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It would not be exactly accurate to say that I posted my 21 theses on submission in marriage and then skipped town. But there would be some elements of truth in such a hazarded guess nonetheless. I wrote the post last week, and scheduled it to appear Monday morning. But then Sunday after church, Nancy and I bolted for the Oregon coast, where we spent a very pleasant time looking at the sun go down, walking the beach, sitting on the beach, finding a place for lunch . . . all that arduous business.
Upon returning, I axed one comment for being abusive, and spent some time meditating on how to respond to the suggestion that had broken out in my comment thread that I was something of a closet feminist because of my failure to come right out in support of corporal punishment for wives. In the other peanut gallery, a discussion broke out on Facebook over my statement that submission was an erotic necessity, running along the “shades of 50 shades!” line. Maybe I had come out in favor of corporal kinky punishment for wives. Who’s to say? Reading what somebody actually wrote is so tedious.
Let me deal with this second misconception first with an appeal to my mentor on this subject.
“You do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love through lack of obedience . . . No one has ever told you that obedience—humility—is an erotic necessity” (That Hideous Strength).
Life at Belbury is one extended orgy of biting and devouring. In contrast, life at St. Anne’s is a staggering hierarchy of masculinity and femininity running all the way up, and with a sexual element included where appropriate. There is one horrific scene between Wither and Frost which ends with them in a clinch driven by the lust of mutual animosity, each knowing that at some point a devouring must happen. The corresponding scene is between Ransom and Merlin, and ends with Merlin kneeling, rendering honor like a loyal king’s man. “Slowly, ponderously, yet not awkwardly, as though a mountain sank like a wave, he sank on one knee; and still his face was almost on a level with the Director’s.” No devouring at all.
And the reconciliation between Mark and Jane is profoundly Christian. She has learned the humility of true submission. Her entire life had been driven by the desire not to be taken in, not to be possessed. His had been nothing but the driving lust to be included in the next inner ring, filled to the brim with false promises. Her fundamental submission comes when she surrenders foundationally to Maledil.
“In this height and depth and breadth the little idea of herself which [she] had hitherto called me dropped down and vanished, unfluttering, into bottomless distance, like a bird in a space without air.”
But this is not treated by Lewis as Mark Studdock’s standing permission to continue on as an oaf and a coarse rube, barging into her sexually, but now with impunity because she had become “submissive.” No, his frame of mind has been explicitly transformed.
“This time at last he thought of his own clumsy importunity. And the thought would not go away. Inch by inch, all the lout and clown and clodhopper in him was revealed to his own reluctant inspection; the coarse, male boor with horny hands and hobnailed shoes and beefsteak jaw, not rushing in—for that can be carried off—but blundering, sauntering, stumping in where great lovers, knights and poets, would have feared to tread . . . How had he dared?”
How had he dared? His wife, although a sinner, was a very great lady. He, though a very great sinner, was to return as her lord. But it is not the case that humility is required for a wife to assume her station, but pride will do for the husband. Mark now knew better than that.
“He knew now what he must look like in the eyes of her friends and equals. Seeing that picture, he grew hot to the forehead, alone there in the mist. The word Lady had made no part of his vocabulary save as a pure form or else in mockery.”
There is a parallel passage in Preface to Paradise Lost where Lewis describes the humility of Portia, describing herself as a poor unlettered girl, with some modern male booby walking into Belmont and taking her statement at face value. One’s forehead reddens to think of it, Lewis wrote. It most certainly does.
And so I get a big kick out of moderns—we who do not even know which bathroom to use—learnedly discussing how Lewis was limited by the perspective of his times. Look. Lewis was an old Western man, standing on the other side of a vast chasm that separated him from his times. His erstwhile critics, meantime, have only managed to get about 20 millimeters away from the spirit of their times.
But enough with that kind of foolishness. Let us address another kind.
So now we come to those who say that if a husband doesn’t have the right, nay, sometimes even the responsibility, to exercise corporal punishment on his wife, then one of the tools for ensuring domestic tranquility has been taken away from him. Further, he might argue, anyone who objects to said physical discipline for wives must be one of those newfangled softie men, catechized by all the lies of feminism.
This is the kind of guy who, exasperated by a sluggish app on his smart phone, essays to fix it with a ball-peen hammer.
I am far from denying the biblical truth that a rod is for the back of fools (Prov. 26:3). Nor do I deny that a woman could be numbered among such fools. But such a woman would be far gone in her folly, and the only fool bigger than that would be the guy who married her. So before we beat her for her uppity rebellions, I would suggest we flog him for being such an idiot. If he were to object that this is mean-spirited and unjust, I would reply that it sounds to me that he has been influenced by the spirit of egalitarianism. Must be one of those new softie men.
Since the difficulty was apparently found in my #11, let us discuss that for a moment.
“The Bible does not teach husbands to enforce the requirement that was given to their wives. Since true submission is a matter of the heart, rendered by grace through faith, a husband does not have the capacity to make this happen. His first task is therefore to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He is to lead by example.”
The key words here are enforce and make. No mortal can force such a thing. It does not come from right-handed power. But husbands can love and lead their wives. A husband can love, and Scripture teaches that this kind of love is efficacious. Love bestows loveliness. Husbands cannot duplicate the Lord’s substitutionary atonement, but husbands are most certainly commanded to imitate it. And when they imitate it as they ought, the results are not—work with me here—a beating for the little missus. And a man who thinks it is just demonstrates how far away from the spirit of the gospel he actually is.
The Bible does set before us a hierarchical world, but we are not to conceive of this as a cascade of commandments, flowing ever downward, drowning those at the bottom. Rather, it promotes and elevates those at the bottom. Remember what the gospel does.
But there is an optical illusion here. At some point in every husband/wife relationship, there will be a clash of wills. When that happens, it is often the case that the husband gets owned and he loses. Let us be blunt, and call it what it is. However, we live in flattering times, and he has been given sufficient cover by the church to retreat demurely into his designated background, and to call what he is doing “servant leadership.”
That kind of weakness is not what I am commending. It is not how Christ loved the church. But it is a mistake of the highest order to think that the opposite of this kind of cowardly coyness is to stand on the recliner in one’s man cave beating one’s chest. That is not how He loved the church either.
So authority flows to those who take responsibility. Authority flees those who seek to evade responsibility.
 C. S. Lewis, Words to Live by: A Guide for the Merely Christian, ed. Paul F. Ford, Adobe Digital Edition (HarperCollins e-books, 2009), 266.
Okay, Maybe a Little Time Lapse Going On
Sometimes the open road is more impressive than at other times . . .
What Is Socialism? There’s Something Rotten in the Church of England
A motion was made at the Church of England’s recent Synod to incorporate a transgender rechristening to their liturgy.
Writing in The American Conservative , Paul Gottfried pinpoints the conservative quandary regarding Putin.
What follows is a rough structural analysis of Philippians. Rough, but perhaps it illuminates:
Paul can sound like the Solomon of Proverbs: “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15–17). Wisdom and folly are stark opposites. Choose one and you live; choose the other and you die.
Richard Brantley states the thesis of his 1984 Locke, Wesley, and the Method of English Romanticism early in his book: “First, Locke's theory of knowledge grounds the intellectual method of Wesley's Methodism. And second, Wesley's Lockean thought (i.e., his reciprocating notions that religious truth is concerned with experiential presuppositions, and that experience itself need not be non-religious) provides a ready means of understanding the ‘religious' empiricism and the English ‘transcendentalism' of British Romantic poetry.”
Troilus appears in the Iliad and Aeneid , but only in death scenes. Ancient epics don't tell the story of his tragic love for Criseyde or Cressida. Characteristically enough, the love story became the main Troilus legend during the middle ages, first recounted by Benoit's Roman of Troie , who tells of Troilus's love for Briseis, Achilles's war bride. Boccaccio changed Briseis to Cressida, and Chaucer and Shakespeare followed his lead.
- The teaching of Scripture on this subject is perspicuous and plain. What God requires of us in our marital duties is taught in multiple places, and not in obscure ways.
- We live in a time when honest exegesis is routinely threatened with calumny, and there are frequently honors and rewards for dishonest exegesis. It should not be surprising that we are getting less and less of the former, and more and more of the latter.
- Natural revelation teaches us the natural submission of the wife to the husband. These realities are in our bones, and the revolt against them lies at the foundation of our current cultural madness.
- The scriptural requirements are entirely consistent with this natural revelation. The God who created the world, and who fashioned us in His image as male and female, is the same God who inspired the writers of Scripture. Whenever natural revelation and special revelation appear to conflict (they do not ever contradict in fact), we should submit to the express words of God. But in this case, there is not even an apparent contradiction.
- The Bible does not require a universal submission of women to men, or the necessary submission of any given woman to any given man. The Bible requires women to be submissive to their own husbands, which is a protection against having to submit to men generally. Further, because no one can serve more than one authority, this scriptural teaching amounts to a prohibition of a woman submitting to other men. Nor does Scripture require a new absolute submission to her husband. No authority in this fallen world is absolute, and includes the authority of a husband. When the authority of a husband turns rancid, a wife should receive the help of fathers, brothers, friends, and/or elders to help her stand up against it. I have been involved in this sort of intervention more than once.
- At the same time, in a healthy society, if wives are generally submissive to their own husbands, there will be a cheerful deference to the leadership of men generally, a reality to be welcomed and not resented. This is a deference to the fact of male leadership, not the quality of it. When male leaders are tyrants, fools, and scoundrels, godly women will have as much objection to it as godly men do.
- The requirement of submission within marriage does not prohibit the occasional circumstance when a woman in civil society finds herself in a leadership role over men. Deborah, Esther, and Lydia come to mind. At the same time, when feminine leadership becomes widespread and common in a society, it is not a sign of progress at all, but is rather a sign of cultural decadence driven by male fecklessness.
- In Christian theology, there is no tension between authority and submission on the one hand, and essential equality on the other. God the Father is the eternal Father to the Son, and yet the Father and Son are equally the one true God. The husband is the head of his wife, and yet they are one flesh. Men and women stand on level ground when it comes to being created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), when it comes to the fact of our fall into sin (1 Cor. 15:22), and when it comes to our position in Christ (Gal. 3:28). Men and women are clearly equal in these senses, and so the teaching of the Bible elsewhere on the submission of a wife to her husband means that submission to an equal is not an incoherent concept.
- Women have a deep creational need to be loved and led, so that they might submit and follow, and men have a deep creational need to be respected and followed, and when these needs are thwarted or otherwise frustrated, the end result is deep unhappiness for both sexes.
- At the same time, because of the curse that followed the Fall, women have a deep resistance to dutiful submission, even though such submission would lead them into the joy and true satisfaction that comes from obeying God. It may or may not improve the marriage (depending on his sin issues), but it will most certainly improve her walk with God. The prophecy that her “desire shall be for her husband” was not speaking of romantic getaways, but rather predicting that there would be a struggle for mastery. So instead of trying to gain mastery over her husband, she should struggle to gain mastery over this besetting impulse within herself.
- The Bible does not teach husbands to enforce the requirement that was given to their wives. Since true submission is a matter of the heart, rendered by grace through faith, a husband does not have the capacity to make this happen. His first task is therefore to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He is to lead by example.
- The fact that husbands cannot mandate or manufacture this does not make it any less mandatory. Wives are to be submissive to their own husbands in everything. The marriage service rightly includes a vow for the bride to obey her husband.
- The relation of head and body is a constant relation, one that does not come and go. It is not the case that the husband has mere tie-breaking authority.
- Liberty for Christian wives cannot be enjoyed outside of their appointed sphere. A woman who rejects her obligation to love, honor and obey is like a bird who has thrown away the “constraints” of having wings.
- Submission is an erotic necessity. The abandonment of this basic marital responsibility is the cause of much unhappiness, and has also been a cause of the resultant pursuit of erotic delusions offered by multiple partners or by various perversions.
- Submission practiced poorly does not discredit those who practice it well, and neither does it vindicate those who do not attempt it at all. And conversely, the decision to accept the Bible’s teaching on this subject does not obligate one to defend the many appalling things that are done in the name of following the scriptural pattern. A math student who does all his problems wrong and the student who refuses to do them at all have far more in common with one another than they do with the student who did his assignment properly and turned it in on time.
- The liberation of women was a false flag operation. The true goal was the liberation of libertine men, and in our day this was a goal that has largely been achieved. These were men who wanted the benefits for themselves that would come from easy divorce, widespread abortion, mainstreamed pornography, and a promiscuous dating culture. The early twentieth century was characterized by the Christian wife. The early twenty-first century is characterized by the tattooed concubine. And these sons of Belial have the chutzpah to call it “progress for women.”
- The general dominance of men over women is inescapable. And so this means that when godly rule (via submission in the home) is relegated to the margins, it will be replaced by an ungodly domination over women everywhere else. We cannot succeed in placing men and women on the same footing. But the attempt to do so can most certainly result in Bruno taking his showers at the YWCA.
- The God who gives us our commands is the same God who designed and created us. His commandments are therefore good, righteous, and true, and they fit perfectly within the creation order. As wives seek to learn how to live these principles out, they are trying to overcome sin. They are not trying to overcome their nature. Rather, they are growing up into their true nature, which is the only liberation that matters.
- Submission that is invisible is not really submission at all. As submission is cultivated in the home, it needs to be expressed. It cannot exist as a set of hidden resolves or good intentions. Respect must be verbalized, and the demeanor of submissive deference must be plain to everyone in the home.
- For each one of these theses, there is of course a corresponding set of responsibilities for the men. Not only so, but the failure of men to conform to God’s pattern has been more spectacular than the failures of women. But I am not listing those responsibilities here because we live in a time such that whenever submission is mentioned, we rush to explain, qualify, contextualize, and otherwise assure the world what we don’t mean. We “explain away” feminine responsibilities today far more readily than we do with responsibilities for men—and this is part of the false flag move which consistently lets men off the hook. If wives don’t have to follow, then men don’t have to lead. We have done this so much that scarcely anyone knows anymore what we do mean by submission. So I am just going to say that the Bible teaches submission for wives, and it is glorious thing.
Why does the Chronicler begin his narrative with Saul, and why with Saul's death? As William Riley argues in his King and Cultus in Chronicles , the Saul narrative introduces topics that shadow the account of the Davidic kings. Specifically, the account of Saul's death raises the question of the persistence of dynasties. Saul's “whole house” falls at Mount Gilboa - not because every last descendant of Saul dies but because the death of the king and his three sons marks the end of the Saulide dynasty. This poses a question to the Davidic kings: Can David's dynasty endure? If so, how?
What we know as orthodoxy is of course taught in the Bible. But that does not mean that every orthodox truth is found everywhere in the Bible, or that every verse that is used to defend an orthodox truth is being used appropriately. This means we should look at familiar passages carefully, making sure that they line up with themselves, and not just what we think about them.The Text:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.Summary of the Text:
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). It is a commonplace among us that Jesus was the “Son of God.” But the Bible talks about this in different ways, and so should we. One word in Greek is translated by our two words—monogenes is rendered as only begotten. Looking at the context, John uses this as a technical phrase, with a precise theological definition. That definition is the same as what is used in the Creed.
This verse may be summed up in this way. God loves and we live. The bridge between these two realities is the only begotten Son. By this phrase we are referring to the unique status and nature of Jesus of Nazareth. Our confession is this—He is the Son of God by virtue of the divine nature that was united with our human natureOnly Begotten:
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). These are all references to the Incarnation of the Son of God. They are references to Immanuel, God with us.Chalcedon:
It would be absurd to ask you all to grasp in the course of one sermon what it took the whole Church three centuries to formulate. But we are part of that same Church, and so let me summarize what our confession is. We confess that our Savior, the Lord Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, is one person. He is one unified, well-integrated person, but He has two natures. These two natures are connected in what is called the “hypostatic union.” (Hypostases was the Greek word for person.) So there was a “one person” union that possessed two natures that were not commingled. And the result was not schizophrenia.
That which is predicated of one nature may be predicated of the person. That which is predicated of the other nature may be predicated of the person. But that which is predicated of one nature cannot be predicated of the other nature. This is quite important as we shall see.
So then, human nature has a particular height or hair color and so we can say that Jesus of Nazareth was (say) 5 foot 11, or had black hair. And the divine nature is infinite, and so we can say that Jesus of Nazareth possessed that attribute. But we cannot (and must not) say that infinitude is 5 foot 11.How and Why:
Jesus had a true mother. He was born in the ordinary way, with the one exception being the fact that His mother was a virgin when He was born. He had a maternal grandmother and grandfather, and a lineage that went back to Adam. He was true man. But He had no biological human father.
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
If original sin is passed down to us from our human fathers (covenantally, not genetically), then this accounts for how Jesus could be sinlessly perfect. He did not inherit sin from His mother because no one inherits innate sin from their mothers.Other Senses:
But it is not the case that any references to the “Son of God” are necessarily talking about something as remarkable as the hypostatic union. Let me give you an example. “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God” (Luke 3:38). There was no hypostatic union in Adam, and yet he is described as a “son of God.” And remember that celestial beings can be called “sons of God” without being partakers of the Godhead.What Manner of Love:
We return to the earlier point that God loves and we therefore live. But remember the bridge between the two is the perfect God/man, offered up in sacrifice. This is seen in a type, when Abraham takes Isaac to Moriah (where Jesus was crucified) in order to prophetically foretell our coming salvation. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son” (Heb. 11:17).
Because Jesus is the Son of God, it is possible for our status as sons of God to be restored. Remember that Adam was a son of God but that through the Crash, he and we became sons of the devil. How can we be restored? This includes a heart transplant, but there is something far more remarkable going on. This is a Father transplant.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (1 John 3:1).
God is the God of all truth, and so of course, we as His people should be careful to speak the truth. One area where we sometimes neglect this duty is in an area that might be called “quick lies.” They don’t even seem like lies at all unless you take them out in the yard and look at them in direct sunlight.
Suppose your mom asked you to make your bed, and half an hour later, she asks you about it. You say, quickly, “Oh, I was just heading up to do it now.” The claim is being made about the immediate future and is not falsifiable, certainly not by your mom, and perhaps not even by you. You might have been doing this for so long that you have come to believe that you are always on the verge of obedience. This is a quick lie, a glancing lie, a “don’t look back” now kind of lie.
“I was going to call you today . . .”
“I had been meaning to tell you . . .”
“I was just going to pay you back . . .”
The reason we tell these is in order to save face, or preserve our pride, or make us feel like we are being better Christians than we actually are. When we tell them, we are being brittle and insecure.
When we get into the habit of making this kind of deceitful excuse, we sometimes think of the excuse primarily, and not about whether what we are saying is true. What we really need to learn in this is truth-telling borne of humility. That means that a good exercise to begin with is that of not offering excuses from our immediate plans for the future, even if we have a legitimate one. Even if you really were going to go up and make your bed in thirty seconds, a far better response would be to simply apologize to your mom for making her have to ask about it.
This is the Table, and it has its rightful place at the center of our lives. What we do here sets the tone for what we do at every other table. This Table is the rudder; it guides and directs all our other table fellowship.
If we are hypocritical here, we will be hypocritical around the dinner table at home. If we are filled with joy and gratitude here, we will be filled with joy and gratitude as we break bread with our brothers and sisters throughout the course of the week. If we think we can fool God here, we will think we can fool God with every other thing we put in our mouths. If we delight in Him at His table, then He will delight in us at our tables.
Sin always wants to divide and separate. This over here, and that over there. Making distinctions is fine, and in a world created by the Triune God, it is most necessary. The Father is not the Son, and the Lord’s Table is not my lunch table. But we may never separate, for God is one, and He encompasses and rules everything. Thus it is that the Lord’s Table is set over against the table of demons, and Christians are not just required to partake here, but also required to refrain from breaking bread in any context or in any manner that is in conflict with what God is doing here.
Have you gone to lunch with a friend in order to gossip about a third person? Then reflect on this Table. Would you lean over while the cup is being passed here in order to share that particular verbal morsel? If not, then let this table define the standard for you, and do not sin over your own cup either. This Table teaches us that whenever we eat, and whenever we drink, we should do it all to the glory of God.
So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.
Bach's Cantata 80 is an elaboration of Luther's “Ein Feste Burg.” The second movement of the Cantata is a duet of soprano and bass, the former singing the second verse of Luther's hymn while the bass sings an embellishment promising the victory of God.
According to 2 Chronicles 23:11, the people put a “crown” on the head of seven-year-old Joash, the Davidic scion who represents the restoration of the Davidic kingdom after an interregnum.
T he Economist reports on the racial gap in American infant mortality rates: “Black babies born in America are more than twice as likely as white ones to die before their first birthdays.”
The TLS “Poem of the Week” was James Fenton's “God, a Poem.” It opens with this complaint to God:
In his contribution to Joy and Human Flourishing , Jurgen Moltmann observes that modern theories of religion trace it to “misfortune.” Marx is representative: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature.” Religion must be useful, must meet a need, “because everything in the modern world must be necessary; otherwise it is superfluous and useless.”
Robert Solomon argues ( The Joy of Philosophy ) that “Vengeance is the original passion for justice. The word ‘justice' in the Old Testament virtually always refers to revenge.” This isn't isolated or primitive: “throughout most of history the concept of justice has been far more concerned with the punishment of crimes and the balancing of wrongs than with the fair distribution of goods and services.”