by Vaughn Ohlman cross posted from his blog True Love Doesn’t Wait
Well, another set of questions from No Longer Quivering. So far I have found her questions to be very appropriate, on point, and respectful. Today’s set of questions is no less. This set of questions, if I had to put a summary to them, well, I would be hard put to put a summary to them. They are kind of all over the map. But a couple of them do start to get at some of the marriage issues, so that’s good!
11. Some theologians say that the advice on marriage and submission written by Paul is more personal opinion than the direct word of God. What do you make of that?
1Corinthians 7:12-16 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
There are a couple problems with the view that Paul’s admonitions on marriage are just ‘his opinion’, and one very good statement. First of all the good statement. Paul himself, at a couple points in Scripture, states that something is his opinion. So we don’t actually err when we say that those spots were Paul’s opinion. (This doesn’t mean that we can transfer this to other passages, however.)
Where we can make our mistake is afterwards, when we decide what to do about his opinion. All too often what we do is just dismiss it. We don’t like his opinion, it doesn’t mesh with what we want to do, or some new doctrine we wish to impose on the Scriptures. Well, it was just his opinion, right?
Well… not really. First of all, it was *the Apostle Paul’s* opinion. He didn’t JUST write Scripture, eh? He also had the job of being THE apostle to the Gentiles. Like, most of us. We are Gentiles. Non-Jews. So he was our apostle. The person that God authorized to run around from Gentile church to Gentile church and give his opinion as to how we should run ourselves. His authorized, authoritative, apostolic opinion. Not everything he did was Scripture, or needed to be. When the CEO of a company tells you how he wants things run he isn’t speaking inerrantly, but he is speaking authoritatively.
And these particular opinions were opinions that God chose to have written down in Scripture. He kind of put His stamp of approval on them, no? So kind of foolish to just dismiss them, eh? When God Himself saw fit to pass them down to us in His innerrant book?
Now the question itself is a bit over broad. There are only a couple of places in Scripture where Paul identifies himself as speaking in his opinion. The rest of the time Scripture makes no issue about Paul’s ‘opinion’. It is Scripture. Wholly inspired Scripture.
And Paul’s ‘opinion’ on marriage and submission are nothing new. They fit into the whole of Scripture, and are echoed by Peter, who says nothing about it being his opinion. It is reflected in the Creation story. So overall the whole ‘just Paul’s opinion’ idea falls pretty flat.
12. In light of recent scandals involving large ministries and sex do you think it’s genuinely possible to be fully restored to a position of responsibility after leaving the ministry because of scandal?
Galatians 6:1-10 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
The apostle Paul, in the previous question, was actually a murderer of Christians and then went on to become the apostle to the Gentiles. Peter denied Christ three times and yet was the ‘rock’ on which Christ founded his church. David committed adultery and murder, and yet became the king that all other kings of Israel were compared to. Jonah ran away from his ministry and then his preaching brought an entire city to repentance and salvation from the judgement of God. So there is no question that God uses sinners, and even very great sinners, in his church, and in civil and family leadership.
If the question were whether a man who had sinned grievously could be restored to full fellowship in the church, then Scripture answers a resounding yes to this question. Indeed that is the very point of church discipline: to drive the sinner back.
If the question was could someone who had sinned grievously resume civil leadership, or family leadership, then Scripture again says yes. If anything the Scriptures are rather short of Godly leaders who *didn’t* sin rather spectacularly at one point or other… before part or all of their ministry.
But as Martin Selbrede points out, this doesn’t mean that a pastor or ministry leader can necessarily resume their spiritual ministry position once they have violated the very trust given them in that ministry. Scripture says, for example, that an elder in the church must be ‘blameless’. While no one reads that as being without sin (for then we would have no elders) it is very doubtful if that means that, having been once given the trust of an elder and having used that trust to defraud the members of their fellowship, they can again be restored to the position of elder.
I have not done a study on this issue, and it is not directly relevant to the issue of the path to marriage, so these are just my quick thoughts.
13. Is it right for a leader to seek fame or be a televangelist or does that run counter to the Biblical notion of humility?
Matthew 10:16-20 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you
Oh, wait, you probably want more than that.
Seeking fame seems to be rather directly against the Biblical norm, as long as we remember that it includes the word ‘seeking’. In Scripture we are told to seek lots of things: wisdom, righteousness, God’s glory… but not fame.
Lot’s of Biblical men, and several Biblical women, became famous. But I think we can easily argue it wasn’t fame they were seeking. What does the verse say? Seek ye first the kingdom of God… and then all these things will be added unto you?
Televangelists have a bad rap, and deservedly so. So do politicians, ditto. But Paul spoke on Mar’s Hill (probably the closest thing to TV they had in those days) and Daniel, David, and Mordecai were all political leaders.
14. If we’re supposed to follow the Biblical model for modesty (which is what the Islamic women wear, veils and robes) then why has it been disregarded and/or modified by most of the church?
1Timothy 2:9-15 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Ok, a couple of real confusions here. First of all, I think you are confusing me with someone else. I do not teach ‘modesty’ in dress. I think the Biblical word ‘modesty’ refers to an entirely different concept: that of not dressing or acting in a showy, show-off-y, way. I do not think that there are any Scriptures that describe exactly what we should wear and when.
It is a rather profound mistake to lump me together with modern preachers of ‘modesty’. I am a supporter of the group ‘Hey, Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene.’ I grew up skinny dipping with the other guys in the creek, or pond, or swimming pool  I don’t think the Biblical word ‘modesty’ has anything at all to do with how much skin is covered. I believe that much of the modern Christian idea of ‘modesty’ is actually the old fashioned heresy of ‘gnosticism’: the idea that the body is intrinsically evil. This is not at all what Scripture teaches. Scripture teaches that when the first naked man and naked woman were created it was ‘very good’.
But I do believe there are very strong principles that should guide us in our search on how best to glorify God in our dress. And I do believe that our modern women have rejected, pretty much in toto, these principles.
The first principle is that of ‘chastity’. Regardless of how much actual skin is showing a woman should always be dressed in a way that does honor to her relationship to her husband. If something is showy, or tight, or puffy, or curvey, or whatever it is, it should be in honor of her sexual relationship with her husband. If it isn’t showy, or tight, or puffy, or curvey, or whatever else it isn’t; then that too should be in honor of her sexual relationship with her husband… and her non-sexual relationship with her non-husbands: ie everyone else.
Our dress can and does reflect our heart, and our intentions. Some of our girls, walking around in their long skirts and dresses, may be doing so for pride reasons. Others out of a mistaken view of ‘modesty’. But I think that the majority of full-quiver girls have a better idea than most modern girls about what is sexually appropriate in a woman’s dress. There is nothing ‘Islamic’ about the way a Christian woman should dress; but there is something sexual. A Christian woman should dress in a way that is sexually appropriate for her audience. Thus her dress for her husband should be very different from her dress for men not her husband. There should be nothing dumpy or frumpy about the way a Christian woman dresses. But it should make it clear that she is a one-man-woman.The second issue is one of ‘femininity’. Our modern world is doing its best, in the age old tradition, to break down the division between male and female. I believe that Scripture calls us to do the exact opposite: to emphasize these divisions, to promote them, to display them. One such division is in the issue of headcoverings . Paul is quite clear, man and woman were created to be different, one difference should show on their heads.
In our modern society the WalMart bathroom doors give us a clue to this distinction. Men should wear pants, and women skirts. Not because that is set in stone from the beginning of time but because that is a distinction our society uses. Our first parents went naked. That certainly set the sexes apart, eh? Then, after sin, from the beginning of time until now, practically every society that has ever existed has had ways that set male dress apart from female dress. In our society that is skirts and dresses. When our boys and our girls go up to the WalMart bathroom door and we teach them which one they are to go into, no one typically asks ‘why?’. The boys and girls both know full well that boys don’t wear skirts, that that is the girls bathroom, and this one with the pants is the boys.
Not that every woman wears a skirt (or even that many do, nowadays) or that men never do (see the Scottish). But it is a pretty ubiquitous sign in our society. It is hard to mistake. When my girls go shopping in their long skirts and dresses no one says of them, “Wow, they dress just like men.” Even from behind, even from afar, they look like what they are: girls. Scripture says it is an abomination for a woman to dress like a man, or a man a woman. And I can say that I have received many compliments and polite, admiring, inquiries as to the way my women dress.
An additional issue would be that modern women’s fashions are incredibly ugly. I’m sorry, but tis true. I suppose that for modern women that doesn’t matter so much? But surely no one can tell me that the modern jeans and tee shirt girl looks nearly as pretty as girls at any other time in history? It’s like we have made ugliness in dress a prerequisite of modern womanhood.
Anyway, the final part of this question is ‘why is the church ignoring these principles’? There are several parts to an answer to this, and I’m actually planning another post on the subject so, for now, I will just say a couple of quick things.
1) Who is the church anyway? Do you or I have X-ray vision to be able to tell who is and who isn’t actually part of God’s remnant? I know I don’t. Perhaps they are mostly following these principles?
2) I’m sure you know as well as I do that the church is full of people from all levels of understanding, knowledge, and commitment. Scripture shows the same thing throughout history. God never claimed that His church would be full of perfect people. Quite the opposite, in fact.
15. Do you believe in miracles, signs and wonders in the modern time or is this only for the Biblical times?
Thessalonians 5:19-20 Quench not the Spirit.Despise not prophesyings.
I do not believe that miracles, signs, etc. have ceased. While I would reserve the right to doubt that 99% of what goes on nowadays and pretty much always under those names are actually works of the Holy Spirit, I can see no Scriptural evidence of a time when miracles cease.
The Scriptures say ‘test the spirits’. There are just about as many examples of false spirits speaking in Scripture as true works of God. So I am very skeptical about much of what goes on nowadays in the various Charismatic Churches.
And as we all know, God has not acted the same during every part of history. From time to time one prophet or another would arrive and there would be a flurry of miracles. Then dozens or hundreds of years would pass without any record of any miracles. What if God, during the particular time when His son came and immediately afterward, chose to make that a special time of miracles? Does that mean they must continue in the same way and in the same number? Of that if it diminished, it cannot resume with great force?
Depending on one’s eschatology that is exactly what some of us think. That there will come a time, an end time, when the number of miracles and other great events will increase. When miracles and judgments and all sorts of overly interesting events will be flying around like confetti. But right now doesn’t seem to be one of those times.
 As long as the girls stayed in the house. (That’s no girl, that’s just Billy’s mom!) Historically, even in very conservative and Christian countries, men and boys have bathed (like, swam) in the nude, and families often lived practically on top of each other. It is actually kind of amazing how unhistorical so many of our films are, showing these poor families, living on the prairie, in houses with several rooms!
 I Cor 11:1-16
 Deuteronomy 22:5
 There might be exceptions. Most are probably built upon the same error, or another error equally bad. I remember that the communists in China once insisted on a rather ugly unisex dress. http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/hsc/evrev/mao_suit.htm
Approved by: Jeff Woodward with the following caveats:
11 – Even though in a few places in 1 Cor. 7 Paul clearly does tell his audience that “I, not the LORD” is giving the direction, we may rightly employ the practice of emulating the apostolic example, as with other Scriptural texts. I agree with Matthew Henry’s position, that “It does not mean that the apostle spoke without authority from the Lord, or decided this case by his own wisdom, without the inspiration of the Holy Ghost [who is inerrant].”
12 – Addtionally, (sic) God’s grace and forgiveness, though restorative, rarely if ever negates the temporal consequences of sin and rebellion. In other words, it is possible that the inability to assume a pastoral role in the same capacity as before would be the just consequence of committing the grievous sin.
13 – Matthew 6:1-6 – Those that seek the glory of men rather than the glory of God already have their reward and will not be blessed for acts.
14 – Though passages that use the word “modesty” may not necessarily be referring to the type of modesty we think of today, the Bible certainly teaches and supports the principle of modesty (as we think of it). Examples: In Gen. 3, after Adam and Eve had sinned and had their eyes opened to their nakedness, they tried to cover their private parts with fig leaves (think of the black censor boxes or blurs we use today). Yet, this was not good enough only to cover their most intimate parts; God covered them. (Yes, I understand that there is theological significance to this as well, but there is also the spritual and practical significance of their bodily coverings.) In Gen. 38 and Proverbs 7 refer to “the attire of an harlot”, indicating that dress may be indicative of a sinful lifestyle; we ought not to dress as harlots dress. We ought not to act and dress as the world does, but we ought to be renewed in our minds (Rom. 12:2). Prov. 7:10 is actually a good example and may tie in to a passage like 1 Tim. 2:9 Matthew Henry says of this verse: “She is here described, 1. By her dress. She had the attire of a harlot (v. 10), gaudy and flaunting, to set her off as a beauty; perhaps she was painted as Jezebel, and went with her neck and breasts bare, loose, and en deshabille. The purity of the heart will show itself in the modesty of the dress, which becomes women professing godliness.” Our nakedness causes us shame because of our sinfulness and the exposure thereof (as it did when Adam and Eve first had their eyes opened.) In other places in the Word, nakedness is a means making ashamed (Ex. 32.25, 2 Sam. 10:4-5, Is. 47:3, Rev. 3:18, 16:15, etc.) In fact, a LACK of shame is actually a sign of completely callousness (Jer. 3:3, Jer. 8:12, Eph. 4:17-19 etc.). Even 1 Corithians 7 uses the word “pornea”. David says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Ps. 101:3), even as Jesus calls lust adultery (Matt. 5:28). So there is obviously appropriate and inappropriate dress in various circumstances, not the least of which is that we should not cause our brother to stumble (Rom. 14:21, 1 Cor. 8:9-13, et al.). Ultimately, one must examine one’s own heart and motivation for one’s dress. If it is to gain undue sexual attention, then obviously this is sinful. Even the motivation by many women and girls to wear most IMMODEST (as in, provocative) clothing today, I think, would fall under direct opposition to the advice given in 1 Tim. 2 (namely, that it is vanity, undue attention, etc.) All this said, there is no particular “dress code” provided in the Bible, neither is there any indication that Christian women are to cover themselves as the Muslim women do.
In general, I agree that women ought to be feminine and men ought to be masculine and that the Bible clearly supports this. Regarding head coverings in particular, I tend to agree with Matthew Henry’s position: “To understand this, it must be observed that it was a signification either of shame or subjection for persons to be veiled, or covered, in the eastern countries, contrary to the custom of ours, where the being bare-headed betokens subjection, and being covered superiority and dominion. And this will help us the better to understand.”
[Note from Vaughn: Remembering that Matthew Henry also said: “It was the common usage of the churches for women to appear in public assemblies, and join in public worship, veiled; and it was manifestly decent that they should do so. Those must be very contentious indeed who would quarrel with this, or lay it aside.”
And I would disagree that the Scriptures teach ‘modesty as we teach it’. But that’s the subject for another discussion elsewhere.]
15 – Generally agree.
Editorial note: Have a question for Vaughn? Email me at CaluluNLQ(at)gmail(d0t)com and I’ll pass it along. Thanks Vaughn for being so open to answer questions from us.
Comments open below
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce