Divorce and Shame

Why does divorce often come with shame? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In my first post on divorce, I talked about it being a shameful status. It was rightly pointed out for me that I don’t need shame. That’s because by and large, I am the one who was rejected. Was I a perfect spouse? Of course not. No one is. Even the best marriage therapist will still be making mistakes in their marriage no matter how long they have been married.

This usually is how it goes with a divorce. There can be a major infraction on one side and not the other. I realize there are exceptions of course. For the sake of clarification, if we have something going on of this nature such as abuse or adultery or severe abandonment, then let’s refer to this as a “hard divorce.” By contrast, a soft divorce will be something like “Well we just don’t feel the same way” or “We just have irreconcilable differences.” These are things that can be worked on even if they require counseling. However, I have no reason to believe Jesus sees this as grounds for divorce.

For the most part, those of us who are Christians and have gone through a hard divorce, still condemn soft divorce. We still hate divorce. I definitely do. I think it’s one of the great wrongs out there. Hard divorce carries with it a deep level of rejection, definitely the deepest I have experienced. It is a time when you have given all of yourself to another person in a covenant and they have said, “Not good enough.”

Unfortunately, the church can often treat both kinds as if they were the same. All that matters is that you were divorced. I can say that people on Facebook have treated me well, but those are people who know me also. To see what I anticipate, think about walking through a parking lot full of cars.

As you are doing this, you see a car that has clearly been in a car accident. For me, my first thought is to think that this must be a bad driver. Then, I have to catch myself. All I really know is something happened. For all I know, maybe someone even backed into them in the parking lot while they’re still in the store and drove off to avoid a lawsuit.

Now it could be that my first impression is correct, this is a bad driver, but I don’t have enough evidence to make that statement. Unfortunately, my concern is people I don’t know and who don’t know me will see divorce the same way. I have had someone already say that as an example, in many Baptist churches, you could preach if you had been a murderer, but if you have been divorced, you can’t come to that pulpit, unless you remarry, of course.

So I go to offer my services to speak at a church. I get asked if I’m married. I say divorced. The question that can come to mind immediately is “Why?” I understand a pastor wants to be careful with who they want to have in a pulpit or teaching, but I also have another disadvantage with this. I can pretty much only give my own side of the story. It’s my word against someone else’s and if there’s no reason to believe one or the other, then why trust me?

If that’s the case for a job, it’s also a concern for something I have not got to do yet. Dating. Imagine being on a dating website and wondering what people think when they see that my status says “divorced” or if I meet a girl’s parents and they learn that I am divorced? There could be ways I can tell that I am being treated with grace. However, that first impression can be a concern.

What can the church do? We are told to “judge not” and I know that that is misunderstood to say that we can’t ever judge. That is false. Jesus is talking about judging hypocritically without information. This applies here. When you meet someone who is divorced, at least hear their side.

The church should also drop this idea that anyone who has been divorced should not be a minister. I realize this doesn’t apply to all denominations, but it does apply to some. By all means, investigate the case since leading the church is a great responsibility, but the hard and fast rule needs to be dropped.

Forgiveness is also important to always be there. Even if someone is the wrong party in a hard divorce, if they have repented and learned the error of their ways, it could be they cannot remarry, but they can still lead the church and even share with others so that they don’t make the same mistakes.

Do I live with a cloud of shame hiding over my head? No. That’s a choice. However, I do have concerns about the whole dating scene again and about the way I could be seen in the church in the future. Future experiences could always undo this, but there is something with approaching people who I don’t know and having to share. Divorce is too often treated like the unforgivable sin.

Readers know that I still refuse to be held back and now, I really want to use my experience to help others. I have a really good male friend here who is helping me with my own issues going through divorce. He is able to do this since he has been divorced and told me he had someone who had been divorced who helped him with his. I want to pass that help on and I know I have a bigger platform so I want to join others as a fellow traveler on the journey. It’s my hope to share not as someone who has fully recovered from divorce, but as someone who is going through the process and is still familiar easily with the experience.

If you are the wronged party in a hard divorce, try to live without shame. I try to tell myeslf that a promise wasn’t just broken to me, but it was to God. Anyone who knows me knows that I worked really hard to make my marriage work. I hold strongly to marriage being a sacred lifelong covenant and I plan to bring that into my next marriage. I’ve been through this once. I have no wish to go through it again.

Feel free to join me on the journey.

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

Book Plunge: Stop Calling Me Beautiful

What do I think of Phylicia Masonheimer’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book was not what I expected. I honestly thought with the title it would be more about helping women to realize they’re beautiful. It’s really the opposite, and that’s a good thing. Masonheimer wrote this book about being tired of women’s conferences that seem to be entirely all about self-help.

She argues that women need something deeper than being told they’re beautiful. Ultimately, they need Jesus Himself. They need to find their comfort in God. Women bounce around from thing to thing, or in a sadder case from man to man, hoping to find something that will fulfill them when Christ is waiting there for them the whole time.

Masonheimer goes after this whole fake culture. One chapter is even about the Instagram Bible. How many women (And men) try to make their Bible study times look really good on Instagram or Facebook (The cup of coffee supposedly making it extra holy), but then they really neglect Bible study? When they do Bible study, they do it for the hopes that they will learn something about themselves and not really to learn about God.

The next part of the book is about different false beliefs for women in the church. Legalism is the first one where much is made for women about things like skirt length. Even if the rules are good, the rules can often seem to be equated with Christianity.

Next come chapters on grief and anxiety and how to handle them. This can be a challenging one for women who are usually emotional creatures, more so than men, and yet are told to not be emotional. Women need to know how to handle serious loss and how to handle anxiety.

Thankfully, there’s a chapter on sexual stigma which is needed. Pornography is no longer just a man’s problem. Many women are watching porn as well. Many women are also told if they have sex before marriage that at that point they are damaged goods since most guys want a virgin. Masonheimer deals with all of these.

She then goes on to talk about community. Women need a place where they can be women. They need a place where they can be accepted and be safe. I also want to stress in my opinion that online friendships are great, but women and men both need face to face relationships where they can get comfort as well.

After that, she talks about the fear of man. This isn’t man in the sense of the male of the species, but in the sense of worrying about what everyone thinks about us. We do that so much, that we don’t focus on what God thinks and getting to live a life that He approves of.

There are other chapters on shame and how to live now, but I think I’ve said enough to let people know this is important. Women don’t just need pablum. They don’t just need self-help. They actually need something deeper.

So if I would actually change anything in this book, I would say go deeper still. I would like to see some information on the doctrine of God, Christ, how to do Bible study, and other such things. That could be for another book. In essence, a sort of apologetics for women would be good.

Still, I agree. Women, and men as well, don’t need pablum. We need something real. We need Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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