John 8:36 - So if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free.

Galatians 5:1 - We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law.

This is my journey.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Commandments of Men?

**Disclaimer - it may seem I am up on this particular (or a similar) soapbox often, and I just want to state it is not aimed at anyone or anything in particular. I just often have conversations with myself in my head, then I write them down and want to share them, because perhaps it may help someone else. So that's why I've been posting so much on this issue recently, it's one I've been thinking about quite a bit.**

1 Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
9 They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules. ’”
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into your mouth does not defile you, but what comes out of your mouth, that is what defiles you.”
12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?”
13 He replied, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. 14 Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
15 Peter said, “Explain the parable to us.”
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these defile you. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile you; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile you.” Matthew 15:1-20

This morning, I was pondering several issues, and wanted to touch on a couple of them. Separate issues, but all intertwined as well.

1. The idea that a Christian wife and mother must be a stay-at-home mom. (Titus 2:3-5, Timothy 5:14)
2. That all Christian women must grow their hair long/never cut it. (1 Corinthians 11:6,15)
3. That women must wear dresses/skirts and never pants. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:3-5

So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. - 1 Timothy 5:14

To begin, there have been very few cultures throughout history in which women even could be a “stay-at-home” mother. Most were simply trying to survive. Even in our American culture, it is very recent that almost anyone can afford one parent to stay at home while the other works. The lower classes have always had to work, all throughout history and even in some cultures still. Black slaves in recent history had no such option. There is no way we can take 1 or 2 verses picked out and call them God's “ideal” if they cannot be applied to everyone, every culture, every time era. God's “ideals” transcend all human thought, laws, cultural divides, and time eras. God has no “ideal” lifestyle for His children – why else would He have created such diversity?

Neither of those verses state all women must be a stay-at-home mother, and there is "no way" God might call her to something different (such as the mother working and the father staying at home). Or both parents working, as may be necessary in many cases.

I am not saying I think being a stay-at-home mother is somehow “wrong” or “lesser” than pursuing a career, it is my dream and desire to be a stay-at-home mom myself. I am simply making the case that it is in no sense “God's ideal” or any sort of mandate He's place on His children.

If it is not applicable to every nation, culture and time era, it is not God's mandate or ideal.

The same ruling should apply to hair/clothing as well. What is “men's clothing” or “women's clothing”, and what is the standard we are basing that off of? Our current culture? The 1800s? If we're taking for example, the 1800s... whose 1800s, America's, Europe's, Asia's? Because they all were completely different from each other.

Back in Bible times (through many of those time eras and cultures), everyone wore robes... which in our current culture appear quite similar to dresses. Does that mean Jesus was cross-dressing? Does that mean Scottish men are wrong to follow their ancient tradition of kilts because we in America don't do that, and kilts look like a skirt? What are we basing this “clothing ideal” off of anyway? What constitutes “men's” or “women's” clothing changes with every time era, every culture – it is constantly in a state of change. However, no matter what culture you are in, there is always distinctions between what is men's or women's clothing. It makes far more sense that this verse:

A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this. Deuteronomy 22:5

Would be talking about cross-dressing/transvestite actions, rather than specific articles of clothing (pants or skirts) that eternally are “men's” or “women's”. That doesn't even make sense, in light of all the cultures that have come and gone in the thousands of years the world has been around.

Some say that 1 Corinthians 11 is stating women should wear a veil/scarf on their head always (or especially when praying). Others say no, just grow their hair long. And even others state it is simply meaning “do not ever cut your hair.” (You can read my breakdown of that passage here:

But that stipulation only makes sense in a culture like ours, where hair is something of an afterthought, and is simple to deal with. However, what about countries where the women shave all their hair off simply because they have no way to take care of it? (Like, say, all of Africa.) Are they “shamed” then, because they do whatever is easiest with their hair because IT DOESN'T MATTER, and they have other things to worry about, like survival? Even in the western countries black women have incredibly unmanageable hair when grown out.

To tell women in third world countries they must “grow their hair long” (which in many cases isn't even possible – some women cannot physically grow their hair long), or “never cut their hair” would be putting a terrible and completely unnecessary burden on them. Does God really put such massive physical burdens on us, burdens that have 0 eternal significance? That just doesn't make sense.

God does not give mandates that only some can accomplish. God is not about arbitrary man-made rules, or really outward appearance at all.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Once you make outward appearance important, a mandate, then THAT BECOMES YOUR WHOLE FOCUS! It suddenly becomes more important to “look right” than to actually be righteous, to love others, and to focus on spreading God's word!

Yes, God does put difficult burdens on us. He commands us to forgive, not to lust, to be holy. He burdens me to pray for the lost. He commands us to love others as He loves us. He tells us to give, and serve, and be a light. These can be very difficult to accomplish, even in the power of His Spirit. But what do all of those have in common that is different from hair/clothing/staying at home? They all are heart issues and have eternal significance, whereas hair/clothing/staying at home are simply physical issues that morph and change every few decades. They are simply part of this physical world that means nothing in light of eternity.

'These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. Mark 7:6b-8

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