Coloratura Christian

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:4-5)

Monday, October 31, 2005

This is Getting Ridiculous

There have been more than a few times that my husband and I have left the house together only to realize that we were wearing almost identical outfits. (Clint, I apologize ahead of time for using the word 'outfit' in reference to you.) As if that's not bad enough, we have now started to write blog posts on the same topics (only he's faster at getting them up and a much better writer than I am.) First it was the posts on wisdom living, and now, I have written something on self-righteousness, only to find that his most recent post was on comparative righteousness. So I refuse to post it until he moves on to a new topic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Love, Marriage, and Then What?

This scene comes from one of my favorite movies, The Quiet Man. The leading man and lady fall madly in love, but then have more than a few issues to work out after the marriage. Thoughtful consideration of how we, as women, can serve the Lord best in marriage is essential if we desire to avoid the tension displayed in this picture.

So what is our active role in marriage? It is often said that our role in marriage is to submit, but while submission is a vital part of the marriage dynamic, I do not believe it accurately encompasses the whole of what the bible teaches on the role of a wife. Sharon James in her book, God's Design For Women, comments on the wide sphere of activity pursued by the well-known Proverbs 31 wife:

It would be silly to say that her role was to submit. Her primary calling was to love and nurture her husband and children, but she also had a wide sphere of benevolent and economic influence. We see that she gladly affirmed her husband as leader in the family and community, in that she took the burden of managing the household and estate so that he could play his part as a community leader ('at the gate'). So you could say rather that her response to her husband was one of submission (saying 'yes' to his leadership).

We know that the bible clearly teaches the importance of submitting to our husband and affirming his leadership, but it seems more accurate to say our primary role in marriage is to help our husband. And I believe there is much more satisfaction and fulfillment in doing this than Christian women are generally led to believe.

We read in Genesis 2:18, "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." A 'helper' is not a degrading role. Men actually need our help (just as we need their leadership.) We are to be a companion to them, to help and strengthen them. The Proverbs 31 woman "brings [her husband] good, not harm," and he "has full confidence in her." (vv.11-12) It's interesting to note that this woman does pursue business and activities that are outside of the home, but everything she does 'helps' and works toward the good of her husband, children and household.

One of the best ways we can help our husband is to take care of the details of running the household in order to free him up to pursue his calling and ministry. An example of marriage that I find inspiring is that of Jonathan Edwards (an 18th century pastor and theologian) and his wife Sarah. When reading about her, I am always struck by how she does everything she can to promote her husband's usefulness and happiness. Apparently, she took care of their property and gave the hired man instructions for the day. Elizabeth Dodds in her book entitled Marriage to a Difficult Man, the "Uncommon Union" of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards says, "They used to tell in Northampton [their home town] how once Edwards asked, 'Isn't it about time the hay was cut?' To which Sarah mildly replied, 'It's been in the barn for two weeks.'"

One thing I'm learning is that we cannot expect recognition for all our work in the home because our efforts often go unseen and unappreciated in the moment. But there can be great satisfaction in knowing God's pleasure in our obedience, and in knowing that we are fulfilling God's calling in a way that has lasting value. This is what we need to remember when the world tells us that what we are doing is irrelevant and unimportant.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Some Thoughts on Wisdom Living

What is wisdom living? My favorite cowboy says in his post here, "Wisdom is concerned with the art of living skillfully before God within the covenantal relationship with Him, and by consequence, with the world."

It seems that Christians have largely neglected the art of "living skillfully" as revealed in scripture, and consequently, are easily influenced by the current views of the culture in their lifestyle. Perhaps some view the physical or practical matters of life as being opposed to spiritual life. Cultivating wise living here on earth and "seeking a better homeland"(Heb. 11:14) may seem like mutually exclusive concepts, but closer study shows that these two biblical ideas are in perfect unity. According to the cowboy, "The fact that an entire genre of biblical literature is devoted to Wisdom should alert pastors to the importance of such teaching." So why do we not devote more thought to this subject?

Exemplified for us in the wisdom literature is balanced and quality living. There is the exhortation to work hard, but also to enjoy the fruit of those labors; to eat and drink, but avoid gluttony; to celebrate sex, but flee adultery; to pursue study and books, but not excessively; to build great things, but not love money. There is instruction for every aspect of living well.

One thing we must be wary of as we pursue wisdom living is becoming overly attached to the blessings of living well. As Job says after all his property and family are destroyed, “"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. We must not be presumptuous in the Lord's blessings to us. We do not have a right to them, they are not owed to us. Loving good things as an end in themselves is not good enough, they must draw our thoughts to God, and cause us to meditate on His beauty.

Friday, October 21, 2005

French Women Don't Get Fat?

In a culture where physical beauty is the greatest virtue, where a woman’s worth is evaluated by how she looks, where everywhere we look there are images of stick-thin women exalted as the ideal, how ironic is it that so many women are overweight. Most women devote their lives to diet and exercise, but find no long-term success. Constant dissatisfaction and unhealthy obsession is the result. If we are honest, this sad state of affairs affects our lives more than we care to admit.

Obesity seems to be largely a North American problem. Why is this I wonder? As my husband and I browsed through Indigo earlier today, I came across a book by Mireille Guiliano called French Women Don't Get Fat. Although she does not write from a Christian perspective, I resonated with some of her thoughts about having a balanced relationship to food and life. Her observations of French and American women are telling:

At the outset, let's state that French women simply do not suffer the terror of kilos that afflicts so many of their American sisters. All the chatter about diets I hear at cocktail parties in America would make any French woman cringe. In France, we don't talk about "diets," certainly not with strangers. We may eventually share a trick of two we've learned with a very close friend--some cunning refinement of an old French principle. But mainly we spend our social time talking about what we enjoy: feelings, family, hobbies, philosophy, politics, culture, and, yes, food, especially food (but never diets)...French women don't skip meals or substitute slimming shakes for them. they have two or three courses at lunch and then another three (sometimes four) at dinner.

It is interesting and almost surprising to hear of the gulf between the French and American attitude toward food and life. Why are Christian women so shaped by the warped strivings of our culture? I venture to say it is because we have not spent enough time meditating on wisdom living as laid out for us in the bible. More on this later.

Ada Sari, a famous coloratura soprano of the early 20th century.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Wife's Struggle for Identity in the 21st Century

I think we are all aware that God’s idea of marriage is very politically incorrect. And that in striving to fulfill what He has uniquely designed and equipped females for, we will be going expressly "against the grain." The influence of feminism in our culture makes it very difficult for a woman to enjoy contentment in marriage. The feminist agenda is so far reaching that its effects are felt even within our churches, and although strictly speaking our own sinful nature is that root of discontentment, feminism stirs it up, and acts as a stumbling block for many women today. One of my favorite authors, Sharon James, writes, "By now, the idea that a woman may find her chief role in life as a wife and a mother has been discredited beyond repair." A woman whose energies are primarily devoted to a domestic sphere is seen in a degrading light. Many women feel that if they are not pursuing a successful career as their primary goal, they are somehow second-class citizens. The difficulty that arises for many women is an identity question, "Who am I, if not defined by my career?" and "What is my worth?" As women living in the 21st century, we need to have a solid grasp on what it means to be in Christ. If our sense of self-worth comes from what we do, we will constantly be struggling with insecurity and discontentment. But we have a higher calling than what the world would have for us. Our worth can only be realized in light of the greatness and majesty of our God who has counted us worthy, based on the blood of Jesus Christ. We have the privilege of serving the One we love most in the role that he has purposefully and thoughtfully designed us for. We need to fight to keep worldly ideas from stealing our joy.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom. 12:2)