Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Bible Challenge: Day 201

The scriptures read are Proverbs 16-19, Psalm 15 and Ephesians 5.

Proverbs 16. A number of good ones right off the bat, including:
"Mortals make elaborate plans but God has the last word." and
"Humans are satisfied with what looks good; God probes for what is good."

Plus good observations about leadership.

Proverbs 17. "Whoever mocks poor people, insults their Creator; gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime." Or it should be.
"A quiet rebuke to a person of good sense does more than a whack on the head of a fool."
"Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people are equally abhorrent to God."
"Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise; as long as they keep their mouths shut, they're smart."

Proverbs 18. "Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights." Which is why I listen to NPR.

Proverbs 19. "People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?"
"Mercy to the needy is a loan to God, and God pays back those loans in full."

Psalm 15. This is a lovely setting for the psalm sung (after the intro) by a beautiful clear soprano voice. It does drop the last verse about not charging interest but 85% of the psalm and the spirit of it is there. Feast your ears here.

Ephesians 5. Mountains of good advice. Even the marital advice if you read it closely.

The word usually translated "submit" appears in verse 21, not in verse 22. The Greek reads more like "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives to your husbands as to the Lord." The submission of the wives is just an example of the submission all Christians should do to one another. There is no second specific command for the wife to submit in a special way here, nor anything to indicate men are exempted from the mutual submission commanded for all Christians. This is in line with Jesus telling his disciples not to lord anything over one another but for each to be the servant of all.

And if there were a command for wives to obey their husbands here (there isn't) it would be right in line with the lists of household rules that pagan moralists loved to draw up. Where Paul gets radical is in verse 25 where he tells husbands to love their wives. Pagan moralists never did that. The husband's only responsibility was to feed, clothe and shelter his wife. Her role was to run the household and give birth to his kids. If he wants love, he can always find a mistress. But Paul makes the husband loving his wife a command. Nor is he to love her in an average way. He is to love his wife as "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." That is, Jesus died for the church.  So the husband is to love his wife self-sacrificially. No justification can be found here for bullying or abusing or disregarding the feelings of one's wife. One way people get in trouble with scripture is when they don't pay attention to what it really says. 

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