Tag Archives: evil

Permission to Fail?

Our daughter told me about a Bible study where the teacher mentioned Proverbs 31 and said something like, “We all know that the Virtuous Woman is an ideal. She’s too good to be true.” Suppose a military commander gives his troop an order. The men whisper to the lieutenant, “Permission to fail, sir?” The lieutenant whispers back, “Permission to fail granted.”

The chapter isn’t stated like a commandment. In fact, the writer laments, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” Yet I believe the Scriptures are our “orders.” We should not give ourselves and those we teach permission to fail.

Let’s assume she meant that it’s not likely that anybody will achieve all that is listed for the virtuous woman. Perhaps it’s a composite of all the godly traits to aspire to. Some of the parables are not literal events. That doesn’t mean He was giving suggestions or passing the time. I would take the possibly composite traits and treat them like a “to do” list. Maybe you won’t check off every item but you’d better be working on the list. A Bible study teacher should not hand out a pre-license to smile and say “Wow, I could never be all that woman was. Nobody could.”

In Old Testament times, rubies were the crown of jewels. That’s how a man was supposed to be able to think of his woman. His heart was supposed to be able to “safely trust in her.” Everyone’s heard songs and stories of jealous men. This man never heard of such nonsense. Oh, to so capture and captivate a man’s heart. Even a Christian man can have his doubts, especially if a temptress works to make herself attractive. But not this man, it would appear. The passage also says he “has no need of spoil.”

I know that in the Iliad, ancient Greek poem about the Trojan War, spoils were frequently women as well as valuables. Didn’t seem to matter to Agamemnon that he was already married when he took Cassandra as a spoil of war. His wife was unfaithful to him, as well, but this Proverbs couple shines like the sun with fidelity. Whether it’s riches or sexual rewards, this man needed nothing beyond what he had. They say men are hard to satisfy, and that it is hard to conquer their hearts. Yet Proverbs is a book about relationships between the sexes, good and bad, and the power a woman has to captivate a man, for good and for bad.

Modesty, whether it is true or feigned, teaches women to undervalue their power and influence, but it is there. Men are girl-watchers for more than just great gams and other parts. “Behind every great man is a great woman” is not just a saying. Women have been making and breaking their men throughout history, beginning with Eve. Do you suppose it’s just barely possible that Adam valued Eve’s company more than God’s when he envisioned what would happen to his disobedient little wife? The Bible says Eve was deceived but Adam was in the transgression. Part of his transgression may have been choosing Eve over God.

Picture the scene earlier on in Proverbs, that adulterous wife grabbing a gullible fool by his proverbial nose ring and leading him off, ox-like, to the slaughter. How must her husband have lived his life? In jealousy, dread and rage. “No one who touches her shall go unpunished,” we are told, but clearly the woman was out on the prowl and a man cannot trust his heart to such a wife, no matter how many of her conquests he punishes. He might have had a purse full of money but oh, how empty his heart. The next time you even think about turning the head of some fool, lady, think about this woman who seems to have been doorkeeper at the mouth of Hell. Not somebody you want to emulate.

The evil Duessa from the Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

The Scriptures are clear about even entertaining wrong thoughts, in the woman’s mind or in the man’s. Captivate your husband, and nobody else. Don’t be responsible for a man’s fall. Don’t hurt your husband’s heart. Be those rubies, and far more, to that man, and keep him and all the other men safe. Well, that’s just one or two points on the to-do-list, unfortunately, but it’s enough to meditate on. Be far above rubies. Be that thing a man can trust his heart in. Be powerful for God, ladies. Never forget that you have power, whether you acknowledge it or not, and put it on your to-do list to use it Wise-Woman Proverbs style.

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Giants, Genetics and Original Sin

After the death of Virgil in the First Century BC, the Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar posthumously published his Aeneid. Caesar Augustus loved this book because it took the history of Rome, romanticized it and treated it as “prophecy.” Virgil built on an existing legend about the founding of Rome. He expanded a story around that legend based on the Odyssey. The most famous part of the book is the story of the Trojan Horse.

The hero of the Aeneid, Aeneas, son of Venus, was one of Hector’s commanders. He fled Troy with a small band of Trojans when it fell to the Greeks. They built ships and sailed to Italy, with many adventures along the way. They were commanded by the gods to join with the existing people in Italy and to build Rome. Aeneas and the Trojans were opposed and attacked by the Latins, led by Turnus. Turnus is described by some scholars as having a mother who was a nymph, and the Aeneid states that his sister was a nymph. In the final scene, Turnus and Aeneas fought to the death for Lavinia, the daughter of the old Latin King. By killing Turnus and marrying Lavinia, Aeneas united the Trojans with the Latins.

Both Turnus and Aeneas are described as giants. Aeneas challenged Turnus to single combat soon after the arrival of the Trojans, but Turnus was afraid of the larger Aeneas, so Turnus repeatedly stirred up many cities against the Trojans.

At the end of the duel, Turnus picks up and throws a stone with one hand which Virgil describes as requiring 12 men of today to lift. Though the giant Turnus was stronger with one arm than 12 of Caesar’s legionnaires, he was no match in size or strength to Aeneas. Yet the Iliad repeatedly describes the giant Hector as much larger than any other Trojan. Hector’s mother, Hecuba, is described by some accounts as being the daughter of a river god.

Hector was equally fearful of facing Achilles in single combat because he was so much smaller than Achilles, son of Thetis. Thetis is described by some accounts as a nymph, by some as equal to Neptune and one of the descendants of the Titans, and by others a creator-goddess. Though no other Greek was able to stand before Hector, the larger and stronger Achilles humiliated and defeated Hector in single combat.

That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. Gen 6:2-4

“Sons of God” has two possible meanings. It either means that line of Adam’s son Seth, spoken of in the Scriptures as having descendants who “began to call upon the name of the Lord” polluted itself by intermarrying with pagans. or that the “Sons of God” were fallen angels.

Normal men filled with the Spirit of God did superhuman feats of strength. Jacob and Moses both lifted a great stone off a well that seems normally to have required many people to move. Samson (although he does not exemplify the best in God’s servants) performed stunning feats of strength. So it is possible that the descendants of these earlier, formerly godly people, who intermarried with pagans, might have produced “giants” or “mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

Many ancient sources claim that the “giants” and “mighty men of old” were pagans who believed in many gods and goddesses. Their parents were at least part “divine.” The phrase “Sons of God” is the also found in beginning of the book of Job where the phrase clearly means angels or demons. Some say that Gilgamesh of ancient Mesopotamia, who was said to be “two thirds god,” Hercules, the son of the god Zeus, and other ancient “superheroes,” Herakles in the Indus Valley of India, the Viracocha of the Incas, and even Nimrod of the Scriptures, may have all been the same person or his descendants.

This is food for thought, a point on which good men can disagree. The “superpowers” described in ancient documents could be the remnants of God’s great blessing, or they could be indications that the great deceiver, Satan, used his rebellious angels to try to corrupt man beyond his fall and drive a greater wedge between the Creator and His creatures. In any case, the “superpowered” actions governed by enormous pride, the conflicted beliefs about God or “the gods,” and the despairing or outright evil decisions made by these demigods and heroes of old, and the people who lived around them, indicate the workings of our fallen nature and Satan, the “accuser.”

Understanding genetics can help us understand what the sin nature is and how sin is passed on. Some scholars arrive at the interpretation of the Sons of God being Seth’s line because they do not believe that angels or demons have the power to interact with the human race genetically. This position requires belief that the genetic character of original sin literally makes man “born in sin” only because of Adam’s sin.

In the passage in Genesis these “sons of God” are clearly male, spoken of as taking wives. If they were angels or demons, this would call into question the genetic character of Adam’s original sin. Man could not be held fully responsible for his need for redemption if these were non-humans introducing corruption into the genetic material.

In many ancient cultures, most notably the Egyptians, inheritances of property and position passed from mother to daughter. Mitochondrial DNA is DNA in a cell outside a nucleus. It is passed from mother to daughter without any genetic recombination. This explains Christ’s redemptive power, as the “one born of woman,” having Mary’s mitochondrial DNA passed on but not Adam’s original sin.

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Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

A message to parents and students:

Never, ever, ever read a book, watch a movie, or see or hear a play or story or poem performed without answering these questions:(Don’t read a book to your child or let anyone read a book to you without doing this, either.)

Do “wise” and “good” people in the story believe that spirits inside everything can guide people?

Do they follow a religion that is supposed to be older than Christianity or the Bible and therefore “better”?

Do they live “close to the earth” in simple lives without technology and don’t believe in any kind of killing, even for food or to punish great evil?

Do they believe that tribal people and animals are smarter and nobler than civilized people?

Does the work say to “listen to your heart” or “trust your feelings” because that’s how you’ll know what the right thing to do is?

Does it emphasize separating children from adults and forcing them to trust themselves to make extremely important decisions? (An exception to this is if a child is separated from parents but can rely on the biblical training he received from them, not just his own emotions, abilities and reason.)

Do children go through much of the work relying on other children?

Do children distrust adults in conventional authority positions (parents, teachers, police, community leader)? Is this presented as “the only choice” and at the end of the book “the right thing to do”?

Do children rely on very unconventional people who live outside accepted systems of moral values and mature practices? (Some examples are the uneducated or dropouts, street people, former criminals who are “streetwise” young, inexperienced persons in lower authority positions (like a “cool” teacher in a very strict school)?

Does it say that things are going to happen for reasons that nobody can control (not even God’s overall plan)?Does it imply that whether what someone does is right and wrong is just a matter of opinion?

Does it encourage strong expressions of anger, grief and depression when things don’t go the way a character wants? Does it say having an adventure, joining a secret club, or helping friends can be more important than being with your family or doing what you’ve been told?

Are the men (dads or male principals or bosses) bad, stupid or weak?

Are the women strong and smart and good?

Are any good men unable to help, dead or far away?

Does it make fun of traditional hard work and self-discipline?

Is training for a job or learning to play an instrument boring, stupid or pointless?

Are young people encouraged to cut classes or skip work for something more important?

By contrast, does it glorify martial arts and Eastern religious practices as superior to any western or Christian-based discipline? (This is not to say that unarmed self-defense and fighting skills are wrong or evil in themselves, but they are frequently taught along with Yoga, meditation and eastern religious practices in opposition to Christianity.)

Are people who have a lot of education boring?

Are military people excessively strict, bad-tempered or stupid?

Are people who quote from the Bible or classic Christian-origin works treated as odd or foolish?

Are strong emotions emphasized and encouraged, no matter how extreme or out-of control they may be?

Is self-control de-emphasized and made to seem wrong or unnecessary?

Are manners old-fashioned and respect for adults non-existent?

Is concern for and service to others not as important as “making time for yourself”?

Does it have a good, strong story, or is it just a bunch of exciting, scary, mysterious or funny things with no real purpose or ending?

Does it seem to leave out anything to do with faith or praise people who don’t believe in anything?

If you have to answer yes to more than a couple of these questions, ask yourself if you should have anything to do with this work. It may have won all kinds of awards. The best educational authorities may recommend it. But it may be very wrong and get you thinking wrong.

Everyone seems to know that four things are obvious to avoid: violence, sex, drug abuse and bad language. But examine each of these points and consider whether our perspective on these is even correct.

What about displays of affection and a degree of intimacy between husband and wife? These are almost non-existent but should be common. In most cultures of the world girls marry very young, and marrying an older man is considered normal and desirable. We consider it practically incest. Husbands and wives seek comfort, understanding and fulfillment with friends instead of each other. Husbands are plain, rather stupid, and have no clue about how to treat their wives. They want sex all the time and ask for it boorishly. They are at least mildly incompetent at their jobs. Wives are attractive, smart, make jokes at their husbands’ expense, and keep everything running smoothly, from finances, housework and careers to discipline and child-psychology. These anti-marriage concepts fill the pages and the screens of what we accept as desirable family fare. Movie insiders say actors who are married in real life cannot play a creditable husband and wife in a movie. There is no “chemistry” unless there is an adulterous flavor to the screen romance. These works do everything they can to justify adultery. A person is trapped in a terrible marriage with an abuser or an insane or terminally ill spouse and must seek consolation with a lover. Parents who restrict or forbid dating and young romance are always unreasonably strict, have no good reason for forbidding this young love, and punish supposedly far out of proportion to the action.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things” Philippians 4:8

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