Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:19

What are the struggles of a mother when the world comes to an end? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yes. That opening statement is a bit tongue in cheek. I do not think that this passage is at all about the end of the world, but some do. Today, we are looking at verse 19 and the focus is entirely on women. (Though keep in mind, Jesus is supposedly a misogynist so many times and never cares about women so this verse must be an anomaly or something.)

So what does verse 19 say?

“And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!”

Pregnancy today is much easier than it was back then. If a woman gets pregnant today, she assumes generally all things being equal that she’s going to give birth and have a normal pregnancy. I do realize some women have miscarriages today and tragedies like that happen, but very few times is a woman scared that when she goes to the delivery room, she won’t come out alive.

Instead, a woman typically has a plethora of doctors around here. Even if she can’t make it to the hospital, there’s usually good care and good medication available that she can use. Pregnancy is still difficult and can still be very painful, but it is nowhere near the health risk it used to be.

Same with raising infants today. Mothers have every good in the world. They have cars to drive and car seats for babies. They have strollers and now even things you can use to carry your baby on your chest with you so your hands are free. There are bottles of formula and everything else a baby needs.

Not so in the ancient world.

In that world, you could die quite often in childbirth. It was a risk. You didn’t have the special items we have today for taking care of a child once they were born. You would have to nurse them the old-fashioned way every time.

So now imagine a woman having to flee Jerusalem who is pregnant. She has no pain killers like we have today and has to go and walk several miles a day, maybe ride an animal if she’s lucky which will have its own hurdles for her.

Imagine going on a trip like this then either pregnant or dealing with an infant who will be crying and waking you up in the middle of the night every time you try to stop and sleep. Will that help you on your journey or hinder you? I am not at all saying that a mother shouldn’t love her children that way, but love can be hard sometimes even for children. The mother will not leave her child behind, but the child will be hard to have on the trip.

Again, all of this makes sense in the first century. Today, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Back in that day, it would be extremely difficult. Again, we have to ask which scenario makes the most sense of this? If you read this in a futuristic way, it’s hard to make sense of it. Read it as if it’s happening in the ancient world and it fits perfectly.

We’ll continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sexuality in the New Testament

What do I think of William Loader’s book published by Westminster John Knox Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

William Loader is the scholar in the world who has probably written more on sexuality and the Bible than anyone else. Naturally, the Bible talks a lot about sex. Is it because the Bible is a perverse and dirty book as some would say? No. It’s because people talk about sex a lot and it’s a dominant feature in our society just like it was in the ancient world. Loader aptly gives us a warning on page 5.

“Sometimes wanting to know becomes impatient to the point of jumping too quickly to conclusions or filling in gaps with fantasy instead of coming to terms with the limits of our knowledge. Particularly in dealing with matters of sexuality it is not uncommon for people to become deeply involved emotionally in wanting, indeed, needing texts to say certain things which would reinforce or confirm their own beliefs and attitudes. This can happen from many different angles, both from those wanting to affirm what some might see as conservative positions and those wanting the opposite.”

This is a major point worth stressing. Many of us today want the Bible to side with us. Now we could take a totally foreign approach and say the text has no real meaning, but this is problematic as we should not approach any text this way. Could it be difficult to know what the author meant to say sometimes? Sure. There are matters open to dispute. Sometimes it isn’t and with many of these texts, I think the meaning is clear.

The first place Loader starts with is the texts on homosexuality. Loader looks at the various interpretations of all the texts in the debate and frankly, comes down on a conservative side, and this after looking at what most scholars are saying. This does not mean necessarily he agrees with that. I find it hard to tell frankly, but that’s a strength of Loader’s work. It’s hard to know what bias he himself might bring to the debate and frankly, I can understand much better if I encounter someone who says “Yes. This is what the text means. I just disagree.”

Loader also deals with some of the revisionist ideas such as the idea that the Centurion’s servant is a homosexual lover or that the Beloved Disciple was involved in a homosexual relationship with Jesus. These are times where I really think the homosexual reading is grasping at straws. As Loader indicated above, you can read anything into a text if you want to. We must all be looking to ask “But what does the text mean?”

Loader goes on from there to talk about marriage itself and what the Bible has to say about it. He interacts with ideas of polygyny as well and notes that it was limited, although the Damascus Document was pretty hard on it. Loader thinks this could be a minority position. Of course, polygyny would also be costly so few people would do it. Loader goes on from here to talk about issues of divorce and remarriage and pregnancy and child birth. Naturally, Loader will also touch on the household codes found in Ephesians and Colossians. He rightly states that the way the husband is to act to his wife still is the way Christ does for the church, which is loving and not violent or exploitative.

From there, we move on to adultery in the Bible. Many of the texts are quite clear on this and the idea is that sex is to be between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage. I was pleased also to see a talk about what lust is in the discussion. I do think the command to lust is speaking about another person’s wife, which makes it a form of covenant, but I think it can also mean an excessive desire, a desire that dehumanizes the person and makes them only an object of sex. After all, today if a man and a woman are dating, it is not a problem I think if the man has sexual desire for the woman. He ought to. If he does not desire her, he has problems.

Now some will wonder about spiritual adultery. What does that mean? Looking at another woman with lust. Frankly, I like what Robert Gagnon said at a talk he once gave on a podcast about this where he said “If spiritual adultery is grounds for divorce, every woman could divorce a man on her wedding day.” Lust is something to be avoided to be sure, but let’s not be extreme in saying everything is adultery. Actual physical adultery is worse.

There’s a lot in the book that is covered and yet it is a short read. If you want a good lowdown on what the New Testament says about sexuality and scholars on both sides, you owe yourself to check out Loader’s work.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/23/2016: Lori Peters

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

First off, if you’re wondering where the new episodes are, we’re having server changes and hoping to update the web sites soon. Bear with us please. We have some work being done and hopefully you’ll see the Deeper Waters web site up in a way that you’ve never seen before. We’re even hoping to buy the domain name of Deeper Waters.

But for now let’s talk about the show that’s coming on this Saturday. It was after scheduling a few shows in January I remembered that I normally focus on abortion in January, so I will be returning to that. I decided also I wanted to get a woman’s voice on the matter. Enter my friend Lori Peters. (And as far as we know, there is no relation) Who is she?

LoriPeters

Lori Peters has a Bachelor of Science in  Biblical Studies from Liberty University and an MDiv in Apologetics from Luther Rice. She is a current PhD student in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University with a research focus in bioethics.

One aspect we’ll be emphasizing in this episode is the personal side of this as to how to deal with women who are struggling with the choice of abortion or who have had an abortion and are dealing with regret and guilt from it. Lori has the experience of working with Crisis centers to help women in need. What does Lori personally think from a woman’s perspective about the issue of abortion?

After all, we are regularly told that abortion is the right of a woman and if you want women to be able to be fully equal in society, then there is no purpose in putting them in a position where they will have to care for a child. Should it not be their personal choice whether or not they want to care for the child? What does Lori as a woman think about the idea that her freedoms could be limited by having a baby?

What do you do also when you meet a woman who has an abortion and is struggling with forgiveness? How do you offer the grace that is needed without at the same time downplaying the sin? We want to make it clear that God forgives those who have an abortion, but at the same time we don’t want to downplay it as if it is no big deal. How do we do this?

Then, we could also ask what about the beliefs of those who wonder if they will ever see their children again. What are we to say to such a thing? Do we have any Biblical warrant any way to say yes or no? This is a central issue to many women who have had abortions and we want to be able to do all that we can to show them the love of Christ.

Please be joining me this Saturday for the next episode and be watching your podcast feed. Give it time and I will get them all up there.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do Part 4

How do we handle the issue of childbirth? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Once again, I return us to my wife Allie who has written part four in her own series. As always, her opinion is not necessarily the same as my own, but I do want to take the chance to share her work.

4. Obstructing humanity’s transition to more thoughtful, intentional childbearing is evil. (http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C1)
The first thing the article says in this section is a quote from Martin Luther, “If a woman dies in [child]bearing, let her die; she is there to do it.” There is no source of where they found this quote, it’s just labeled as one Martin Luther says. I did some research on this quote and I found that while a lot of pro-choice people quote this, there’s actually no real evidence that Martin Luther actually said this (http://www.tektonics.org/af/bogusq.php). That’s probably why there was no source to this quote in the article, because there was no source to begin with. The rest of the article mainly complains about how Christians aren’t for family planning. This is not completely true for all Christians. Some Christians believe in “natural family planning.” This is basically abstaining from intercourse when a woman is most fertile during her menstrual cycle if they wish to avoid conception (http://www.natural-family-planning.info/). This is well accepted among Catholics for example. Other Christians are fine with other uses of birth control, but won’t accept certain kinds (IUD’s for example) because they can cause early abortions (https://www.spuc.org.uk/education/contraceptives). Christians are against any form of abortions. If there is an unplanned pregnancy, there are other ways to deal with the issue than abortion. There are many couples for example who would love to have children but for some reason they naturally can’t. If you don’t want the baby, put it up for adoption and let another couple who are seeking to have a child love and take care of it. The author of the article complains, saying “If evidence-based compassion— the intersection of truth and love—was at the top of Christian priorities, hunger and destitution would be vastly diminished because millions of mothers would be able to plan and prepare for their babies.” Look, there’s a simpler way to solve some of this than the writer realizes. Teens, young adults, I’ve said this before in another section, and I’ll say it again, wait until you’re married before you have sex. It’s more fulfilling and you don’t have to risk an unplanned pregnancy. No birth control is 100% pregnancy-proof (other than not having any sex at all). When you do get married, don’t have kids until you are ready to have kids and can take care of them. Do your research. You can try natural family planning, or use a safe birth control that is not abortive. If you do happen to get pregnant and you’re not ready, don’t be afraid. There are organizations who can help you with taking care of the baby if you decide to keep it. If you choose to not keep the baby, put it up for adoption and allow another couple to love and care for it as their own child. There are many couples who can take care of the baby and would love to care for the baby if you don’t want to or can’t.
I beg of you, with all my heart and soul, please, do not abort the baby. You may be pregnant and have been told your child will be physically or mentally disabled. You may be thinking, “How can this child live? This child will live such a horrible life! No one would ever fall in love with this child, they’ll always be alone! I can’t allow this child to suffer!” If you are in that position, listen to me closely, my husband and I have Aspergers Syndrome (a form of Autism). Is it easy? No. I got bullied terribly growing up. There are a lot of people who think because of the disability my husband and I have, we should’ve been aborted. But my husband and I are glad to be alive! We love each other, and even if we never found each other, we know we are still loved by our families, friends, and even more so, our Heavenly Father! Don’t take away the life your child could have! Let them live! Our next section will be: 5. Undermining science is evil.

In Christ,
Nick Peters