Facebook Responses

Sometimes I post things on facebook just to see how people will react. About a week ago I did just that when I posted this on facebook:

Wives:
1. Respect your husband.
2. Submit to your husband in everything.
3. Rock his world in the bedroom.

The ONLY responses I received were from our own Amir and Mrs. L. I found it interesting but didn’t linger on it too much … after all, so much stuff hits my timeline, even after intentionally limiting it, I can’t read it all.

Last evening my Step Son went in the hospital (it’s gonna be a journey, for sure, but he’ll be okay), so I asked for prayer, and it lit up with friends. I am not complaining about that; this was legit. And I was surrounded with friends who continued to comment through today, praying for us.

So what I deduct from this is that a lot of my fb friends do at least glance over what I put out there, and they ignored my first post. That bothers me because I think most, if not all, my fb friends proclaim to be Christians and probably most are married. (I’m one of those fb people who only ‘friends’ my friends. I don’t care how many … I care who.)

Praying for each other is very important. Asking for prayer, asking for help, is important. And not that it should be compared, but is praying for another more important than honoring God in our marriages? NOT that this says everyone I know believes that … but … this really caused me to pause.

Assessing The Latest Ted Cruz Fracas

The National Enquirer, whose CEO is a longtime friend of Donald Trump, and which has endorsed Donald Trump, has come out firing against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) , the Tea Party conservative who is Trump’s only serious challenger in the GOP end of the Presidential race. According to the Enquirer, Cruz has had five different mistresses.

Cruz, for his part, has come out swinging, dismissing the story as garbage, accusing the Trump camp of floating the story.

Those who accept the story will make their case as follows:

(a) The National Enquirer has successfully blown the lid on other sex scandals: Gary Hart, John Edwards, Tiger Woods, and even Bill Clinton;

(b) a Washington Times reporter claims to have “confirmed” two of the mistresses;

(c) the $500,000 payment from the Cruz Campaign to the Carly Fiorina campaign smacks as hush money, as one of the alleged mistresses worked for the Fiorina campaign;

(d) one of the alleged mistresses, working for the Donald Trump camp, spilled the beans in a private post.

Cruz supporters will counter, with the following case:

(a) Roger Stone is one of the instigators in this. Stone, a longtime Republican strategist, is well-known for dirty tricks and is himself quite the pervert. (He has, after all, been outed as belonging to at least one swingers club.) Anything coming from Stone should be immediately suspect.

(b) “Confirming” a mistress requires very hard evidence, none of which is provided.

(c) While the NE has broken other scandals, they have also been wrong on many stories, too.

(d) Ditto for the Washington Times.

(e) Given that Carly Fiorina ultimately endorsed Cruz, the $500,000 could easily be related to that. Moreover, Fiorina would have had ample incentive to blow the lid on Cruz if this was part of any hush deal, and Fiorina–a businesswoman–would have known had that been the case.

(f) Some of the alleged mistresses have themselves disavowed any truth to the story.

Both sides have merits in this. While the NE is certainly a third-tier tabloid, they have successfully blown the lid on high-profile scandals. And yes, Cruz supporters are correct in that all we have seen in this story is innuendo and inference.

Here’s my take…

While Cruz’s denial was otherwise sound, he still has left a door open: he has not denied ever being unfaithful to his wife. And that is quite the omission.

If Cruz has been a faithful husband, then this is what he needs to say:

As a public official and a private citizen, I have built my house on trust: when I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I have fought cases that I said I would fight–against the advice of experts–and won. As a Senator, I have kept every one of my promises: in spite of much pressure to compromise and strike deals that would be harmful, I have stuck to my guns and fought the good fight.

As husband, I have kept my promise to my wife. When I took wedding vows, I meant what I said when I chose to “forsake all others.” I also meant what I said when I said “for better or worse”, and “in sickness and in health”, although Heidi has had to deal with the “for worse” whereas I got the “for better” end of the deal.

While I have been tempted, in the words of a former President, “in my heart”, I have remained faithful to the marriage bed. Just as I have kept my promise to Heidi, I have kept my promise to the people of the United States of America, and if you vote for me, you can trust that I will continue to keep that promise.

Unless Cruz can unequivocally say that he has NEVER cheated on his wife, he needs to get out of politics. The last thing we need is another would-be God and Country conservative who can’t keep his pants zipped.

OTOH, if he CAN say that he has been faithful, then he needs to stay the course, as the truth is on his side.

What would it take for me to buy the NE story? Hard evidence: a sex tape, racy photos, sexting messages, unexplainable text messages, a stained dress, forensic proof that puts him in compromising positions. Any of those things come up, and Cruz has a serious problem.

But even in the absence of that type of evidence, if Cruz cannot truthfully say that he has been faithful to his wife, he will be in trouble sooner or later. If that is the case, then he needs to get out of politics, as this will blow up in his face, guaranteed.

Trying to find a church without women pastors.

Being Easter weekend, I’ve been looking online, again, at local churches. We live in an area flooded with churches, so it seems we could possibly find one?

I am honestly surprised at how many churches in our area have women in the senior leadership roles in the church. I’m just not a fan of that. I do not agree with women pastors, women elders, or women deacons. And I do not want a woman youth group leader. A woman Children’s Minister is okay. A woman Women’s Ministry Leader is okay. I could live with those. But I do not want my family in a church led by women … neither does my husband.

How does a marriage die?

Amir’s previous post is poignant.

How does a marriage get to that place? How does a marriage die?

I’m not fond of this season in my life … peri-menopausal/menopausal, hormones on chemically-altered steroids (one does not need to create chemicals for chemical warfare – they only need to figure out how to harvest the hormones from all women of this age and inject them into the population!) … old enough to have a life to look back upon and yet young enough to have to figure out what to do with the rest of my life … close to being an ’empty-nester’ but wondering if/when/to what degree my sped daughter will be able to be independent.

So cleaning out some files and coming across memories is wreaking havoc on me. I kept a lot of our cards. I don’t know where exactly everything is, but I know it’s all in storage somewhere … apparently some were in the files I was cleaning out last night. I want my girls to have the choice to keep them or throw them away someday, so I’ll keep them still.

Here’s what he wrote in my birthday card a few months before we married when I turned 21:

“God has blessed me with you.

Your beauty surpasses that of Bathsheba.

Your love surpasses all understanding.

You are the light of my life and second only to God.

Thank you for being the beautiful you, at 21 until 91.

Love always and forever,”

And a year later on my next birthday:

“I am so glad you are all mine on this birthday. These last 9 1/2 months have been the best of my life, and I want to thank you for being such a wonderful part of my life. The next twenty-two years you will spend with me, and I hope we can grow together in love. Thank you for your heart full of love. With all my love,”

(btw – those first two he hand-made with construction paper! ahhhh!!!!!) In another card from probably the first several years (I didn’t date it):

“I love you for the happiness

You bring to me each day.

I love you for the kindness

Of your always-thoughtful way.

I love you for the tenderness

That lies within your heart.

I love you for the way you say

‘I’ll miss you’ when we part.

I love you for the gentle way

You cheer me when I’m sad.

I love you for the little things

You do to make me glad.

I love you for your love for me,

So constant and so true –

But most of all I love you

Just because you’re you!”

“This card says it all. I love you,”

How does a marriage go from that to a hate that seethes from his soul, through his pours, shooting poisonous daggers from his eyes?

There are no simple answers here. And as I’ve often said, I am not sin-free. I was not a perfect wife.

Amir got it right when he wrote:

(1) He or she has capitulated to a longstanding wave of lust. That may or may not include porn, but that doesn’t matter. That lust has driven such a one to flip that switch. If someone tells you “it just happened”, there is a eight-letter word for that which is deeply-rooted in our agricultural heritage.

It’s been ten years since the divorce, two years since he died. Yet the consequences of crossing that line from his imagination to the flesh live on. Again, as Amir so aptly stated:

(2) He or she has overridden every Biblical warning against adultery. Perhaps they rationalize it in terms of, “God will forgive me…just look at what He did for King David!”. They aren’t thinking straight, as they are ignoring the warnings of Solomon in Proverbs. You might note that Solomon was born to Bathsheba whom, you guessed it, David had taken as his wife after killing her husband to cover up the affair. And if you are familiar with the story, David’s life was just short of Hell on earth for the rest of his life: the first child with Bathsheba died, his family was hit with rape and murder scandals, one of his sons would mount an insurrection and publicly have sex with all of David’s wives, even his successor–Solomon–would indulge in sexual license beyond all recognition by marrying hundreds of foreign women, and this would lead to the civil war that led to a divided kingdom that would ultimately lead Israel to ruin.

To make a long story short, sin has consequences. And it isn’t simply David. Every time a car bomb goes off in Israel, just remember that all of that started when Abram took Hagar as his “wife”.

(I’m sure I’ll write more on this later as it seems this mid-life season refuses to leave in just a day!)

Tullian Tchividjian Fired From New Church After Revelations of 2nd Affair

Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham and former pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, has had quite the slide.

Last year, after an embattled tenure, Tullian resigned as pastor at Coral Ridge. That he was not a match for the former stomping grounds of D. James Kennedy was hardly surprising; he was in trouble from day one.

That his resignation was prompted by the admission of an extramarital affair, that was the killer. He claimed that he had an affair after his wife had an affair of her own. (Note: That justifies nothing, and Tullian knows it. That one spouse breaks his or her end of a covenant hardly gives license to the other party to indulge in immorality.)

Unfortunately, that wasn’t Tullian’s only affair.

And while Willow Creek Presbyterian Church promptly fired Tullian after revelations of the additional affair were confirmed, that begs a larger question: why on earth did they hire him so soon after his resignation from Coral Ridge? Why did they hire him at all, even if it was for a non-pastoral role?

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve seen more church scandals–high and low profile–than I ever wanted or hoped to see. I’ve seen church responses to the scandals ranging from (a) allowing the pastor to remain in the office without so much as a suspension, (b) forcing the pastor to resign and take a sabbatical, (c) firing the pastor, who subsequently returns to ministry after some time off, and (d) firing the pastorand later excommunicating him (and his mistress) after he flat-out refused to break off the affair. I’ve known one church staffer who, unbeknownst to the rest of us at the time, was molesting children. I’ve seen the case of Ted Haggard, a mega-church pastor who was forced to resign in a gay sex scandal. And that says nothing of the television ministers–from Bakker to Swaggart–who gave the Church a black eye.

Almost every time something like this happens, I hear a large number–I would suggest a majority–of Christians insist that, if the pastor is “repentant”, that he should be allowed to return to the office.

Allow me to shoot that idea full of holes. And heregoes…

For one thing, we need to understand this crystal clear: marriage is a COVENANT. Sex is the act of that covenant. Covenants are binding as long as the parties both live. Breaking that covenant is a very big honkin’ deal. I’ve often stated that sexual sin is the gift that keeps on giving, and that is true. But adultery is that on steroids.

When any Christian–especially a pastor–breaks his or her marital vows by having sex with someone else, it means that a number of things have happened.

(1) He or she has capitulated to a longstanding wave of lust. That may or may not include porn, but that doesn’t matter. That lust has driven such a one to flip that switch. If someone tells you “it just happened”, there is a eight-letter word for that which is deeply-rooted in our agricultural heritage.

(2) He or she has overridden every Biblical warning against adultery. Perhaps they rationalize it in terms of, “God will forgive me…just look at what He did for King David!”. They aren’t thinking straight, as they are ignoring the warnings of Solomon in Proverbs. You might note that Solomon was born to Bathsheba whom, you guessed it, David had taken as his wife after killing her husband to cover up the affair. And if you are familiar with the story, David’s life was just short of Hell on earth for the rest of his life: the first child with Bathsheba died, his family was hit with rape and murder scandals, one of his sons would mount an insurrection and publicly have sex with all of David’s wives, even his successor–Solomon–would indulge in sexual license beyond all recognition by marrying hundreds of foreign women, and this would lead to the civil war that led to a divided kingdom that would ultimately lead Israel to ruin.

To make a long story short, sin has consequences. And it isn’t simply David. Every time a car bomb goes off in Israel, just remember that all of that started when Abram took Hagar as his “wife”.

(3) He or she has thrown all regard for all that is good out the window. I’ve seen a pastor–a FATHER OF FIVE–leave his wife for another woman. You think they weren’t impacted by that? You think his “repentance” will just make all things well? (Oh, and he didn’t repent. If I see him in person, I will have to fight the urge to tell him to do what Dick Cheney told Pat Leahy to do on the Senate floor.)

When the former pastor at my church confessed to an affair with the secretary, I saw grown men cry over their misplaced trust in him. His (now ex) wife was in my small group. She handled everything like an exemplary Christian who got burned. And let me tell you, we all wanted to burn the pastor at the stake. And yes, they have a teenage daughter. Wanna bet money that she’s having more struggles than the average bear in her cohort?

Don’t get me wrong, God forgives sin. Thank GOD that God forgives sin, even sexual sin, even adultery. Because even those of us who haven’t broken our marriage vows in the flesh have almost universally done so, in the words of Jimmy Carter, in our hearts. Marriage doesn’t make the war against lust go away, although it CAN make fighting that battle easier. We would all do well to be reminded that the physical acting out of that adultery begins with lust. Jesus laid that on the table in a sermon that, taken at face value, tells us how woefully short of the glory we all are. Thank God for forgiveness of sin.

At the same time, forgiveness of sin hardly implies the removal of all consequences. While your sins will not be counted against you on judgment day, it is also true that the Law of Sowing and Reaping shall not be up for repeal in the foreseeable future.

How does this speak to the pastor who has fallen?

For one thing, there are specific Biblical requirements for deacons and elders (which include pastors). I Timothy 3 is very clear on the matter:

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

So just from that small passage, we have some pretty high requirements:

(a) Above reproach;
(b) husband of one wife;
(c) sober-minded;
(d) self-controlled;
(e) respectable;
(f) hospitable;
(g) able to teach;
(h) not a drunkard;
(i) not violent but gentle;
(j) not quarrelsome;
(k) not a lover of money;
(l) must manage his own household well;
(m) must keep his children submissive with all dignity;
(n) not a recent convert;
(o) well-regarded by outsiders.

Can a pastor who has broken his wedding vows meet such requirements? Can he ever be above reproach? Can he ever be respectable? Will he be well-regarded by outsiders again? (Or will his preaching again breed contempt among outsiders?)

Those are hard questions that demand more than pat answers. It is not merely enough to say, “Well…he expressed repentance.”

What I’d like to see in such a pastor, in a resignation letter:

Some of you might be wondering if I ever will go back to the ministry. The short answer: probably never. The Biblical qualifications for this office are very high, and, arguably, my own terrible choices have made it likely that I may never be properly qualified for that office. And quite frankly, that would be a mild penalty to pay for my failures. It is time for others more capable to take that baton. You don’t need me casting additional scandal on the Gospel. Shame on me for putting you in that position.

None Of The Above

While the folks at The Wartburg Watch are billing the upcoming election of the next Southern Baptist Convention President as a referendum on the direction of the SBC, I have a more dire view: both of these candidates are a representation of all that is wrong with the Southern Baptist world.

First, some disclaimers:

(1) I know Jimmy Scroggins–who announced Greear’s candidacy–from my days at Highview Baptist Church. I have no issue with Scroggins, as, during his time there, he (and pastor Kevin Ezell) went a long way toward cleaning up a major mess that the previous pastor–the late Bill Hancock, who was forced out when it became known that he had been carrying on an extramarital affair–left behind.

Scroggins may very well be in the NeoCal camp, but I cannot say anything bad about him on the basis of what I saw when I was at Highview.

(2) I’m aware of the pedophile matter at Bellvue Baptist Church. In fact, I excoriated Gaines over it in 2007. Hopefully, Gaines has learned his lesson in that one.

(3) The fact that a church lists books by Driscoll, Piper, and Dever for recommended reading does not make that church inherently evil. While I do not identify as a Calvinist (Paleo or neo)–as while I have no problem with Calvinism as a hermeneutical model, I do not accept every plank of Calvinist dogma–I do not categorically reject everything from the NeoCal world as evil. I have my disagreements with Piper, but I think he is generally a very solid preacher. Ditto for Keller.

Setting the NeoCal vs. NotSoCal issue aside, and setting aside Gaines’ mishandling of the sex abuse case at Bellvue Baptist, I still have serious problems with this slate of candidates.

Both candidates are being touted in terms of their numbers: growth in membership, churches planted, number of baptisms, number of satellite churches, and dollars given to the Cooperative Program.

Am I the only one seeing a problem with this picture?

And while Greear, to his credit, actually lists some goals for himself should he be elected, am I the only one who has a problem with his “platform and equip non-Anglo pastors and members” statement?

At this time, it would be naive if not outright dishonest to conclude that the Church in the United States, and that includes the Southern Baptist Convention, is anything other than an out-and-out disaster. The fragmentation, the lack of depth, the scandals among clergy, rampant sexual immorality, the infusion of Prosperity Theology and Universalism, the factions within Congregations, the Fifty Shades of Calvinism, the list goes on…

We in the United States–the collective Church of which is a spitting image of the worst of Corinth and Laodicaea–are in no position to be lecturing “non-Anglos” about the Gospel. In fact, it may be time for Americans to look at their brothers in Iraq, Syria, China, and Africa for exhortation and admonishment.

It is evening in America. And while the Church may not be wholly to blame for that, She does share a substantial amount of responsibility. Unless you’ve been in a coma, it should not be news that the United States is, as of this writing, a post-Christian nation.

It’s all downhill for the foreseeable future.

At any rate, now is not the time–I would contend that it is never time–to be electing Church leaders based on worldly metrics of “performance”.

Live A Life that Eliminates the Need for Excess Words

Elspeth at Breathing Grace has written a post about her Daddy: A Man Who Was Forgiven Much Loved Much. When she writes about her Daddy, my heart craves, longs, cries, for a Daddy like him … which is why Repentance is so powerful. If my dad would ever truly be sorry and repent, he could become a man among men. But men like that, men like her Daddy, are truly rare, indeed.

This generation talks too much about what we’re gong to do precisely because we don’t live lives that eliminate the need for excess words.

Disrespectful Women and Submissive Men

LeeLee in Babylon wrote an insightful post: The Parallel Between Male Supplication & Female Disrespect. I have often thought of this paradigm in various types of relationships, including marriage, but could not have articulated it as well as Lee Lee. I would love your thoughts, especially from the men.

Just like disrespectful behavior from women drives away men, submissive behavior from men drives away women.

Just like disrespectful behavior from women damages male gender identity, submissive behavior from men damages female gender identity.