To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Men / Women’ Category

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.

 

A Ministry For Women.

For many years the Anglican Church has had debates about whether or not women should hold the position of “bishop”. And the first lady bishop, Libby Lane, was consecrated in January 2015. However, whilst all these debates have been going on, one women’s ministry which seems to have been neglected, in churches generally, is the ministry of Titus 2:3-5 that of older sisters teaching younger sisters. Here is the instruction Paul gives to Titus: Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God. This ministry, of older sisters teaching younger sisters, is a key ministry and one that when ignored leads to a great lack in church life.

The first issue that some might raise concerning this ministry is that you are not that old yourself, so how can you instruct younger ones. However, you are most likely older than some other sister in the church, and so are able to some degree to exercise this ministry.

The first challenge from the quoted passage is for older sisters to conduct themselves in a certain way. Titus is to instruct these women to develop certain lifestyle traits. They are to be:

  • Reverent in the way they live. Women in the church should be determining to conduct themselves in a way which reflects a dependence upon God. A Christian women should in the way she dresses, speaks and acts reflect a God-consciousness. In such a way there will be a display of knowing God in all her ways.
  • Not slanderers. A godly woman is not always finding fault with others. She does not spread gossip. She speaks respectfully and is careful with her words.
  • Not addicted to much drink. There seems to be a connection with slandering here. The more the wine then the looser the tongue and the greater the damage that can be done. Older women need to be careful with their alcohol consumption; if not they may cause untold harm through over-indulgence. And thereby it is perhaps best to abstain altogether.
  • Teach what is good. There should be a desire to pass on what is good to others.

This final qualification leads us into the exhortations of vv4-5 where we see that the older woman is have a particular focus to her teaching that is with the younger women. The issues mentioned specifically focus on family life. This may lead many younger women to believe that this teaching is not for them. But some of the principles and issues are still relevant. Younger sisters need the older ladies to train them. Here is the detail of the training.

  • Love of family. Godly younger women need to be reminded to be devoted to their husbands and children. In an age where commitment is seen as an old-fashioned virtue younger wives and mothers need the encouragement of their older sisters in the faith. To give yourself to care for your husband and children is generally unglamorous and unappreciated work, but it is so very important.
  • Restraint. There is a tendency for younger women to attract attention by flaunting themselves before others. By this they seek to get honour and acceptance with their peers. Sadly this often means being involved in immoral activity The Christian woman is not to be like that. Rather she is to be self- controlled and pure. In speech and demeanour younger sisters are to show a restraint which reflects that they trust in Christ and not how “cool” they are to their friends.
  • Home-makers. There is a “nesting instinct” which naturally surfaces when women are expecting children. This creatorial impulse is reinforced by Paul’s teaching that younger wives / mothers have a specific God-given responsibility to manage their homes well. They are to make sure that their husbands and children have safe and warm refuges from the rigours of this world. This does not exclude the woman from work or other activities outside the home. However, such activities should never be prioritised over the essential home making responsibilities. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasised in society today where many homes are in chaos due to women failing to fulfil their home-making responsibility. The consequence of this is seen in the harm to so many young lives simply because they do not find their homes to be a refuge from the rigours of life.
  • Kindness. Husbands and children can sometimes be “hard-work”! Moreover, focusing your responsibilities at home can lead to loneliness. As a result bitterness can creep in. A great preventative of this is the cultivation of a mind-set which focuses on being kind. A godly woman should be encouraged and appreciated for all the kindness she does. It has been said that “most people are too busy to be kind”. Showing kindness inoculates us against bitterness.
  • Honouring Husbands. Subjection to the authority of husbands is not easy and needs the help of God to achieve. Nevertheless, it is a godly gift to your husband, your family and wider society. When men are respected at home they flourish. And in their flourishing the whole of society benefits. One feature of society today, and that includes the church, is that men are confused about their role. This confusion starts when he is not respected at home. Subjection to husbands is not an optional activity; it is something which has big implications.

When we come to the summary statement after these exhortations we realise how important it is that this conduct is demonstrated in the lives of younger sisters in the church. When we read that these exhortations are to be given so that no one will malign the Word of God (v5b) then we realise that the quiet background ministry of sisters in the church has huge implications. When the attributes described above are not found the people are led to speak unfavourably of God’s Word. It is as if they say “if the Word of God does not affect a woman in private then it is useless for impacting anyone’s life”.

How important it is then that the older sisters get on with this vital ministry. If you see younger ones in the church start to befriend them. Get out of your “holy huddles”at church and reach out. There may be some younger women in church whose hearts are bleeding on account their difficulties. God might use you to reach into their situation.

(Taken and adapted from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of March 2012)

Why Are Men Still Boys?

Worth having a look at this to ponder upon the issue of delayed manhood.

Pastoring Your Wife.

If you are a husband then you are to be a pastor to your wife. You have a primary duty to be the one who shepherds your wife so that she flourishes and developes in the Lord. You are to protect and provide for her. You are to lead her and your marriage into places where she is well fed and watered. So you must make sure that you are in a church where the Word of the Lord and fellowship in the Lord and service of the Lord is strong.

You have a responsibility to see your wife develop to the glory of God. Her godliness and usefulness is what you self-sacrificially work for. So, as Paul says in Ephesians 5:25-29

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.

And when you see your wife moving for the Lord it should bring you great joy. John says To the lady chosen by God in 2 John v 4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And so it should be for ourselves, fellow husbands. We do not fear that they might outshine us spiritually or make more impact for the Lord than us. Such thinking is not in our minds because we want her honour and not our honour.

Gender Issues and Logic

Here is an interesting expose of the thinking enmeshed in the shifting thinking (or lack of it) on gender issues. This follows on from my posts of last week on transgender issues.In these posts I have been seeking to work through what the rapidly changing cultural atmosephere on transgender issues means for us. I suppose I am still pondering.

 

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