Is the text vastly different than it was? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It was recently brought to my attention that Business Insider decided to celebrate Christmas with a video on why the Bible isn’t trustworthy. Normally, I prefer to celebrate with presents and time with friends and family, but to each his own I suppose. So do we really have anything new here?

Of course not.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be addressed. After all, a lot of people will never bother to study what it is they believe and why. (You know how it is, we live in a society where people will learn about their favorite sports team, TV show, video game, etc. but won’t dare to really consider maybe they should think about the belief that they base their entire life on.) Sadly, this will also apply to many skeptics who will take a faith that makes strong claims and decides ipso facto that since those claims involve miracles they must be nonsense and never examine the claims seriously.

So let’s dive into this video. The speaker starts with talking about the Bible being the most sold book of all and that many think it contains the actual words of God. What many people don’t realize according to him is that the Bible has been changed, A LOT. So what are these evidences?

To begin with, no first edition exists. All we have are copies of copies.

This sounds scary if you’re someone who doesn’t know about manuscripts in the ancient world, until you realize that we don’t have the first writing of ANY ancient work that I know of. If there is one, I will be quite surprised. We have copies in every case. How much we can trust the account depends on a number of factors.

How soon is the earliest copy to the date of the original writing?
How many copies do we have?
Can we check these copies back and forth?

So how does the New Testament measure up?

manuscript copies

As you can see, Homer comes closest and it’s not even a contest really. Now if the speaker wants to make a big deal out of this, we ask that he be consistent. Please be extremely skeptical of all the other books on the list as well.

The speaker then says that this all took place many years after the events supposedly took place. It would be good to know how much skepticism he has. Would he go all the way to being a mythicist? Inquiring minds want to know! He also points out that many of these copies weren’t made by professionals but were made by laymen.

Naturally, we can’t expect someone busy enough to make a video for Business Insider to go out and read some of the scholarship on this issue and actually inform himself. While he cites a couple of scholars, there’s no in-depth looking at what they say and providing context for the issue. He could do what I did and interview Charles Hill on the Early Text of the New Testament and issues of canonicity or interview Daniel Wallace. (And if he can’t interview at least listen to what they have to say.)

The speaker goes on to talk about how this lead to many errors and omissions.

No. It’s not a typo on my part. He’s the one who said “This lead to many,” Who knows? Maybe he differed from the original script at one point.

If he wants to talk about these kinds of omissions and errors, he’s free to examine the texts. We will have a little bit more on this, but we have so many texts in so many languages that it’s easy to cross-check. When we do, we find that in fact the Bible does hold up, but again, a little bit more on this later.

We go to the three biggest changes. The first is the woman caught in adultery. It’s a shame that this is news to so many Christians, but such it is. We live in a time of great Biblical ignorance.

The next is the Gospel of Mark. (It’s amazing how predictable these are.) This change is the ending of the Gospel and how it has no narrative of Jesus rising and appearing. The speaker then tells us that in original manuscripts, this story is nowhere to be found.

Wait a second.

What original manuscripts?

Our speaker has gone on and on about how there are no original manuscripts and now is saying this is not to be found in the original? In what way does he know? Could it be that we can tell because we can actually check the texts back and forth and see what they say and compare them? Has our speaker undermined his own case?

The third is that in Luke, Jesus makes a dying plea to forgive the executioners, but it was not intended to refer to the Romans but to the Jews. This was taken out and then added centuries later to appear to be about the Romans. This is one many haven’t heard of, but notice something.

Apparently, we don’t have a clue what the text said, but we can tell what the originals somehow said, that a change was made, and that said change was later corrected. We can discuss why it happened and how, but that doesn’t change what the original said. Even his source on this, Bart Ehrman, says it is likely to be found in the originals.

While we’re at it, what else does Bart Ehrman, this non-Christian New Testament scholar say about the New Testament?

If the primary purpose of this discipline is to get back to the original text, we may as well admit either defeat or victory, depending on how one chooses to look at it, because we’re not going to get much closer to the original text than we already are.… At this stage, our work on the original amounts to little more than tinkering. There’s something about historical scholarship that refuses to concede that a major task has been accomplished, but there it is. Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior: An Evaluation: TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1998, a revision of a paper presented at the Textual Criticism section of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco. http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol03/Ehrman1998.html

 

In spite of these remarkable [textual] differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 481.

Sadly, too many Christians won’t be prepared for something like this because, well, all those sermons on how to be a good person and how much God loves you won’t really matter when the text that all that is based on is called into question. Even worse, these kinds of objections are not the crisis that many people think that they are. With some serious study, instead of focusing only on one’s personal hobbies, it’s amazing what one can learn.

Hopefully Business Insider from now on will stick to business instead of going to Biblical studies.

In Christ,
Nick Peters