Can Childless Women Enjoy Mother’s Day?

She couldn’t face hearing the Mother’s Day sermon that year. Her doctors had confirmed a few months earlier that they had no treatment for her type of infertility. Adoption agencies insisted that her husband was too old for them to adopt. So she spent that Mother’s Day (and subsequent Mother’s Days) curled up in her bed, weeping over the children she’d never have.

She and her husband were, for many years, two of my closest friends, so I sympathized with their grief as they sympathized with my grief over being unmarried. I had avoided weddings in earlier years, so I well understood why Mother’s Day services would exacerbate her pain. Even now, I believe we should be patient and compassionate toward our sisters in Christ who struggle with infertility because I watched such a special friend suffer so deeply.

And I admit to having mixed feelings now, as many of my friends have become grandmothers. I get tempted toward jealousy when my sister talks about her adventures with her grandchildren. It’s strange, but I feel more upset about not being a granny than about not being a mom. Will someone explain that one to me?

The apostle Paul instructs us to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). How often I wish that more Christians would obey that command, especially around their childless sisters on Mother’s Day. Many pastors preach on the glories of motherhood, which is good in our culture that demeans stay-at-home moms. But those sermons, while important, can make childless women feel like failures. Therefore, we must show sensitivity to them, especially on Mother’s Day!

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Teaching The (Usually) Easy Part

John, although he has his moments, is very easy to love. The thought of needing an older woman to teach me to cultivate affectionate feelings towards him amuses me, because those feelings come without much effort on my part. Hopefully most of my married readers can say the same thing about their husbands.

Sadly, many wives don’t have this sort of testimony. Sadder still, even Christian marriages can struggle, with wives experiencing difficulty maintaining affection for their husbands and children. We’ll get to reasons for such problems momentarily, but first we need to go back to Titus 1 for a look at the culture in Crete. Understanding the people Paul originally directed his instructions to gives us clarity on how his instructions apply to 21st Century Christian wives.

In Titus 1, Paul commissioned Titus to appoint elders across the island nation of Crete. These elders would need the ability to deal with troublemakers, whether those who taught false doctrine or those who lived in self-indulgence. Paul reminded Titus that the inhabitants of that island generally lived in flagrant rebellion against God’s laws.

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Don’t Tell Women How To Dress, They Say

Over a year ago, I tried to encourage a young Christian woman to dress modestly. You would have thought I’d counseled her to murder little children! All her friends wore their clothes that way, she reasoned, so who was I to tell her what to do? She was only following the fashion trends!

Fast-forward to Christian Twitter this past week, where a pastor bravely offered a man’s perspective on Christian women who dress provocatively. I’ve seen a lot of Christians vilified for standing on Biblical principles over the years, but never to this extent. According to his critics, he’s objectifying women while ignoring the responsibility men have to control their lustful thoughts. His critics ask what gives men the right to say when a hemline is too high, a neckline is too low or an outfit is too tight. They claim that, once again, men are oppressing women.

I have no problem agreeing that the Lord holds men responsible to control their thoughts. Jesus Christ certainly made that point abundantly clear:

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. ~~Matthew 5:27-30 (NASB95)

That statement doesn’t sound to me like He winks at the sin of men who look too long and savor their fantasies. He has no trouble saying that such secret sin deserves damnation. So please don’t read this piece and decide that I’m beating up on women while saying “boys will be boys.”

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Speaking The Truth (About False Teachers) In Love

Having said that we should major on studying Scripture rather than focusing on educating ourselves on every false teacher, I also recognize that sometimes Christians really need to speak out against those who distort the Word of God. Plenty of Bible verses instruct us to do just that. Take, for instance, Paul’s closing directive to the Roman church:

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. ~~Romans 16:17-20 (NASB95)

Obviously, we can’t avoid false teachers and doctrinal error without some idea of who and what to avoid. As I said Friday, immersing ourselves in studying false teachers holds serious dangers, but totally ignoring them also violates Scripture. And when we find it necessary to speak out against those people and trends that undermine doctrinal purity, it helps to remember the importance of speaking the truth in love.

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You’re Convinced, But I’m Not

Twitter just amplifies a sad reality: Christians love to argue with each other.

Sometimes we argue about issues that actually matter. For instance, a sister in Christ may be reading supposed Bible Study material by a known false teacher, and you’ll need to give her evidence that she’s being exposed to error. Similarly, a friend might be engaging in sexual immorality, angrily resisting your attempts to lovingly correct her. Someone online may insist that the Bible was written merely by men, and therefore shouldn’t be regarded as God’s Word. In such clear-cut situations, arguing on behalf of Scripture becomes a necessity. Never shy away from arguing against obvious sin.

Alas, too often we misinterpret matters of personal conviction as commands from God that all Christians must embrace. We have our proof texts from the Bible to use as clubs to beat dissidents into submission. We assure ourselves that Scripture supports our position. If they disagree, they demonstrate ignorance at best, and outright rebellion most of the time. We firmly believe that (whether knowingly or unknowingly) those who don’t share our convictions disobey God’s commands. Therefore we argue, working tirelessly to force their repentance.

Scripture will have none of that. I want to look at Romans 14 as one example of respecting the personal convictions of Christians who don’t share our convictions.

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Pigs’ Snouts And Beautiful Women

Walt Disney and Looney Toons popularized the idea of pigs as cute and lovable critters. But Jews of ancient Israel despised them as one of the species that Yahweh declared to be unclean (Leviticus 11:7). Therefore, you can imagine their shock and horror at this proverb of Solomon’s:

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion. ~~Proverbs 11:22 (NASB95)

As you can see, Solomon contrasts lovely things with things which completely ruin their beauty. Golden rings, even today, are precious and highly valued, so naturally Jews would deem them as incongruous with the noses of filthy swine. If the image repulses 21st Century Gentiles, surely it would have repulsed Solomon’s original audience. And consequently they would have seen his point even more vividly than we do. Plainly, a lack of discretion destroys any beauty in a woman.

The word “discretion” generally denotes a sense of modesty and appropriate behavior. Scripture teaches that Christian women should cultivate those qualities. For example, take a moment to look at 1 Timothy 2:9-11 and1 Peter 3:1-6. It’s interesting that both passages indicate a relationship between how women ought to dress and how we ought to act.

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Flashback Friday: Butterflies Might Be Pretty, But They Flutter By Quite Quickly

Sorry for another Flashback Friday, but my week has been crazy. Too much has been going on, leaving me unable to write a full article. I found the following blog post, which I wrote on May 15, 2019, and thought you’d enjoy reading it again:

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The early years of my relationship with John overflowed with euphoria. I can remember sitting at my computer and feeling thrilled when an instant message from him popped up on my screen. The first time I visited, we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other.

The day after our wedding, we sang, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” to each other. We were giddy! People told me that the butterflies would eventually subside. Intellectually, I knew they were right,  but my emotions told me a much different story. I simply couldn’t imagine looking at John without feeling butterflies.

I’m not sure when the butterflies flew away. One day I just realized that they had given way to a much more satisfying love. This new love satisfies me even more, for it roots itself in commitment to John and to the Lord.

Loving a husband definitely includes romantic feelings, but we do ourselves a terrible disservice if we limit our understanding of love to butterflies and fireworks. As fun as those things are, they lack the splendid depth of mature married love.

Butterflies don’t stick around when the finances force your husband to cut back on meals out. They flutter away when he can’t stop coughing, and they shy away from his hospital room after cancer surgery. His annoying habits put butterflies to flight — or at least turn them into dull brown moths.

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Blessing Or Cursing The Men In Our Lives

Driving me home from college every day, my mom would reach a particular on-ramp that indeed was dangerous. She firmly believed that one day someone would be killed there (to my knowledge, thankfully, her prediction hasn’t come true). I still remember her lips tightening in disdain as she muttered, “A man must have designed this!”

Actually, she muttered those words any time she encountered things that she deemed inconvenient or illogical, explaining to me and my sister that women would not make anything so complicated or dysfunctional. She taught us to degenerate men, as if the poor things simply didn’t possess the intellectual abilities that characterize women. Yes, men came in handy now and then, she conceded. But for the most part, women could manage just fine — and perhaps better — without them.

Definitely women would have designed that on-ramp better!

As we prepare for Father’s Day, and the many sermons pointing out the shortcomings of fathers, I find myself thinking about Mom’s disparaging remarks. Society pretty much echoes her sentiments. Television, movies and even comic strips routinely portray men as buffoons. At times, according to my husband (an authority on all things pertaining to Superman), even Clark Kent had occasional moments of ineptitude. I believe I can safely say that our current culture all but celebrates male bashing.

Ladies, I know we get frustrated with the men in our lives sometimes. But don’t you think that we frustrate them just as much as they frustrate us? Maybe more? And yet, our culture wastes no time in labeling them as misogynists if they dare say anything the least bit unflattering about us. This double standard has no place in Christian conversation!

James, the half-brother of the Lord, may not have written specifically about male bashing, but his passage on the tongue in Chapter 2 of his epistle definitely applies to the matter. Look at the passage with me as we consider what we say about our husbands, dads, brothers and male friends.

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God Commands Our Husbands To Love Us — What His Command Doesn’t Mean For Wives

It was non-alcoholic champagne

As a single woman, I loved Paul’s instructions to husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body. ~~Ephesians 5:25-30 (NASB)

I dreamed of marrying a Prince Charming who would devote himself to me, laying aside his wants and needs in order to make me happy. I looked at Ephesians 5:25-30 and envisioned a husband who served me so lavishly that my submission to him would be effortless. In fact, I’d heard a few sermons and Bible Studies on marriage that promised as much. And I couldn’t wait for a Christian husband to love me as Christ loved the church!

By the time John proposed, I was 47, so I’d developed more realistic expectations of marriage. To my surprise, John took Ephesians 5:25 extremely seriously. Even now, as our 19th wedding anniversary is less than three months away, he recites that verse as if it was his singular mission in life. And I praise God for blessing me with a man who loves me so deeply,

But the Lord has convicted me of abusing John’s love. Even worse, He’s convicted me of twisting His command to husbands. In these convictions, I suspect that other wives also misconstrue God’s instructions to husbands in selfish ways.

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Calling Out False Teachers: Finding Love In Discernment Ministry

In Revelation 2 and 3, the glorified Christ commissions the apostle John to write letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor. As I read these letters earlier this week, the letter to the church at Ephesus grabbed my attention because of its warning to people involved in discernment ministry. Look at the passage with me, and then we’ll talk about some of its application to discernment ministry.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ ~~Revelation 2:1-7 (NASB)

The letter starts by commending the Ephesian church for its discernment. This church was characterized by its doctrinal purity and faithfulness to test false teachers. Verses 2 and 3 describe a church that Christians should emulate. God’s Word repeatedly commands both leaders and laity to stand against those who pervert the Gospel. Consider, for example, Paul’s instructions to Titus:

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