Temperance Is More Than Not Getting Drunk (Although It Includes That Issue)

We’ve all seen movies and TV shows portraying sour old women in dowdy clothes representing the local Temperance Union. Most of the time, these women represent some form of Christianity, purposefully implying that Christians oppose any form of enjoyment and work hard to make sure that everyone shares our life of misery. Thanks to the media, the very word “temperance” sends shudders down our spines.

Yet Scripture demands temperance from Christians.

Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. ~~Titus 2:2 (NASB95)

Since Titus 2:3 states that older women must likewise exhibit the qualities and behaviors expected of older men (with an apparent emphasis on moderation in drinking), we ought to make sure we understand the meanings of the words Paul uses. Therefore we need to think about temperance. What did Paul mean then and how should older women in the 21st Century apply those meanings? Discussing temperance is important in understanding how an older woman can live in a way that brings honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Folly Of Pride, Gay Or Otherwise

I shouldn’t have gone on his Facebook page the other day. I knew I’d find photos of him with his new “husband,” along with posts condemning Christians who dare to say that homosexuality is a sin. And I should have known that I’d come away feeling saddened once again by his rejection of the truth that he used to proclaim.

He has chosen the world’s distortion of sexuality, and he takes pride in his choice. But Scripture has a much different view of the relationship between worldliness and pride.

15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. ~~1 John 2:15-17 (NASB95)

As we enter Gay Pride Month, I think of my many friends from those years in ex-gay ministry who decided the fight against that particular sin wasn’t worth the effort. Each of them accepted the lie that God made them gay and wanted them to embrace their sexuality. A few settled for living in celibacy while “celebrating” their same sex attractions (I’m not sure how that works) while others pursued committed relationships. One or two remained in heterosexual marriages, expecting their spouses to understand that these are “mixed marriages.” I gather that they all are talking about Pride right now.

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Old Ladies Don’t Get To Just Do What We Want

Portrait I drew of Mom at age 94

Generally quiet and demure, my mom would let out her zingers when people least expected them. On her 75th birthday, she sat at the kitchen table surveying her cards and gifts while she relished her last bite of birthday cake. She looked at me in apparent seriousness and commented, “Well, I’m officially old now; I can wear what I want and say what I want without caring what anyone thunks!” Then she chuckled, anticipating the prospect of exhibiting outrageous behavior.

Of course she continued dressing and speaking appropriately. Having always insisted on proper etiquette, Mom had absolutely no intention of letting advanced age change her. When she died 23 years later, she remained the proper Southern lady that she’d always been, not allowing visitors while on her deathbed lest they see her without lipstick.

Mom’s sense of decorum wonderfully illustrates Paul’s requirements for the type of older women he wanted to teach younger women. In preparation for my articles teaching about Christian marriage, I think it would be good to first look at the type of older women who should deliver instruction to younger women.

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Paul Put The “Why” Last, But I’m Leading With It

Titus 2:3-5 is, of course, the classic passage ordaining older women to teach younger women. Looking at the passage, we see that the bulk of the subject matter revolves around marriage and motherhood.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (NASB95)

There’s a lot to unpack in these three verses, including the Lord’s expectations of those of us who are older women, and I want to carefully discuss the many points that Paul raises in future articles. In this article, however, I’d like to discuss the closing phrase, “that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

Although Paul put that thought at the end of his instructions for women, I believe we need its encouragement if we are to stand against the conventions of our culture by living as godly women. Other people — even professing Christians — will try to shame us for our obedience to Christ in marriage, so we need reminding that we adopt the attitudes and behaviors because we love the Lord and desire to honor Him.

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Fairytale Weddings And Happily Ever After Marriages

A romantic proposal and a sparkling diamond ring have a way of filling the mind with thoughts of a long white gown and a church full of flowers. Most girls dream of their wedding day, usually taking mental notes as they attend weddings of friends and family members. Once they say yes, they have a thousand things to plan and organize. Her day to be a fairytale princess is finally arriving, and she has so many details to work out to make her special day perfect.

Weddings indeed should be beautiful. Throughout the following years, couples should look back on their wedding days and remember both their vows of commitment to each other and the joy they experienced as they looked into each other’s eyes and promised to love, honor and cherish as long as they both shall live. In the weeks leading up to her death, John’s mom repeatedly showed me her wedding album, wistfully recounting her happiness. John and I watch our wedding video each year on our anniversary to laugh about his struggle to lift my veil, to relive the intense romantic feelings and to recall the promises we made before the Lord. Certainly, weddings must be such special events that we never forget their wonder.

Sadly, many women invest so much thought and energy into weddings that they neglect to prepare for marriage. Oh, they attend the required premarital counseling sessions with their pastors. Usually. But they don’t always really pay as much attention to those sessions as they pay to the wedding coordinator. After all, the Lord has brought them the perfect guy. What could go wrong? Better to focus on orchestrating the perfect wedding…right?

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Understandable Assumptions Don’t Mean Correct Understanding

My friend pointed to the girl across the room, acting as if I’d never noticed the severity of the girl’s Cerebral Palsy. My friend balked at the announcement that the girl would be baptized that evening, but not because she suspected the girl hadn’t really placed her faith in Christ. On the contrary, my friend knew that baptism signifies repentance from sin, and consequently wondered why we wanted to baptize her. She whispered critically, “Why does someone like her need to be baptized? How could someone that disabled possibly sin?”

I sort of understood my friend’s perspective. Like me, the girl was a quadriplegic, but she didn’t have the ability to type with a mouthstick or headstick. Like me, she had an extreme speech impediment, but I was really the only one who could decipher her grunts and facial expressions well enough to translate for her (thankfully my speech was clear enough for me to do so). Outwardly, the girl appeared to have few desires beyond skipping her peanut butter sandwiches in favor of dessert. How could someone that disabled possibly be considered a sinner?

I knew better. Having grown up with her at the school for disabled children, I knew quite well of her strong will and intense desire to have the social advantages that I enjoyed. Sadly, her learning disability prevented her from being mainstreamed part-time into regular school, and her unintelligible speech kept her from meaningful friendships — even with other disabled kids. Yet she definitely knew what she wanted, and she had no problem expressing her frustration in violent outbursts.

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Oppression And The Bible’s Prescribed Response

Increasingly, society makes clear demarcations between victims and oppressors. These demarcations fall overwhelmingly along racial lines, with white people being shamed solely because we are white. The other groups claiming victimization include women, LBGTQ people, those with disabilities and non-black ethnic groups, but right now Social Justice advocates mostly focus on tensions between white and black people.

Yes, all these groups mentioned have experienced discrimination, hatred and violence that they in no way deserved, and I don’t mean to minimize that fact. I could tell you several stories of suffering I endure because of my Cerebral Palsy. In writing this post, I in no way mean to imply that abuses never happen to members of these communities. They sometimes do. Probably not as frequently and systemically as progressives want us to believe, but let’s not overreact to Woke ideology by denying that there have been abuses.

Woke culture exaggerates these abuses, to be sure. More precisely, it exploits them. By adopting the identity of oppressed victims and labeling white male Protestants as systemic oppressors, this movement essentially tries to oppress people merely because they happen to be caucasian. And male. And cisgender. And Christian. Gracious — according to them, my husband’s only redeeming quality is his disability!

I get how the world embraces the Woke mindset. Rejecting the authority of Scripture, it demands its understanding of justice NOW! America exploited black people, and now the Woke movement demands reparations. If I left the Bible out of the equation, I might jump on the bandwagon. Maybe the disabled could also receive reparations somewhere down the line…? Doesn’t hurt to ask!

The Bible, however, presents a different response to oppression.

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Susan Heck — With The Master

God allowed me to be one of the original signers of the Open Letter to Beth Moore a couple years ago, along with Amy Spreeman, Elizabeth Prata, Michelle Lesley and Susan Heck. I’d been familiar with Amy, Elizabeth and Michelle for a while, but I’d only heard about Susan a handful of times (probably through Michelle’s blog). At the time we circulated the Open Letter, I visited Susan’s With The Master website, hoping to find a blog. Disappointed that Susan isn’t a blogger, I didn’t have much interest in her. So I didn’t pursue her teaching.

I pretty much forgot about her for a couple years.

When I hurt my back this past December, I couldn’t read my Bible. For the first few months I watched YouTube sermons by R.C. Sproul. John MacArthur and others to get my Bible intake. But then I happened — by God’s providence — to catch Justin Peters’ April 12 interview with Susan Heck, in which he promoted her YouTube channel. What a wonderful blessing!

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Flashback Friday: Not Afraid To Fear The Lord

Originally published May 19, 2017.

Serious Little Boy01

Evangelicals in the past 50 or so years have carefully minimized (or avoided altogether) the subject of fearing God. When, in the course of a group Bible Study, they inadvertently encounter verses about fearing God, they cough out a few sentences about simply revering Him before rapidly moving on to more manageable verses.

Fearing God isn’t politically correct anymore, even among Bible-believing Christians. We much prefer dwelling on the Lord’s goodness, compassion and love. That way, we keep Him much more approachable, even when we persist in our pet sins. Even more to the point, we make Him more attractive (we think) to non-Christians when we evangelize them. Talking about fearing Him, we reason, makes Him less marketable.

Scripture, however, never seems all that concerned with the Lord’s marketability, nor with keeping us comfortable even in our disobedience. Even the beloved book of Psalms, which often consoles false converts with poetic assurances of God’s love and mercy, insists that we need to fear Him.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all those who practice it have a good understanding.
    His praise endures forever! ~~Psalm 111:10 (ESV)

Does fearing God mean feeling literally afraid of Him? Well, yeah. Sometimes such fear is highly appropriate, actually. Such fear acknowledges His authority to establish His standards of how Christians ought to behave, and to discipline us when we violate His standards.

In considering the fear of the Lord, we must clarify that genuinely saved Christians can fear Him without doubting His love for us. Hebrews 12:6 explains that, as our heavenly Father, He disciplines the ones He loves. I realize that postmodern parenting, influenced by psychological models, often consider it unhealthy for children to fear parents, but God graciously allowed me to grow up in a time when I both knew the security of my mom’s love and feared her discipline.

I was a willful child (and, to my shame, I’m still very willful). In school, I had no problem defying a certain teacher. If he chose to punish my disobedience, I was perfectly fine with that. But I always begged him not to tell my mom. He always did, once even going to her workplace! And, although she really wasn’t as harsh with me as he was, I feared her discipline far more than I feared his.

Fearing God helps me obey Him more consistently. I know He won’t revoke my salvation because of my sin, but I also know that facing Him in judgment and accounting for ways I squandered opportunities to serve Him will be painful. I fear dishonoring Him, even as I rejoice in knowing that I will spend eternity with Him.

Fearing God gives me discernment to live in a manner that pleases Him. It teaches me holiness. Maybe fearing Him isn’t fashionable in the 21st Century, and maybe psychologists would disapprove of my fear of Him, but the Bible recommends this holy fear. It calls it the beginning of wisdom.

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My Fear For Evangelical Ostriches

Generally, ostriches are among my favorite animals. I love their flirtatious eyes, if you really want to know (which you probably didn’t). I love emus for the same reason, and had my husband photograph this one at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo:

But ostriches — and probably emus — have a reputation for burying their heads in the sand. Our culture has consequently turned their practice into a metaphor describing someone who tries to avoid unpleasant realities.

I’m thinking about that metaphor after a recent conversation with a Christian we know. John and I had watched a documentary about Corrie ten Boom, a Christian woman from Holland who had been imprisoned in a Nazi Concentration Camp during World War II. Corrie and her family had provided a hiding place for Jews fleeing persecution, only to be caught for doing so. Her father and her sister both died in Concentration Camps, while Corrie was unintentionally released due to a clerical error (and of course, God’s providence).

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