Did God Really Say? A Challenge To An Observers Analysis of Leviticus 18

FeaturedDid God Really Say? A Challenge To An Observers Analysis of Leviticus 18

Within Western culture there has been an increase to legitimize and validate what has become known as the LGBTQ movement, which has several objectives: To promote and advocate for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, and queer individuals, to change and nullify what was known as sodomy laws, which prohibited homosexual acts between men and women, and to end discrimination (and stereotypes) in social interactions in various institutions (e.g., business, academia, etc.). In addition, this movement, particularly, desires to challenge what promoters of this movement describe as “archaic and traditional social constructs” that are found in the body of Christ. As as result this has led to a translation of the Bible that alters the passages that discuss homosexuality, promoting the homosexual clergy in the church,  and establishing what is being labeled as “inclusive” churches all over the world.

There are others who have chosen to take their pen and write against what they perceive as prejudices attempting to make their case from the Scriptures that homosexuality was a sanctioned practice in the Old Testament. One such scholar by the name of Dr. Idan Dershowitz, in an opinion piece titled, “The Secret History of Leviticus” asserts that chapter 18 of Leviticus, the chapter that prohibits homosexuality, was not written by the same author, but by several authors of a long period of time:

Like many ancient texts, Leviticus was created gradually over a long period and includes the words of more than one writer. Many scholars believe that the section in which Leviticus 18 appears was added by a comparatively late editor, perhaps one who worked more than a century after the oldest material in the book was composed. An earlier edition of Leviticus, then, may have been silent on the matter of sex between men.

D.I. (2018). The Secret History of Leviticus. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/opinion/sunday/bible-prohibit-gay-sex.html

He attempts to provide an even stronger argument that earlier editions of a law found in Israel allowed this behavior. He adds there were “editorial interventions” in this chapter due to what he believes is a sudden break in the flow of the chapter involving what he refers to as “incest laws,” as he notes below

Each verse in Leviticus 18’s series of incest laws contains a similar gloss, but the others are merely emphatic, driving home the point. (For example, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.”) Only in these two cases — the father and mother, and the father’s brother — do the glosses alter our understanding of what is prohibited. A law prohibiting sex with one’s father fades away, and a law against sex with one’s uncle is reinterpreted as a ban on sex with one’s aunt…What we have here is strong evidence of editorial intervention.

D.I. (2018). The Secret History of Leviticus. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/opinion/sunday/bible-prohibit-gay-sex.html

Based on Biblical evidence, I am convinced there are several counterpoints that make his argument concerning the explanation “editorial intervention” in the Book of Leviticus a risible explanation. They are described below:

  • The divine authorship of Leviticus: All throughout the Old Testament we observe the authoritative speech of God (i.e., “The Lord said” or “the Lord God said”) the term Lord (i.e. YHVH in Hebrew, usually written in all capital letters) is the divine personal Name of God Himself, and this name in particular highlights the supreme authority of God and His word. This personal name for God occurs 273 times in the book of Leviticus, and occurs five times in chapter 18:1-30. In this text, God makes it clear to the nation of Israel that it is Him who is passing down these commands on how the nation of Israel should conduct themselves before Him, not several authors over a period of time.
  • The consequences of the other nations due to these practices: The Lord, in outlining these prohibitions mentioned the overall reason why God does not desire this behavior. It is found in the proceeding verses in this chapter of the Book of Leviticus:

24Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled25 ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants

Lev. 18:24-15 NASB emphasis mine.

God was removing all of the former inhabitants of the land that was given to the Israelite people because there were nations that were defiling themselves by doing these behaviors. This included all of the actions that were described above passage. In fact, God tells them that they were not to practice these customs and traditions that would defile them, or the land they were to live on,  five times in this chapter (vs. 24, 26, 28, 29, 30). In addition, they were not to do these customs because He is their God, the Lord (YHVH). The reason why the nations that lived in the land were removed prior to the Israelite people because of their acceptable use of these practices, which were against God.

  • The word usage in the Septuagint in Leviticus 18 and the New Testament: The Septuagint is the translation from the Hebrew Old Testament to the Greek language. The word that is used for “one that lies” in Lev. 18 is the word koite (κοίτη) meaning “to bed.” (an idiom used for sexual intercourse). This same word is used of Paul, who was a proficient scholar and teacher of the Old Testament (c.f., Phil. 4:3-6). When addressing the churches of Corinth he writes:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate , nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God 

1 Cor. 6:9-11 NASB emphasis mine

The Greek word used here for “homosexuals” is the word arsenokoites (ἀρσενοκοίτης), which means “to bed men.” Paul used the same word found in the Septuagint and uses it to tell them that those who identify with this behavior will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • An omission of historical precedent In his observation: In the context of Leviticus, the Lord was prohibiting behavior from the nation of Israel that was already a common practice in the ancient world. For example, there is history that the ancient Egyptians were involved with same-sex acts. This was not only true of Egypt but all of the other nations as well (as observed in the Leviticus passage above). In short the Lord was prohibiting them from conducting themselves with activites that were considered socially acceptable. This was also true of Corinth in the New Testament. The act of a male engaging in sexual acts with another was permissible during the time of the Roman Empire. Observing the context it does not make any sense that the Book of Leviticus would have an “editorial intervention” in an attempt to hide this behavior when it was acceptable and moral among the known world at that time. 

This argument presented by Dr. Idan Dershowitz is similar to the serpent who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent approached Eve and the first statement to come out of the serpent’s mouth was the question, “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the Garden?” (Gen. 3:1) (before the serpent could undermine what God communicated to Adam and Eve the serpent had to place a lack of assurance in their minds regarding the veracity of God’s word). This narrative Dr. Idan Dershowitz is presenting is not about homosexuality or tearing down traditional social constructs in society. This argument is really about the authority of God’s word and how one can undermine what God has clearly said to affirm or validate what God has not sanctioned. Tragically, it is these arguments within the culture that prevent an unbeliever from hearing and recieving the grace of God in the gospel that Christ has died for the sins listed in Leviticus 18 (and 1 Cor. 6:9-11). Furthermore, it may lead a believer to lack assurance in God’s eternal word concerning where one’s identity comes from, much to their own grief.

Let us as believers be confident in the word that God has revealed. promoting the truth as He has given it to us, knowing that by the promotion of this truth God is truly glorified. Amen.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

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Creation, Adam & Eve, & The Book of Genesis

Creation, Adam & Eve, & The Book of Genesis

Every so often there is a scientific study that appears attempting to explain the origin of mankind. One such study that has emerged seems to agree with the biblical worldview.  Dr. Michael Guillen, the president of the organization Spectacular Science Productions in an article titled, “Did A Mysterious Extinction Event Precede Adam and Eve?” mentioned two researchers who have theorized that all of mankind had derived from a common mother and father. In addition, they also conclude that all animals in creation also came from common types of creatures.  These researchers, observing big data from genetic databases saw what they called genetic “barcodes” from over 5 million types of species looking at what they call the mitochondria DNA, which is passed down from the mother. According to Dr. Guillen as the animals and human beings reproduced they passed these genetic “errors” in the mitochondrial DNA. These researchers measured the errors in between the animals, and as a result, they were able to suggest a time period. 

 Dr. Guillen article affirmed several points that are highlighted in Scripture. First, the researchers stated that these markers that are found in animals came from common types of creatures. This truth is underscored in chapter one of the Book of Genesis as it details the creation of the animals by God (Gen. 1:20-25). In addition, the Scripture also stated that animals would be brought forth after their kind (this word in Hebrew is miyn (מִין) (pronounced min) and refers to a creature that has the same form and structure. This particular word in Genesis chapter one concerning the animals described is used 7 times in verses 21-25). This is something that Dr. Guillen astutely notes in his article:

…the DNA bar codes reveal that species are quantized. Instead of there being a continuum of animal varieties, as one might expect from millions of years of gradual evolution, creatures fall into very distinct, widely separated populations – what the Bible describes as “kinds,” from the Hebrew word min.

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve?https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

The second point Dr. Gullien notes is that humankind comes from one common mother and father. This truth is also highlighted in Scripture as outlined in the Book of Genesis:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Gen. 1:26-28 NASB emphasis mine

Furthermore, the way that male and female is created by God is described in Genesis 2:14ff. This is something that the study seems to affirm due to the observations in the mitochondrial DNA made by the researchers. However, although the researchers mentioned man and woman come from a common ancestor the researchers due to their macroevolutionary perspective make assumptions about how long mankind has been on the earth, which is noted below

In one of the most provocative and misunderstood studies of the year, scientists in the U.S. and Switzerland have made an astonishing discovery: All humans alive today are the offspring of a common father and mother – an Adam and Eve – who walked the planet 100,000 to 200,000 years ago, which by evolutionary standards is like yesterday. 

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve? https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

This perspective runs against the biblical worldview. The earth itself, according to the Scripture is roughly about 6,000 years old (this age of the earth is determined by taking the ages of the human genealogies, starting with Adam who was the first man mentioned in the Bible and simply adding them together). By contrast, the macroevolutionary perspective instructs that changes in creatures develop gradually over a long period of time (roughly millions of years). Dr. Guillen also notes this is his article

…according to evolutionary biologists, species developed gradually over many millions of years. Stoeckle and Thaler’s discovery is that something happened roughly 100,000 years ago that created entirely new populations from long-existing species.

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve? https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

The second point that contends against Scripture is the timing of what Dr. Guillen refers to as a cataclysmic event that occurred, which caused all life to “renew” at about the same time, in a short time in history. Due to the researcher’s macroevolutionary perspectives, they mention hypotheses such as greater animal predators, changes in the environment such an ice age, and fighting with other creatures for scarce resources (i.e., survival of the fittest). Dr. Guillen offers some theories of his own such as a giant meteor that crashed onto the planet, or an “a built-in evolutionary process that when the population gets too big, it crashes and must start itself from scratch” (Guillen, 2018). His basic conclusion leads to the following statement in his article:

What caused animal life on Earth to be almost completely renewed such a short time ago? For now, it remains a mystery.

Did a mysterious extinction event precede Adam and Eve? https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/did-a-mysterious-extinction-event-precede-adam and-eve?fbclid=IwAR09k3etiqBhlscB0Rcm1UVBrcCaUVdN_CRAY8PXDDsijyVmL5dWCPil9LA

However, this mystery is solved by observing sacred Scripture. Dr. Guillen and the researchers are correct about one aspect of the historical narrative: there was a cataclysmic event that did occur on the earth, the problem is the timing of the event. The event did not happen before Adam and Eve, as the title of his article suggests, and the event was not due to a huge meteor, nor scarce resources, but due to a global worldwide flood (Gen. 6:13-19, chaps. 7-8:1-14).

The flood took place due to the wickedness of men that was multiplied on the face of the earth, as a result of sin caused by Adam and Eve’s actions in the Garden of Eden (c.f., Gen. 3:1-19; Gen. 6:6). After the waters of the flood subsided, God told Noah to bring out all of the animals that were in the ark so that they could produce throughout the earth (Gen. 8:15-19). At the same time, God had told Noah and his family told them also populate the earth, continuing the line of mankind from Adam and Eve (Gen. 9:1-7).

This account the sacred Scripture gives satisfies two points from the above article: It answers the mystery of the catastrophic event that caused the “reset” of all creation, and it satisfies that reason that most of the animals gave birth at around the same time in history. It was not due to a pre-Adamite destructive event, but the global flood that caused all life (with the exception of Noah, his families, and the animals in the ark) to perish. Again due to the researcher’s (and somewhat of the author of the article above) perspective they promote that creation itself is millions of years old, and this affects how they observe the origin and destruction of creation.  

The discovery of the mitochondrial DNA highlighted the biblical truth that creation bears forth after its kind, and not from gradual changes in the taxonomy of creatures over an extensive period of time. In addition, the research underscores a destructive event that occurred in history, but this event did not happen before Adam and Eve but after Adam and Eve, due to the wickedness of man. God destroyed the creation in a global flood, and when the flood waters receded the animals were released from the ark to breed and populate the earth (along with mankind who was also to populate and fill the earth).

Despite the great study, when examining this from a biblical worldview some of the researchers (and the author’s) conclusions they come to run against what God has revealed regarding the origin and progression of human history. God who has disclosed this to man by His word gives us assurance that God has not subjected mankind to random acts of destruction by mysterious forces mankind is ignorant of, but human beings are all under the sovereign hand of God, and His will, found in His sacred word.

 

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

 

Divorce, Remarriage, and Domestic Violence

Divorce, Remarriage, and Domestic Violence

The topic of divorce can be a very sensitive subject in the body of Christ. There are clear Scriptures that describe God’s hatred for divorce (c.f., Mal. 2:16). So how does the believer, specifically a biblical counselor, deal with divorce and remarriage, specifically within the context of domestic violence? Is it permissible for a man or woman to get remarried after a person has been a victim of domestic violence? Let us observe two specific Scriptures for the consideration of this particular topic. The first Scripture for our examination is Matthew 19:3-9:

3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus , testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 7 They said* to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?” 8 He said* to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality , and marries another woman commits adultery.” (NASB). 

In Matthew 19:3-9 the Pharisees approach Jesus to ask Him a question: Is it permissible for a man to divorce her for any reason at all? (vs.1-2). Jesus answers the question of the Pharisees specifically from the Law of Moses discussing that God joining man and woman in marriage (vs. 3-6). The Pharisees then asked why Moses commanded the nation of Israel to give the wife a certificate of divorce (lit. “send away”). This particular command is observed in the Old Testament (c.f., Deut. 24:1-4) (v. 7). Jesus answered the Pharisees saying that Moses permitted this because of the hardness of their heart but from the beginning, it was not to be this way (referring back to the creation account before the curse of the Fall of mankind). Then Jesus, speaking authoritatively mentioned that whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery (v. 9).

There are four things to note concerning this certain passage above: First, the general audience Jesus is addressing is the Jewish people, specifically the Pharisees, not the body of Christ (i.e., the church). Second, Jesus is addressing the Pharisees with a specific argument found in the Law of Moses. Third, Jesus points to the real issue of the matter with the Pharisees: The action of divorce is just the effect, the cause of divorce is the hardness of heart, which answered the Pharisees initial question. Fourth, Jesus’s answer to the Pharisees addressed, in particular, the man in the marital relationship that has initiated the sending away of his wife, which was also a part of the Pharisees question. Jesus was pointing out the question concerning the men who did this saw their wives as expendable, and not as gifts given by God to them (c.f., Gen 2:14-15). 

The second Scripture that discusses this topic is found in the book of 1 Corinthians 7:10-16:

But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (NASB).

In this context, Paul is writing to the saints who live in an idolatrous society. The inhabitants of Corinth worshipped one of the false deities known as Aphrodite who was the goddess of eros (sexual love) and beauty. Her temple stood at the top of the Acropolis so one would see it when they arrived at the city of Corinth. Paul addressed in his letter Gentiles who have come out of this pagan ritual and practice, and are doing good works within this culture. In addition, Paul also wrote to people who were once unbelievers and are now believers having to deal with the reality of being married to one who engaged in this act of worship at the temple (i.e. unbelievers)(vs. 12-13). If one chooses to leave the marriage, Paul instructed them to remain unmarried, not for justification sake, but for sanctification sake (by contrast to the idolatrous culture they were living in) (vs. 10-12).

There are several things to note in the above passage in contrast with the passage in the Book of Matthew: First, Paul did not specifically mention the Law of Moses when addressing marriage to the Gentiles in the church (in contrast to the subject of marriage in the Gospel of Matthew where the Law of Moses was explicitly mentioned). Paul’s audience in 1 Corinthians were mostly Gentiles who would have no reference to the Law of Moses unlike the Pharisees (Jesus’s audience in Gospel of Matthew’s was particularly Jews). Second, Paul was addressing both the husbands and the wives in Corinth (specifically dealing with willing and unwilling unbelieving spouses), whereas Jesus was handing only the husbands in the passage in Matthew. Third, while Jesus addressed why divorce takes place (i.e., the hardness of the heart) in the Book of Matthew, Paul promoted progressive sanctification by proper sexual conduct amongst Christians living in an idolatrous society. In short, the issue of violence within a marriage was not discussed in either text. 

So how are we to address the issue of remarriage and divorce concerning domestic violence? Before the author answers this question, several points must be underscored:

  • The person who has committed violence in a marriage has failed to serve their spouse: Scripture has laid out the conduct of husbands and wives in a marriage. Wives are to respect their husbands and husbands are to love their wives (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19). The standard is Christ, in that He is God in human flesh who served mankind by giving His life willingly for the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 5:21). When a husband or wife, engages in domestic violence they are failing in their responsibility to honor and love their spouse as Christ served us.
  • The person who has committed violence should suffer the due consequences for their actions: There are many verses in Scripture that discusses how one who is wrathful is destructive (Prov. 16:32; 19:19; 22:24; 30:33; Eph. 4:31-32). One who chooses to exercise their anger in this manner will bear the consequences of this anger. They will experience a lack of trust from the person who they have violated. This violent interaction that occurs in the marriage is not the fault of the person who has been offended.  This is a natural consequence when one has chosen to violate their spouse in this manner, and this consequence includes the ultimate loss of trust (i.e., divorce), especially for the safety of the victim.

When it comes to domestic violence grace must be extended to the one who was violated by the person who abused them if one chooses to remarry. This is not an issue where one is divorcing their spouse for just any reasonThis is also not the case where both are living in an idolatrous country and to keep them from worshipping false gods with sex there should be sexual intimacy between them. This is about the violation of a person who was made in the image of God. It is because of this one may suffer the consequences and this may include divorce (and rightly so) due to their wrathful and destructive behavior. In the context of domestic violence, the biblical counselor can remind counselee of God’s grace and that the remarriage can be one of true joy, companionship, and service for God’s glory.

When it comes to serving those who are victims of domestic violence let us do so in a manner that is gracious and kind, encouraging the faint-hearted as Paul described (1 Thess. 5:14). For this is our objective as Paul writes to do good to all, and especially those in the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). 

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

 

Thanksgiving, Squanto, and the Providence of God

Thanksgiving, Squanto, and the Providence of God

Once again it is the time of year known as Thanksgiving. The time where family and friends gather around food (and football) giving thanks for all of the things that have happened over the course of the year and how God has provided. This activity underscores one attribute of God that is seldom discussed and this is the attribute is known as Providence. This word, when used of God, describes Him as the divine Caretaker who works for the benefit of the creation (c.f., Ps. 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34). The ultimate act of Providence God has shown in the sending of His Son to be the Savior of the world (which is associated with a particular holiday after Thanksgiving) however in the event of Thanksgiving Day there is an example of God’s divine Providence to the pilgrims observed in the life of a man named Squanto.

Squanto (whose name may have formerly been Tisquantum) was a Native American of the Patuxet tribe that was located in what is now known as Plymouth Massachusetts. In the year 1605 Squanto was captured as a young boy and carried off into slavery in Europe, and it was at this time Squanto learned the English language. After about nine years Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a military colonist from England, had sent the Native Americans that were in slavery back to New England. However, in the year 1614, Squanto, along with other Native Americans, was captured by Captain Thomas Hunt, a lieutenant under the authority of John Smith (who founded the first English settlement called Jamestown in North America) and brought them back to Europe to be sold as slaves.

After several years Squanto managed to escape from slavery and returned to his native homeland to find most of his tribe was wiped out due to a plague. Over the course of time, Squanto reunited with Sir Ferdinando Gorges once more, and sent Squanto as an interpreter, along with a man named Captain Thomas Dermer up the Northeastern coast to trade with local Native American tribes. One such tribe was the Wampanoags who were very suspicions of Squanto due to his relationship with Captian Thomas Dermer. As a result of their suspicions, they turned Squanto into their leader named Massasoit, where he remained a prisoner of the Wampanoag tribe. 

Corresponding with these events a tribe member by the name of Samoset, who spoke poor English, became friends of the pilgrims who had learned about the deaths and famine the pilgrims suffered due to a harsh winter. Samoset seeing their plight had introduced the pilgrims to Massasoit. In March of 1621 after Squanto’s imprisonment, the Wampanoags used Squanto’s English skills to communicate with the small colony of pilgrims the Wampanoags were watching that winter. It was then the pilgrims made a pact with the tribe that they would help the pilgrims survive if they did not kill the Wampanoag tribe that assisted them. After this agreement, Squanto was released from being a prisoner and was used as a guide and an interpreter to the pilgrims.

With the assistance of Squanto, the pilgrims were able to grow crops so that they would help them survive the following winter. In the Fall of 1621, the first Thanksgiving feast was given, which Squanto and ninety Massasoit Native Americans were in attendance. This particular feast lasted three full days and it was to celebrate the successful Fall harvest for the pilgrims.

In the brief historical account, there are several things to observe in Squanto’s life: The sinful actions of man, taking him several times as a slave and imprisonment. However, throughout Squanto’s life we also observe the Providence of God in how he was trained in the English language and became a close friend to a neighboring Native American tribe and the Europeans. These events equipped Squanto to assist and serve the pilgrims in their time of need.

William Bradford had this to say about Squanto working with the pilgrims:

After these thing he returned to his place called Sowams, some 40 miles from
this place, but Squanto continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corn, where to take fish, and to procure other commodities, and was also their pilot to bring them to unknown places for their profit, and never left them till he died.

“Excerpts from William Bradford’s Journal.” Retrieved from https://www.quia.com/files/quia/users/terri%20delebo/ALLHONORS10/William_Bradford-OF_PLYMOUTH_PLANTATIONL.pdf. emphasis mine.

Another example of God’s Providence can be found in the sacred Scriptures with the life of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers (Gen. 37:18-36). Joseph had great success in Egypt, however, he was falsely accused and thrown in prison (Gen. 39:1-23). While Joseph was in jail he had amassed authority in prison yet he was quickly forgotten about by one of the prisoner he assisted in saving his life (Gen. 40:1-21). It was during these series of circumstances the Lord, who was with Joseph the entire time through his sufferings, became the second in command to Pharoah and was in the position to save the entire known world from a devasting famine, which also included the brothers that betrayed him (Gen. chaps 41-45). When recounting his brother’s betrayal to them Joseph said the following:

5 “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 “For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance . 8 “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 45:5-8 NASB

Squanto, much like Joseph was sold into slavery and treated harshly. Squanto, similar to Joseph enslaved in a distant land having to learn a completely different culture. Squanto similar to Joseph was enslaved by people who he assisted. Squanto became influential to the tribes and the Europeans much like Joseph. Lastly, Squanto was used of God, like Joseph, to save people from perishing. Both Joseph and Squanto were examples of God’s divine providence and care for His creation. 

As we gather together around the turkey and trimmings this Thanksgiving Day let us be thankful for God’s Providence that provides us with the food that we will all partake on this specific day. In addition, let us as believers be thankful of the attributes God possesses in Himself, which He uses to benefit and care for His creation, for His glory.  Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

To read more articles by Dr. Luther Smith go to his website at www.drluthersmith.com

The Theological Implications of The Song “God Is A Woman”

The Theological Implications of The Song “God Is A Woman”

On the way home from fellowship at my local church, my daughter and I enjoy listening to music. On a particular occasion, my daughter, who was dancing in her seat began to hear a song on the radio and without warning quickly changed the tuner. I asked her why was she changing the radio station, and she said that she did not like the new Ariana Grande song that was out, which she said was titled, “God Is A Woman.” I had said to her that this was a good time to listen to the song and examine from the lyrics what Ariana Grande was attempting to communicate with a song like this. I turned it back to the station, and my daughter and I listened intently to the song in question and discussed some of the themes that were found in the song. These themes that I discussed with my daughter are observed below:

  • The “source of authority” for God is Ariana Grande: When an artist makes music, most of the time the lyrics of the song reflect the worldview of the artist. This is especially true when the music video is seen. The very title gives away the point she is making in the song, however, the shots of the music video are very telling. For example in almost every scene when Ariana Grande is either larger than everything (e.g., her sitting on top of the globe controlling weather patterns) or she is in the center of everything (such as in the center of what looks like a circle of where a ritual, which is focused around her is happening). In the song (and video), she is representative of all women, encouraging them to feel empowered and strengthened by who they are. This is somewhat expressed in the lyrics below:

(Yeah) And I can be all the things you told me not to be (Yeah) When you try to come for me, I keep on flourishing (Yeah) And he see the universe when I’m the company.

Grande, A. (2018). “God is a woman.” Retrieved from https://genius.com/Ariana-grande-god-is-a-woman-lyrics

The source of authority that Ariana Grande uses is herself, and she comes to a conclusion because she is female that she is “all-powerful,” in control, and “god-within.” She states this as one of the themes in an interview when she says the following:

Its about female energy, its about feminine energy, being responsible for the whole creation of the universe…its within.

Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show.  Retreived from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI

Once more the standard by which she uses to make this claim is herself. That her strengths, and the mere fact that she is a woman, gives her a deified perception of herself and females in general.

  • The sexual attitude of the Song: The sexual references of the song speak loud and clear in the lyrics themselves as noted below:

You, you love it how I move you You love it how I touch you, my one When all is said and done You’ll believe God is a woman And I, I feel it after midnight A feelin’ that you can’t fight, my one It lingers when we’re done You’ll believe God is a woman.

Grande, A. (2018). “God is a woman.” Retrieved from https://genius.com/Ariana-grande-god-is-a-woman-lyrics

The message is after a man engages in sexual intercourse with a woman, he will see that she is more than meets the eye. In fact, for the man, it will be almost a spiritual experience (i.e., worship) for him when they engage in sexual intercourse. Ariana Grande mentions this as well in her interview about the song:

Ariana Grande: But God is A Woman its not actually about God.

Interviewer: Yeah its about the power of a woman.

Ariana Grande: …and  f**king.

Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show.  Retreived from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI

This is also seen in the video with the sexual innuendos in the lyrics and in most of the shots in the music video. These are also themes which are seen in the progressive feminist movements where sexual expression and oppression of women were issues that were protested in society. However, when it comes to this song, and the messages it expresses about women there are several things that must be noted.

  1. The title of the song itself: Ariana Grande says that the song is not actually about God, however, the title of the song is making a theological claim, whether she knows it or not, or wants to admit this or not. She has stated one of the themes for the song is women being responsible for the whole creation of the universe. That woman gives life (and takes away life), the woman gives pleasure (and give pain). According to this title, women are the Life itself. However, according to the biblical worldview, it is true that women are resourceful, intelligent, and valuable to society, but not because they are gods within, but that they are created by God, who gives life because He is life (Gen. 1:27; 2:22; 1 John 5:11). This gives every single female intrinsic value and worth.
  2.  The emphasis on sexual intercourse: This was a theme Ariana Grande highlighted in her song and mentioned that sexuality is part of what it means to be a female and that women should be able to break out of traditional cultural constructs, express, and define sexuality the way they choose. This is also what the song and the music video underscored.  According to the biblical worldview, it is also true that men and women were designed by God for sexual intercourse (within a monogamous marital relationship) not just for procreation (Gen. 1:28), but to enjoy and pleasure one another as well (c.f., Prov 5:15-19). However, sexuality does not make up a female’s identity, instead, a woman should find their identity in the true God, who has created them, died for them, and wants women to be known and honored for virtuous deeds and character, not their sexuality (c.f., Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Tim. 2:9-10).
  3. Doubled-Mindedness in her message: Ariana Grande, in an interview discussing some of the imagery in the music video expresses that women should not be viewed as sexual objects. Yet in the exact same breath, she adds that if a woman chooses to be a sex object than this is okay with her:

So, so its best to represent the frustration of being a misunderstood woman, poping on the ground, being seen as just a p***y, sometimes; and just screaming, frustrated like how I’m not just a vagina. So it’s just the frustration of being a woman, feeling misunderstood, unheard, and we’ve been screaming for decades for equality and also to be understood, and to feel heard…yeah. To be seen as not just a vessel for sex. Yeah…which like we totally can be if we choose to be, which is [cool].

Sang. Z,. (2018). “Ariana grande talks god is a woman.” The zach sang show.  Retreived from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOTPgR9zYUI

The problem is she was talking out of both sides of her mouth: The same thing she is frustrated about (women being viewed as”vessels for sex”) is the same thing that she is promoting women do (she is okay if women choose to be objectified as “vessels for sex”). There is dignity and equality that is higher than the perspective of Ariana Grande, and that is found in the biblical worldview. True equality comes from the reality the God of creation made both male and female. In addition, Paul wrote that men should show dignity to the woman due to the interdependence of the male and female. Even though the woman was made for man, the man comes from the woman (1 Cor. 11:11-12). 

Ariana Grande is right to be concerned about the dignity and significance of women in the world, however, the theological implications of this song are dangerously misleading. It may lead a woman to believe that they are a god unto themselves, rather than observing that there is a Creator who has created them. It may lead a woman to identify themselves as just a sexual creature, rather than a spiritual being that God has created in a body. This same God who created man and woman had come in the form of a man, took on sin and the wrath of God for both male and female, died and resurrected, and by being assured in His message, God in the Person of the Holy Spirit lives in both male and female to empower them to glorify God and do good works for their neighbor.  The contrast of theological messages could not be clearer. 

Let us continue to promote the dignity and equality of women, due to the reality that God has created them male and female, and not by our own ideas, or concepts. For by this we promote true equality and honoring women who are made in the image of God, for the glory of God. Amen.

Until Next Time

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Four).

Biblical Counseling: Integrationism vs. Dispensational Approach (Part Four).

The previous article examined how a biblical counselor uses techniques to assist a counselee in the counseling process. The question was explored as to how a biblical counselor can discern what type of techniques to use with a counselee. It was observed that the two things that direct the counselor to use a particular technique in counseling were worldview and the source of authority. These two things govern the motive behind the technique and the purpose for why it is used in counseling. A person who counsels from a secular humanist perspective, their source of authority is mankind (since secular humanism has its source of authority man at the center). By contrast, a person who counsels from a biblical worldview, their source of authority is God (or specifically God’s word).

When it comes to biblical counseling there are two distinct approaches a Biblical counselor may use, which the author will refer to as the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model and the Authoritative Foundational Model.  The Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model can be explained using the following definition:

The Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model attempts to infuse the biblical worldview and theories from different sources of authority, and/or worldviews, for the purpose of addressing counselee’s spiritual, psychological, social, and cognitive problems.

There are three risks when a biblical counselor uses the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model when assisting their counselees. these risks are described below:

  • The Authoritative source may be the theories in counseling rather than Biblical authority: A theory is defined as, “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained” (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com). In terms of counseling, theories are given in an attempt to explain human behavior and the rationale for why the behavior is displayed. These rationales for how to address human behavior are always explained from the theorist’s perspective or source of authority. Consequently, these theories often have an authoritative source that may not compatible with the authoritative source of Scripture. 
  • The Scriptures may be taken out of context for the sake of “unifying” counseling theory with the biblical truth: A biblical counselor, working with Cognitive-Behavioral theory, a theory that asserts that how an individual thinks determines how they behave, may use Rom. 12:2 as proof that Scripture teaches this particular theoretical model, as the author writes below:

…I was lead to a scripture that I felt answered my question. It was a writing of Paul found in 2 Corinthians 10:5: We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Paul also writes in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, and again in Ephesians 4 we are reminded to be made new in the attitude of our minds. I could go on—it’s all over the place…This is the very essence of cognitive-behavioral therapy!

Rachel Dewitt (2010). Christian Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Retrieved from http://heritagecounselingcenter.blogspot.com/2010/08/christian-cognitive-behavioral-therapy.html

In the context of 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul does write about the arguments and pretensions that the culture, or the spirit of the age, philosophically made (the cultural background Paul was addressing were saints who were surrounded by people that were speculating about mankind, life, and what the false gods they worshipped required of men in the culture they lived in). In addition, in this text, Paul mentions nothing about destroying one’s arguments and pretensions in effect to change a person’s behavior. Romans 12:2 does discuss the transformation of the mind. However, the purpose of this verse that Paul wrote was not to change one’s thinking in their brain to change one’s behavior, but so that one may know the will of God. Furthermore, the phrase “be transformed” found in verse 2 is not active, but passive. In short, the counselee is not doing the transforming, it is God’s mercies (i.e., the word of God), in conjunction with the Holy Spirit that does the transforming of one’s mind.  

  • May lead a counselor to practice counseling from the “empty philosophy” rather than biblical authority (c.f., Col. 2:8)This risk is an extension from the previous point. A biblical counselor who counsels from this model may only see the Scripture as either a means to address salvation, and nothing further, or may use it as a book for personal improvement and/or behavior modification. Sara Rainer comments:

For Christian psychologists, our worldview must be determined by Scripture. Not only should we see our clients as individuals in need of Jesus Christ, but our understanding of mental illness and disorder should also be based upon a Gospel-oriented worldview. As a result, our therapeutic practice will utilize Scripture to heal our clients and glorify Jesus.

Sara Rainer (2014). The Integration of Christianity and Psychology. Retrived from https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/september/concerning-psychology-and-christianity-guest-post-by-sarah-.html

The gospel of Christ Jesus is important, and as I mentioned in my previous article Dr. Ranier does acknowledge the authority of Scripture and the reality and consequences of the sin nature in mankind. However, Sara Rainer mentions the Bible in counseling only in the salvific context. This may cause a biblical counselor to believe that the way to deal with mankind’s behavior is to choose a theoretical model over Scripture, which could more than likely be from the philosophy that is contrary to Christ (i.e., God’s word).

In contrast to the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model, the biblical counselor can also use what the author calls the Authoritative Foundational Model, which is discussed below:

  • Observes a consistent normal-grammatical historical method of Scripture: The biblical counselor employing this model observes God, and His revealed word, as the ultimate source of authority. As a result, the biblical counselor will strive to be a good biblicist looking to discover the author’s original intended meaning of Scripture, taking into account the meanings of words, grammar, history, and even culture. By this method, one builds and establishes a proper biblical worldview (this also decreases the chances one may take Scripture out of context and applying it improperly).
  • Works with a proper biblical systematic theology that governs counseling method and process: A biblical counselor, using a consistent normal grammatical-historical method of Scripture can establish a proper biblical systematic theology, which can be used to evaluate a particular theoretical model.  
  • Observes the authoritative sources within the theories of counseling. Subjecting them to the Biblical worldview (c.f., 2 Cor. 10:5; Col. 2:8)All theories in counseling work from a particular philosophy. The biblical counselor, before they employ a theory examines the creator of the theory, the philosophical worldview of the theory, the main points of the theory, and where the main points of the theory agree/disagree with the Biblical worldview, holding to the points of the theory that agree with the biblical worldview, and discarding the points of the theory that are incompatible with the biblical worldview. 
  • Practices proper biblical application in counseling: Once the theory, and its corresponding main points have been examined and subjected to the biblical worldview, one can use the instruction of the Scriptures, and the points of the theory that is compatible with the Bible, to advise counselees properly.
Two Models of Biblical Counseling-page-001 Diagram created by Dr. Luther Smith

A biblical counselor may use two methods in biblical counseling. The first model is the Authoritative Theoretical Integrative Model and has three particular risks: Authoritative sources may be the theories rather than the Scriptures. The Scriptures may be misquoted from their general context for the sake of making them compatible with the counseling theory. Lastly, this may lead a person to counsel with an empty philosophy rather than the Scriptures. This may lead to improper integrative conclusions and how to serve people in their problems in biblical counseling. 

The second method would be the Authoritative Foundational Model which addresses the limitations of the previous model by observing the Scriptures from a consistent normal grammatical-historical method building a proper systematic theology. From there one examines the authoritative source(s) of the theory subjecting it to the biblical worldview. After this approach, a biblical counselor is able to properly give primary and secondary application to their counselee.

Let us as biblical counselors with a consistent method of explanation of the Scriptures, seek to subject every theory and teaching under the biblical worldview. In effect, we protect ourselves, and our counselees, from the empty philosophy that can be found in counseling, and advise our counselees properly from the Scriptures.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.

For more biblical resources from Dr. Luther Smith they can be found on his website: www.drluthersmith.com.

 

 

Transgenderism & The Biblical Worldview

Transgenderism & The Biblical Worldview

About a week ago The European Congress of Endocrinology (ECE) held its annual event, which took place this year in Barcelona, Spain. This event is a gathering of researchers and scientists from Europe and all over the world to share new scientific research and thier findings in their respective disciplines. One of the presentations at ECE was a professor by the name of Julie Bakker, who was the lead researcher with a team at the University of Liege in Belguim. The team presented what they stated as evidence for the reality of transgenderism, which is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as follows:

Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

APA (2018). What does transgender mean? Retreived from: http://www.apa.org/topics/lgbt/transgender.aspx

Julie Bakker and her team observed 160 males who were diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a psychological diagnosis that is characterized, generally, by an individual who may have a desire to remove primary and secondary sex characteristics and are convinced they were born the wrong sex.  Julie and her team of researchers performed brain scans using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) on these men and compared them with the brain scans of women, and these men who were tested were found to have similar brain activity to that of women. 

Those who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria are usually taken in to see a therapist or a psychiatrist for treatment. However, Julie and her team, due to their findings, hope that those who struggle with this are given more resources to assist them in their uneasiness about being in their own body. Julie Bakker, in presenting highlights this when she said the following at the ECE below:

“Although more research is needed, we now have evidence that sexual differentiation of the brain differs in young people with GD, as they show functional brain characteristics that are typical of their desired gender…We will then be better equipped to support these young people, instead of just sending them to a psychiatrist and hoping that their distress will disappear spontaneously.”

Transgender brain scans promised as study shows structural differences in people with gender dysphoria (2018). Retreived from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/22/transgender-brain-scans-promised-study-shows-structural-differences/

In addition, there are various religious institutions that have sought to deal with the issue of transgenderism. One such example is a woman by the name of Joy Everingham who became the first Methodist minister to be appointed to ministry as a transgender.  Another example was a Lutheran church in Hoboken New Jersey which a transgendered parishioner, at the main service, took on the name of “Peter.” With the culture using various methods and arguments to advance the ball of transgenderism how are those who hold to a biblical worldview to believe in terms of this societal movement?

In the book of Genesis, we find God in the sixth day of creation, declaring that He is going to make man in His image and likeness, giving them dominion over all of the creatures that He has made, and expresses He will create mankind male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). This creation of mankind is also observed where God took the dust of the earth, formed man, breathed into His nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Gen. 2:7). Later in the narrative, Eve is formed from the rib that is taken from Adam’s side (Gen. 2:10-21). God brought her to Adam and he observed one that is made just like him, thus the being was called “woman” (Gen. 2:23). 

What does this passage have to do with transgenderism? It was not until God breathed into man’s nostrils that man became a living being (or living soul). The point here is that the spirit of man is who a person truly is, not just the body that the spirit inhabits. A person may be able to alter the body, a person may feel uncomfortable in their body, but the true self is housed within the body, and this does not change, because one true identity comes from God.

In addition, Scripture tells us it is God who determines who we are (and it is biology that is the means for accomplishing this). In the Psalm, David glorified God in how he was fashioned in his mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13-16). Concerning Jeremiah and his call by God to be a prophet to the nation of Israel God says this:

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew youAnd before you were born I consecrated you;I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Jer 1:4-5 NASB emphasis mine

In the text, we observe that before God formed him in the womb of his mother He knew Jeremiah. God, in His attribute of omniscience (i.e., all-knowing), knew who Jeremiah was before Jeremiah even existed, and this included his sex. Once more this highlights that God is the creator and that one’s identity comes from God Himself, and not an subjective feeling one has or does not have, about themselves.

It would also appear one’s identity is static even after one leaves their physical body. One such example is found in Luke 16:19-31 concerning the rich man and Lazarus, where both of them die, are buried, and the rich man, due to his lack of faith is sent to be tormented. However, Lazarus is sent to be comforted in “Abraham’s bosom” (a place where those who believed in the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob went). In this passage, there are several things to note in this particular text.

  • One’s identity is retained after death: Jesus said that the rich man, being in torment saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (v. 23). The rich man even asked Abraham for Lazarus by name that the rich man may be comforted by him with just a drop of water (v. 24). This highlights that rich man recognized Lazarus even though they were deceased, and no longer in their physical body.
  • Abraham addresses Lazarus as a man after death: The rich man, when requesting that Abraham send Lazarus to cool off his tongue with a drop of water Abraham replies, “…’Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony'” (v. 25 emphasis mine). In this verse, it is observed that Abraham refers to Lazarus as a “he.” This is after Lazarus is not in his physical body.

Researchers have observed biologically that the sex of an individual is determined by the chromosomes, however, this picture from a biblical worldview is incomplete. Brain scans, as interesting as they may be, should not be the factors for determining one’s sex. God, by His omnipotence, and sovereignty chooses one’s sexual orientation, which can be either male or female. The means by which His will is accomplished is seen in the biological working of these chromosomes. In addition, the physical body is an important thing, but it is not the only thing. One may feel that they are not comfortable in their physical body, one may even detest their physical body, and this is unfortunate, but this does not change the reality that the true identity is found in one’s spirit (in fact, it is not far-fetched to say that the physical body reflects the spiritual nature of one’s identity).  Furthermore, It is physical nature that displays the invisible power, divine attributes, and glory of God, which includes the creation of mankind (c.f., Rom. 1:20). However, a denial of this is a willful rejection of what God has made, which reveals the complete depravity of mankind who continues to deny God and suppress the truth (Rom. 1:18-19).

Let us as believers who hold to a Biblical worldview to continue to observe mankind, not only physical beings, but spiritual beings, whose true identity comes from God who has given it to mankind physically to display His eternal power, divine nature, and glory. Amen.

Until next time… 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. L.S.