Make Yourself At Home

Hospitality. We don’t have guests over often, but we do our best to make them feel welcome. If they’re going to stay, we set up a guest room, remove clutter, put fresh sheets, blankets, and pillows on the bed, as well as make sure that we have enough food on hand to work around food allergies. It’s only been a few times that I have been a guest and I do my best to be polite. I’m just thankful that we don’t take hospitality as seriously as our ancient counterparts.

Xenia consists of two basic rules:
1. The respect from host to guest. The host must be hospitable to the guest and provide him/her with food and drink and a bath, if required. It is not polite to ask questions until the guest has stated his/her needs.
2. The respect from guest to host. The guest must be courteous to the host and not be a burden.
Xenia was considered to be particularly important in ancient times when people thought gods mingled among them. If one had poorly played host to a stranger, there was the risk of incurring the wrath of a god disguised as the stranger…Indeed, while originating from mythical traditions, xenia would very much become a standard practice throughout much (if not, all) of Greece as customarily proper in the affair of men interacting with men as well as men interacting with the Gods. – Wikipedia 

Hospitium is the ancient Greco-Roman concept of hospitality as a divine right of the guest and a divine duty of the host. Similar or broadly equivalent customs were and are also known in other cultures, though not always by that name. Among the Greeks and Romans, hospitium was of a twofold character: private and public…In Homeric times, all strangers, without exception, were regarded as being under the protection of Zeus Xenios, the god of strangers and suppliants, and had the right to hospitality. Immediately on his arrival, the stranger was clothed and entertained, and no inquiry was made as to his name or antecedents until the duties of hospitality had been fulfilled. When the guest parted from his host he was often presented with gifts, and sometimes a die was broken between them. Each then took a part, a family connection was established, and the broken die served as a symbol of recognition; thus the members of each family found in the other hosts and protectors in case of need…Violation by the host of the duties of hospitality was likely to provoke the wrath of the gods; but it does not appear that anything beyond this religious sanction existed to guard the rights of a traveler. – Wikipedia 

This is a great resource for Biblical information about hospitality – they also took it very seriously.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2

Much of the ancient world is wrapped up in culture and custom. What we know of it were bits of information written down by historians. We don’t always understand how important the concept of hospitality was. Rarely would we go to war over a bad experience as a guest or narrowly avoid war by being a polite host. We owe it to ourselves to educate ourselves to just how high the stakes are when rules and customs are broken. If we do not, then all we will ever know are pieces of the puzzle, but never the whole picture. We can error by imagining our Southern Hospitality is a distant cousin and close example of what Scripture describes. We miss out on what scripture really means.


Erasing History

“I don’t get what’s wrong with the confederate flag – taking it down would be like erasing a part of history.” This was the majority opinion of some of the (white) church people when recent news was brought up at the end of the small group meeting. As locals, they have been born and raised with that southern pride that so endears them to this symbol (of heritage, not racial superiority). I’m not a local, but I do know one thing: one cannot simply erase history by taking down a flag. Nor can putting one symbol to rest erase centuries of racial issues.

I think the problem is not either/or, but both/and. It’s not that the flag represents either racial concerns or southern heritage, but that it represents both racial concerns and southern heritage depending on your point of view. It’s been 150 years since the end of the Civil War. It’s been 52 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his ‘I have a dream’ speech. In all of this time, we haven’t overcome racial concerns. How can we when some of us show off our heritage and others only see a sign of racial superiority?

Look, I get pride. But there’s such a thing as humility. Does your symbol of heritage have to be this one? Or can all of you agree that it’s time to to select a symbol with no racial concerns – one that every southerner by blood, by spirit, and by choice (or not) can unite you all? I hear that children have no shortage of imagination – so you can make a contest of it; teach them about the south – past, present, and give them hope for a future. Ask them to create a symbol and ask everyone to put the best ones to a vote. The kid that makes the winning symbol gets a scholarship and history can take a turn in a new direction.
But if your symbol of heritage has to be this one – tell me this: how do you plan on overcoming the racial concerns that others see that you do not see when the flag is on display?

(Tulsa Race Riot description of events – I tried to keep it PG- General; but I thought you ought to be warned.)

My home state knows it’s history. How it was land that was promised to Native Americans. How that promise was broken. How all sorts of settlers were allowed to race to stake a claim in that land. It’s a place that didn’t choose sides during the Civil War, but they weren’t immune from racial tension. In Tulsa in the 1920s, there was a race riot. For 75 years the truth of what had happened had been covered up and was omitted by the history books. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the incident was investigated and all the pieces were put together: the most common explanation was that Dick Rowland (black, 19 years old) tripped as he got onto the elevator and, as he tried to catch his fall, he grabbed onto the arm of Sarah Page (white, 17 years old, the elevator operator), who then screamed. A clerk working nearby heard the noise and went to investigate. Realizing how dangerous the situation looked, Dick fled to his family in the Greenwood district, a black neighborhood. The next morning, some black patrolmen discovered him and took him into the courthouse for his own protection as there were already threats against his life. Some of Dick’s clients (as he was a shoe-shiner) were white lawyers who defended him saying that the accusations of an assault were false as they knew him well enough to know such a thing wasn’t in his character. But such things were not easily contained. A sensationalist newspaper picked up the story and told the worst possible version of events. Given the per-existing racial tension, the story just made things worse and played on their fears and made them angry. About an hour after the newspaper story was released, hundreds of men had gathered around the court house- this was at 4. p.m.. Sheriff McCullough was determined to avoid an incident similar to the one that had happened under his predecessor’s watch. So he called in all of his people and arranged a defensive line around the courthouse, disabled the elevator, and gave his people guns with orders to shoot anyone who entered the building. They were to protect Dick, who by now was understandably frightened by a mob of hundreds who were out to murder him. Wanting to support their own, about thirty members of the black community showed up with guns to help the sheriff defend Dick they didn’t stay long. Many members of the white mob realized that they had failed to bring guns, so they went to go get some. Much to their disappointment, the National Guard Armory turned them away, so they had to go further away to go and get weapons. By the time they returned to the scene, there were around two thousand angry white men, mostly armed. Every effort to talk these men down failed. At some point, other members of the Greenwood community would drive by to see what was going on and to support Dick. Rumors had been flying all afternoon, a second group of seventy-five armed black men decided to go to the courthouse. According to eyewitnesses, there already had been shots fired into the air throughout the night with increasing frequency; a white man is alleged to have told one of the armed black men to surrender his pistol. The man refused, and a shot was fired. That first shot may have been accidental, or meant as a warning shot; it was a catalyst for an exchange of gunfire. This was shortly after 10:00 p.m.. 2,000 against 75, out-manned and outgunned, the two groups fire back and forth as the black group flees back to Greenwood. Looting happened along the way. A crowed of people just getting out of the movie theater gets caught in the fray and panics, fleeing in all directions. The officials tried to get their people in place to protect the white neighborhoods that surrounded the Greenwood. At one point, people on a train were told to get down on the floor as the train was being shot at on both sides. At 1:00 a.m., the white mob began to start fires to black businesses. When the fire department responded, they were turned away by the armed mob. By 4:00 a.m. as many as two dozen businesses were on fire. There had been some brief attacks on the Greenwood community, firing at houses and cars. A great many decided to try to defend what was theirs, just as many opted to flee. By 5:00 a.m., homes were being broken into and it’s residents driven into the chaotic streets. Their possessions were stolen and fires were set even in the residences. The rest of the community wasn’t immune, other white families were also met with the mobs who demanded that they hand over their black servants or risk vandalism. Overwhelmed by the numbers of the mob, many black men surrendered. Most were taken to detention centers. The Oklahoma National Guard and 109 troops were called in. They declared martial law at 11:49 a.m. and had most of the violence suppressed by noon. Over 16 hours, 39 people were killed and there were over 800 injuries. 1,256 houses had burnt down, leaving 10,000 people homeless. Property damage was in the millions. Dick Rowland remained safe and was transported out of town in secrecy. He had never been charged but also never returned to Tulsa again. No individual white rioters were charged with a crime. But even these events didn’t end racial tension in Tulsa. Some tried to prevent people from rebuilding their homes by making it far too expensive. This effort failed.

For 75 years this story was kept out of the history books. People didn’t talk about it. My ancestors never heard about it. (We weren’t from Tulsa.) There was no flag to symbolize it. But it the effort to suppress the truth ultimately failed. Now we know what happened. Now we can learn our long-forgotten lesson. We can talk to survivors, comb through records, ask our ancestors about it. We just have to break the silence.

Taking down the Confederate flag will not erase the 4 years of Civil War history. It will not undo 150 years of racial issues. What it will do is to challenge us in how we see the world and understand one another’s perspective. It may very well be in human nature to live in an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ world, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot chose to share our world with them and make them part of us. I just don’t think that we can do that with a symbol of heritage and a symbol of racial concerns putting us on opposite sides.

One thing that is clear is that anger and fear make for a potent mix of destruction. It was these two things that are a common thread. Anger at the bad economy, anger about not getting or losing the job, anger about circumstances, fear that ‘those people’ are going to make things worse, fear that ‘those people’ are going to take the job that should have been handed to you, fear that circumstance will favor ‘those people’ and leave you with nothing. Anger and fear is the tool that Hitler used to get himself elected and carry out his ‘final solution’. Anger and fear is the tool that ISIS uses even now to call people to their flag. Even Christians are not immune from anger and fear clouding their judgement; it happens time and time again. It’s one lesson humanity hasn’t learned from yet. What would be a good way to teach us to overcome our fears and control our anger?

The Bosses

“To my amazing family; I know that you’re all really proud of me being chosen to go on this business trip with the rest of the employees. Truth be told I wasn’t so sure that things were going to work out. There I was going about the good old 9-to-5 when a man appeared to tell us about the hostile take-over that had happened with the family business of the nephew of our boss (I recognized him straight away because of the dissolution that had occurred previously). Our boss didn’t waste a moment and organized three hundred and eighteen of us to march on over and rescue him. Our boss is one amazing strategist – we divided and conquered, chasing back our foes and rescued his nephew, his family, and the business in the process. To be sure, we deserved the overtime that’s coming, or else the union will have to have some words with the boss, but given the carnage of the last few days, I’m sure he’ll be reasonable guy. By the way, the word is that S&G are going to tank, so pull out any investments in their stock and double-down on the bet that they’ll be out of business, it’ll make us even richer than we already are. I’ll be back just as soon as we sort out what to do with the nephew and divide the spoils with our business partners. In the mean-time, take care!” – one of Abraham’s Employees describing the rescue of Lot Enterprises

Truth be told, I’m pretty conflicted about the master and slave relationship mentioned in Scripture. Some say it’s a great parallel with boss / employee relationships and tend to use it’s advice interchangeably. It’s odd, isn’t it, to re-write every master/slave story into a boss/employee story, isn’t it? How would the story be re-told if Joseph the employee was given a pink slip for impropriety? What about the worst employee of the year, Onesimus, fleeing his boss?

Does it really ‘work’ to use the master/slave advice in a modern boss/employee relationship?

“Employees, obey your earthly bosses with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as employees of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Work wholeheartedly, as if you were working for the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are employees or bosses. And bosses, treat your employees in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Boss and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.” – Ephesians 6:5-9

I guess it does – if one re-writes what was written. And let’s not forget the wider context: Wives and Husbands, Children and Parents, Slaves and Masters. In the ancient world, the husband, father, and master could be all three and yet one and the same person. That’s why Abraham could raise up 318 men out of his household, and that’s not counting his servant’s wives and their children. In a household like that, the advice written makes sense. But in a household – say a nuclear household, it has some missing pieces. But if you feel compelled to re-write the passages to better fit how you live your life, be consistent and re-write the rest of Scripture to match. When Paul says that he’s in chains as a servant, write it as “I’m chained as an employee to a desk job.” And don’t stop there. Fix the rest of it to fit what you teach.

The truth is that we’re not going to find a rule-book about how to live out our lives step by step, invest in this company, switch to that job, take a vacation at the lake or the seaside – there’s a whole lot that’s not written down. But there’s an overall principle that ought to guide how we live our lives in all things – and that’s by being humble and serving one another, putting the needs of others before our own, and walking in love.

Is There Light Enough To Show The Way?

I like to take the outside entrance to my room as often as possible, primarily because it’s the most convenient one for my dog. As a bonus, on most nights I can look up and get a very clear view of the sky just over my head. There is only one light in the yard and it is some distance away from the far corner on the other side, leaving my entrance in total darkness on the cloudy nights that I forget to leave my light on. The reason for that is that it draws an amazingly large number of insects right to my door whenever I leave the light on as it is rather close to the woods. So on this particular night, my entrance was pitch black. I could not see my hand if it were right in front of me. I could not see the stars in the sky. Knowing about where my door was, I approached it confidently. I was wrong. I had run into the staircase just below my door. I figured that I was about one step away from where I needed to be, so I stepped once to the right and confidently approached the first stair. Turns out I was wrong again. I could feel the rail in front of me and realized that I had miscalculated the distance. This time I was one step away from the first step of the staircase. Having run into the metal rail twice did sting a little, but it could have been worse. Even in the darkness I was able to climb the stairs and enter my room. From then on, I decided that it would be better to carry a flashlight to show me the way when all other lights go out.

Christians are called to be lights that shine on a hill, not a forest fire that destroys everything it touches. Whenever I see Christians doing anything that results in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control then I know that their good deeds are likely to bring God glory. Whenever I see Christians doing anything that results in hatred, anger, dissension, rashness, unkindness, harshness, unfaithfulness, and being out of control then I know that whatever they’re doing will not glorify God. I’ve seen how churches like Westboro Baptist Church are completely faithful to their teachings, but their actions are unkind. These good and bad deeds cancel each other out – and nothing good results from them. Not only that, we have Jesus’ example in how he treated various sorts of people:

Pharisees / Saducees / Scribes / Teachers of the Law: he had the harshest words for these groups who excelled at keeping the letter of the law but consistently failed to keep the spirit of the law.

Tax Collectors / Prostitutes: he was known to be a friend to sinners, to reach out to the outcasts and to tell them of God’s love for them.

Widows / Orphans: he held children in the highest esteem and charged his church to stand up for the oppressed in their troubles.

Lepers / Disabled / Ill: he was known to draw large crowds with his sermons and always stopped what he was doing to heal a variety of people from all walks of life.

So often people will focus on how Jesus turned the tables of the money-changers at the temple. But that’s not how he usually acted. If anything, it’s a stark contrast from the guy that was amazed at the centurion’s faith or changed his mind because of what the Syro-Phonecian woman said. It’s not as if he flipped over Matthew’s or Zacheus’ tables and whipped them before asking them to follow him and obey his teachings like the ones from the Sermon on the Mount.

There’s no shortage of darkness in the world or in the human heart. Yet we are called to do the right thing and to be good people so that we can light the way. Belief in Christianity cannot be forced, and not even one law based on Christian teachings was meant to govern an entire nation. We can’t make other people believe or force them to behave by our code of conduct. So we should not be surprised when the world doesn’t do the Christian thing. How can we expect them to when so many Christians are destructive and harmful to themselves and their brothers and sisters who don’t agree with them? In this case, is it not our tendency to darkness that dampens the light?

All of this just makes me ask myself: If Jesus were here right now, what would he teach me about how I ought to treat people? There’s the golden rule, for starters: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I could love my enemies. But I think the best way to do that is to learn to see them as something other than enemies – potential friends, perhaps. That’s to make it easier – we’re so culturally driven to see people as enemies and treat them poorly because of it. This is why Jesus’ teachings are really hard. We’re getting them filtered through human darkness and hardness of hearts. It’s not easy for these obstructed messages to shine through. There are assumptions that we have to tear down out of the way of the light mostly about what love really is. I hope we figure it out soon, because all along it seems that we too have been in one darkness or another.

Changing the Rules

Snake-handling is a particularly famous example of a Christian belief that is dangerous. Many people have died as a result of it in the last one hundred years some estimates are around seventy deaths. Just one question: How many more deaths will it take for it’s practitioners to altogether quit snake-handing? One? Five? Thirty? Most of us will have the consolation that it’s a small group of people who believe in and carry on snake-handling and tend not to think about it.

But what if there’s a wildly popular Christian teaching that creates a toxic environment that enables abusive people to abuse people with no punishment for doing so? Where the abused people cannot flee without being ordered to return to their abusers to reconcile or being advised to submit more? Where an abuser can have all the power and control over the people they are abusing in all areas of life as well as the support of others to continue exercising that power and control however they see fit? What if there’s no statistics on how widespread it is, but it takes place in almost every single church and some churches have more of them than others?

What if at least one of the three women that are killed each day as a result of domestic violence believed in this wildly popular Christian teaching? Do you think it’s possible that none of the 21 women who were killed in the last week had never heard of this teaching? Or we can put it this way: between the 77% of Americans that identify them as Christians, and the 31% of women who has experienced domestic violence in their lifetime, there must be some degree of overlap: Christian wives who have experienced domestic violence and Christian husbands who are violent.

The problem with this wildly popular teaching is that there is no out for abuse and the only sort of abuse they tend to define is the physical. They don’t have an answer for emotional or verbal abuse or any other form of abuse. It reminds me of a movie about a man who is in charge of a Fortune 500’s finances, specifically, purchasing. He wants out, so he deliberately spends thirty million dollars on junk bonds that lose every cent of their value in a matter of weeks. He didn’t just ruin his own life, but he brought down that company and everyone who worked for it – right down to the janitor who cleaned his office and his personal assistant.That might be an extreme example, but it shows that it is possible to put too much pressure on a person. It’s possible to push them to the breaking point with messages about how terrible they are doing and how useless their best efforts are. It’s possible to put a heavy load on their shoulders and to keep on adding to it until they collapse.

The same thing happens with this teaching – some will live it faithfully and it doesn’t ever go wrong for them because they are both equally invested in it and share the burden. But others are bad stewards who abuse the servants in their care – sort of like this parable:

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 24:45-51

I don’t think they mean to be people who hurt the people they love – it’s just the unfortunate result from what is being taught and how it’s being taught and how people are being told to respond to it. Some churches take that message and berate the guys for not doing enough and they berate the girls for doing too much and not leaving it all up to the guys. Probably not an apt metaphor, it makes me think about the various times when church ladies like to make my plate up for me at the various potlucks – they always give me double helpings. I know it’s too much. I know it will make me sick to eat it all. I know that they don’t give me a choice and that I have to be polite and that I have to eat everything. This teaching does the same thing. It demands way too much of one person and demands even more of them by demanding that the rest of their family depends solely upon them. There’s a saying, ‘wounded people wound people’. That could very well be the case, and where there is no healing there cannot help but be infection.

So how much damage has to be done before the dark-side of this teaching is shown in broad daylight? How many lives must be lost and families must be destroyed? How many people must suffer wounds, emotional trauma, or hurt the people they love before we find a way to break the cycle? How much more damage must we do before we learn our lesson not to teach that message in all of our churches?

I know many will say: “don’t throw the baby out with the bath-water.” Just because there is a domestic violence problem that is connected to these teachings for a few people does not mean that one must do away with all of the teachings for everyone else. True enough, but there must be an alternative. When this teaching fails a family, then keeping on abiding in it, doing the same thing won’t fix the things that this teaching broke. Some people need permission to ask for help to carry a heavy burden – they can’t go it alone. Some people need to be allowed to speak their mind and have their thoughts carry equal weight. They might think of something that their spouse might not be able to. They need the support of their church to salvage what is left even if that goes in the direction of divorce. Whatever course leads to more fruit of the spirit – love, faithfulness, peace, joy, goodness, gentleness, patience, self-control, and kindness should be the direction that each family ought to endeavor to go in. Even if it doesn’t look like that wildly popular teaching, isn’t it far better to live in a household with the fruit of the Spirit than one that has an atmosphere of oppression, tension, and fear?

Or we can just not. We can let people handle snakes and shake our heads each time someone dies. As a church we can ignore the pleas for help from wives and the confessions of husbands that they can’t help hurting their wives. We can counsel them into leading more humbly or submitting more completely as we have done time and time again. It is, after all, the Christian thing to do.

Changing Hearts and Minds

It’s so easy to get rid of a symbol. Take it down. Throw it away. Burn it. Paint over it. Destroy it. Dismantle it. Smash it. It’s much much more difficult to get rid of an ideology.
The travel show that I saw this morning happened to feature a Catholic church that had been re-purposed by the Reformers – it’s walls had been painted over, covering all fresco images of various saints, it’s stained glass had mostly been broken in (except for the one that they couldn’t quite reach), it’s statues and symbols had been taken out and smashed – all centuries ago. One wonders why they didn’t go all the way and burn the whole place down, but at least their reluctance to do so spared the architecture of the church. Still, for all that effort, people still believe in the Catholic tradition as well as the Reformed tradition to this very day.

So the matter of the flags cannot simply be resolved by taking them down and destroying them. The ideology behind them will endure in the hearts and minds even when all symbols have been erased. That is what must be reached. If one’s heart and mind can be won to a cause, than no symbol opposing it can impede it’s message or progress. People can be taught to be afraid. People can be taught to be disrespectful. People can be taught to be selfish. But encouraging people to to fight their fears, respect absolutely everyone, and be selfless is a much more difficult task.

“I wish it were as easy to stop hating as it was to start.” – Chakotay, ST:VOY, “Nemesis”

Absolutely everything is an opportunity to learn from something. If we erased every sign of human mistreatment or massacres from the record books, then we would not be aware of just how far we have come or how much further we have yet to go. I think we will always have to fight ourselves to choose the high road. That also means that we will have to choose to make an effort to get to know all sorts of people who are not just like us. Ultimately, taking down flags isn’t going to fix a problem that rooted in what we believe about each other.

Admittedly, in some places taking down the flag might very well be the first step to winning the hearts and minds of the people or to begin the conversation about where to go from there. The trick is to not forget the history has taken place to get us from there to here. We can’t just take down a flag, pat ourselves on the backs for our outstanding effort, and carry on as if nothing had happened. There has to be a next step, and a step after that, and a step after that.

I really wish I could tell you what that looks like, but you see, I live in a county that is between 90-95% Caucasian. I don’t live where racial issues are outside my doorstep. I do live where race issues are ‘somebody else’s problem’ and that’s my problem. To get these sleepy cities and towns on board with doing something to make things fairer for everyone else. What that next step for us will look totally different than it would in other areas. I’d love to see genuine cultural exchange – something to help us understand each other’s experiences and support one another as we move into a changing world. We also need to challenge the stereotypes that television tends to present to us as normalcy.

Most importantly, I have to get over my fear about talking about race. It’s true, I don’t know what I’m talking about. But I also know that I won’t learn anything if I ignore racial issues. I do know that seeing it as ‘somebody else’s problem’ does all of us more harm than good.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. – 1 John 4:20

We Are Always Changing

A big teaching in Christian circles is Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Like previous fashions, it has the aspects of clothes (modesty for women) and standard of behavior with an emphasis on day to day life in a particular context. To me, it’s just another ‘Gibson Girl’ or ‘Flapper’ or ‘Hippie’ or ‘Greaser’ concept. It will run it’s course and then people will move on.

“Wear this, not that.” “Do this, not that.” “Be like this, not that.” These ideas change from culture to culture, from century to century. Just because we slap the label ‘Biblical’ in front of something doesn’t mean that it actually is Biblical. After all, we do not live in Biblical houses (which have private sections and public sections – how would you like your living room to be considered open to the public?) We do not wear Biblical clothes. (Biblical guys wore robes mostly, not trousers.) So why do we want to be Biblical men and Biblical women?

Some will say, “But it’s not about being a clone of a first century Judea life-style, it’s embracing the roles that God designed for families at creation – for men to lead their families and women to be faithful wives and mothers who submit to that leadership.” Isn’t that cultural, too? Women and men have fought together for hundreds years to get rights to vote, to have more access to education, and to work. That’s our culture. Which of these rights would you be okay with doing away with for every single one of us in the states here on out: access to medical care, ability to take out a loan, ability to vote, a safe work environment, equal pay for equal work, quality representation in a court of law, and/or the ability to have a dream and fulfill it?

Biblical men and women could have never imagined a day where a they would live and work together on the International Space Station. It’s something that their wildest dreams could never have prepared them to see come to life. They could have never imagined that men and women alike would be the presidents of strong and powerful nations even in times of crisis. I know is that I can’t decide the exact course of your life for you because of your gender. Nor should your gender dictate which options are available for you in life. Biblical women could be wives and mothers or prostitutes or midwives. They had no other options. Most Biblical men were usually servants in their master’s households, the vast majority had no agency in life. They had no other options. We do.

I know, it’s a scary time. But we’re not so far removed from past generations that are asking: “What now?” It’s comforting to look back to tradition because it’s safe and it’s charted waters. We know what to expect. It’s the unknown, the uncharted, and the unexpected that is making us uncertain and confused. Whether we like it or not, change is an eventuality. Two things will result; either we will be like the Amish and set anchor on “this is femininity and that is masculinity” or we will let the sails fly and go with the flow. Looking back, I have a feeling that change isn’t all that scary. Sometimes it’s wonderful and an overall improvement. Sometimes it’s a bad idea that’s as short lived as some of the Space age fashions were. I also know this, everything old is new again; in time old ideas are revisited … some things just never change; but there are many things that do. People – manhood and womanhood – are among them. I don’t know what all the changes are going to look like; and I think for awhile there’s going to be this tug-of-war tension between tradition and tomorrow. A long time ago, we were given principles that both men and women could follow to help us be good people even in the worst of times:

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” (Colossians 3:9-14)