Tim Tebow blinded by infatuation redux

So I had previously written on Tim Tebow  with the post title being “blinded by infatuation” commending him for staying a virgin against sexual temptation. He recently got engaged to a former miss universe.

Hopefully he has a godly marriage because he does seem like a legitimate Christian, but there are definitely some possible yellow to red flags here.

  • Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – I’m not one to usually rag on hyphenated names of a child who has one, but it’s usually a yellow flag because the family is more inclined toward feminism than not.
  • Her Miss Universe platform is feminist in nature and about things that have already been debunked:

After winning her title, Nel-Peters made it her mission to focus on gender and pay equality, stressing the importance of confidence for women. She also expressed that she wants to use her self-defense workshops to help women protect themselves.

During the round of questioning, she was asked what she thought was the most important issue facing women in the workplace: “In some places, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours, and I do not believe that this is right. I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world.”

The campaign, which aims at empowering women around the world with skills and knowledge on how to prevent or handle abusive and violent situations, was started in 2017.

“Becoming Miss Universe made me realize that women worldwide face the same challenges daily, such as various forms of violence and crime, physical and emotional abuse, and toxic relationships, among others,” Nel-Peters said after the launch.

“My hope is that Unbreakable will inspire women to believe in themselves, to value themselves and to know that asking for help does not mean you are weak,” she said.

I don’t know them so they could both be legit Christians, but there are some possible warning signs that hopefully Tebow has taken into account. I hope for his sake he has not been blinded by infatuation.

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Attachment theory and Big Five Personality traits

From what I can see, attachment theory seeks to describe behaviors in infants and children that we generally carry on to later in life.

  • Secure attachment occurs when children feel they can rely on their caregivers to attend to their needs of proximity, emotional support and protection. It is considered to be the best attachment style.
  • Anxious-ambivalent attachment occurs when the infant feels separation anxiety when separated from the caregiver and does not feel reassured when the caregiver returns to the infant.
  • Anxious-avoidant attachment occurs when the infant avoids their parents.
  • Disorganized attachment occurs when there is a lack of attachment behavior.

The Big Five personality traits has some similar concepts that describe behavior from a traits perspective. I use the Big Five over something like Myers Briggs typology as it is one of the more scientifically validated tests.

  • Openness to experience (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious). Appreciation for art, emotion, adventure, unusual ideas, curiosity, and variety of experience. Openness reflects the degree of intellectual curiosity, creativity and a preference for novelty and variety a person has. It is also described as the extent to which a person is imaginative or independent and depicts a personal preference for a variety of activities over a strict routine. High openness can be perceived as unpredictability or lack of focus, and more likely to engage in risky behaviour or drug taking.[5] Also, individuals that have high openness tend to lean, in occupation and hobby, towards the arts, being, typically, creative and appreciative of the significance of intellectual and artistic pursuits.[6]:191 Moreover, individuals with high openness are said to pursue self-actualization specifically by seeking out intense, euphoric experiences. Conversely, those with low openness seek to gain fulfillment through perseverance and are characterized as pragmatic and data-driven—sometimes even perceived to be dogmatic and closed-minded. Some disagreement remains about how to interpret and contextualize the openness factor.[clarification needed]
  • Conscientiousness (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless). Tendency to be organized and dependable, show self-discipline, act dutifully, aim for achievement, and prefer planned rather than spontaneous behavior. High conscientiousness is often perceived as being stubborn and focused. Low conscientiousness is associated with flexibility and spontaneity, but can also appear as sloppiness and lack of reliability.[7]
  • Extraversion (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved). Energetic, surgency, assertiveness, sociability and the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others, and talkativeness. High extraversion is often perceived as attention-seeking and domineering. Low extraversion causes a reserved, reflective personality, which can be perceived as aloof or self-absorbed.[7] Extroverted people may appear more dominant in social settings, as opposed to introverted people in this setting.[6]
  • Agreeableness (friendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached). Tendency to be compassionate and cooperative rather than suspicious and antagonistic towards others. It is also a measure of one’s trusting and helpful nature, and whether a person is generally well-tempered or not. High agreeableness is often seen as naive or submissive. Low agreeableness personalities are often competitive or challenging people, which can be seen as argumentative or untrustworthy.[7]
  • Neuroticism (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident). Tendency to be prone to psychological stress.[6] The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. Neuroticism also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control and is sometimes referred to by its low pole, “emotional stability”. High stability manifests itself as a stable and calm personality, but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned. Low stability manifests as the reactive and excitable personality often found in dynamic individuals, but can be perceived as unstable or insecure.[7] Also, individuals with higher levels of neuroticism tend to have worse psychological well being.[8]

In general, I think the “attachment theory” traits are just combinations of the Big Five personality traits.  For instance,

  • Secure attachment – higher on openness, higher on extraversion, high on agreeable, low on neuroticism
  • Anxious-ambivalent – low on openness, low on extraversion, moderate on agreeable, high on neuroticism
  • Avoidant – Probably low on openness, low on extraversion, very low on agreeableness (so very disagreeable), and high on neuroticism (high psychological stress through very easily negative emotionally affected).
  • Disorganized – combinations of them that don’t mix well.

Recognizing these things things as a combination of traits that can be worked on and counseled is important.

Also from the above link:

A study of gender differences in 55 nations using the Big Five Inventory found that women tended to be somewhat higher than men in neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. The difference in neuroticism was the most prominent and consistent, with significant differences found in 49 of the 55 nations surveyed. Gender differences in personality traits are largest in prosperous, healthy, and more gender-egalitarian cultures. A plausible explanation for this is that acts by women in individualistic, egalitarian countries are more likely to be attributed to their personality, rather than being attributed to ascribed gender roles within collectivist, traditional countries

This makes some sense, and generally higher scores on neuroticism have issues with trust and bonding and more easily respond to psychological negative emotions. This is why women tend to have higher diagnosed bipolar and other psychological disorders. This is also why it can be more useful to be kind(er) to women than men in regard to Christian instruction, especially correction, admonishment, and rebuke.

All in all, I think knowledge of such trends is used to recognize in those important to you like family, friends and others, so that you can use it to influence them well as a Christian and help raise them up in spiritual maturity.

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God loves inheritance and the West hates it

All throughout the Scriptures we see that God defines inheritance as something extremely important.

  • Firstborn sons were given a double inheritance as they would succeed the family lineage
  • Levirate marriage was required to produce an heir for their deceased brother
  • Inherited land that was sold off by a family could be redeemed
  • There is, of course, the obvious example of the inheritance of the land of Canaan due to the promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well.

We see similar things in the NT, as God through Christ adopts us as His own children and provides us an inheritance:

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things [m]in the heavens and things on the earth.

In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

The West hates inheritance as it does many of the things of God such as authority, one man and one woman marriage, and other Biblical things.

Coming from a family background that is more “priveleged” will get you the scorn of others, despite the fact that generally the families that provide the priveleged background worked hard for their success and ability to transmit such an inheritance to their children.

Of course, the fact that we have inheritance does not mean we are to treat it lightly or scorn it like Esau. We should use any of it rightly and humbly as we can, but we should not despise it like many in our culture tell us to.

Our inheritance from being children of God makes us the most priveleged in the world, and that should motivate us to share it with others just as He has shared it with us.

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Fighting the pornography habit

I realized I haven’t talked about this topic before on the blog I think, but these examples are one of the ways in which I help mentor men (and women if I get the odd encounter and I’m talking about it with one of them) with sexual temptations like pornography.

I was addicted to porn in the past for over 10+ years. This is what helped me break those habits.

Ephesians 4:20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Becoming more holy is not just “taking off the old” but “putting on the new” too.

Jesus notes what happens when you only try to “take off the old”:

Matthew 12:43 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

If the ‘house’ is empty and not filled with godliness, it’s going to be easier to fall back into temptation.

One of the reasons why “putting on the new” works so well is because you’re focused on doing what is right. If you continually think about temptation–not looking at porn, you’re actually continually tempting yourself because your mind is focused on it. When you continually tempt yourself, it’s easy to fall into temptation.

Obviously, we are to also flee from temptation, but what should we flee to? Doing what is right.

So to sum up, here are some things to consider for putting on the new:

  • What is your mission for God? Are you actively working toward it?
  • Are you engaging in more spiritual disciplines to grow your faith? Reading your Bible, prayer, meditation, fasting, etc.?
  • What are your spiritual gifts? How are you using them in the Church?
  • What can you do to serve or lead in ministries at the Church?
  • How can you be more involved in sharing your faith or living out your faith?
  • Other ways to be disciplined such as working out, having a disciplined diet, and things like these can also help improve your self control and your temple of the Holy Spirit too.

There are things that many Christians are simply not doing or not doing enough. Christians are called not to be solely hearers of the word but doers. What are the “do-ing” things of living out your faith? Start actively doing them.

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Fear of marriage: the self fulfilling prophecy

In Attitudes and Marriage I made the comment that:

A husband that is afraid that he may have everything taken away from him will not act rationally in his best interests in terms of the Biblical roles and responsibilities. What I mean by this is if a husband is in fear that his wife will divorce him, he will not be able to love her through sanctification. He will not be able to call her out and correct her when she is off course. He won’t be able to lead the marriage effectively due to being afraid of the potential consequences of her unhappiness. He won’t be able to stand firm during her moodiness and eventually capitulate. He’ll have a difficult time pushing back against a culture and and the churchians who suggest that “love” is “making his wife happy.”

This is not to say that those going into it with good attitudes will have godly and successful marriages. That certainly is not the case in every circumstance. Everyone has free will and even many people who were following or disciples of Jesus rejected him when the going got rough (e.g. John 6). However, it is true that it is likely that a bad attitude with corresponding responses will eventually lead to marital ruin.

In this context, we can say that a husband who does not fear his wife but only fears God stands a much better chance at having not only a godly marriage but a successful marriage as well.

Any man with a fear of:

  • what a woman may do to him if she becomes unhaaapy
  • what the government will do to him if his wife files for divorce
  • how he will be financially ruined due to the threat point of no fault divorce
  • how his life will collapse or be different due to the threat point of no fault divorce

And such things should not marry.

It will contribute to and possibly end up being his own self fulfilling prophecy.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

Having a correct eternal perspective puts you in the right frame of mind to be in a marriage. If you’re playing scared, you’re on the path to destruction.

For me, if my wife left, took the kids, took the house, took all the money, and did everything to screw me that would suck. A lot. I’d fight her every step of the way, but ultimately I know that God’s got my back and I can still be effective at God’s mission without her. I can say at judgment day that I did everything I could to save the marriage but she just walked.

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The Christian Brad Pitt thought experiment

This is a throwback for men who are interested in women, have girlfriends, or are married. I was reminded of this recently by someone who had a disagreement with his 18-month girlfriend, and she responded by literally giving him the silent treatment.

Basically, “Christian Brad Pitt” is a way to evaluate and gauge a potential girlfriend or wife and their interest in you.

What would happen if Christian Brad Pitt had a disagreement and his girlfriend was angry?

She definitely would NOT give him the silent treatment. She would be angry for sure, but she would also likely give him grace in the particular situation as she would still want to be with him. Perhaps she would approach the situation kindly and forgive the mistake. She would definitely make time to try to talk and figuring things out instead of run away and clam up. She knows she could be dumped and many other women would be willing to take her place.

To look at this further, if a Christian woman is going to blow up at small things, imagine how much worse it would be if you’re married and disagree on big decisions or likes to be contentious about every little decision. This is a very yellow if not red flag for the relationship. Avoiding/cutting someone off like that is exactly the wrong thing to do in a relationship that is headed toward marriage.

If this was me, I’d be very upfront and tell her that I’m not going to marry anyone who is going to treat me that way. If she’s going to pull stunts like this, it’s best to part ways. I would expect my future wife to be a mature adult and handle any disagreements with maturity, grace, and class. Someone who is serious about the Christian walk and unity over being disrespectful and petty with middle school girl behavior: the silent treatment.

Of course, you can apply the “Christian Brad Pitt” standard to multiple other situations too:

  • Is she interested in me? If she’s going out of her way to meet up with you or text you at every opportunity you betcha. If she’s really slow or days late responding or keeps putting off meeting up, probably not.
  • Is she wife material? Does she enthusiastically want to marry you for you… or is it because you are giving her things or she is settling for you? The enthusiasm is there for Christian Brad Pitt but might not be there for you if she’s half-hearted in the relationship.
  • Does she blow up or be contentious at the small things? She wouldn’t do that if she was married to Christian Brad Pitt now would she? She would be afraid he would get tired of her and dump her or be mad at her for good reason.

One of those things you should keep in the back of your mind and analyze if you are considering marriage. How would she react if she was with someone who is regarded as universally attracted and famous versus you?

If she’s not crazy for you, then that could be a possibly ticking time bomb underneath the surface. In some cases, it is better to stay single than to marry. You can devote more time to God, and you won’t be taken advantage of by a woman who may not fully take her vows seriously.

Edit: to add some more commentary…

Is this Biblical?

Good question. Sure is.

Luke 14:25 Now large crowds were going along with Him (Jesus); and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.

27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Jesus, for Christians, is our “Brad Pitt” so to speak (though in reality, Brad Pitt can’t hold a candle to Jesus). We should be willing to give up everything, even our family, lives, and walking through significant hardship to the point of death to want to follow after Him.

Simply look at the example of the martyrdom of Jesus’ disciples:

  • Peter and Paul – Both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.

  • Andrew – went to the “land of the man-eaters,” in what is now the Soviet Union. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.

  • Thomas – was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.

  • Philip – possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.

  • Matthew – the tax collector and writer of a Gospel, ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.

  • Bartholomew – had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.

  • James – the son of Alpheus, is one of at least three James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.

  • Simon the Zealot – so the story goes, ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.

  • Matthais – was the apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by burning.

  • John – is the only one of the company generally thought to have died a natural death from old age. He was the leader of the church in the Ephesus area and is said to have taken care of Mary the mother of Jesus in his home. During Domitian’s persecution in the middle 90’s, he was exiled to the island of Patmos. There he is credited with writing the last book of the New Testament–the Revelation. An early Latin tradition has him escaping unhurt after being cast into boiling oil at Rome.

As Jesus said, if anyone does not hate his own life or is not willing to take up his cross to follow Him, then He cannot be His disciple. The interesting fact of why John was spared martyrdom is likely because he was the only disciple who did not run away and stayed with Jesus at the cross.

These are the similar roles of the Christ-Church analogy in Ephesians 5:

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

  • Jesus sacrificially gave himself up for the sanctification of the Church, and the (future) bride of Christ is to follow Him and do everything they can to respect and obey Him: John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
  • Husbands are to emulate Christ in his sacrificial love to help to sanctify his wife, and their wives are to emulate the bride of Christ to respect, submit, and obey.

To conclude, use this thought experiment to help gauge the interest level of a woman. If she’s only somewhat or lukewarm interested, singleness may be a better option than mar

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Womens’ preference(s) for body type

This paper that Rollo mentioned in one of his recent posts was interesting.

I pulled out the info and ratings that women gave men based on body type.

Sexual desirability generally correlates with overall attractiveness (if she thinks/wants to have sex) while physical dominance usually correlates well with arousal (turning on a woman). This explains the discrepancy where women say a certain man is “too muscular” when evaluating his attractiveness but then are extremely turned on when they are actually in bed with him.

In other words, although women are attracted the most to a man between toned, built, and brawny, when they are turned on and want to have sex it’s going to usually be with the most muscular man of them.

It’s also interesting to see that that more muscular men tend to be rated lower on the commitment and volatility level. I suspect commitment for several reasons:

  • Women know more attractive men have more options
  • Women know men who are less attractive will generally be more committed
  • The two above are unconsciously/consciously know that men they are attracted to other women will be attracted to, and men who orbit them want to be with them in long(er) term relationships

I wonder if ‘volatility’ — unpredictability — which somewhat has the U-like shape like physical dominance (though not as pronounced as physical dominance) is due to the relationship between men and women’s stature. In other words, because men are generally bigger, there is a greater perceived capacity for lack of control, due to violence or otherwise, which for women heightens their arousal if they are attracted to him.

This plays into the pornography that women are most excited about: bodice ripper romance novels. Women want to be be possessed by a sexy, dominant man.

All in all, nothing super new or exciting, but it does confirm some of the common thoughts of about the thought processes of why muscular bodies are attractive.

It would be interesting to see researchers use ‘real bodies’ as opposed to computer generated ones. And then possibly intermix in the faces of some celebrities to see how ‘fame’ alters female perception of attractiveness and dominance.

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Jesus on vetting for marriage and lessons

The purpose of vetting for marriage is to find a wife that is suitable for marriage.

We are in the engagement period of Christ and the Church, with the Holy Spirit as our seal of engagement (Eph 1:13-14) much like an engagement ring signifies that now. However, Christ has not married His Church yet (Revelation 21).


Revelation 2 and 3 accurately represents Jesus’ process of vetting His bride, to weed out those who do not pursue Him wholeheartedly in the sanctification process. Each of the Churches have their own praises and their own admonishments/rebukes.

Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:

2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6 Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

If the Church does not come after Christ wholeheartedly — much like Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength — then he’ll remove their lampstand. The 7 golden lampstands are the Churches, and removal of the Church unless they repent is dire.

John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Eternal life is not about doing things for God which the Ephesians were but knowing God and Jesus Christ. It’s the relationship.

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

Be faithful unto death. Another tough word for the Churches that seems most applicable to the persecuted Churches of today.

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

The amazing part of ‘take up your cross and follow Me’ is that Jesus used the cross prior to His crucifixion. What a crazy statement to make to the crowds: follow me until death, even death on a cross. We have the hindsight of knowing that Jesus would go to die on a cross for our sins, but the crowds and disciples only knew that the cross was reserved for the worst of criminals.

12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:

13 ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15 So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

Here’s the background for this passage:

However, later on Balaam figured out a way to get his reward from Balak. Balaam advised the Moabites on how to entice the people of Israel with prostitutes and idolatry. He could not curse Israel directly, so he came up with a plan for Israel to bring a curse upon themselves. Balak followed Balaam’s advice, and Israel fell into sin, worshiping Baal of Peor and committing fornication with Midianite women. For this God plagued them, and 24,000 men died (Numbers 25:1–9; Deuteronomy 23:3–6).

Balaam’s name and story became infamous, and he is referred to several times in the New Testament. Peter compares false teachers to Balaam, “who loved the wages of wickedness” (2 Peter 2:15). Jude echoes this sentiment, associating Balaam with the selling of one’s soul for financial gain (Jude 1:11). Finally, Jesus speaks of Balaam when He warns the church in Pergamum of their sin: “There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:14). Satan’s tactics haven’t changed all that much. If he cannot curse God’s people directly, he will try the back-door approach, and idolatry and sexual immorality are his go-to temptations.

The Nicolaitans, according to Irenaeus, led lives of unrestrained indulgence. The teachings of the Nicolaitans therefore could mean something along the lines of antinomian heresy (rejection of or advocating that Christians are not bound by moral law anymore).

Basically, in our day this can refer to people who are teaching for the love of money (prosperity gospel) as well as those who cause others to stumble to fall into idolatry and sin.

18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:

19 ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23 And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. 24 But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. 25 Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. 26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; 27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Of course, Jezebel refers to Ahab’s wife who used her authority to do much evil to the prophets of God, the innocent, and seduced the people into sexual immorality and idolatry.

In our time, this likely refers to much of the feminist, liberalist, and progressive ideologies that use their power to encourage that which deviate from the Scripture: fornication, abortion, sexual deviancy, etc.

I also think it is likely that the ‘deep things of Satan’ refer to the seductive nature of the ‘equality’ (no distinction between the sexes) and ‘progressivism’ (the Scripture is old and outdated and we’re continually improving) and how that has infested much of the Church because it sounds good but is not.

  • acts of immorality: fornication, adultery, sexual deviancy, etc.
  • eat things sacrificed to idols: hold anything as idols above God- 7 deadly sins.
  • bed of sickness: STDs?
  • kill her children with pestilence: abortion?
  • Satan’s deep teachings: deception of equality and progressivism?

No one can deny these destructive aspects on Christians and marraiges.

Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

This again refers to prior Scriptures.

Jesus refers to the second coming as a ‘thief in the night’ in the gospels and Paul in the epistles to give us a warning to be prepared. The parable of the 10 virgins and parable of the talents who weren’t prepared when the bridegroom (Jesus) comes for the wedding is similar.

This is similar to James’ pronouncement that works without faith is dead. Becoming a Christian is more than cheap grace (or a get out of hell free card), it’s about being transformed in Jesus Christ and partnering with the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel, use your spiritual gifts, and be an effective worker for Jesus. Christians should be careful to engage in good works in order to ‘work out our salvation with fear and trembling.’

7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:

8 ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to [est those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

The Church in Philadelphia was doing what was right, also according to their namesake (brotherly “adelphos” love “philia”). They are mainly told to hold fast to continue what they are doing.

14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Those in Laodicea were ‘rich and had need of nothing’ and became neither hot or cold in their pursuit of Jesus. This goes back to Jesus and our commitment to Him.

Luke 21:And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. 3 And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; 4 for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”

As cliche as it is to say, we are to be “sold out” or “on fire” for Jesus. We shouldn’t be “Sunday only Christians” or “go through the motions” of going to Church and praying the sinners prayer. God’s mission is our mission and that’s the Great Commission and building up the body of Christ.

The white garments consistently described in all these passages are about ‘taking off the old’ (the stained garments) and ‘putting on the new’ (the white clothes) which is the sanctification process. Becoming less like the world and more like Jesus.


Summary

Jesus through John on the Island of Patmos, admonishes and encourages the various Churches who are to be His eventual bride at the wedding of the Lamb. The various way that Jesus admonishes the Churches are a good guide for vetting a wife (or husband for that matter).

  • Ephesus — Jesus admonishes the Church that they have left their first love. They need to go after God with their whole hearts again.
  • Smyrna — Be faithful in suffering, even to the point of death.
  • Pergamum — Avoid loving money and prosperity gospel, avoid causing others to stumble into sin, and understand that we are to crucify our desires of the flesh and not sin so that grace may abound.
  • Thyatira — Avoid cultural and even churchian authority which encourages fornication, adultery, sexual deviancy, holding up the things of the world as idols, STDs, abortion, and the deceptiveness of equalism and progressivism.
  • Sardis — Be prepared for the coming of Jesus by giving your all to the Great Commission.
  • Philadelphia — If you’re doing what is right, hold fast and keep doing it.
  • Laodicea — Don’t be a lover of riches and persevere in serving God. Do not be a Sunday only Christian but live your life as to be worthy of ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’

In summary:

  • Love God with everything
  • Avoid the pitfalls of riches
  • Avoid the pitfalls of your own desires, especially sexually
  • Avoid the pitfalls of turning to the culture over God
  • Avoid causing others to stumble
  • Be prepared for the coming of Jesus by persevering in evangelism and building up the body of Christ
  • Don’t be a Sunday-only Christian or give half-heartedly to God

A pretty solid set of vetting standards to ensure that the Church, a potential husband, or a potential wife is a true Christian.

Also, remember that this is an admonishment the Churches. If the Churches do not turn from their wickedness or half heartedness, Jesus is willing to remove them from contention to be His bride.

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Staying in an unhappy marriage could be the best thing you do

From this article.

New Marriage Foundation research reveals the majority of couples who are unhappy when their first child is born are happy ten years later if they stay together.

Of parents who are unhappy at the time of the birth of their first child, seven in ten stay together and of these the majority (68 per cent) are happy ten years later.

Twenty seven per cent of unhappy parents who stay together end up ‘extremely happy,’ rating happiness with their relationship a top mark of seven out of seven.

With rates of family breakdown at record levels in the UK, the research suggests too many couples are giving up on their marriages before they have given them a chance to succeed.

Harry Benson, research director of Marriage Foundation, commented: “Contrary to popular belief, staying in an unhappy marriage could be the best thing you ever do.

“Most marriages have their unhappy moments, but apart from the fortunately extremely rare cases where the relationship involves abuse, most couples can work through the difficulties to be happy later on.

It should come as no surprise that those couples that can work through their unhappiness and conflict will bond closer together and usually come out happy on the other side. However, we have a culture that says to quit on marriage when you’re unhappy or your feelings are telling you otherwise.

The most interesting point from reading the study is that:

The parents most likely to split up during the subsequent ten years were those who reported they were neither happy nor unhappy when their child was born. The same was true for couples who suspected they were ‘on the brink’. The parents most likely to split up were those who were unsure if their relationship was on the brink or not.

So there was a bell shaped curve where unhappy and happy had the lowest rates of divorce, but those who were neither unhappy or happy had the highest rates of divorce.

This too makes some sense with some critical thinking. At least someone who is unhappy in their situation cares about their situation. If someone is not unhappy or happy they tend to be more apathetic, which is a death knell for relationships. If any spouse just doesn’t care anymore (has checked out), that’s more likely to signal the end than unhappiness.

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The Law of Moses and equitable solutions specifically for Israel

One of the difficult things for Christians to understand is the context of Jewish culture and some of the equitable solutions proposed. This is true with both marriage and divorce.

We discussed this some in the comments of Divorce Part 7 Final.

Deuteronomy 24:1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife,

4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.

The key to verse 4 of this passage is understanding inheritance. The wife is ‘defiled’ because of inheritance issues, not because going back to the former husband makes her defiled. If a wife went back to her former husband and then had a kid 9 months later, you couldn’t tell whose kid it was.

Inheritance is clearly important in ancient Israel that God had Levirate marriage (brother to deceased brother married his widow to produce an heir), Ezra had the Israelites put away their foreign brides, Samaritans were looked down upon because of their mixing with the surrounding cultures (cut off from the inheritance of Israel), and things like these.

The equitable solution in this instance is making sure she does not remarry the first husband. She is defiled as her womb (which produces sons for inheritance) has been defiled by the second husband having sex with her. Not having clear heirs brings sin on the land through lack of clear inheritance.

Similarly, the sex = marriage proponents also take the Law out of context.

Deuteronomy 22:28 “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.

It’s important to acknowledge the Law was written not as a “perfect guide” but aims to show what it means to Love God and Love your Neighbor. If you broke the Law, it imposes equitable punishments. The perfect guide is the example of Jesus Christ.

In Israel, women who were not virgins had virtually no marriage prospects anymore, so marriage to a man who was interested in her but did wrong was likely better than being shunned for the rest of her life.

The Amnon and Tamar story confirms this.

2 Samuel 13:10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes which she had made and brought them into the bedroom to her brother Amnon. 11 When she brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 12 But she answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing! 13 As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” 14 However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.

Incest + seized and violated her. Continuing on in the story…

2 Samuel 13:15 Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up, go away!” 16 But she said to him, No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!” Yet he would not listen to her. 17 Then he called his young man who attended him and said, “Now throw this woman out of my presence, and lock the door behind her.”

The Law is interested in protecting the woman in this instance, which means making her the seizing man’s wife AND he cannot divorce her all his days.

We live in a different culture makes it odd to us that it was an equitable solution for the violated woman to be with her rapist, but women in that culture would rather be the wife of their rapist rather than live in shame the rest of her days.

In the case of the sex = marriage proponents, the case that would “most apply to today” — which it doesn’t but let’s say it did — is the passage from Exodus.

Exodus 22:16 “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.

A man who seduces (not seizes) a virgin would have to give a dowry to the father and get his permission for her to be his wife.

It’s unlikely that men having sex with a woman would go get permission from her father AND offer a dowry for marriage. Most will try to keep the sex a secret from the father much less offer a dowry for her. They are obviously not married.

These are some of the many problems of trying to apply the Law that was written for the Jewish nation to non-Christians and Christians alike that are not under the Law. Christian who try to live under the Law but not under grace are making grave errors in their application of the Scripture.

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