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Archive for the ‘Men / Women’ Category

Elders and Women

The ongoing news-storm ensuing from the Harvey Weinstein antics about the harassment of women in workplaces continues. Here is a further article from today. This leads me into considering how church Elders should interact with women. If we look at the qualifications for eldership 1 Timothy 3:1-7 we see the headlining requirement to be that of being above reproach (v2b). it seems that all the other requirements explain and developed what it is for an elder to be above reproach. An elder therefore is to be of such a character that there is nothing in his life which in any way would cause unease among those who observe his life. One of the critical areas in which this is seen is in his relationship with women. In his conduct towards all women he should be above reproach.

One of the qualifications for an elder is that he is a one-woman man (see 1 Tim. 3:2b). I have written about this term here. An elder is to have focus on the one woman who is in his life. in no way should be give any amorous indications to any other woman. There is a zero-tolerance in this realm. He will readily speak of his affection for his wife in a sensitive and thoughtful way. But by his actions and words he will make no-advances to any other woman. His hands will be “firmly in his pockets”, his eyes will not linger on another woman and his mind will not  ponder on what might be if he only could.

One particular area to be thoughtful of here is that of how he speaks about the dress of other ladies. He can and should speak well of the appearance of his wife, but nver never say anything about the dress of another lady; absolutely nothing. Speaking of her dress can cause all thoughts of problems: Your wife thinks; “Is he interested in her?”;  the woman thinks “Oooh he thinks I’m attractive” and she starts to ponder. And if the woman has a husband; he is potentially incensed by your perceived advances. You cannot be too careful in this realm.

If I could give an exception here though and that is in cases when you may have to approach a lady in church about her dress if she is being too provocative in here attire.

The giving of hugs and  kisses needs to be carefully considered as well. Certain cultures see this as more than acceptable. In fact it is part of the norm to act in such a way in many societies. But the elder must be very careful. There may be times in mourning for example when this is not just acceptable, but actually helpful. But caution must be exercised.

It is also good to be careful of being alone with another woman. Age differences and teh expectations of the meeting need to be considered here. So if a lady is coming to see you about her husband’s funeral that is very different to a sister in the church just asking for a meeting without indicating why. Age difference is important as well. But visiting a lady of similar age to you on her own at home when her husband and children are out, to me seems very dangerous. In all thsi it is best to err on the side of caution.

Finally never trust yourself in all these matters. Paul after indicating how teh Israelites failed, addresses the Corinthians and says if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Cor. 10:12). Many an elder is now wrecked in life and ministry and some have had even their very lives cut short because they did not heed that.

And a finally, finally, make sure you build such a satisfying relationship with your wife that you would never have any thought of “looking elsewhere.”

Sisters Dress.

Does it matter how those who are believing in Christ dress? Particularly in this post I want to focus upon how those ladies who are in Christ dress. This applies generally to how they dress in the course of life and specifically in church.

Scripture does bring up the issue of how believing ladies are to dress. In 1 Timothy 2:9-10 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. And Peter says that  Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Pet. 3:3-4).

Paul and Peter here are both are responding to the innate tendency of ladies to show themselves off through their dress. He says that a godly sister should not want to show off herself physically, but spiritually. A believing lady should be aware of this when she dresses. This does not means that ladies should be purposefully dowdy, but it does mean that they should steer away from ostentatious display and sexually enticing attire.

The detail of the way a sister dresses is culturally governed. As fashion varies between cultures through time then this will be reflected in the dress of a godly woman. However, the culture should not determine how we dress. Sadly, we live in a morally lax society and that is reflected in the risque way in which many ladies dress. Christian ladies can easily follow that pattern without thinking. A showy display rather than a godly display can sometimes unwittingly ensue.

One way women need to be particularly concerned is how their dress affects men. The male responds very quickly to what he sees through the eye. He can also be prone to follow-on in his mind as he is prompted by what is over-revealed by the ladies he sees. I feel that ladies are so very often not at all aware of how the man responds to what he sees. So they dress in a way that it is too revealing and can cause all kinds of problems.

Now, I know that the response can be made that this is just men allowing their sinful lusts to have free reign, so they need to get themselves sorted before God: they need to repent and be cleansed from their dirty thoughts. Such is true. But I do feel that sisters should be more careful to help their brothers in Christ.

In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul is helping the Christians in Corinth to understand how they should deal with the issue of eating meat offered to idols. He urges a thoughtful carefulness by those who are persuaded that eating the meat is fine. They need to be careful because those who are not persuaded this is appropriate might be stumbled thereby. He finally sums up his argument by saying if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall (1 Cor. 8:13).

Dear sisters in Christ please be aware that how your dress can put in peril the spiritual welfare of your brothers in Christ. And the prettier you are the more careful you need to be.  This is particularly so if you are “in front” in a service for whatever reason. In such a situation, whether you like it or not you are, through your overly-tight and overly revealing garments make it hard for your brother to concentrate and can lead them into sin

I do feel that sisters have little awareness of how their dress affects men. My beloved sisters in the Lord please think about these things.

That Haircut.

I was in the barbers some little while ago. I was waiting my turn and as I passed the time I was observing the activity in front of me. There was one man there who barely had much more hair than me – and that is not very much!!!! He sat there for ages as the barber crafted something on his head. All that time taken up to make sure that what was produced was appropriate for the image he wanted to present. It was one of those experiences which grew in intensity as time passed. Possibly it was exacerbated by the fact that I wanted to get my haircut done so that I could get on with the other stuff in my life. But I was just left wondering why are you sitting there so long to have your hair cut.

And the answer is that it is all down to image is it not? “I am what I display” is the motivation which drives such activity. This makes life very precarious and insecure. The negative corollary of all this is that if I am unable to display properly then I will be viewed differently and will not be who I want to be. Such an outcome will lead me to self-conscious despair.

Now I am not here advocating slovenliness in terms of our hair or in any other matters regarding our appearance. However, when my worth is dependent on how I present, then I am in a very precarious situation.

So what is the counterbalance to this? It is to find our worth alternatively. It is to find our security, not in our appearance, but in who we are. To cut-to-the-chase that means finding our worth in Christ. The satisfied man is not the man preoccupied with appearance, but the man pre-occupied with Christ. He is the only place of full and sure security. The best state mind to be in is that of Paul when he says For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil 1:21). Now that is security!

A Woman’s Ambition

It has been said that “a woman who wants to be equal with a man is not ambitious enough.” There are two ways (perhaps more) of construing that statement. The first is predicated on the aspiration of women to take on men in any sphere and excel them. That is the “female supremacist” argument and denies the whole premise of Scripture that women are equipped for certain duties in which they excel and likewise men are equipped for certain duties in which they excel.

The other understanding which I want to dwell upon has far more substance to it. This is the counterpoint to the failure of understanding revealed in the first consideration of the term. Women who view their achievements in the light of the activities that pertain to a man are askew in their thinking and aspirations. What a woman needs to do is to excel in everything that God has called her to be as a woman. An ambitious woman wants to be what God has called her to be.

The best measure of this as presented in scripture, is that of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31:10-31. Here is a woman of excellence. Her worth is not in being compared to that of a man. Her worth, rather is in her glorious display of godly femininity.

The recent spat at Google (see here), revealed the prevailing thinking in this realm which is to monochrome the sexes. Rather than having the duo-variegated mutuality of male and female with gifts and aptitudes complementing each other, we have the denuding of that beautiful interaction. Instead now all female endeavors have to be viewed through a male lens.

Man of God

At our recent “Men’s Breakfast”at Feltham Evangelical Church we thought about what it was to be a man of God. We focused on the following issues:

  1. Prayer. In 1 Timothy 2:8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. The man of God is to be a praying man. As men we are inclined to self-sufficiency. We want to do things ourselves. Prayer is an indication that we are relying on the power of another.
  2. Service. We thought about how we are called top serve. We are naturally inclined to having others serve us, but we are to be people who serve. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mk. 10:43b-45). We are called to service and in so doing we are called to follow a Master who served. In serving we should not be thinking specifically about what we can do for others, but how we can bless others. The two can be different. This requires us to be in prayer. We should never forget the great example of our Lord Jesus who washed His disciples feet and then said I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you (John 13:15).
  3. Word of God. We are to be men of the Word. This took us to 2 Timothy 3 where we thought of the Word of God which needs to be learned, passed on and lived out. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We thought how we need to know the Word, but how knowing the Word is not enough . We need to live out that Word. We also need to know the Word so that we can help others.
  4. Spirit. We need to be men of the Spirit. We need to have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Our lives should continually be pushing back into God.

Tube Announcements

Transport for London (TfL) yesterday announced that the announcements on the Underground will no longer be of the “Ladies and Gentlemen” form, but rather of the”everyone” form. The detail is here.

So let us think about all the people who would be happy with “Ladies and Gentlemen”:

  • Heterosexual men and women? No problem there.
  • Homosexual men and women. They seem still content to me known as ladies and gentlemen notwithstanding their sexual orientation.
  • Transgender  people. Well, a man who wants to be a woman would no doubt be happy to be called a woman (and vice versa).

This leaves an incredibly minute part of the population who through being intersex or coveting androgyny might prefer not to have “Ladies and Gentlemen”

So in the name of equality we have this change. All of which

  1. Is a further change in the atmosphere which lessens the true understanding of man and women in God’s sight. We need to remember that in Genesis 1: 27c we read  male and female he created them as God’s statement concerning the origin of mankind. The loss of “Ladies and Gentleman” is a further erosion of the established facts of God’s order.
  2. Means that further money well have to be spent to make sure instruction manuals, signs, announcements and whatever conform to this pursuit of “equality”. Interesting how money can always be found for these things. That is even when there are continual constraints on public sector expenditure.

One Woman Man.

There is much written about what the phrase “faithful to his wife” (Titus 1:6b, 1 Tim. 3:2b) means in reference to the qualifications for an elder. It seems to me that a lot of the observations about the statement get bogged down in technicalities and intricacies and miss the sense of the text.

A key fact in understanding the text is to realise that what is being referred to is someone who qualified to be an elder of a church. It is someone who has a steady and reliable character.

Following on from our awareness of context is the awareness of how the text can legitimately be rendered.  “One woman man” is very much within the bounds of legitimacy and fits the context very well.

The characteristic we are looking then is part of the photo-fit which defines someone suitable for eldership. That man is to be devoted to one woman. He only has eyes for his wife (although if could reasonably referred to fiance or girlfriend). A flirtatious man reveals a man to be unsteady and unreliable and that would be unbecoming of an elder. Such a man is not fit for eldership.

So we need men who are utterly devoted to their wives. They find all their delight for fellowship, companionship, support and sexual fulfillment in this one woman. This woman has no doubt that all his affection is upon her. How men need to cultivate this so that their eyes (and hearts) do not wander. And of course we need to pray.

It is a beautiful thing to see a man devoted to his wife after 40/50/60 years of marriage. That has to be cultivated; it does not just happen.

 

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