The Mother of All Blindsides

During my days at Embry-Riddle, I had a classmate–ER, a fellow Christian–who would become one of my homework partners. A friend of ours, ML, was also on our team. We took most classes together, and–on team projects–we worked on the same team. We also went to church together.

Like me, he had difficulty finding a wife. He had a very stable life, made good money, and was an otherwise upstanding citizen in church. He was an engineer at Robins AFB in Georgia. Eventually, he found a wife: AW. I was at their wedding on May 3, 2008.

After I got engaged in 2009, I tried to contact him via e-mail. I did not get a reply. I thought maybe he had gone off the grid. I had lost contact with his father, who was one of my instructors. He had long retired.

Today, I tried to find him on Facebook. Ended up finding a link to a story that had his name, and that of his bride.

Not even 5 months into the marriage, on a Sunday evening, he shot her to death, and then shot himself in the head.


Ya Know What They Say about Payback

As Vox Day and the Austrian-school economists will tell you until they are blue in the face: static economic models are useless. One of the biggest reasons–perhaps THE biggest reason–is that, whenever you change the law, people change their behavior.

Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, does a wonderful job explicating that dynamic through the character of John Galt, who–fed up with the burdens of collectivist society–organized a strike of the creative, innovative, producing sector of the population.

Rand’s detractors have often dismissed Atlas Shrugged as hypothetical, whereas free market economists see the wisdom behind Rand’s premise that when the law changes, people change their behavior. I would also suggest that Ayn Rand was correct: there is a tipping point beyond which the expansion of collectivism destroys productivity, as producers and entrepreneurs decide that the cost of producing outweighs the benefits.

Too much downside risk + too little upside benefit = prohibitive backside pain.

Here is an example of that, courtesy of an Instapundit commenter (HT: Vox Day)

After the election, my wife and I are going partial Galt. We’re in California, so our state income tax went up in addition to what’s sure to come out of Washington.

My wife quit her job last week. I increased my participation in a tax deferment plan offered by my employer to bring my taxable income as close to $250K as possible. We’ll be cutting back a little, but the government is going to getting a whole lot less.

My wife’s entire salary barely covered our tax bill – she was 100% slave to the government, while I was a 10% slave. Now she is 100% free, and I’ll be a ~35% slave As a couple, 17.5% of our time is slaving on the government plantation from an astounding 55% previously.

My wife is deliriously happy, our children are delighted to have mom home, the dog gets more walks, and I find not spending money rapturously satisfying.

Rachel Evans and the Death of a Thousand Strawmen, Part 2

MrsLarijani had linked to Rachel Evans’ lastest book–A Year of Biblical Womanhood–on Facebook, expressing a desire to read it. Many of her friends, who were of similar theological persuasion as ours, did not have many good things to say about Evans.

So I decided to read the book myself.

I came to the book with some ambivalence. I knew very little about Evans; a fellow blogger linked to her review of Mark Driscoll’s book Real Marriage. I had some disagreements with her, but had not read much of her blog to know where she was theologically.

Toward that end, I appreciated Evans’ candor in A Year of Biblical Womanhood. She makes no bones about establishing her perspective early on: she self-identifies as a feminist and a supporter of evolution. While she self-identifies theologically as an evangelical, that means little here: the term “evangelical” is a catch-all identifier that includes just about everything that isn’t in Catholicism or the mainline Protestant world. Singleman–a regular here–pegged her as Emergent. I would definitely concur.

Before I take Evans to the woodshed, I will admit there were some things I thought were good about her “project”:

(1) In the process, she observed the Biblical feasts and holidays in the Old Testament. As someone who really enjoys the Old Testament and reads it Christologically, I appreciate the Biblical feasts and holidays. The better one understands Passover, Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, the better one appreciates the work of Jesus Christ.

(2) She did a good job pointing out some of the inconsistencies that conservatives often have with respect to their preaching and teaching
; e.g., that there are many sermons about why women aren’t allowed to preach or lead, but not many about commands to men to lift up holy hands in prayer without strife, even though these are each part of the same Epistles.

(3) As she discussed “Biblical womanhood”, she brought attention to some popular–and at times–extreme perspectives, from Edith Schaeffer to Elisabeth Elliott to Debi Pearl. She also brought attention to some of the more conservative voices–such as John Piper–on the issue of women in ministry.

This, however, is one of her weaknesses, as she often misrepresents them.

Having read Elisabeth Elliott, Edith Schaeffer, Debi Pearl, and Mary Pride, here is my take:

Elliott and Schaeffer–and even Pearl–need to be understood with respect to the cultural backdrop from which they wrote the bulk of their work. While I would contend that there is no such thing as “good feminism”*, the feminism of the 1960s and 1970s–which served as the backdrop that motivated Pearl, Schaeffer, Elliott, and Mary Pride to write–made the First Wavers (Susan B. Anthony and Elisabeth Cady Stanton) look saintly.

I enjoyed reading Elisabeth Elliott and Mary Pride. There are even some things I appreciate about Debi Pearl, even though I am not a big fan of her. Do I always agree with them? No. But I laud the fact that they come to the table from the perspective that the Scriptures are the standard with respect to how men and women ought to conduct themselves. Where they address the Old Testament, it is with respect to the work of Jesus Christ and the New Covenant. This is very sound hermeneutics, which, sadly, is shockingly absent from Evans.

Unfortunately, Evans approached her project with what I would call a destructive agenda: to bring ridicule to the conservative wing of Christianity; i.e., those who accept the Scripture at face value. It is nothing new under the sun, as I witnessed this very thing at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary circa 1993-1994.

Here’s how it went: if you suggested that the Scriptures did not permit women pastors–or women leading men in the context of Church offices–you were immediately tagged as a sexist. If you point out that women preachers/prophets–such as Deborah, Huldah, and Anna–were the exception and not the rule, you would get accused of minimizing the contributions of women.

Typical answer: “So a woman is only good enough to lead if a man isn’t there to lead?” (As if this has anything to do with “being good enough”.)

My take on the Pastoral Epistles: the Scriptures generally prohibit women from pastoring or taking leadership positions over men. The reasons given in Scripture are explicitly theological–Adam was made first, then Eve; Adam was not deceived, Eve was**–and not cultural.

This is not a personal vendetta from me; it is an honest appraisal of 1 Timothy 2. Getting past that requires gymnastics that–if applied to the rest of Scripture–would leave us with a theology that is profoundly relativist and incompatible with Scripture.

Are there particular exceptions where God has called women to positions of spiritual leadership and/or proclamation? Yes. Deborah, Huldah, and Anna. For this discussion, I’ll even include Miriam. Four cases in 4,000 years of coverage by Scripture.

Of those four, only one of them–Deborah–was in a position of authority.

Of those four, one of them–Huldah–was sought out by King Josiah for advice, as the Priests, who found the Book of the Law in the Temple and had not a clue what it was, were in no position to advise the King.

Of those four, none of them undermined Scripture, although Miriam attempted to challenge Moses’ authority and received leprosy. Details…

Contrast that with the “women ministers” we see today. Mainline Protestant denominations–Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church (USA), Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Methodist Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America–have fallen off the cliff theologically, and their cadre of women ministers are reflective of the theology that facilitated this plunge.

In the Evangelical world, it’s still pretty bad. The more popular ones–Joyce Meyer and Marilyn Hickey–are off the reservation.

While there are some decent women authors who contribute greatly to the study of Scripture–Kay Arthur and Beth Moore–they are not pastors, and would run from such roles.

If a woman assumes the role of a pastor, I tend to be skeptical right away, and that skepticism has been validated over the years.

In my experience, I’ve seen a grand total of one woman pastor–KDK–who I would even say was on the Biblical reservation. She is a good friend of mine from my crisis pregnancy center days, and her theology otherwise quite conservative. And KDK does not serve as a pastor right now, instead focusing her energies on homeschooling her kids.

When anyone preaches, I look first and foremost at what they are preaching. If it’s not sound doctrine, then everything else is a FAIL.

While a person can preach sound doctrine and still be unqualified, that first test is first base. While a person can have otherwise good character, if they preach unsound doctrine, they aren’t fit for preaching.

Sound doctrine is first base.

So far, with women pastors, I only know of ONE–KDK–who has made it to first base. (And that’s saying something, as I’ve known a LOT of women pastors spanning the Protestant spectrum.)

Of those who identify as feminists, 100% have failed to make it to first base.

In Scripture, we have three women–four if you include Miriam–over the course of 4,000 years. And none of them–except for Miriam, who momentarily opposed Moses’ authority, which itself was God-ordained–sought to undermine God’s word.

Today, we have a mother lode of women pastors, very few of whom are even on the Biblical reservation.

And yet Rachel, wearing her feminist blinders, doesn’t bother to address this problem. To do so would require her to reconsider her take on Scripture, as–in pure percentages–the track record of women pastors reflects an overwhelming tendency toward heresy.

For someone who seeks to champion critical thought, she fails to apply such analysis to her own assessments.

And we’re barely getting started with her book. More to come…

*Feminism–even the First Wave variety–has always been a larger assault against Scripture and all that Scripture teaches about manhood and womanhood. The First Wave feminists sought to undermine Biblical presentation of masculinity, and this fact is often overlooked by those who love to champion the First Wavers’ support of popular issues such as suffrage.

**Does that mean that the men are pristine theologically? Hardly. While Eve was deceived, Adam–who was with Eve–clearly rebelled even though he knew better. But there is a theological reality here: women are more prone to deception than men. And when you are dealing with the leader of a congregation, that is huge. If you deceive the leader, you can DESTROY the followers. Can a man who rebels do the same? Yes, but rebellion is easier to stop than deception. If a pastor has an affair–rebellion–it is a simple matter to expel him. With deceptive doctrines, it’s not quite as cut and dry, and the resultant divisions are greater and farther-reaching.

“Myths” about Male Leadership

Ashley Boyer of Boundless has posted this piece about male spiritual leadership. I think it is necessary, and–honestly–it has been a long time coming from the Boundless folks. I would also suggest that is a nice companion piece with Suzanne Hadley Gosselin’s latest post, I Asked God for a Husband….

My take on it? When a woman laments about the lack of male spiritual leadership in the Church, what she is really lamenting is the lack of Alpha males in the Church.

Leadership is a nebulous term, kind of like obscenity. As the Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said, “I know it when I see it.”

Moreover, I would suggest that there are two kinds of leaders.

(1) Positional leaders.

These are people who are leaders because of their positions with respect to you. They can be your parents, your bosses at work, your chain of command if you are in the military, your husband. They can be people whom you have given the authority to lead–your husband–or they can be people who have been placed by others in authority over you (e.g, work, military). They may be good leaders or they may be bad leaders. But they are leaders–for better or worse–due to their position.

(2) Gifted leaders.

These are people who attract followers no matter where they are in life. They could be prisoners, and other prisoners will get behind them. They could be athletes, and they will get elected to be the team captain. They are E.F. Hutton: when they talk, people listen. They are Alpha.

Women are naturally attracted to the gifted leaders: the Alpha males. This is neither an affirmation nor a putdown; just a matter-of-fact statement. Just as men are naturally attracted to physical beauty in a woman.

The problem arises, however, when a woman suggests that a “gifted leader” is a “good spiritual leader”, just as a man can wrongly assume that physical beauty in a woman translates into spiritual virtue. Outward appearances are not always reflective of spiritual reality. After all, Adolph Hitler was hardly a “good spiritual leader”; nor is Paris Hilton a model of virtue.

We must also recall that, in the annals of Scripture, God did not always choose the Alpha males to lead.

Moses was not Alpha. When he stuck out his neck for the Israelites–killing an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite–they still didn’t get behind him. 40 years later, after God called him to lead the Israelites, his fellow Hebrews were mercurial in their support of him. He received opposition from his own family–Miriam–and entire families (Korah). At every turn, the Israelites were wailing and complaining.

But those who opposed Moses–whom God called to lead them–did so at their own peril.

King David was also not the consummate Alpha male. At least not right away. He was the youngest of the sons of Jesse. When he expressed offense at Goliath’s challenge, his brothers effectively told him, “You sure talk tough for someone who isn’t even in the army!”

And who can forget Jeremiah? God chose Jeremiah to give the hard truth to the Israelites. Did they get behind him? Did they listen to him? Not really.

My point in all of this is that in this discussion of the expectations of “men being spiritual leaders”, we need to be careful that we are not conflating worldly expectations–“nice to have” qualities that include charisma–with what we see in Scripture.

Two Kinds of Marriage

There is a place, in a healthy, working, marriage, where the more each one gives, with unconditional love, with a desire for the other to discover and become who they truly are, the more each one, individually, and the more the marriage, together, increases. It does not become a place where each is giving and becoming less so the marriage becomes more … it becomes a place where each unconditionally loves and gives, creating fertile soil for each to grow and develop and become individually, as the marriage grows and develops and increases together as one. And it’s a beautiful, amazing, even miraculous thing to behold and experience. This is how it is with my new husband and me.

In my first marriage, the more I gave, the more he took, and destroyed, and demeaned, and devalued, until there was nothing of me left, no self-esteem, no strength … only fear. The more I tried to give to the marriage, the more he took, and the less there was of me, and the less there was of the marriage.

As Amir has stated clearly many times, we take a risk when we get married. There are things we can do to minimize that risk, but it is still a risk. We cannot predict how our future spouse, or even how we, ourself, will develop in our marriage. We can crunch the numbers and factor in all the statistics, but when it comes down to it, only time and living will reveal the truth.

Some things that I find very important to our success (there are more, but here are a few):

1. Choose to remain teachable.

2. Choose to forgive as you desire to be forgiven.

3. Choose to accept as you desire to be accepted.

4. Choose to be  v.e.r.y  s.l.o.w  to criticize.

5. Choose to be quick to encourage.

6. Choose to see the good and minimize the bad.

7. Choose to give without keeping score.

8. Choose to be honest; tell the truth in love.

Picking a Fight with a Better Fighter

If you wish to thrive in a civilized society, picking fights is a very low-percentage move. If you are the stronger party, people will shun you for being a bully. If you are the weaker party and get beat, then you asked for it.

Except, of course, if you are the Palestinians.

If you kill your parents and then–in your trial–beg for mercy, claiming aggrieved status as an orphan, you’ll get rightfully dismissed to prison.

Except, of course, if you are the Palestinians.

Israel, for all her faults, has negotiated in good faith. They gave up the Sinai Peninsula in a deal with Egypt; they gave up Gaza to the Palestinians; they have evacuated Hebron. They have given up land for peace, and instead have not received said peace.

At some point, it is fair to ask when the Arabs are going to live up to their end of the deal.

That is not to say that everything Israel does is pristine; far from it. That they kill children in utero at the highest rate in Western Civilization–while banning the import of non-Kosher meat–reflects their longstanding tendency to strain out gnats and swallow camels.

Still, when you give up land for peace, and instead get war, then it would seem that the old deal is null and void, as the party with whom you negotiated has not lived up to the deal.