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Pornography Addiction has a deadly progression says Tom Buford a converted porn addict, “Our thanks to Morality In Media for the use of the following information from Healing Sexual and Pornography Addictions by Dr. Victor Cline.”
1. FIRST STEP - ADDICTION - "The first change that happened was an addiction-effect. The porn-consumers got hooked. Once involved in pornographic materials, they kept coming back for more and still more... The pornography provided very exciting and powerful imagery which they frequently recalled to mind and elaborated on in their fantasies."
a. "Once addicted, they could not throw off their dependence on the material by themselves, despite many negative consequences such as divorce, loss of family, and problems with the law (such as sexual assault, harassment or abuse of fellow employees)."
b. "... many of my most intelligent male patients appeared to be most vulnerable—perhaps because they had a greater capacity to fantasize, which heightened the intensity of the experience and made them more susceptible to being conditioned into an addiction."
c. "... It is difficult for non-addicts to comprehend the totally driven nature of a sex addict. When the "wave" hits them, nothing can stand in the way of getting what they want, whether that be pornography accompanied by masturbation, sex from a prostitute, molesting a child, or raping a woman. These men are consumed by their appetite, regardless of the cost or consequences. Their addiction virtually rules their lives."
2. SECOND STEP – ESCALATION- "The second phase was an escalation-effect. With the passage of time, the addicted person required rougher, more explicit, more deviant... sexual material to get their "highs" and "sexual turn-ons." It was reminiscent of individuals afflicted with drug addictions. Over time there is nearly always an increasing need for more of the stimulant to get the same initial effect."
a. "... Their addiction and escalation were mainly due to the powerful sexual imagery in their minds, implanted there by the exposure to pornography."
3. THIRD PHASE – DESENSITIZATION - "The third phase was desensitization. Material (in books, magazines, or films/videos) which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo-breaking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral, in time came to be seen as acceptable and commonplace. The sexual activity depicted in the pornography (no matter how anti-social or deviant) became legitimized. There was an increasing sense that "everybody does it" and this gave them permission to also do it, even though the activity was possibly illegal and contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal standards."
4. FOURTH PHASE - ACTING OUT SEXUALLY - "The fourth phase was an increasing tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography, including compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with minor children, rape, and inflicting pain on themselves or a partner during sex. This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse—no matter what the negative consequences were in their life."
Christopher Roberts (Barrister)
Who’s Going To Wake Jesus Up?
The bible offers us a variety of types of prayer, which we can offer up to God, depending on what our circumstances are. We can pray for provisions, or lost souls, or that God might bring relief to the suffering. But what kind of prayer should we offer up to God when the storms of life hit us? Quite frankly, and this will surprise you until you read on ahead, but we should offer up no prayers when the storms sweep over us.
In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus got into a boat, with the disciples in hot pursuit. Suddenly, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. There are a number of key words in this passage, but one of them is the word ’suddenly’. When difficult circumstances hit a Christian suddenly, to the point of overwhelming the soul, such circumstances area not from God. For one thing, it is rare for God to act suddenly. This is not to suggest that God cannot act suddenly. A sudden circumstance sweeping over the soul often, but not always, can come from the enemy. But, that does not mean that the enemy has the last say in the matter. A storm thrown up by the enemy, is permitted by God, and controlled by God, which is something that the disciples had not worked out. And to be fair, if I had been up in the boat with the disciples, I would have acted no differently to them.
A key observation from Matthew 8:23-27, was that Jesus was asleep in the boat. Now, unless Jesus talked in his sleep, Jesus would not have much to say while he was asleep. And this is exactly the same situation when we face storms. Jesus is with us, but he may not be saying much to us. And just because he is not speaking, does not imply that he is not with us in the storm. The mistake that the disciples made was to wake Jesus up and ask him for help. Let me ask you one question to consider. If the disciples had not woken Jesus up would the boat have sunk? I’m going to take a guess here. My guess is that the boat would not have sunk. But, because the disciples lacked trust in Jesus, they woke him up and asked for help. After he had given the disciples a bit of a telling off, and I would have too if someone had woken me up from a nice sleep, Jesus calmed the storm, and they all arrived safely at their destination.
Now let us presume that, later in the day, the disciples got in the boat and returned home. Let us presume that another storm arose while Jesus was taking a nap. This time, would the disciples have woken Jesus up, or would they have trusted him to get them to the other side? My guess is that no one would have woken Jesus up. I once went through a difficult circumstances, where I spent a lot of time and effort praying and fasting that God would help me. Over time, God came to my rescue. Recently, I went through the exact same circumstance, but this time I did not utter a word in prayer to God. I just trusted him in the matter. And I got the same results as I did from the first time I went through the same circumstances, when I spent a lot of effort in prayer and fasting. I learn that when the storms of life hit us, and the waves sweep over our soul, it is not necessarily a time to wear ourselves out in prayer, trying to get God to change my circumstances. In fact, it would have probably served me well to have prayed and asked God to keep me in the storm, until I had learnt the lesson he was trying to teach me, but I was not that brave.
So, if you are going through the storms of life, and you feel that the waves are sweeping over your soul, remember! Jesus is in that boat with you. And although you cannot hear his voice, this does not mean that he is not with you, because he is. So the final question is this, are you going to wake Jesus up and cry for help, or are you going to learn to trust Jesus to get you through the storm, and safely to the other side?
Imagine you are on your way to church one Sunday morning. You have had a more difficult week than normal. You are physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. You realize that you are running on fumes and are looking forward to getting your tank filled up so you can face the world again Monday morning. You are particularly excited about the worship service because you know we will be observing the Lord’s Supper, which is always a special service. But when you pull into the parking lot you quickly notice that it is already full, and you have a difficult time finding a place to park. But even though you have to park over in the field you are still excited about being here and are looking forward to what God has in store for you today. You notice that there are a lot of people standing outside on the steps and you wonder what is going on. When you get a little closer you realize that a couple of tables have been set up outside and that people are waiting in line for some reason. You also notice that people are writing checks and converting them and the paper money they have into silver coins. You wonder what is going on and ask the person in front of you what up. They inform you that the members of the Finance Committee recently made the decision to have everyone start using a new type of Church currency for the tithes and offerings. You wait patiently in line and sure enough when you finally make it to the table you are told that you need the new church currency in order to make an offering. So you take out a $20 bill and lay it down on the table and the person at the table takes your money and gives you a $10 church coin in return. When you finally get through the front door you immediately notice more tables and more lines. At one table you notice some people are buying hymnbooks, while others are simply renting them. At another table you discover that they are selling communion bread for $5.00 and a cup of grape juice for $7.50. The longer you stand there the madder you get. You make a vow right then and there to never miss another business meeting again and to do your best to see that heads would roll over this. If you can imagine an experience like this and how frustrating it would be, then you can relate to how Jesus must have felt when he entered the temple courts during Passover to worship the Heavenly Father. Let’s read this passage of Scripture together.
The following incident won the runner-up prize in the 1999 Darwin Awards:
A Vermont native, Ronald Demuth, found himself in a difficult position. While touring the Eagle’s Rock African Safari (Zoo) with a group of thespians from St. Petersburg, Russia, Mr. Demuth went overboard to show them one of America’s many marvels. He demonstrated the effectiveness of "Crazy Glue"... the hard way.
Apparently, Mr. Demuth wanted to demonstrate just how good the adhesive was, so he covered the palms of his hands with the adhesive, and jokingly placed them on the rear end of a passing rhino. The rhino, a resident of the zoo for the past thirteen years, was not initially startled as it has been part of the petting exhibit since its arrival as a baby.
However, once it became aware of its being involuntarily stuck to Mr. Demuth, it began to panic and ran around the petting area wildly making Mr. Demuth an unintended passenger.
"Sally [the rhino] hasn’t been feeling well lately. She had been very constipated. We had just given her a laxative and some depressants to relax her bowels, when Mr. Demuth played his juvenile prank," said James Douglass, caretaker. During Sally’s tirade two fences were destroyed, a shed wall was gored, and a number of small animals escaped. Also, during the stampede, three pygmy goats and one duck were stomped to death.
As for Demuth, it took a team of medics and zoo caretakers’ to remove his hands from her buttocks. First, the animal had to be captured and calmed down. However, during this process the laxatives began to take hold and Mr. Demuth was repeatedly showered with over 30 gallons of rhino diarrhea.
"It was tricky. We had to calm her down, while at the same time shield our faces from being pelted with rhino dung. I guess you could say that Mr. Demuth was into it up to his neck. Once she was under control, we had three people with shovels working to keep an air passage open for Mr. Demuth. We were able to tranquilize her and apply a solvent to remove his hands from her rear," said Douglass. "I ...
‘Grow as You Go.’ The first sermon in this series took us to Moses and his encounter with God. We were told that God had a role, an important one at that, for Moses and it was in line with God’s plan and story and not Moses’ plan and story. In other words, we ‘grow’ in our Christian faith and character as we ‘go’ along in life by remembering that the Christian story and faith is about God and not about us and though we have a role in that story and it is not the role of director.
Out next stop took us to 2 Chronicles 26 and the painful and tragic story of King Uzziah. We learned that Uzziah, who became King of Israel at a young age, governed well because he governed with the help of God who made him successful. But one day, due to an increasing belief in himself and a less increasing reliance on the Lord, Uzziah exceeded his authority and with a heart that was filled with pride and power, fell from power and afflicted with leprosy, and spent the remaining years of his life literally cut off from his people.
Uzziah’s story thus serves us as a powerful and important reminder that as we go and grow in our faith and character, we must pay attention to the gaps between our skills and our character because the latter rather than the former will undo us and cause us tremendous pain and disconnect with God.
This morning we move through the Old Testament to the book of Daniel and the person of Daniel and here we encounter the opposite of Uzziah. Here we see a man who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things. (You heard me right, Daniel is some one who says yes to the right things so that he can say no to the right things.)
The lesson we learn from Daniel’s life as it applies to ‘growing as we go’ is, in the words of Eric Simpson, ‘what we say ‘yes’ to grants us power to what we have longed to say no to.’ Spiritual growth and development; the process of going and growing as followers of Jesus; requires us to say ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to other things. Daniel’s story tells us what he says ‘no’ to, at least in this chapter of his life.
Now it is always important to place the text we examine in its context and, very briefly, here is the context of our main text this morning. Our text begins with a statement about a governmental decision being made by a new King, a new ruler, in fact a conquering king and ruler, ‘Darius the Mede.’
As we read in Daniel 5:30 and 31, the former King, Belshazzar, the last of the Babylonian kings, was overthrown and the Babylonian empire, which had overthrown the remnants of Israel, was no more. A new empire, the Persian-Mede empire was now the top dog in that part of the world.
And by this time in his life Daniel most likely was 80 years of age. He had already served two kings, often at risk to his life and those of his friends, because of their faith and their commitment that they kept saying ‘yes’ to God while saying ‘no’ to the challenges. Now he was beginning service to a third king.
So now Darius is the new ruler and he orders some administrative changes and places Daniel and two others in key leadership positions much to the jealousy and anger of others who decide to play to the pride and power of the king and get him to make a law setting himself up as god of the nation. The result is a very serious and life-threatening challenge to Daniel, his character, and his faith.
So Daniel hears the new law, ‘For the next 30 days, only King Darius is to be worshipped and anyone who does otherwise will be cast into the lion’s den,’ and he goes home. Now there perhaps is a tendency to think that Daniel was unmoved by the turns of event because he goes home. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn’t.
Let’s suppose for a moment he wasn’t moved. Let’s suppose that he went home, to pray, ‘just as he had always done.’
Wow! What kind of faith! What kind of assured confidence in God that God, His God, whom Daniel had faithfully followed throughout the years, would take care of the situation.
What really moves me in this passage is that Daniel went home to pray ‘just as he had always done.’ This three times a day prayer was more than a religious ritual, it was a habit of the heart and soul, that God used to nourish and grow Daniel into the man of God that he was.
But what if Daniel went home, troubled and uncertain? What if this time he thought, ‘This might be it?’ And yet, he went home and prayed ‘just as he had always done.’
Well, as the story continues, Daniel is observed praying (he is easily seen through the open windows) and later he is arrested, charged with breaking the new law, and sentence to death in the lion’s den. But, God protects him and he survives and is vindicated by a very, very relieved and humbled king who orders that a new decree honoring Daniel’s god.
So while the fear of Moses and the pride of Uzziah serve as reminders of the struggles and temptations we deal with as we grow and go, Daniel serves us as a reminder of how to respond to those temptations and struggles by saying yes to certain things and no to others.
Slide 2 Daniel said yes to God over and over over again. That phrase, ‘just as he had always done,’ is one that we need to pay attention to. It indicates a habit, a priority, a practice, (and an intentional one at that) that Daniel did for many, many years.
He went home to pray not just because he was taught it or was told to do it. He went home, day in and day out, when it was easy and when it was hard, and prayed to God. He set his face and heart toward God because he believed in God and believed that God’s way was THE way.
This consistent practice of prayer shaped Daniel’s character. It enabled him to become the person that we read about in this book; a person of consistency, honesty, faith, and maturity. And because he did, God was honored and Daniel thrived through both difficult and quiet circumstances.
(Slide 2b) Daniel said yes to those things that helped him perform God’s agenda. In the first story of this book, Daniel makes the decision not to eat the rich and tasty food given to him and his friends. He did for perhaps two reasons. First, because the foods offered went against the Jewish dietary laws and second it would put himself in the position of becoming dependent on the King in ways that could leave him vulnerable later on.
(Another reason, based on the results of the different diet chosen by Daniel in verse 15, could have been was that it was simply not healthy for someone to eat.)
But whatever the reason, Daniel, even at this early age, said ‘yes’ to God’s ways and purposes so that he could say ‘no’ to whatever would cause him to compromise his faith.
(Slide 3) In saying ‘yes’ to God and God’s ways, he said ‘no’ to some things as well.
By saying ‘yes’ to God and His ways, Daniel had the power and the willingness to say ‘no’ to certain things that I believe we can safely say were a part of his life and experiences as recorded in the book of Daniel.
In our main text he said no to worship another human being as god. Now, it seems that we do a good job of such worship these days.
Think for a moment about the entertainment industry. Many people spend many hours and spend (and pay) much money to learn ‘the latest’ about an entertainment star. Paparazzi chase people and automobiles to the far corners of the world just to get ‘that picture’ that could tell a new and sordid story.
Now it’s one thing to admire someone for a meaningful performance or good character acting. But it is another thing to worship, to put before anything else, another human being, who seems to make more money and get more fame by being bad than being good. (The same could be said for leading sports figures.)
Stephen Covey believes that about 90 or so years ago our society and culture began to be more concerned with, (and I am paraphrasing Covey here) a ‘winning personality’ rather than a ‘winning character.’ Some would probably say that Moses did not have a winning personality, that he was too moody, too uncertain, and probably too old. Others would have probably not picked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God used him.
Uzziah, on the other hand, had that winning personality. He was a great king who did much for his people. He was a winner! Who could ask for more in a king?
Then there was Daniel; he was probably good looking. He had talent. He could have been a bigger influence and an even bigger star if he would have joined the party more. But his character was more important than his popularity.
Daniel said ‘no’ to the very powerful and tempting offer to ‘join the crowd.’ He was more concerned about honoring God with his life than being popular and liked. He said ‘yes’ to God so that he could say ‘no’ to those things that would create the conditions for character (and spiritual) breakdown.
(Slide 3b) He said no to those things that could compromise his faith and character. As we read and re-read his story, we see Daniel consistently refusing to take shortcuts that would make life easier for him. And I truly think he did so because he had seen first hand what the wrong kind of compromise had done to his nation. A turn to chapter one reminds us that Daniel was among those taken away from his homeland and brought to the capital of the conquering nation and chosen to be education in the ways and life of the new nation.
But even while God, as the text says, gifted Daniel with the ability to understand dreams, Daniel said ‘yes’ to God and ‘no’ to the compromises his new surroundings offered him. I just wonder if the memories of his defeated homeland remained in his mind.
So, growing in our faith in and relationship with the Lord requires us to do three important things: (Slide 4)
1. Remember that we are a part of God’s story not the other way around. This is about becoming a humble person.
2. We need to shorten the gap between our giftedness and our character. This is about becoming an authentic person.
3. We need to learn and practice saying ‘yes’ to God so that we can say ‘no’ to those things that would destroy us. Jim Kane
“Bring Back the Rotary Phone?” Acts 13:42-52 Key verse(s): 50:“But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.”
There are three things you can do in life when confronted by change. You can examine the change, judge its merits and incorporate it into your life. You can, upon that same examination, deem it unworthy or foolhardy and courageously push it out of your way. And, finally, motivated by fear, you can pull over to the side of the road and let it rush past you. The first and second alternatives feed on courage. The latter feeds on your fears.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a “thing” about telephones. I grew up in a day and age when phones were something that were either mounted solidly on the kitchen wall or sat boldly on your father’s desk. In either case, they had rotary dials and not buttons. Telephones were heavy, so if you dropped them on your foot you knew it. They had cords that connected the receiver to the base. They were not portable. If you wanted to make a phone call you had to go to one of these two places. You asked to use the phone and, permission given, you placed the call after carefully dialing the number. That is, of course, if the neighbor was not on the line before you. If the phone rang you knew exactly where it was ringing from since it had to be either on the kitchen wall or on Dad’s desk. You did not need to search for the source of the ringing since there was no need to worry about a misplaced receiver. So connected, they were always there, ready to be picked up and answered.
Since those wonderful days of Bell Telephone so many years ago, many things have changed. Bell is no longer Bell. Phones are light-weight; that wonderful dial has been replaced with buttons, and receivers are no longer connected to the base unit. These modern times find us wandering around the entire inside of our homes as well as the outside with a wireless receiver. There is no longer the need to worry about “party” lines or if you knew the exchange number before your called. Everything is programmed in and, with only the touch of a finger to a button, your call is sent instantly around the world. Add cell phones and internet calling to the mix, and you’ve got a picture of change probably unequalled in our society by any other technology over the last forty years. But, as mentioned, I have a “thing” about phones. When they ring I can’t find the receiver. When I want to make a call my finger tips are too large and I hit the wrong buttons. And, worst of all, they are no longer devices for which you ask permission to use. Now they are deemed as much a part of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as breathing and going to the bathroom. I lament the passage of time and the changes in phone technology to that extant. I often find myself yearning for the days when phones were heavy, a privilege to use, stayed in one place and you seldom misdialed. Yet, as my children have informed me so often, those days are gone and I just need to adapt to the change. All my complaining won’t bring back the rotary phone. Besides, despite the inconvenience of the convenience, modern communication has been enhanced by these sometimes inconvenient enhancements.
When changes come, especially those which demonstrate “inconvenience” even hardship, it is hard to embrace them. We want to shut our minds to them because our security is threatened. The “pattern” and habit of our lives is a comfortable thing and when this is threatened, we often react blindly and without thought. From time to time I have threatened to install an old rotary phone in our house. But, after some thought, I knew this would be foolish. The day of the rotary phone is past and I need to move on. I recall reading about a group of Amish folk who pulled up stakes and moved their entire community to Peru. When asked why they were taking such a drastic measure, they responded that “We got tired of having to move our wagons to the side of the road to let the cars go by.” When presented with change, they pulled over refusing to take a stand one way or the other. Sometimes that’s the easiest way to go because changes that confront the very purpose of who we are and what we do are the most difficult ones to handle. We simply don’t want to be wrong, so we pull over to the side of the road and let the challenge pass. This is what the Jews in Antioch were confronted with. Paul and Barnabas challenged their beliefs and they, finding great comfort in those beliefs, refused to accept the need to change to something with more promise and greater hope. They pulled their wagons over and let the teachings of Paul and Barnabas pass by hoping that the whole thing would simply go away. When it comes to changing our lives for the better and removing those bad habits that are comfortable, it is never wise to pull our wagons over to the side of the road.
The Law of Familiarity reads: “All things of value will, with the passage of enough time, be taken for granted.” It is very difficult to keep intensity for a long period of time.
This is true in driving a car. When we first drive, we are so cautious. We keep our hands at 10 & 2. But it’s not long before we are turning on the radio, reading the newspaper, or talking on the phone. Someone saw a bumper sticker that said, “Hang up and drive!” They also saw another bumper sticker that said, “Cats, the other white meat.” (If you stay alert it is amazing what you’ll see.)
Dr. Frederic Loomis faced the most difficult decision a physician could ever make--whether to allow a deformed baby to live or die. He had only seconds to decide. Dr. Loomis had delivered hundreds of babies, but this one was different. The infant lay in a breech position, promising at best a difficult and dangerous birth. One of its feet stretched only to the knee of the other leg. Furthermore, it was missing a thigh. The mother, a frail person visiting the sterile delivery room for her first time, was not aware of the grossly deformed child struggling to survive.
Dr. Loomis closed his eyes; at his fingertips squirmed a pitiful creature yet unborn. Would not the most loving thing be to detain the birth long enough to cause the child to be stillborn? He agonized within himself. Will this kid not be considered a freak, a twisted burden to its delicate mother? How can I justify playing a part in such a cruel drama? Surely no one will ever know if I spare this family from inevitable pain. The doctor, through the baby’s cord, felt its heartbeat--dancing in rhythm to his own wildly racing heart. As Dr. Loomis continued to prevent the birth, he felt the normal foot pressing for passage into the world. Suddenly, he could no longer justify "playing God." Instead, he would trust God to care for this child against what seemed to be impossible odds. Dr. Loomis delivered the infant into the world, which, he sensed, would be very unkind.
In the years that followed. Dr. Loomis often second-guessed his decision. He watched the anguish of the family as desperate parents sought in vain to find some correction for their child’s deformity. Even after they moved away Dr. Loomis continued to lament the burden that he had saddled upon the family. The heartache, he often said to himself, was his fault.
In time, however, Dr. Loomis would find peace. It came at an unexpected time and place--the hospital Christmas party. Typically, it was during the holiday season when his pain seemed most severe. He could not shake the image of that unfortunate child from his mind. While the world celebrated the greatest birth ever known, Dr. Loomis obsessed over the saddest birth he had ever known.
At this particular party, the most heavenly music filled the room. The sadness seemed to dissipate as the rich tones of "Silent Night" washed Dr. Loomis’ anguished spirit. Following the concert, a woman approached him. "Doctor," she said excitedly. "You saw her."
Dr. Loomis studied the woman’s face, wanting to recognize her but unable to recall the memory. "I’m sorry. I should know you, but you may need to help me."
"Don’t you remember the little girl with only one good leg, 17 years ago?"
Remember. . . it was ...
RELATIONSHIPS IN EPHESIANS 5 & 6
Paul was sending a slave back to his master, and he was concerned that Philemon's gracious treatment and this slave's escape and rebellion not be seen by other slaves as an opportunity to copy Onesimus' earlier, rebellious example. These other ideas are not big problems for the Colossians, but Paul briefly mentions and explains them.
What does a believer at home look like? First ask what is my primary identity or identities at home:
Then there is a basic guideline that applies to you because of that identity.
* Wives are in submission to their husbands
* Husbands love their wives
* Children obey their parents
* Parents do not provoke their children
* Slaves obey their masters
* Masters treat their slaves justly and fairly
Each of these guidelines are defined more specifically or given a rationale.
* Wives submit ... because it is appropriate
* Husbands love ... in spite of the temptation to fight
* Children obey ... because it pleases God
* Parents do not provoke ... in order to encourage your children
Introduce the elephant
There is a big thing here about slaves and masters and it raises several questions:
* Is Paul condoning slavery?
* Does it have anything to do with a society where slavery is not tolerated?
* Is there anything at all we can get out of it?
Paul is not condoning or condemning slavery. He is acknowledging it as a reality. For the most part, since it is not a reality in our world, some like to draw connections between Paul's instructions and employment. That is ok, as far as it goes. But at any given time, we may quit our jobs and go somewhere else. It has strong implications for people who have little flexibility or who have unusual power. Perhaps few jobs are out there. This gives bosses more power.
Here Paul has little to say to slave keepers. He says all that somewhere else. Mostly, he speaks to slaves like Onesimus, the slave who is delivering this letter.
So to slaves and keepers, Paul says:
Be fair and be just. Always be aware of the treatment God, your master, gives you. Don't be harsh, but treat slaves with respect. Some ancient writers took his instruction to mean that masters should provide well for their slaves, even paying them for their work. But none of us keep slaves. Suffice it to say that if you hold an unusual amount of power over anyone, it is wrong for you to exploit that power and it is right for you to treat him with respect and fairness.
The biggest point Paul makes in the passage is in the way a slave should behave. Again, none of us ever will be slaves, but every single person finds himself in the legitimate power of someone. This is not bad, it is real. So, how should we respond? With obedience.
What kind of obedience? The kind that has integrity. It does not matter whether or not the cat is away, the mice do not play. We work at the orders of others because it is right for us to do so. The quality of our work should never be dependent upon supervision.
Obey with sincerity and energy. It does not matter whether we like the work or not. We may not do it half-heartedly. We should do the whole job, we should do it well, and we should do it in good time.
Do it as if Jesus Himself was boss. Don't do it for the paycheck but for the reward He gives in eternity. God establishes the authorities in our lives. Even if we get away with shoddy, slow or grumbling work with our bosses, God notices.
Can you, and do you treat,
* every floor swept
* every gear shifted
* every shelf stocked
* every penny counted
* every customer served
As a stroke of work done for the kingdom of God?
Household operation, not employment is Paul's main concern. But whether in a home or a workplace, they are as much a witness as any religious word you speak. It is difficult to witness at home, and we must come to grips with the way a believer behaves at home.
Wives, submit to your husbands
This is not a popular word and more than one person has interpreted it as meaning that Paul hated women. and yet, Peter said the same thing.
It grinds against many women to hear this. Ladies, your impulse is part of the curse. One translation of the Bible puts the Genesis curse on the woman like this:
You will want to control your husband,
but he will dominate you." (Genesis 3 NET)
In this passage we begin seeing that the harmony between the man and the woman was damaged in the fall. The power struggle between them arises from the curse. The raw dominance of men in their homes is not part of God's original design. As part of the struggle, women, it says, will desire control over their men.
But Paul says submission is more in keeping with God's plan. It is appropriate. It is fitting. But I don't believe that it is indiscriminate and unconditional. I don't believe it means that her submission in sinful things is fitting.
I knew a woman who was determined to submit to her husband in everything, and he wanted to swap her out for the wife of another couple. She believed that she was meant to submit to this. This was clearly not a situation where her submission would have been, to quote Paul, "fitting in the Lord."
We need not go to extremes to clarify Paul's words. Our tendency to see things in terms of night and day can blind us to the beauties of the sunset. We forget that between black and white is not merely gray, but every color of the rainbow. When Paul says for the woman to submit, he is not commanding the ultimate and unquestioning submission due to a master or even submission that comes naturally because of strength or personality. He is encouraging a submission that is given for the glory of God.
Husbands, love your wives
The impulse to dominate can overwhelm a man. It can blind him to his own lack of gentleness. It can make him selfish and overbearing. Even around other men, a man's impulse to resolve all challenges with force is never far from the surface. Fighting does solve disputes, by turning overcoming problems into overcoming people. It is simpler. And any man who resorts to force to solve his issues is simple-minded. It proves only that he can indulge his own selfishness.
As much as a woman's desire to control her husband is part of the fall, a husband's urge to dominate her is. Husbands are meant to lead, not dominate. When a woman is being subjected to domineering physical, emotional or sexual abuse, her submission is not appropriate. Her protection of her health and safety and that of her children is more appropriate and fitting in the Lord.
Instead, men, love your wife. Do not allow the taming of your strength to make you bitter. Do not allow disagreements with her to sour your spirit. Do not be harsh. Do not be mean. Do not be abusive. Do not fight. These are not the features of love.
Both the love of the husband and the submission of the wife draw the other into their own example. Once again John Chrysostom says it better than I could:
"To love ... is the husband's part, to yield pertains to the other side. If, then, each one contributes his own part, all stand firm. From being loved, the wife too becomes loving; and from her being submissive, the husband learns to yield" (Homilies on Colossians).
Men, love is not a power struggle or a declaration that you are the tie breaker in every disagreement:
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is not self centered
Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13)
I am afraid, men, that we have allowed this description to fit women better than it fits us. And we are the ones given the command to love.
Children obey your parents
Children are not inclined to do this. But if a child truly wants to claim to be a believer, it is how he or she will behave. It is not always fun or in keeping with our image of ourselves, but as children, we are called to obey. It is pleasing to God.
If a child wants to please God, this is his or her first instruction. Our parents are our first, best teachers and pastors. If you do as they say, you are exercising your first and most immediate obedience. It is good.
But, Parents, Do not provoke your children
There is a fine line of wisdom in parenting. You can and should expect obedience from your children, but you should also be wise in what you require and how you treat and speak to them. Our tone and the character of our expectations upon children should avoid demanding, but should encourage them in their obedience.
Allow me to confess my ignorance. I am not good with children, largely because I do not have any. It is easy for me to become the unwitting victim of their manipulations. I will not pretend to be a child rearing expert and will not presume to give you too much advice. My purpose here is to attempt to interpret what Paul is saying about appropriate and fruitful parenting. It is not much, only one line, so I will attempt also not to over-do it.
Pay attention to the responses of your children. If they are prone to anger in response to your treatment of them, perhaps it is time to try a new approach. It is a path for them to walk and you are their guide.
Their path is obedience. Your guidance determines how they walk:
* In anger and resentment
* Or in courage, curiosity and enthusiasm
In other words, the fact that your children obey you is not as good a gauge of your parenting as the spirit in which they obey. We sometimes think that if we get compliance that is enough.
I like the story that Stephen Covey tells in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. His daughter has a birthday party. After she opens her presents the children want to play, but she does not want to share her gifts with them. So Dr. Covey tries everything:
* He tries appealing to her better nature: It is nice to share
* He tries appealing to her gratitude: They just gave you the gifts, they were nice to you
* He tries bribery (in a whisper): If you share, I will give you some gum (to which she loudly responds in the hearing of the other parents that she doesn't want any gum)
* He threatens: If you don't share, I will punish you
* Finally he uses force: Over her protests, he takes some of the gifts away from his daughter and distributes them to the other children
You may think he did the right thing, but Dr. Covey believes that in her frustration, that particular lesson of the value of sharing was stolen from his daughter. He could have been more understanding of her desire to explore her new toys before, with a sense of security and generosity, sharing them with others.
I will not question his wisdom. I will only say that our goals sometimes need to be adjusted. We need to have loftier and more positive goals in many things, including child rearing.
Now you know why I say, "The family takes a lot of work!" A healthy family will go through several stages that require perseverance and a good work ethic.
Stage One -- The family begins at the, "I do"s and a couple is birthed. Now comes the dying to self.
Stage Two -- The couple's life is dramatically changed at the arrival of the first child. Now comes heaps of responsibility and stress.
Stage three -- The children grow up out of the toddler years and start school. The family is apart more and life becomes more hectic with school age children. Families can drift apart if they are not careful here.
Stage four -- Now the children reach adolescence and life changes quickly. Turmoil enters the family unit. Hormones invade the home. Expenses go up for couples in this stage. There are more activities and more separation of the family individuals. There are more choices to make and peer pressures. The family helps here in guidance and direction while allowing the child now teen to become and individual and to move to individuation. This is a hard time for the family and can tear it apart if it is not healthy.
Step Five -- the empty nest is another difficult passage were the couple finds themselves a couple again with their children gone. Children no longer are the focus of their family unit. Now mom and dad look to each other for companionship.
Stage Six -- Then comes Grandchildren but it's still very different.
You can see why we need the healthy keys of a strong family if we are going to thrive, adjust, flex and stay together through these life stages.