SEARCHING THE BIBLE FOR WISDOM

The garden of Eden with the fall of man
(from here)

What Got This Post Started?

Your Biblical Belief is 42 years old … by Jamie Carter illustrates why I consider debating the Bible worthwhile. This is actually a form of Christian fellowship. The subject is God, and we share our understanding of Him.

In her post, comments on Susan Foh‘s 1975 article, WHAT IS THE WOMAN’S DESIRE? What is that about? Well, consider how  ends her (guessing since I am not certain of ‘s gender) post.

Before Foh pioneered this meaning for the word desire in 1975; the main school of thought was that ‘desire’ referred to a woman’s sexual desire for her husband; though Calvin thought that it meant that a woman will desire what her husband desires and will have no desires for herself. Some thought that women will be plagued with desire itself bordering on a disease. What wasn’t up for debate was that whatever it meant, men had to rule over women as a result of desire.

So if you believe that a man is the head of his family, that the curse on women was to be in rebellion against her husband’s headship because her desire was to be contrary to his headship and the man would rule over his wife, your Biblical belief is somewhat older than I am. Ain’t that something? (from here)

Apparently, thinks that what complementarians believe about the Biblical basis for the relationship between men and women is of relatively recent origin, and that the recent origin Biblical basis for Complementarianism undermines the argument.

What is Complementarianism? It is the counterpart to Egalitarianism.

Summarized by “The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” complementarianism is the viewpoint that God restricts women from serving in church leadership roles and instead calls women to serve in equally important, but complementary roles. Summarized by “Christians for Biblical Equality,” egalitarianism is the viewpoint that there are no biblical gender-based restrictions on ministry in the church. With both positions claiming to be biblically based, it is crucially important to fully examine what exactly the Bible does say on the issue of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism. (continued here)

What Is This Post About?

After I first read ‘s post, I found myself digging into what Susan Foh had written and the debates she had engendered, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that while gender issues are quite important to  they were not the subject of her post.  Her issue is how complementarians arrived at their version of Biblical truth. Hence, I am not going to try to resolve the debate between complementarians and egalitarians. The subject here is how we search for Biblical wisdom.

Consider something Isaac Newton said.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. — Isaac Newton (from here)

We build understanding by building upon the wisdom of the people who went before us. That is, what we know depends upon what the generations before us taught us, especially our parents and grandparents. That includes our understanding of the Bible.

People have studied and debated (sometimes quite unpleasantly) the meaning of the Bible since God started inspiring men to write it. If we look up the history of universities, we soon find that medieval monks started them in Christian cathedrals. Of course, theology was the big focus. In fact, if we go back further and look up the Church Fathers, most of what they did was study, debate, and preach scripture.

Most of us think for ourselves. Even when we are trying to obey God, most of us think for ourselves. That independent spirit both causes problems and helps us in seeking God.  When Eve bit into the apple and Adam followed her example (Genesis 3), instead of obeying God, both sought to be like God. That did not please God. When we study the Bible diligently and try to understand it so we can understand, love, obey, and seek God; we please Him.

What Is The Debate Over Genesis 3:16 About?

So what about the difficulty of interpreting Genesis 3:16? Consider some different translations.

Here the word “desire” is used. That is more common.

Genesis 3:16 New King James Version (NKJV)

16 To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”

Here the word “control” is used. Some adopted that translation after 1975.

Genesis 3:16 New English Translation (NET Bible)

16 To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your labor pains;
with pain you will give birth to children.
You will want to control your husband,
but he will dominate you.”

Another version of the Bible, one developed by Catholics, provides a relatively unique translation.

Genesis 3:16 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

16 To the woman also he said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.

Here, from Bible Hub, is a listing of various translations of Genesis 3:16. If you are particularly interested in this verse, I also suggest reading the commentaries on Genesis 3:16 at Bible Hub. Of course, those commentaries predate Susan Foh‘s 1975 article, WHAT IS THE WOMAN’S DESIRE?

What Causes Our Disagreements About The Bible?

So why do the various translations differ, sometimes significantly.  Well, the Bible is only the Word of God in the original language. Once we start putting the Bible in our language we have to put up with translation errors and the biases of the translators. This is no secret. It is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church was reluctant to have the Bible translated and to let the people read it for themselves. The Bible Translation That Rocked the World, for example, discusses the challenges that Martin Luther encountered when he translated the Bible into German.

What does a word represent?  When we think of a word, we generate a concept in our mind.  When we speak a word to someone else we compel whoever is listening to generate the concept they associate with that word in their mind. Therefore, when we translate words from one language to another, finding the best match between the words in the source language and the target language involves finding the word or phrase that correctly portrays the desired concept in the mind of the reader.

Unfortunately, even if the translator well understands both the source and target languages, sometimes there isn’t a good word match. Sometimes, in the case of a language that has not been spoken for a long time, scholars have to work quite diligently to understand what concepts the words in the source language were meant to generate in the minds of the people who spoke that language.  So it is we get translations that are mostly the same, but some differ significantly.

What Is The Word In Question?

What is the word in question? It is the Hebrew word teshuqah. Google produces about 3200 hits (click on teshuqah). So that word has generated much commentary.

Most of the translations of teshuqah use the noun form of the word “desire”.  Let’s look at the origin of the word, “desire”.

desire

v. early 13c., from Old French desirrer (12c.) “wish, desire, long for,” from Latin desiderare “long for, wish for; demand, expect,” original sense perhaps “await what the stars will bring,” from the phrase de sidere “from the stars,” from sidus (genitive sideris) “heavenly body, star, constellation” (but see consider ). Related: Desired ; desiring.

n. c.1300, from Old French desir, from desirer (see desire (v.)); sense of “lust” is first recorded mid-14c.

Curiously, the word “desire” was first associated with the stars. Sexual lust is an element of desire, but “having” is the primary emphasis of the word, and that something is from the stars.  What we desire we want. What we desire is something we long to have in our possession and under our control.

Is desire the wrong word? Maybe not. “Covet” is a synonym for “desire”, and covetousness is a sin. What we desire — what we put at the forefront of our life — rules us.

What Is The End Of This Discussion?

I tend to enjoy John Wesley’s concise commentary. What did he have to say about Genesis 3:16?

Verse 16
[16] Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

We have here the sentence past upon the woman; she is condemned to a state of sorrow and a state of subjection: proper punishments of a sin in which she had gratified her pleasure and her pride. (1.) She is here put into a state of sorrow; one particular of which only is instanced in, that in bringing forth children, but it includes all those impressions of grief and fear which the mind of that tender sex is most apt to receive, and all the common calamities which they are liable to. It is God that multiplies our sorrows, I will do it: God, as a righteous Judge, doth it, which ought to silence us under all our sorrows; as many as they are we have deserved them all, and more: nay, God as a tender Father doth it for our necessary correction, that we may be humbled for sin, and weaned from it. (2.) She is here put into a state of subjection: the whole sex, which by creation was equal with man, is for sin made inferior. (from here)

Wesley saw Genesis 3:16 as being about punishment, and for thousands of years the social standing of women has been lower than that of men. Among the Jews, women were generally treated better, and with the advent of Christianity, the social standing of women began to slowly rise. However, that verse was about sin and punishment. Because they had sinned — because they would continue to sin — Adam, Eve, and their progeny would suffer from sin.

Other verses in the Bible call upon men to love their wives as they love themselves. Other verses call upon women to love their husbands and submit to the love of their husbands. What all those verses mean, not just one, Christians and non-Christians study and debate.

Can I resolve this debate? Of course not, but I can suggest that each of us needs to ask God what He wants us to do and do it. Whether God made us a man or a woman, He did not do so to curse us. Our own sins do that, and that is what most people get out of Genesis 3. What Genesis 3 tells us to do is to love and obey our Creator. That Adam, Eve, and we have too often failed to do.

What about punishment God inflicted upon Adam, Eve, and all of humanity? Just as God punishes us, don’t we punish our children to teach them to behave? In spite of the fact we punish our children, is not most of the punishment they receive — we receive — self-inflicted? When we sin, don’t we suffer from our sins? If a 120 pound woman totally desires 180 lb man, who is going to be controlled? Oddly, because the man wants to rule over the woman, it doesn’t always work out the way one might expect.

And so it is that for the sake of a tempting piece of fruit, Adam and Eve gave up paradise and their selfless love for each other.

Additional References

A STRANGE DEBATE

Let’s Enslave The Heathen is to say the least a strange post. John Branyan apparently enjoys tormenting the heathen. So he followed up with Let’s Enslave Anyone Who Can’t Answer. What was the question?

Theist: “Give me a reason to release you, Slave!” (from here)

Of course, the heathen (atheists in particular) cannot give a straightforward answer. That’s the point I sought to make in HOW SHOULD WE DECIDE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS WRONG? — UPDATED. Without God setting the measure, the difference between right and wrong does not amount to much. When we set the measure, what the difference between right and wrong comes down for us is our feelings.

So what did violetwisp do when she tried to respond to on her blog? In christians run scared on slavery, cites Bible verses that supposedly show that God approves of slavery. That, somehow, is the answer.

The answer for the most frightened Christians out there is simple: DIVERSION!! Join the ranks of the terrified John Branyan by pretending you don’t understand simple explanations about co-operation, empathy and the logical evaluation of the outcomes of actions. Ignore what you see in the world around you, ignore what goes on throughout the animal kingdom and start claiming that without an invisible god’s morality stick, atheists want slaves! (from here)

Of course atheists want slaves. Doesn’t everyone? Not exactly. Managed properly, slaves can be a lot of work. So it is that mrsmcmommy responded to a comment on slavery with this post: The Slavery Post.

So, if the topic of slavery has been covered well by others, what else do I have to contribute?

Well, I still need to put my signature spin on it. I still need to do something surprising and a maybe a little half-baked–like suggesting that the biblical version of slavery is a lot like parenthood. (from here)

What observes is that some people, like children, need someone to be in charge of them. We often forget just how difficult it was just to survive during ancient times. Some people needed help, and during ancient times slavery provided the only health, education, and welfare systems available to the poor. Nevertheless, the slave master relationship is rife with the potential for abuse. So what the Bible did was regulate slavery so as to prevent abuse.

Do the rules in the Bible mean God approves of slavery? No, but the Bible provides the rules for us, not God, and God is merciful and patient with us. He gives us time to allow our hearts to soften. Here is example. When the Pharisees asked about divorce, Jesus explained why, even though God hates divorce, the Old Testament provides rules for it.

Matthew 19:7-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

Slavery has been the norm throughout most of human history. If Christians had not decided to abolish slavery, slavery would be much more common than it is today. That’s right! In spite of logic and empathy, some people still make slaves of other people.

The notion that we would have stopped making slaves out of each other just because of logic and empathy is in fact arrogant. It implies the ancients were not just as capable of logic and empathy, but none of their idols, gods of their own making, condemned slavery.

Slavery ended only because Jesus commanded us to obey the Golden Rule, and there is no place in that rule for slavery, not when God has told you that every man, woman and child (born and unborn) is your neighbor. Not when you know that every man is made in the image of God.

DO YOU THINK DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME IS NECESSARY?

Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. (from here)
“Instead of cursing the darkness, light a candle.” ― Benjamin Franklin (from here)

AccuWeather has a poll (here) with this question.

Do you think daylight saving time is necessary?

When I saw the results, I just laughed. What is the primary reason for daylight saving time? Some merchants like it because they think it leads to an increase in sales for outdoor products, but this just illustrates the ease with which some politicians can be bought.

Did you know daylight saving time started as a joke?

American inventor and politician Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay called “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” to the editor of The Journal of Paris in 1784. In the essay, he suggested, although jokingly, that Parisians could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of the natural morning light instead. (from here)

smithsonianmag.com credits someone else with the idea, but observes that Franklin had a role.

The creation of DST is usually credited to George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand artist and amateur bug collector who first proposed the idea in an 1895 paper, but 100 years earlier, Benjamin Franklin, inventor of all things useful, pondered a similar question in a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris.
Here is the letter.  It is a priceless example of deadpan humor.

Benjamin Franklin’s
Essay on Daylight Saving

Letter to the Editor of the Journal of Paris, 1784

To THE AUTHORS of
The Journal of Paris

1784

MESSIEURS,

You often entertain us with accounts of new discoveries. Permit me to communicate to the public, through your paper, one that has lately been made by myself, and which I conceive may be of great utility.

I was the other evening in a grand company, where the new lamp of Messrs. Quinquet and Lange was introduced, and much admired for its splendour; but a general inquiry was made, whether the oil it consumed was not in proportion to the light it afforded, in which case there would be no saving in the use of it. No one present could satisfy us in that point, which all agreed ought to be known, it being a very desirable thing to lessen, if possible, the expense of lighting our apartments, when every other article of family expense was so much augmented. (continued here)

What Franklin proposed as a joke is now reality, but I doubt he would be surprised. After his long life, it is good bet Franklin well understood the foolishness of which we are capable.

DOES JESUS DRAFT CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS?

Last Crusader by Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808–1880)
Last Crusader by
Karl Friedrich Lessing (1808–1880) (from here)

I am in a sorrowful condition. I am in an endless argument about politics. I don’t seem to be able to win, to change hearts and mind. WOE is me.

So here my last crusade to win a war of words with a couple of commenters. The picture above is how I expect to look when I come back from this contest. Even the horse I rode on will be exhausted.

What is the subject? Should our government redistribute our wealth?

In my last post, 2016 POST ELECTION STRATEGY AND TACTICS – PART 5, I included a picture of George Washington with this caption.

It may be laid down, as a primary position, and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of a free government, owes not only a proportion of his property, but even of his personal services to the defence of it, and consequently that the Citizens of America (with a few legal and official exceptions) from 18 to 50 Years of Age should be borne on the Militia Rolls, provided with uniform Arms, and so far accustomed to the use of them, that the Total strength of the Country might be called forth at Short Notice on any very interesting Emergency. — George Washington, in “Sentiments on a Peace Establishment” in a letter to Alexander Hamilton (2 May 1783); published in The Writings of George Washington (1938), edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, Vol. 26, p. 289. (from here)

What Washington described were his requirements for a draft army levied by each of the states.  Is a draft a good idea? What’s that got to do with this post, you ask? Well, let’s see. When someone decides to take part of your earnings and give them away to the poor and needy, are they not drafting you to “fight” in the “war” against poverty?

Without a doubt we each have an obligation to help defend and strengthen our society, but is it a good idea to draft people to defend and strengthen our society.  Isn’t a volunteer army a better idea?

Let’s look at how the Bible told the leaders of ancient Israel to manage its “draft” when they were on the verge of battle.

Deuteronomy 20:3-9 New King James Version (NKJV)

And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’

“Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying: ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. Also what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it. And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.’

“The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint[a] like his heart.’ And so it shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

What the classic example of how this “draft” worked?  There was a man named Gideon. After some motivational talks (which included miracles), our Lord persuaded Gideon to fight the Midianites. Our Lord did not want a big army. He wanted an army who believed in the cause.

Judges 7:2-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.

But the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” So the people took provisions and their trumpets in their hands. And he sent away all the rest of Israel, every man to his tent, and retained those three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.

So it was Gideon went to battle with only three hundred men (plus God) against an army of thousands. Because Gideon had obeyed God and his soldiers wanted to fight and believed God would bring them victory, the Midianites had already lost.

Take the time to study Judges 6-8.  Gideon himself serves as an object lesson. Imagine trying to lead an army of Gideon’s. Look at the effort God expended bucking up Gideon’s courage. What man could have given Gideon the courage to fight boldly?

So why do our health, education, and welfare systems work so poorly and cost so much?

  • Even when they care, the draftees, the people paying the costs of the war on poverty don’t have any significant control on how their money is spent. Once the politicians get their hands on our money, those politicians largely control how that money will be spent.
  • Politicians manage the war on poverty, and the mechanics of getting reelected rewards those politicians who use health, education, and welfare spending to buy votes.  Effectively, for the sake of votes politicians steal some people’s money and give it to other people, and often they just give that money to bureaucrats, not the people who need it.
  • There are some good people working on health, education, and welfare programs, but many of the workers are just there to make a living. They are not devoted to the cause. Instead of winning the war on poverty, they are devoted to getting a secure job and receiving a healthy government pension. Effectively, most are just government employees who give money to unions which give money to politicians who hire more government employees who give more money to unions which give more money to politicians………

Some Relevant Posts

  • #1 The Worst One Of All (kingdompastor.wordpress.com): This is the last post in a series that starts here, Top 10 Things That Are Killing The Church! What is Pastor Randy‘s number 1 thing killing the Christian church in America? Instead of going out into the country seeking souls to save, Christians are sitting in their pews waiting for the unsaved to come to church.  What does think we should be doing?

    How we do THE MISSION is by getting into the streets, communities, neighborhoods and getting to know them.  It is US reaching out and going TO them.  Now excuse me, but I have to leave.  I’m volunteering in a low-income neighborhood to help elementary students become better readers.

    is spot on, but consider his example. Don’t most of us believe government is suppose to do those health, education, and welfare things? Well, government does not love people enough to save their souls. That is something Christians do. If we don’t have enough charity to save someone’s soul, what is the chance we will care about their health, education, or welfare?

  • Spiritual Warfare: Authority, Part Deux (sharethecoffee.wordpress.com): This is post about love and wisdom. Why link to this post? Successful health, education, and welfare programs require charity in the old sense of the word, agape love. Government-run health, education, and welfare programs don’t inspire agape love.  Christian-run health, education, and welfare programs primarily exist, however, because most Christians feel at least some degree of love for God.

    John 14:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

    15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

    H/T to The Life Project: Finding Clear and Simple Faith for the link to Spiritual Warfare: Authority, Part Deux.

  • THE ADVANTAGE OF A REPUBLIC OVER A DEMOCRACY: This is an old post of mind that references The Federalist, Paper # 10, written by James Madison. The subject is how the Constitution was designed to mitigate the effects of factional politics. What should we learn from reading The Federalist, Paper # 10? It is definitely not a good idea for half the population to use the Federal Government to feed off the other half.

Anyway, it is bedtime.  This crusade is over. Time to feed a tired old horse and brush it down, get some rest, and prepare for the battles to come.